2012 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List Announced
By National Trust Staff | From Forum Bulletin | June 7, 2012 |
Eleven sites as varied and colorful as our country’s history. Eleven sites in places such as Billings County, North Dakota, and Atlanta, Georgia. Sites dating from 1776 and from 1942, and sites as diverse as Yosemite Valley bridges and Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia. Eleven sites named to this year’s list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures. These eleven join more than 230 sites that have been included on the National Trust's endangered historic places list since its inception, 25 years ago.
The 2012 list of endangered historic places was announced yesterday in Washington with special events held at the listed sites around the country. This year’s list includes Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a once-thriving African-American commercial district now threatened by disinvestment; Terminal Island in the Port of Los Angeles, a major shipbuilding center and the site of the forced removal of nearly 3,000 Japanese-Americans in 1942, threatened with continued neglect and inappropriate development; and the Village of Zoar in Ohio, a beautifully preserved historic town vulnerable to destruction by flooding if a protective levee is removed.
One listing, Historic U.S. Post Office Buildings, represents a nationwide threat. The U.S. Postal Service is expected to close hundreds of post offices in the coming years and yet has no comprehensive disposition process in place to aid developers and others in purchasing and rehabbing these historic buildings, leaving them vulnerable to neglect and possible demolition.
The 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list has proved to be a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, explains: “The list conveys the broad range of historic resources throughout the country, gives broad exposure that boosts local advocacy efforts, and lends the weight of the National Trust that really gets people's attention. In the case of Terminal Island, it reflects how important the site is to the whole nation -- not just locally -- in terms of our country's Japanese American, maritime, and industrial history.”
In 1988, when the National Trust unveiled its first 11 Most Endangered Places List, it was the only game in town. But the idea caught on, and now many statewide and local preservation organizations create their own endangered places list. Lists such as Georgia’s “Places in Peril,” “The Chicago Seven,” and New York’s more optimistic “Seven to Save” have effectively drawn attention to preservation challenges facing state and local historic resources.
The 11 Most Endangered List has also served as the model for the recently-announced National Trust National Treasures campaign. With the support of thousands of local preservationists and preservation professionals from coast to coast, the National Trust has identified a larger portfolio of endangered historic sites and is taking action to save them by raising funds, building coalitions to prevent demolition, fighting in the courts to save sites from deterioration, and making sure that the icons of the past remain present with us in the future. All 11 of these new sites will be added to the Trust’s portfolio of National Treasures, bringing the number of Treasures to 32. In fact, many of the existing Treasures first appeared on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list.
Twenty-five years ago, the National Trust counted on newspaper articles, radio spots, and the evening news to get word out about its annual listing. Today, our coverage is interactive, dynamic, and up-to-the-minute. Visit www.PreservationNation.org/11most to see our latest 11 Most videos, locate sites in your state, and explore past listings.