Into the Light
Future brightens for two 11 Most sites.
By Salvatore Deluca | From Preservation | March/April 2006
An immigrant stopover on an island in San Francisco Bay and Texas' first International Style house—both former 11 Most listings—are no longer endangered.
In December, President Bush signed the Angel Island Immigration Station Restoration and Preservation Act, authorizing $15 million in federal money to help restore the station's hospital and upgrade its utilities and roads. Station supporters used state money last summer to kick off a three-phase, $50 million restoration. "It's an integral part of American immigration history," says Daphne Kwok, a Chinese American and executive director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. "For the Asian community, it's our equivalent of Plymouth Rock."
Built to enforce the restrictive Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the 15-acre campus of buildings processed more than a million immigrants between 1910 and 1940. "This restoration will preserve the stories of those who passed through this island," wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored the new bill in the Senate, in an e-mail. "For some, it opened the door to the American dream. For others, it was a place of heartache and tears." The highlight for visitors today—some 60,000 people tour the island yearly—is the more than 150 poems written in Chinese characters on the barracks' walls by immigrants waiting to enter the country.
Meanwhile, deep in the south of Texas, the George Kraigher House, built in 1937 in Brownsville for a Pan American Airways pilot, has been saved from the elements. The state's only single-family house designed by architect Richard Neutra is now the linchpin of a deal between the City of Brownsville and a local branch of the University of Texas. The city, which in 1999 bought the dilapidated two-story, wood-and-stucco house with its striking roof terrace and ribbon windows for $150,000, will lease it to the university for a building-trades program. "For about 10 years, I've seen pictures of it boarded up and looking terrible. It has somehow endured," says Dion Neutra, the architect's son, who still maintains the practice his father started in Los Angeles; he planned to visit the site in February to help with the restoration.
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