The National Trust for Historic Places has released its 2013 list of endangered historic places, adding 11 new buildings and locations to hundreds of heritage sites around the country that have been threatened with demolition or decay. This year’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places include the Houston Astrodome, a 16th-century church in Puerto Rico, and JFK’s famous Pan Am Worldport, among others. Here’s the full list, in alphabetical order, with pictures:
Abyssinian Meeting House
Located in Portland, Maine, the Abyssinian Meeting House was a cultural and religious center for free African Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Established in 1831 as a place for African Americans to worship segregation-free, the house hosted religious services, temperance and anti-slavery meetings, a school, and more, and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It’s the third oldest African-American meeting house in the US and is presently owned by a group working on restoration but struggling with a lack of funds for the project.
When it opened in 1965, the Houston Astrodome was the world’s first multipurpose, domed, air-conditioned stadium, earning it the nickname of “the eight wonder of the world.” But after decades of dwindling use, it shut its doors with a concert in 2003. It’s since racked up a number of building code violations, and the city is trying to figure out what to do with it. (Plans to turn it into a luxury hotel were thankfully rejected.)
Rancho Cucamonga Chinatown House
The Chinatown House in Rancho Cucamonga, California, is, according to the National Trust, “one of last remaining tangible connections to the history of the Chinese-American community that helped build modern-day Rancho Cucamonga.” Built in 1919, the house served as a general store and home for some fifty Chinese laborers. According to the LA Times, a coalition of groups in the area is working to raise $1 million to restore the building and turn it into an educational center.
Gay Head Lighthouse
The Gay Head Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard, in 1799, although the tower that currently stands there was built in 1856. Although it’s still open for visitors, the National Trust says it’s “in immediate danger of toppling over the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs” due to erosion and global warming.
Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana
Montana has more old rural schoolhouses than any other state in America, and many of them are still in use. But with an increasing exodus from the country to urban areas, the historic structures are at risk. “Increased urbanization due to the recession makes it harder for some of these schools to justify keeping their doors open,” AP reporter Kathryn Haake wrote last month. “Enrollment is shrinking with rural population decline, raising pressure to consolidate or close.”
It’s the site of America’s first English settlement, Jamestown, but now a scenic section of the James River in James City County, Virginia, is threatened by a proposed power transmission line. The company responsible for the proposal, Dominion Virginia Power, wants to build an eight-mile line that would cross 4.1 miles over the river and entail as many as 17 towers, according to the AP. The county and various local organizations are attempting to fight the plan.
Located in a small village in southeast Alaska, making it perhaps the most far-flung place on the list, the Kake Cannery was a 20th-century salmon canning facility that played a significant role in helping to shape the industry. The site is actually a National Historic Landmark, but the National Trust says that two of the cannery’s wooden buildings “have recently collapsed due to high winds and heavy snow loads, and other buildings in the complex are deteriorating rapidly.”
Mountain View Black Officers’ Club
Erected in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1942, the Mountain View Black Officers’ Club was “one of the most significant examples of a World War II-era military service club in the United States built specifically for African-American officers,” according to the National Trust. At the time, the military was segregated, and the club as well as barracks, hospitals, and other buildings were built and designated for black soldiers. The US Army almost demolished the club in 1998, and apparently continues to threaten demolition, although a group called the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers is trying to save it.
San Jose Church
Puerto Rico’s San Jose Church, built in 1532, is “of the few remaining Spanish Gothic architecture structures in the Western Hemisphere,” says the Trust. The first governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de León, was originally buried in the crypt there, until his remains were exhumed in 1836. The World Monuments Fund helped initiate a conservation effort in 2004, but the Trust says it’s still “threatened by deterioration and structural damage.”
Village of Mariemont
This National Historic Landmark town just outside of Cincinnati was designed in 1921–25 landscape architect and community planner John Nolen. Allegedly a renowned example of town planning, Mariemont is facing the potential effects of a transportation project called the Eastern Corridor Program by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Critics worry about an elevated highway on the village’s southern border as well as effects on nearby environmental and archeological sites.
Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport
As Hyperallergic writer Allison Meier detailed in a post in March, the iconic Pan Am aka Worldport Terminal (Terminal 3) at JFK faces an uncertain future. Designed by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects, the Worldport was world-class and progressive when it was built, in 1960; now it’s outdated, and Delta, the current owner, wants to demolish it (the last outgoing flight took off from the terminal a month ago). A group called Save the Worldport is trying to save it.
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