11 Most Endangered Historic Places in the U.S.
June 27, 2018
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has unveiled its 2018 list of America’s architectural and cultural heritage landmarks that are most at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.
“For over 30 years, our list has called attention to threatened one-of-a-kind treasures throughout the nation and galvanized Americans to help local communities save them,” says Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the NTHP. “From the East L.A. Chicano Student Walkout schools to Route 66, America’s Mother Road, to historic resources in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands severely damaged by last year’s hurricanes, this year’s list reflects both the diversity of America’s historic places and the variety of the threats they face. As it has over the past three decades, we hope this list inspires people to speak out for the cherished places in their own communities that define our nation’s past.”
The following 11 places made the organization’s 2018 America’s Most Endangered Historic Places list (appearing in alphabetical order):
- Ashley River Historic District in Charleston County, S.C. Located in the South Carolina Lowcountry, the Ashley River Historic District is known for its layered cultural heritage. But an annexation proposal calls for zoning changes and development of the area.
- City Dock area in Annapolis, Md. A current proposal is seeking to rezone portions of the Colonial Annapolis Historic District, which could put its heritage tourism economy under threat, according to the preservation organization.
- Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte Memorial Hospital in Walthill, Neb. The hospital was named after the first Native American licensed to practice medicine in the U.S. and is believed to be the first hospital constructed for any Indian reservation without federal funding. The Memorial Hospital is currently unoccupied and faces an uncertain future.
- Historic Resources of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 2017 hurricanes damaged thousands of historic and cultural resources throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Recovery efforts for these historic properties continue to face significant challenges due to limited materials, financing, and preservation expertise.
- Isaiah T. Montgomery House in Mound Bayou, Miss. Established by former slave Isaiah T. Montgomery, Mound Bayou was one of the earliest all-black municipalities located in the Mississippi Delta following the Civil War. The Montgomery home is currently in urgent need of stabilization and rehabilitation.
- Larimer Square in Denver. This was Denver’s first commercial block and historic district, and it has served for decades as a pioneering national model for revitalizing neighborhoods through preservation. However, it is being threatened by current development proposals that are calling for partial demolition of several buildings and construction of two towers.
- Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses in Bridgeport, Conn. These is widely considered the oldest houses built by African-Americans in Connecticut. The Freeman Houses are often used to tell the story of the free black community in the North prior to the Civil War. The houses have been vacant for many years and are deteriorating.
- Mount Vernon, Va., and Piscataway National Park in Accokeek, Md. Dominion Energy has proposed constructing a gas compressor station across the Potomac River from Mt. Vernon and directly adjacent to Piscataway National Park. This project has the potential to negatively impact the historic views of Mt. Vernon and the park.
- Route 66 in multiple states. Known as America’s “Mother Road,” Route 66 has become an international symbol of the nation’s love for an open road. Congress is moving a bill through to designate Route 66 a permanent National Historic Trail, but the bill still needs Senate approval and the president’s signature before the end of 2018. “Otherwise, a vital preservation opportunity may be lost,” the NTHP says. If passed, the bill will bring economic development to the route’s historic sites.
- Ship on the Desert in Salt Flat, Texas. This early Modernist house is located within Guadalupe Mountains National Park in the high desert landscape of West Texas. The home has seen deferred maintenance and is not currently open to the public.
- Walkout Schools of Los Angeles. The Walkout Schools are five historic campuses that played a key role in the 1968 East L.A. Chicano Student Walkouts, which helped catalyze the national Chicano Civil Rights Movement. These schools have served as symbols of student activism but are now threatened, as some of the buildings face calls for demolition by the school district. The schools include James A. Garfield High School, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, Belmont High School, and El Sereno Middle School (formerly Woodrow Wilson High School).
The National Trust for Historic Preservation also flagged one site on its “watch status” list: Four Towns of Vermont’s Upper Valley in Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, and Tunbridge. The village is centered around farms and forests in four historic towns. But, the NHTP says, the area is under threat from a development proposal for a new planned community.
“Discover America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2018,” National Trust for Historic Preservation (June 26, 2018)
Updated: March 02, 2021