National Trust For Historic Preservation Names Greater Chaco Landscape in New Mexico to Its 2011 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places®
Posted June 14, 2011 | Contact email@example.com or 202-588-6141
Washington, D.C. (June 15, 2011) – Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Greater Chaco Landscape in New Mexico to its 2011 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list highlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Members of the public can show their support for saving the endangered places by texting “PLACES” to 25383 to donate $10, which will go towards saving historic places through National Trust outreach programs.
Across a swath of northwestern New Mexico are hundreds of sites that help unlock the mysteries of the Chacoan people, prehistoric farmers who inhabited this area for six centuries starting in 700 A.D. Today these great innovators are represented by descendant Pueblo and other Native American groups. The architecture and engineering prowess of the Chacoan people suggest a highly developed culture, known for magnificent multi-storied buildings. Using masonry techniques unique for their time, the Chacoan people constructed massive stone buildings – or Great Houses –often containing hundreds of rooms. Although some of the Chacoan sites are now in ruins, many others are remarkably intact. The legacy of the Chacoan people includes thousands of ancient pueblos and shrines, along with an extensive road network that provided a physical and cultural link for people across the region.
Sites within Chaco Canyon itself and some on nearby mesas are protected as part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which is managed by the National Park Service. The international significance of this region, which includes Aztec Ruins National Monument and Salmon Ruins, is exemplified by the designation of the Park as a World Heritage property, which is one of only 20 in the United States. It is the natural and cultural landscape as a whole, and not just individual sites, that make this Chacoan region worthy of protection and yet, most Chacoan sites and roads located on federal lands outside the Park and World Heritage boundaries are at risk from a variety of human activities including, most significantly, energy development. Many of these sites and roads rival those located within the Park. For example, the recently mapped culturally significant Great North Road, which runs dozens of miles towards the New Mexico–Colorado border, remains vulnerable to development and other land-disturbing activities.
“The Greater Chaco Landscape has tremendous religious and cultural significance for many Native American tribes, and is recognized around the world for its historic and cultural significance” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “In a densely populated and developed country like ours, it is hard to imagine that there is still a place where someone can walk in the footsteps of the Chacoan people through a landscape that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. We cannot stand back and witness insensitive energy development and the permanent scarring of a place that holds deep significance for hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.”
Today, the Greater Chaco Landscape of northwestern New Mexico is experiencing a boom in energy-resource exploration and extraction. The oil and gas industry continues to push for development on federal lands outside the Chaco Culture National Historical Park and has recently nominated several Bureau of Land Management parcels within this area for oil and gas lease sales. In addition, many subtle and fragile Chacoan roads are greatly endangered as modern roads are being built and planned to serve the heavy truck traffic associated with energy extraction.
The Greater Chaco Landscape was nominated to the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the Solstice Project, a non-profit organization based in New Mexico.
Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support this and hundreds of other endangered sites, experience first-hand accounts of these places, and share stories and photos of their own at www.PreservationNation.org/Places. Local preservation groups across the nation submitted nominations for this year's list; the nomination for Greater Chaco Landscape was submitted by the Solstice Project.
The 2011 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (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 nine feet per year, and continued erosion threatens this significant historic treasure.
Greater Chaco Landscape, N.M. – Located across a broad 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.
Isaac Manchester Farm, Avella, Pa. – For more than two centuries, this 400-acre farm—with a 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 House, 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 architecture, 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 are lost across the United States, thousands of irreplaceable sites and national treasures may suffer untold consequences.
To download high resolution images of this year’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in advance of June 15, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. On or after June 15, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/about-us/press-center/ to register and download high resolution images and video.
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 designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country. At times, that attention has garnered public support to quickly rescue a treasured landmark; while in other instances, it has been the impetus of a long battle to save an important piece of our history. The list has been so successful in galvanizing preservation efforts across the country and rallying resources to save endangered places that, in just two decades, only a handful of sites have been lost. A one-time donation of $10.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance when you text to donate.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.