NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION NAMES KAKE CANNERY IN KAKE, ALASKA, TO ITS 2013 LIST OF AMERICA’S 11 MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES®

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Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Kake Cannery in Kake, Alaska, to its 2013 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 240 sites have been on the list over its 26-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.

Located in a remote village in Southeast Alaska, the Kake Cannery is one of the only canneries in the United States listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is a large complex comprised of several wooden buildings situated on land held in trust by the Organized Village of Kake (OVK), a federally-recognized Native American tribe. Kake Cannery played a key role in the development of the Alaskan salmon-canning industry during the first half of the 20th century. The cannery attracted workers from many foreign countries, and was notable for its multi-ethnic—yet segregated—workforce. In addition, Kake Cannery also serves as a reminder of the influence organized labor and unionism had on improving working conditions in the industry.

Now, the departure of the canning industry has left Kake Cannery with an uncertain future. Two of the three main cannery buildings have recently collapsed due to high winds and heavy snow loads, and other buildings in the complex are deteriorating rapidly. Immediate action is needed to stabilize and reinforce the structural systems of the existing buildings. The OVK has worked with an engineering firm, as well as the National Park Service, the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office and other organizations to develop a structural assessment and a preservation plan for the cannery. Volunteers from the Teachers Restoration Corps have made a number of trips to Kake to help stabilize and restore these buildings, but additional volunteers and funding is needed to make sure this treasured landmark is not lost forever.

“Kake Cannery tells a little-known story about the salmon-canning industry, the segregated multi-ethnic workforce that toiled in the canneries, and the role of organized labor in improving working conditions,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “One of the only canneries in the United States recognized as a National Historic Landmark, Kake Cannery should be preserved as a testament to an industry that has long been central to Alaska’s economy.”     

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 2013 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):


Abyssinian Meeting House – Portland, Maine. The Meeting House was the spiritual center of life for generations of African Americans in Portland, but it needs an influx of funding to keep that story alive for generations to come.

Astrodome – Houston, Texas. As the world's first domed indoor, air conditioned stadium, the 18-story multi-purpose Houston Astrodome was once dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" but now needs a  viable reuse plan to avoid demolition.

Chinatown House - Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Once a general store and residence for a community of approximately fifty Chinese American laborers, the house is one of last remaining tangible connections to the history of the Chinese American community that helped build modern-day Rancho Cucamonga.

Gay Head Lighthouse - Aquinnah, Mass. The first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard, Gay Head Lighthouse is in immediate danger of toppling over the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs, a consequence of a century of erosion and the direct impact of climate change.

Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana – Statewide. Montana boasts more historic one- and two-room schoolhouses still in use than any other state, but these schools are at risk as the state’s population shifts to urban centers

James River - James City County, Va. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. The river and landscape are threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area.

Kake Cannery - Kake, Alaska. Kake Cannery played a key role in the development of the Alaskan salmon-canning industry during the first half of the 20th century, but immediate action is needed to stabilize the structural systems of the existing buildings.

Mountain View Black Officers’ Club – Fort Huachuca, Ariz. One of the most significant examples of a military service club in the United States built specifically for African-American officers, the Mountain View Black Officer’s Club faces demolition by the U.S. Army, which has blocked efforts to list the property in the National Register of Historic Places.

San Jose Church - Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Built in 1532, San Jose Church is of the few remaining Spanish Gothic architecture structures in the Western Hemisphere. Empty for 13 years, it is threatened by deterioration and structural damage

Village of Mariemont - Cincinnati, Ohio. The Village of Mariemont has been an inspiration for a generation of planners, but it is now threatened by a proposed transportation project, which would permanently scar the careful designs that make this place so unique.

Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport – Jamaica, New York. The distinctive flying-saucer-shaped Worldport Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport has been a symbol of the Jet Age since it first opened in 1960, but now sits empty and unused, waiting for a creative reuse plan.

 

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America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 240 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.

 

 

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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