NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION NAMES ABYSSINIAN MEETING HOUSE IN PORTLAND, MAINE, TO ITS 2013 LIST OF AMERICA’S 11 MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES®

Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland, Maine, 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.

Built in 1828, the Abyssinian Meeting House was a place of worship that holds great historical significance for people in Portland, Maine. Constructed during a time when African Americans made up only two percent of the population in Portland, the Abyssinian Meeting House was a cornerstone of community life for African Americans. In the early years, the Meeting House served multiple functions, including a school for African-American children, a community center that was used for political gatherings, a social welfare agency and, most notably, a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

Today, the Abyssinian stands in dire need of funding to ensure the Federal style building is restored. While work has already begun on the building’s restoration, lack of funding has stalled construction and the ultimate goal of creating an educational and community space.

“The Abyssinian Meeting House tells an important story of resilience and progress for African Americans in Portland,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “From the days when Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison preached about freedom and human rights, the Meeting House  has been a spiritual center of life for generations of African Americans in Portland, Maine, but it needs an influx of funding to keep that story alive for generations to come.

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 1521, 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.

 

To download high resolution images of this year’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in advance of June 19, please contact pr@savingplaces.org.

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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