This year's America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, released today, offers a few surprises in its 24th iteration. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual list includes a mountain in South Dakota, a Chinatown in California, and jazz artist John Coltrane's ranch house in New York—as well as "sites imperiled by state actions," a warning to states that are cutting preservation funding.
This year, the Trust also introduced a new designation of "watch status" and applied it to the whole city of Charleston, N.C. The Trust says that this indicates that there's a potential threat to a historic place that can still be prevented or controlled. The organization fears that expanding cruise-ship tourism "could jeopardize the historic character of the city, historic downtown Charleston, and its surrounding neighborhoods."
Stephanie Meeks, president of the Trust since June 2010, wants the support raised by this list to go beyond the 11 historic sites. "While we hope this list galvanizes support for these 11 endangered places, we also hope it serves as a catalyst for communities everywhere to fight for the irreplaceable landmarks and landscapes that define our past—and enrich our present," she says.
In the past 24 years, the Trust has named about 264 places as endangered, and of those, only a handful have been lost, it reports.
2011 America's 11 Most Endangered Places:
Bear Butte, Meade County, S.D. – Bear Butte is a 4,426-foot-tall mountain, also called Mato Paha by the Lakota in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and "is sacred ground for as many as 17 Native American tribes," the Trust reports. The mountain is also a National Historic Landmark that the Trust fears will be degraded by proposed oil drilling and wind-energy installations.
Belmead-on-the-James, Powhatan County, Va. – This 2,000-acre site along Virginia’s James River was once a plantation, but was transformed by Catholic nun Saint Katherine Drexel into schools for African American and Native American students. The historic buildings on the site include a Gothic Revival house designed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis and the Trust reports that the buildings are deteriorating and need emergency repairs.
China Alley, Hanford, Calif. – In 1877, Chinese immigrants settled in the San Joaquin Valley and developed a Chinatown called China Alley. Today, the buildings are deteriorating and "are vulnerable to insensitive alteration as there is no local historic preservation staff or commission to enforce preservation protections," the Trust says.
Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Ala. – The Trust reports that Fort Gaines' shoreline is facing erosion of up to nine feet per year, threatening the fort that was part of the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay.
Greater Chaco Landscape, N.M. – In northwestern New Mexico are hundreds of Native American archaeological and cultural sites of the prehistoric Chacoan people. Oil and gas exploration and extraction threatens the sites as well as the roads connecting them, says the Trust.
Isaac Manchester Farm, Avella, Pa. – Eight generations of one family lived in this 400-acre farm, a "time capsule of colonial farm life." The Trust reports that the brick Georgian manor house and historic outbuildings are threatened by longwall coal mining.
John Coltrane House, Dix Hills, N.Y. – Jazz artist John Coltrane lived with his family in a ranch house in Long Island, N.Y., until his death in 1967. While in the house, he wrote A Love Supreme. A local group has taken ownership of the property but faces a lack of funds.
National Soldiers Home Historic District, Milwaukee, Wis. – Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home has hosted generations of American veterans. Today, the campus suffers from deferred maintenance, the Trust says, "which has left historic buildings unused and on the verge of collapse."
Pillsbury A Mill, Minneapolis, Minn. – Once one of the world's largest flour mills at the time of its completion in 1881, the Pillsbury "A" Mill Complex is vacant. The Trust says that the National Historic Landmark has "tremendous potential for re-use and rehabilitation."
Prentice Women’s Hospital, Chicago, Ill. – The Prentice Women’s Hospital "faces imminent demolition."
Sites Imperiled by State Actions, U.S. – In state legislatures across the country, the Trust says, "cuts to preservation funding and incentives imperil hundreds of thousands of historic places ... thousands of irreplaceable sites and national treasures may suffer untold consequences."