There are certain things that pretty much everyone who works here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation has on their calendar: the National Preservation Conference, Preservation Month, and, of course, today’s biggie, the announcement of our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Diane Keaton, an Academy Award-winning actress and one of our trustees, will be presenting the list in Los Angeles in a few hours, so it feels almost like we’re giving a sneak-peek here on the East Coast.
Their official designation of 2009’s sites will be made adjacent to Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel, which is included on this year’s list. Slated to be razed to accommodate two 600-foot-tall “environmentally sensitive” towers, the threat to the Century Plaza highlights sustainability -- the idea that we need to recycle existing infrastructure, rather than throw it away. The hotel, designed by Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center’s twin towers), also exemplifies the threat to modernist architecture nationally.
The full list of sites, with a tidbit of information on each, is below (after the jump, if you’re coming from the blog’s home page or an RSS reader). I encourage you to skip that, though, and instead head right over to the 11 Most Endangered section of PreservationNation.org. It’s where we’re keeping the good stuff: pictures, video and action items. Take a moment to check it out.
Oh, and if you happen to be a fan of Twitter, today's a great day to start following us. We're @PresNation and we're going to be tweeting about the 11 Most all day. Look for the #11Most tag to find out the latest.
The 2009 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):
Ames Shovel Shops, Easton, Mass.— In southeastern Massachusetts, the Ames Shovel Shops complex, an intact 19th-century industrial village that resembles a picture-perfect New England college campus, is threatened by a plan to demolish several of the site’s historic buildings and radically alter others to pave the way for new mixed-use development.
Cast-Iron Architecture of Galveston, Texas— The assemblage of late-19th-century Greek Revival and Italianate buildings with elaborate cast-iron storefronts in Galveston’s 12-block Strand/Mechanic National Historic Landmark District is one of the largest collections of historic commercial buildings in the country. Unfortunately, the widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Ike in September 2008 caused extensive damage, leaving the district fighting to survive.
Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, Calif.— Opened in 1966, the 19-story curved hotel, designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design New York's World Trade Center twin towers, has been a prominent Los Angeles landmark for more than four decades. Despite a $36 million facelift just over a year ago, the hotel’s new owners now intend to raze the building and replace it with two 600-foot, “environmentally sensitive” towers.
Dorchester Academy, Midway, Ga.— Founded in 1868 as a school for freed slaves, Dorchester Academy started humbly in a one-room schoolhouse and later gained prominence as a center for voter registration drives during the civil rights movement. The academy’s last remaining building, a handsome 1934 Greek Revival dormitory, is deteriorating and structurally compromised.
Human Services Center, Yankton, S.D.— Founded in 1879 as the South Dakota Hospital for the Insane and once regarded as a model institution of its kind, this campus comprises a collection of neoclassical, Art Deco and Italianate buildings that have stood vacant for years. Despite the site’s potential for innovative reuse and appropriate redevelopment, the State is moving forward with plans to demolish 11 historic buildings on the Yankton campus.
Lāna‘i City, Hawai‘i— One of Hawaii’s eight main islands, Lāna‘i, known as the “Pineapple Isle,” has lush tropical beaches, breathtaking natural beauty, lavish resorts and one attraction none of the other islands can claim: an intact plantation town. Lāna‘i City, built by pineapple baron James Dole in the 1920s, features plantation-style homes, a laundromat, jail, courthouse and police station, and is now threatened by a large-scale commercial development calling for the destruction or significant alteration of 15-20 historic buildings.
The Manhattan Project’s Enola Gay Hangar, Wendover Airfield, Utah— The hangar that housed the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, is, along with other Manhattan Project sites, in a critical state of disrepair.
Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth, N.H. to Kittery, Maine— For more than 85 years, Memorial Bridge, the first major lift bridge in the eastern US, has been a sturdy and dramatic landmark, spanning the Piscataqua River and connecting two coastal towns steeped in history. But like so many others in the nation, the bridge has suffered from tight budgets and postponed maintenance. The states of Maine and New Hampshire have not yet agreed on a plan to save Memorial Bridge and are now considering their options, including its removal – a move that would be costly and in direct opposition to the desires of local residents in two communities.
Miami Marine Stadium, Virginia Key, Fla.— Completed in 1963, Miami Marine Stadium is both a South Florida landmark and an icon of modern design. Built entirely of poured concrete and featuring a dramatically cantilevered folded-plate roof, the stadium is a sentimental favorite of many Miami residents. After sustaining damage during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the stadium, a prime target for developers, closed and has since suffered from years of deterioration, vandalism and neglect.
Mount Taylor, near Grants, N.M.— Located in the southwestern corner of New Mexico’s San Mateo Mountains, midway between Albuquerque and Gallup, Mount Taylor, with an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet, is startlingly beautiful and a sacred place for as many as 30 Native American tribes. Currently, the mountain is under threat from exploration and proposals for uranium mining, which, if allowed to proceed, would have a devastating impact on this cherished historic place.
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Ill.— Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, designed for a Unitarian congregation in Oak Park, is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture. Completed in 1908, the cubist, flat-roofed structure is also one of the earliest public buildings to feature exposed concrete, one of Wright’s signature design elements. Years of water infiltration have compromised the structure, prompting a multi-million-dollar rescue effort that the current congregation cannot afford.