NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION NAMES CHATTANOOGA STATE OFFICE BUILDING TO ITS 2014 LIST OF AMERICA’S 11 MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES®
Posted June 23, 2014 | Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-588-6141
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Chattanooga State Office Building to its 2014 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 250 sites have been on the list over its 27-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.
The Chattanooga State Office Building was constructed in 1950 in the Art Moderne style to serve as headquarters for the Interstate Life Insurance Company. Its exterior features ruby granite and grayish-white limestone and a bronze frieze intended to represent the sturdy mountain character of southeast Tennesseans. Its interior reflected “Mad Men”-era workplace innovation, with a penthouse lounge and basement bowling alley for employees. Today, the building is a showpiece in Chattanooga’s skyline that symbolizes the past strength of the insurance industry while contributing to the city’s distinctive identity.
The state of Tennessee acquired the building in 1981 and transferred it to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in December 2013. Rather than making building repairs and upgrades, UTC plans to demolish it. This needless demolition would destroy a midcentury landmark in the heart of the city.
“Chattanooga has a real gem in this midcentury beauty,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The reuse of the State Office Building into a dormitory would be a win-win. The city has done a tremendous job of capitalizing on its natural and historic resources to revitalize its image and its economy. By adapting the State Office Building rather than demolishing it, UTC has an opportunity to make a strong statement about its commitment to the city of Chattanooga.”
NOTICE OF EVENT: Representatives from the National Trust, Knox Heritage, Cornerstones, Inc. and Southeast Tennessee Development Corporation s will gather at Phillips Park on corner of McCallie Ave. and Georgia Ave. in downtown Chattanooga on Tuesday, June 23 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the importance of the building and the threat to it.
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 2014 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):
Battle Mountain Sanitarium –Hot Springs, South Dakota. Battle Mountain Sanitarium has provided medical care to veterans in the region for more than a century, and is one of the few properties owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Today, the VA is moving forward with a proposal to abandon the facility.
Bay Harbor’s East Island – Miami-Dade County, Florida. Bay Harbor’s East Island’s collection of Miami Modern buildings are threatened with demolition by development proposals.
Chattanooga State Office Building – Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Chattanooga State Office Building, a midcentury landmark in the heart of downtown, is threatened with demolition by its new owner.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring House – Tallahassee, Florida. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed in 1954, Spring House is the only built private residence designed by Wright in the state of Florida, and its novel “hemicycle” form of is one very few surviving homes that Wright designed in this style. Weather and the ravages of time have deteriorated the building.
Historic Wintersburg – Huntington Beach, California. Historic Wintersburg is a Japanese American pioneer property that tells the story of Japanese American immigrants in Southern California, and is now threatened by demolition.
Mokuaikaua Church – Kailua Village, Kona, Hawaii. Mokuaikaua Church, completed in 1837, is Hawaii’s first Christian Church and is at risk from both earthquake damage and natural wear and tear.
Music Hall – Cincinnati, Ohio. A National Historic Landmark, Music Hall has played a significant role in the cultural fabric of Cincinnati since it was built in 1878. Today, it is deteriorating and in need of extensive repairs.
The Palisades – Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Several generations have cherished the scenic Palisades cliffs along the Hudson River. The LG Corporation plans to build an office tower along the cliffs in New Jersey, forever altering the landscape.
Palladium Building – St. Louis, Missouri. The Palladium Building housed a nightclub in the 1940s that—although restricted to a whites-only clientele—played a prominent role in the development of African American music. The Palisades now faces an uncertain future because it is not protected by local or national historic designations.
Shockoe Bottom – Richmond, Virginia. Once a center of slave trade in America, Shockoe Bottom was home to Solomon Northup’s jail in "12 Years a Slave” and contains numerous underground artifacts. The site is threatened by potential development of a minor league baseball stadium.
Union Terminal – Cincinnati, Ohio. Union Terminal, an iconic symbol of Cincinnati and a world-class example of Art Deco architecture, is suffering from deterioration and is in need of extensive repairs.
Watch Status: Federal Historic Tax Credit – Nationwide. The Federal Historic Tax Credit, a proven tool to encourage preservation across the country, is currently threatened by tax reform on Capitol Hill.
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America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 250 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 National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.