National Trust for Historic Preservation Names Texas Courthouses to its 2012 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places®
Annual List Marks 25th Anniversary of Sounding the Alarm for Places at Risk
Posted June 7, 2012 | Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-588-6141
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Texas Courthouses to its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 230 sites have been on the list over its 25-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.
Texas courthouses helped establish a unique identity for each of the state’s counties, and 234 of the state’s 244 county-owned historic courthouses are still in active government use. With their brick and stone towers, cupolas and domes, Texas’ courthouses offer some of the most remarkable architectural examples in the state. Dating from the 1860s to the 1950s, these courthouses were built to represent their county’s wealth, commerce and geography and continue to be a source of community pride and identity.
Yet despite their prestige, many county-owned courthouses—including some of the oldest and most distinctive—have fallen into disrepair due to inadequate funding and maintenance at the county level. State revenue constraints have also resulted in budget reductions for the Texas Historical Commission, which operates the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. This initiative was founded in the wake of the National Trust’s naming of Texas courthouses to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1998. While generous appropriations by the Texas Legislature have enabled the courthouse program to fully restore 62 courthouses—and partially restore another 21—more than 70 are still in need of critical repairs.
“In Texas, our county courthouses tell an important part of our state's history. They are centers of community life, sources of local pride, architectural treasures and in many cases, still functioning as our government buildings,” said Mrs. Laura Bush, former First Lady of Texas and the United States and Trustee of the National Trust. "I'm proud of the work George did as Governor, which resulted in the restoration of dozens of courthouses to their former glory. And I'm pleased to see Texas courthouses back on the 11 Most Endangered Places list this year, giving us the extra boost to complete the restoration of these Texas treasures."
“The Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program has achieved impressive results, but much work remains to preserve the full legacy of these iconic courthouses,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “These cherished buildings deserve the resources and care befitting of their significance and stature. We urge continued funding for courthouse preservation to ensure these buildings stand tall for future generations.”
Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites at www.PreservationNation.org/places
The 2012 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):
Bridges of Yosemite Valley, Calif. – A proposed National Park Service management plan for the Merced River, which flows through the heart of Yosemite National Park, would leave three historic Rustic Style bridges in danger of removal—despite their significance to the park’s treasured landscape.
Ellis Island Hospital Complex, New York Harbor, NY and NJ. - Ellis Island was once known as an “Island of Hope” for immigrants who launched new lives in America, but the hospital and support structures on the Island—once comprising the largest U.S. Public Health Service institution in the country—are now dilapidated and threatened by lack of funding.
Historic U.S. Post Office Buildings – From coast to coast, historic American post office buildings are facing uncertain futures. Due to the U.S. Postal Services haphazard disposition process, developers and others interested in purchasing and rehabbing these historic buildings end up walking away after failing to get timely or clear answers from the Postal Service.
Joe Frazier’s Gym, Philadelphia, Pa. – The gym where boxing legend Joe Frazier trained for his victorious bout against Muhammad Ali is currently for sale, unrecognized and unprotected by local or national preservation designations.
Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House, Boston, Ma. – Built in 1874, this modest structure is the last known surviving boyhood home of Malcolm X. Largely unused for over 30 years, plans are in development to rehabilitate and reuse the deteriorating property as living quarters for graduate students who are studying African American history, social justice, or civil rights.
Princeton Battlefield, Princeton, N.J. – Princeton Battlefield, the site of a historic battle that was pivotal in changing the tide of the American Revolution, is threatened by a proposed housing development that would adversely impact the historic landscape.
Sweet Auburn Historic District, Atlanta, Ga. Sweet Auburn, a prime example of the flourishing segregated African-American neighborhoods in the South during the Jim Crow era and birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., faces disinvestment and inappropriate development along its commercial corridor.
Terminal Island, Port of Los Angeles, Calif. – Terminal Island was a major shipbuilding center, the place where America’s tuna canning industry came of age, the site of the forced removal of nearly 3,000 Japanese-Americans residents in 1942, and is now a popular setting for movie and TV productions. This site is threatened by continued neglect due to long-term vacancy of the historic buildings, and a proposed plan that limits reuse of the buildings and, in some cases, calls for their demolition.
Texas Courthouses. – Texas’ 244 courthouses serve as important architectural and historical records of the state’s past. Physical deterioration outpaces the availability of public funds necessary for courthouse restoration and revitalization, and competing needs for limited revenue challenge their future.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch, Billings County, N.D. – As Theodore Roosevelt’s home in the North Dakota Badlands, the Elkhorn Ranch inspired his views on conservation. Today it is threatened by a proposed road and bridge that would forever mar the Elkhorn Ranch landscape and stain Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation.
Village of Zoar, Ohio – This 195-year old Village in Northeast Ohio was founded in 1817 by religious separatists fleeing Germany. Remarkably intact, the Village is threatened by the potential removal of a levee that could lead to massive flooding or require demolition of much of the town.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation will reveal one of the sites a day early to fans of its facebook page: facebook.com/NationalTrustforHistoricPreservation. Follow us on Twitter at @presnation and join the conversation using the hashtag #savingplaces
To download high resolution images of this year’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in advance of June 6, please contact email@example.com. On or after June 6, visit http://www.preservationnation.org/who-we-are/press-center/ to register and download high resolution images and video.
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 230 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.