Preservation Round-Up: Getting the Word Out Edition

Posted on: June 16th, 2011 by David Garber

The Greater Chaco Landscape in New Mexico. (Click photo for listing)

Today's round-up is all about America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The 2011 list was announced yesterday, and there has been a ton of buzz from around the country about these threatened places, all of which are important for our nation's built legacy and broader story.

First up are the big stories about this year's entire group of 11. NPR, BBC, CBS, other big names broadcast the list across airwaves and televisions nationwide. Local and regional outlets gave more personal reactions to the 11 Most list.

The Black Hills Pioneer wrote an excellent piece on the plight of Bear Butte in South Dakota.

“I'm ecstatic!,” said Jace DeCory, founding member of the Association for Mato Paha Preservation (AMPP), a citizen action group formed to educate the public about Mato Paha (Bear Butte). “It gives the mountain a voice.”

“At least people nationally are concerned with the preservation of this most holy site,” DeCory said. “I'll bet our ancestors in the spirit world are happy that folks are recognizing this as a special place. This mountain keeps people living. People can pray for guidance and help with life here. They can leave their troubles here and start anew. A lot of people come here to start over."

Belmead-on-the-James was written about in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, highlighting that the 150-year old manor home was built by slaves and designed by renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis.

China Alley in Hanford, California. (Click photo for listing)

In the central valley town of Hanford, China Alley - one of California's best rural Chinatowns - was added to the list because it currently doesn't have any protections against tear-downs and character-changing facade alterations. The Hanford Sentinel wrote about the site's designation:

Preservation of China Alley also has a deeply personal meaning to [Arianne] Wing, a member of a third-generation family corporation, which has helped keep the Alley intact for more than a century.

"Since these buildings can't speak for themselves, I need to speak up - they want to stay the same. I don't think they want a new façade, to be torn down or become a vacant lot," Wing said. "Someday, I won't be alive, and I won't be able to chain myself to the building, if someone wanted to tear it down. So I want to make sure that the future generations can continue to enjoy the living legacy of the alley."

Fort Gaines, on Dauphin Island, Alabama was listed because of the threat of continued erosion around the site. The Press-Register wrote about the fort, saying,

Indeed, Fort Gaines, with its original cannons, beautiful vaulted brick ceilings and tunnel system, is too precious to be washed away into the Gulf of Mexico because of inaction. It has already lost 400 feet of historic battlefield, and that’s too much.

The Greater Chaco Landscape in New Mexico made this year's list because of the threat of energy development at its borders. KOB-TV has the story:

In Pennsylvania, the 400-acre Isaac Manchester Farm made the list because of the threat of longwall mining on all but 3 acres of the farm. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a great overview of the property and the threat.

The John Coltrane house (click for a tour) was a media favorite. An unassuming split level rambler in Dix Hills, New York, the house was Coltrane's home when he wrote "A Love Supreme." The New York Times spoke with Trust President Stephanie Meeks about the listing:

“The home itself is one you might find in any suburban neighborhood,” [National Trust President Stephanie Meeks] said in a telephone interview. “It reinforces the idea that great history happens all around us and there is a preservation opportunity around every corner.”

Milwaukee's National Soldiers Home got a nightly news segment on the city's Fox-6:

In Minneapolis, the Pillsbury A Mill - the country's first architect-designed flour mill - is under threat of a planned adaptive redevelopment that may not protect the entire site at once, something the fragile row of mills would benefit most from. The StarTribune gives some good background on the project, and offers some hope for its protection.

Yesterday, friends of the Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago rallied for its preservation. Certainly unique architecturally, supporters hope that owner Northwestern University will choose to adaptively use the building rather than demolish it. Curbed Chicago reported on the rally:

It was a display that would tug at the heart strings of even the most cynical of developers. But will it actually change anyone's mind? Prentice backers are targeting Alderman Reilly, who, after getting a 60-day demolition hold, has been mum on the building, and Mayor Emanuel, who hasn't taken a stance on it either.

For a more in depth look at the Prentice listing, see Blair Kamin's post in the Chicago Tribune. See more photos of the rally below:

This year we added a new category, placing the entire city of Charleston, South Carolina on our "watch list" because of the heavy impact that cruise ship tourism is having on the beloved historic district. Fox News fleshed out the story on Charleston's status:

The National Trust wanted to "strike a balanced note between recognizing the great work that Charleston has done in preservation over the last several decades, while also signaling our concern about the growing impacts of the cruise ship industry in that port," Meeks said.

For more on this years list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, keep checking your local news outlets and our website.

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