National Trust For Historic Preservation Names National Soldiers Home Historic District in Milwaukee, Wis., to Its 2011 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Posted June 14, 2011 | Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-588-6141
Washington, D.C. (June 15, 2011) – Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the National Soldiers Home Historic District in Milwaukee, Wis. 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.
Authorized by President Abraham Lincoln in the days immediately following the Civil War, Milwaukee’s National Soldiers Home has provided a lifeline for American veterans since 1867. With its mix of Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and Victorian Gothic architecture, the 90-acre site boasts 25 post-Civil War and early 20th-century buildings, as well as a soldiers’ cemetery and dozens of park-like acres. The place that has served as home to countless veterans now faces multiple threats. The Department of Veterans Affairs owns the property, but has deferred maintenance on many of the historic buildings. One portion of the roof of the visually striking “Old Main” collapsed completely when a roof truss gave way under the weight of snow; a gaping hole remains open to the elements. Ward Memorial Hall is in imminent danger of collapse, also suffering from extensive roof damage, water infiltration and demolition by neglect. In addition, one development project under consideration at the Soldiers Home would demolish two historic structures and alter the landscape.
“Milwaukee’s National Soldiers Home Historic District represents one of our nation’s first efforts to provide veterans with the benefits they deserve,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “In his second Inaugural Address, President Lincoln asked the nation ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle,’ and today we ask that the place called home by veterans who have served in every American conflict since the Civil War receive similar respect.”
The establishment of a National Soldiers Homes system was one of the last pieces of legislation signed by President Lincoln prior to his assassination. The Milwaukee Soldiers Home campus, on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, is one of the most intact examples of these early soldiers homes. Completed in 1869, the “Old Main” building, nicknamed by veterans, was used as a veterans’ residence until the 1970s, while the Ward Memorial Hall, opened in 1881, was once a popular stop for vaudeville and minstrel shows. Although only seven miles from downtown Milwaukee, the campus, with gently rolling lawns, mature trees, winding drives and eclectic Victorian buildings, retains a peaceful, park-like atmosphere. Used frequently as an education center, the campus hosts school groups and re-enactors from the Civil War to the Vietnam War era.
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 the National Soldiers Home Historic District was submitted by the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA).
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 email@example.com. 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.