The unveiling of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places is always a bittersweet moment. The list is a culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work by hundreds of people, and it becomes a new rallying cry for supporters of incredibly important - yet unfortunately threatened - sites nationwide. But the fact that the list even exists means that there's a lot more work to be done.
That being said, there is something simple you can do right now to help.
By texting the word "PLACES" to 25383 on your mobile phone, you can donate a special $10.00 gift to support the National Trust's efforts to save the places that tell America's story, including those you are about to see on this year's list. You can donate up to three times a month through August. Click here for details.
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And now, without further ado, our 2011 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
First, something new for 2011. If you count the number of photos featured in this post, you'll arrive at 12. Note: this is no error.
For the first time in its history, the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places is being supplemented with a site on Watch Status. This means that a specific threat to a historic place appears to be growing, but can be avoided or controlled through collaboration and innovation -- which is exactly what we hope to accomplished in Charleston, S.C., where expanding cruise ship tourism could jeopardize the historic character of the city, historic downtown Charleston, and its surrounding neighborhoods. The Watch Status designation is accompanied by an offer from the National Trust to assist with finding a balanced solution that benefits the community and its rich cultural heritage. The organization believes that defining enforceable limits on the size, number and frequency of cruise ships visiting the downtown piers is central to a positive resolution.
Now for traditional eleven in alphabetical order.
Bear Butte, Meade County, S.D. – Bear Butte, the 4,426-foot mountain called Mato Paha by the Lakota in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is sacred ground for as many as 17 Native American tribes. A place of prayer, meditation, and peace, this National Historic Landmark is threatened by proposed wind and oil energy development that will negatively impact the sacred site and further degrade the cultural landscape.
Belmead-on-the-James, Powhatan County, Va. – A little-known landmark of African American heritage, the 2,000-acre site along Virginia’s James River was transformed by Saint Katherine Drexel from a slave-holding plantation into a pair of innovative schools for African American and Native American students. Closed in the 1970s, the historic buildings set in rolling hills and wooded glades of the riverfront campus, including a striking Gothic Revival manor house designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, are deteriorating and need emergency repairs.
China Alley, Hanford, Calif. – In 1877, Chinese immigrants settled in this San Joaquin Valley town and found strength and community far from home in China Alley, a vibrant rural Chinatown. Today, most of its historic buildings are suffering from deterioration and disuse and are vulnerable to insensitive alteration as there is no local historic preservation staff or commission to enforce preservation protections.
Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Ala. – A place of spectacular beauty and stirring history, Dauphin Island is home to Historic Fort Gaines, a nationally-significant fortress that played a pivotal role in the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay. Today, Fort Gaines' shoreline is eroding as much as 50 feet per year, and continued erosion threatens this significant historic treasure.
Greater Chaco Landscape, N.M. – Located across a more than 1,000-square-mile swath of northwestern New Mexico are hundreds of Native American archaeological and cultural sites that help unlock the mysteries of the prehistoric Chacoan people. These sacred sites, and the fragile prehistoric roads that connect them, are in jeopardy due to increased oil and gas exploration and extraction on federal lands north of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Isaac Manchester Farm, Avella, Pa. – For more than two centuries, this 400-acre farm – with stately brick Georgian manor house and historic outbuildings – has been home to eight generations of one family. A remarkable time capsule of colonial farm life, Manchester Farm is threatened by longwall coal mining.
John Coltrane Home, Dix Hills, N.Y. – One of America’s most widely acclaimed jazz artists, John Coltrane lived with his young family in a ranch house in Long Island, N.Y., until his untimely death in 1967. Today, the home where Coltrane wrote his iconic masterpiece, A Love Supreme, deteriorates due to lack of funds. Although a local group has taken ownership of the property and hopes to restore and interpret the site as an education center, the effort sorely needs broader attention and support.
National Soldiers Home Historic District, Milwaukee, Wis. – With its bucolic setting and diverse collection of historic buildings, Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home offered welcome refuge for generations of American veterans. Today, the campus is threatened by a pattern of deferred maintenance, which has left historic buildings unused and on the verge of collapse.
Pillsbury A Mill, Minneapolis, Minn. – A masterpiece of industrial architecture and the largest and most advanced facility in the world at the time of its completion in 1881, the Pillsbury A Mill Complex stands vacant and is in danger of piecemeal development, which could strip this National Historic Landmark of its tremendous potential for re-use and rehabilitation.
Prentice Women’s Hospital, Chicago, Ill. – A concrete and glass cloverleaf-shaped icon, Prentice Women’s Hospital has added drama and interest to the Chicago skyline for nearly four decades. Despite its cutting edge, progressive pedigree, Prentice Hospital faces imminent demolition.
Sites Imperiled by State Actions, U.S. – In state legislatures across the country, cuts to preservation funding and incentives imperil hundreds of thousands of historic places. If key sources of funding and incentives (like those that enabled the renaissance of the San Antonio, T.X. treasure pictured above) are lost, these irreplaceable sites may suffer untold consequences.
Inspired? Ready to help? Consider a special donation to the National Trust by text message or online. Your generous contribution will go to work immediately to help save the places where history happened.
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 200 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures since 1988. Whether these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.