America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
In 1987, the National Trust for Historic Preservation began creating a list of the Most Endangered Historic Places in the U.S. in an effort to build public interest to help restore the notable sites.
The first list included sites such as Antietam National Battlefield, Columbus Landing Site in St. Croix, Custer Battlefield National Monument and the petroglyphs of West Mesa, New Mexico. Since then, the National Trust has saved 95 percent of the 300 places it's put on the list, including Antietam, Columbus Landing and the petroglyphs.
Recently, the Trust released its 2019 list to shine a spotlight on sites currently in need of rescue. Here are America's most endangered historic places — and how you can help save them.
Tenth Street Historic District, Dallas
Dating back to the late 19th century, this district in Dallas was settled by free slaves following the Civil War. Adopted in 1993 as the city's 12th district, it is one of a few remaining Freedmen's Towns in the country still intact.
A plaque welcoming guests to the area calls it "an important African American enclave within the historically white community of Oak Cliff" and calls out famous entertainers who called the area home, including blues great T-bone Walker and the Olympic gold medalist decathlete Rafer Johnson.
The construction of a highway in the 1950s and integration in the 1960s led to the demolition of about 175 original structures in the community. But the real threat began in 2010, when Dallas changed its ordinances, allowing the city to demolish houses smaller than 3,000 square feet whether they are listed on the Historic Landmarks list or not. Since then, 70 of the 260 homes in the Tenth Street Historic District have been destroyed, leaving its future in jeopardy.
How you can help: A preservation group filed a lawsuit against the City of Dallas. You can add your name to the petition.
Nashville's Music Row
Nashville is known the world over as the capital of country music, but it's also home to much of the country's rock and roll, recorded along the city's famed Music Row. Artists including Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and Dolly Parton have recorded their music at RCA's Studio B and Studio A, and many country artists have streets named for them in this district of Music City.
Music Row housed museums in honor of the city's great musicians until the Country Music Hall of Fame opened in the late 1990s, spotlighting the music all in one building. The success of the Hall of Fame led to Music Row's abandonment. In the last six years, 50 of the Row's historic buildings have been demolished in order to clear the path for new developments.
How you can help: Let lawmakers know you want to save Music Row by adding your name to this petition. The National Trust hopes to, among other things, designate the Row as a Cultural Industry District in order to protect its historic buildings.
Hacienda Los Torres, Puerto Rico
Built in 1846, the Hacienda Los Torres, owned by Jose Maria Torres, was once a thriving coffee plantation on the island of Puerto Rico. Added to the list of Historic Places in 2006, it is one of the last of the island's historic coffee plantations.
The Spanish Mission-style buildings are some of the oldest in Puerto Rico, dating back to the Spanish-American War. Yet the structures have been steadily deteriorating, compounded by natural disasters like Hurricane Maria, which blew through in 2017.
How you can help: Sign up for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's newsletters to support the Hacienda. You can add your name here.
Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah
There are hundreds of ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and ruins found in southeast Utah. These ancient homes and villages date back more than 800 years and were home to the Southwest Indian farmers descended from prehistoric peoples, closely related to the ancient Aztecs. The homes can be seen while hiking or following the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway.
While the ruins within the Bears Ears National Monument are protected, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, under the Trump Administration, has been leasing land in southeast Utah to businesses, especially those searching for natural resources. If more agencies explore the land these dwellings are found on, they could be lost forever, as drilling for resources damages rock and foundations.
How you can help: Send your representatives letters urging them to get the Bureau of Land Management to recognize the importance of these ruins. You can add your name here.
James R. Thompson Center, Chicago
Built in 1985, the James R. Thompson Center isn't the oldest place on this list, but occupying 35 city blocks in Chicago's Loop District, it is an important example of grand-scale Postmodern architecture.
Standing 17 stories tall, the building is all glass with a sloping front designed by the acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn. Originally called the State of Illinois Center, and serving as a state government building, its open-floor plan was meant to convey "an open government in action."
It lands on the endangered list because the building is slated to be sold within the next two years, per Governor J.B. Pritzker's budgeting plan.
How you can help: Add your name to a petition urging the Governor to retain and reuse the building. You can add your name here.
Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge, North Dakota
Built in 1883, the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge was the first bridge built for train use to cross the upper Missouri River. Connecting two North Dakota cities, the bridge was recognized for becoming a gateway from the east to the west during the Westward Expansion.
BNSF Railway, one of the country's largest freight networks, had planned on demolishing the bridge. But the Coast Guard, working with the BNSF, has proposed the Railway keep the bridge around until after a new bridge is constructed, buying some time to find a solution to preserve the structure.
How you can help: Let the Coast Guard know you want to preserve the bridge by adding your name to this petition.
Industrial Trust Company Building, Providence, R.I.
The tallest building in Providence, Rhode Island, the Industrial Trust Company Building features 26 floors and has been an iconic building in the capital city since it was built in 1928.
Nicknamed the Superman Building, the Art Deco building in Kennedy Plaza has been vacant for six years, and its lack of maintenance has caused it to deteriorate. The National Trust notes the building's future is in question, and needs occupants to keep it standing.
How you can help: At this time, the city needs to find a company to purchase the building for commercial or residential use.
The Excelsior Club, Charlotte, N.C.
In 1944, The Excelsior Club, owned by James "Jimmie" Robert McKee, was one of the first social clubs specifically designed for the Black society members of Charlotte, North Carolina, during a time when all-white clubs were popular.
In June 2018, the City of Charlotte granted demolition permits, and now a countdown is in effect — will someone purchase the former club to save what was one of the largest clubs for African-Americans on the east coast?
How you can help: The building is said to require $1 million for a complete rehabilitation, and a new owner is desperately needed so it doesn't get knocked down.
National Mall Tidal Basin, Washington, D.C.
Millions of visitors to Washington, D.C. enjoy its manmade Tidal Basin annually, particularly around the time of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, when the cherry trees lining the reservoir are in bloom. More than 100 acres in size, people can enjoy paddleboat rides in the Tidal Basin, as well as walk and bike along its paved paths.
Alas, hordes of visitors have devastated the environment around the Tidal Basin, which is suffering from erosion along its footpaths and banks. Tidal flooding is also wrecking havoc. It is estimated that $500 million is need to upgrade and maintain the site.
How you can help: The National Trust has a 3-year campaign to try to save the Tidal Basin. Add your name to pledge your support.
Willert Park Courts, Buffalo, N.Y.
The very first housing project for Black people, Willert Park Courts was originally a 10-building, 175-unit complex funded by the Federal Housing Authority in 1939. In the 1940s, an additional 300 units were added, but all of these have since been demolished. Now, the original 10 buildings are facing the same fate.
Although New York's Historic Preservation Office found the site eligible for being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the City of Buffalo intends to destroy the buildings to make way for new housing.
How you can help: Ask the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority to preserve the buildings. Add your name here.
Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital, Alabama
Mount Vernon, near the Mobile River and the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama, was home to an ammunition arsenal for the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, the building became the Mount Vernon Barracks, a prison for Apache prisoners, including Geronimo.
When the building was returned to the state in 1895, it became the Searcy Hospital. The psychiatric hospital served the state until it closed in 2012. For the past seven years, the site has been deteriorating, without any care.
How you can help: Let Alabama know you want to preserve and revitalize the site. You can add your name here.