Places In Peril: 2011's Most Endangered Historic Sites

  • The Isaac Manchester Farm in Avella, Pa., was built between 1800 and 1815 and has been home to the Manchester family for eight generations. It is one of 11 sites identified as America's "most endangered historic places" — an annual list issued by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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    The Isaac Manchester Farm in Avella, Pa., was built between 1800 and 1815 and has been home to the Manchester family for eight generations. It is one of 11 sites identified as America's "most endangered historic places" — an annual list issued by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
    Courtesy Preservation Pennsylvania
  • The Manchester family sold most of the 400-acre farm's mineral rights in 1917. Now, a coal company plans to mine near the property, potentially jeopardizing the farm's water supply. The farm is pictured above in 1940.
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    The Manchester family sold most of the 400-acre farm's mineral rights in 1917. Now, a coal company plans to mine near the property, potentially jeopardizing the farm's water supply. The farm is pictured above in 1940.
    Courtesy Manchester Family
  • Belmead-on-the-James, a Gothic Revival manor house in Powhatan County, Va., was designed in 1845 by Alexander Jackson Davis. Once a plantation where slaves were owned, the property was transformed into a school for African-American and Native American students. The site is badly deteriorating.
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    Belmead-on-the-James, a Gothic Revival manor house in Powhatan County, Va., was designed in 1845 by Alexander Jackson Davis. Once a plantation where slaves were owned, the property was transformed into a school for African-American and Native American students. The site is badly deteriorating.
    Courtesy Preservation Virginia
  • When it was completed in 1881, the Pillsbury "A" Mill Complex in Minneapolis was the largest and most advanced facility of its kind. Today, it stands vacant.
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    When it was completed in 1881, the Pillsbury "A" Mill Complex in Minneapolis was the largest and most advanced facility of its kind. Today, it stands vacant.
    Courtesy City of Minneapolis
  • The National Soldiers Home in Milwaukee was built in the late 1880s and served as a refuge for generations of veterans. Ward Memorial Hall (above) dates to 1881.
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    The National Soldiers Home in Milwaukee was built in the late 1880s and served as a refuge for generations of veterans. Ward Memorial Hall (above) dates to 1881.
    Courtesy Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
  • The National Soldiers Home is badly deteriorating. Above, water damage in a restroom at Ward Theater.
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    The National Soldiers Home is badly deteriorating. Above, water damage in a restroom at Ward Theater.
    Courtesy Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
  • Bear Butte, a mountain in the Black Hills of Meade County, S.D., is sacred ground for many Native American tribes. It is threatened by proposed wind and oil energy development.
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    Bear Butte, a mountain in the Black Hills of Meade County, S.D., is sacred ground for many Native American tribes. It is threatened by proposed wind and oil energy development.
    Courtesy Jenny Buddenborg
  • China Alley was once part of a bustling Chinatown in the San Joaquin Valley town of Hanford, Calif. Established by Chinese immigrants in 1877, the neighborhood peaked in the years before World War II.
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    China Alley was once part of a bustling Chinatown in the San Joaquin Valley town of Hanford, Calif. Established by Chinese immigrants in 1877, the neighborhood peaked in the years before World War II.
    Courtesy Steve Banister, Taoist Temple Preservation Society
  • Today, China Alley suffers from rain damage, vandalism and years of deterioration and disuse.
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    Today, China Alley suffers from rain damage, vandalism and years of deterioration and disuse.
    Courtesy Steve Banister, Taoist Temple Preservation Society
  • Fort Gaines, located on Dauphin Island, Ala., played a pivotal role in the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. Four hundred feet of the historic battle site has already been lost to erosion.
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    Fort Gaines, located on Dauphin Island, Ala., played a pivotal role in the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. Four hundred feet of the historic battle site has already been lost to erosion.
    Michael H. Henderson/Courtesy Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board
  • Starting in A.D. 700, New Mexico was home to prehistoric farmers called the Chacoan people. Thousands of ancient pueblos and shrines remain in the Greater Chaco Landscape.
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    Starting in A.D. 700, New Mexico was home to prehistoric farmers called the Chacoan people. Thousands of ancient pueblos and shrines remain in the Greater Chaco Landscape.
    Jonathan Poston
  • Energy development has left the sacred sites of the Chaco Landscape vulnerable. Above, the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant near Farmington, N.M.
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    Energy development has left the sacred sites of the Chaco Landscape vulnerable. Above, the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant near Farmington, N.M.
    Adriel Heisey
  • The cloverleaf-shaped Prentice Women's Hospital building in Chicago, designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg, opened in 1974. The open-floor plan was designed to create four circular villages of care. The hospital relocated to a new building in 2007 and the vacant tower faces demolition.
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    The cloverleaf-shaped Prentice Women's Hospital building in Chicago, designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg, opened in 1974. The open-floor plan was designed to create four circular villages of care. The hospital relocated to a new building in 2007 and the vacant tower faces demolition.
    Kiichiro Sato/AP
  • In 1964, jazz legend John Coltrane bought a modest ranch-style home in Dix Hills, N.Y., where he lived until his death in 1967. It was in this 1 1/2- story brick house that he wrote "A Love Supreme." A local group has rallied to save the deteriorating home from demolition.
    Hide caption
    In 1964, jazz legend John Coltrane bought a modest ranch-style home in Dix Hills, N.Y., where he lived until his death in 1967. It was in this 1 1/2- story brick house that he wrote "A Love Supreme." A local group has rallied to save the deteriorating home from demolition.
    Evening Standard/Getty Images
  • For the first time, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has placed a site on "Watch Status." The entire city of Charleston, S.C., has been identified as a potentially endangered site because the expanding cruise ship industry threatens the character of the historic port city. Above, a cruise liner makes a port call in Charleston in January 2010.
    Hide caption
    For the first time, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has placed a site on "Watch Status." The entire city of Charleston, S.C., has been identified as a potentially endangered site because the expanding cruise ship industry threatens the character of the historic port city. Above, a cruise liner makes a port call in Charleston in January 2010.
    Bruce Smith/AP

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On Wednesday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its latest list of places the trust considers the most endangered in the country. The list of 11 includes a Chicago hospital; a jazz musician's home; and a plant in Minneapolis that was once the world's most advanced flour mill.

The  concrete, cloverleaf-shaped Prentice Women's Hospital building in Chicago was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg. When the hospital moved to a new building in 2007, the tower was left nearly vacant. It is now facing demolition. i i

hide captionThe concrete, cloverleaf-shaped Prentice Women's Hospital building in Chicago was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg. When the hospital moved to a new building in 2007, the tower was left nearly vacant. It is now facing demolition.

Kiichiro Sato/AP
The  concrete, cloverleaf-shaped Prentice Women's Hospital building in Chicago was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg. When the hospital moved to a new building in 2007, the tower was left nearly vacant. It is now facing demolition.

The concrete, cloverleaf-shaped Prentice Women's Hospital building in Chicago was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg. When the hospital moved to a new building in 2007, the tower was left nearly vacant. It is now facing demolition.

Kiichiro Sato/AP

There are sites in every region of the country on this list, but the Old Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago is in the most imminent danger of being torn down. Preservationists rallied at the hospital Wednesday, chanting for landmark status as the building's concrete, cloverleaf-shaped tower loomed in the background. Jonathan Fine, the executive director of Preservation Chicago, says the old hospital — designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg in the 1970s — is a modern masterpiece.

In a city renowned internationally for architecture, Fine says, destroying such a structure would be a travesty: "It's not what great cities do or culturally literate cities do. We don't destroy works of art."

The preservationists say the hospital is a prime candidate for reuse. It's owned by Northwestern University; spokesperson Alan Cubbage says the school needs a research facility and the old hospital can't be retrofitted. "It is not a landmark," he says. "And the university — our core missions are education and research."

While the battle continues, Alison Fisher, assistant curator of architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago, says the museum will soon present the first American retrospective of Goldberg's work. "He was an incredibly prolific architect," says Fisher, "and hospitals, for the mature part of his career, were his primary foci."

Joining the Prentice Hospital on the National Trust list is jazz musician John Coltrane's home on Long Island. It's suffering from mold and neglect despite the efforts of a local group to restore it. Coltrane had turned one of the bedrooms into a music studio and wrote many songs, including his masterpiece, "A Love Supreme," there.

Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust, says the house where Coltrane lived is not architecturally significant — but its cultural heritage makes it worth saving.

Outdoor activities at Belmead-on-the-James, a plantation turned educational institution in Powhatan County, Va. The campus once boasted 40-plus buildings; today, only three major historic structures remain standing. i i

hide captionOutdoor activities at Belmead-on-the-James, a plantation turned educational institution in Powhatan County, Va. The campus once boasted 40-plus buildings; today, only three major historic structures remain standing.

Courtesy Preservation Virginia
Outdoor activities at Belmead-on-the-James, a plantation turned educational institution in Powhatan County, Va. The campus once boasted 40-plus buildings; today, only three major historic structures remain standing.

Outdoor activities at Belmead-on-the-James, a plantation turned educational institution in Powhatan County, Va. The campus once boasted 40-plus buildings; today, only three major historic structures remain standing.

Courtesy Preservation Virginia

"What it represents is that important moments of American history can happen in our neighborhoods," Meeks points out, "and there's an opportunity for preservation around every corner."

Deferred maintenance, neglect and vacancy are some of the typical reasons places like the Coltrane home; China Alley in the San Joaquin Valley; and Belmead-on-the-James — an African-American heritage site in Virginia — are on the verge of collapse or losing their rehab potential.

The National Trust has also started a new endangered "watch list," and the entire city of Charleston, S.C., is on it. Meeks recognizes the work Charleston has done to preserve its heritage while balancing a huge demand of heritage tourism. "But at the same time, the watch list is an attempt to signal our concern about the impacts of cruise ship tourism on that city and the National Historic Landmark district," says Meeks.

Meeks adds that the goal of the endangered list is to garner attention for the country's historical places. She says that out of a list of more than 200 places the National Trust for Historic Preservation has identified in the past as endangered, only eight have been lost.

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