11 Most Endangered Historic Places' list includes Eatonville, Fla. The National Trust's annual list includes Eatonville, the all-Black Florida town memorialized by Zora Neale Hurston, Alaska's Sitka Tlingit Clan houses, and the home of country singer Cindy Walker.

Here's this year's list of the most endangered historic places in the U.S.

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There is a lonely, old church in the mountains of West Virginia that holds a hidden history. It is one of the most endangered places in America, according to a new list from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The New Salem Baptist Church was where Black coal miners worshipped in a segregated camp in the 1920s and beyond. NPR's Neda Ulaby tells us about some of the other endangered places on that list.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: The annual list this year also includes the longtime home of a trailblazing country songwriter in Mexia, Texas. Here's a song that she wrote for Roy Orbison in 1962.


ROY ORBISON: (Singing) Sweet dream, baby.

ULABY: Cindy Walker wrote country standards and No. 1 hits for Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard and more starting in the 1940s. But in spite of a remarkable 60-year career, she's relatively unknown. Carol Quillen runs the National Trust. She says, when Walker died nearly 20 years ago, her house was left abandoned. Recently, a group of fans started cleaning it up.

CAROL QUILLEN: They found all kinds of things there. They found her typewriter. They found her Country Music Awards. They found songs that no one had ever heard before.

ULABY: Here is one of them, a lost demo recorded by Cindy Walker.


CINDY WALKER: (Singing) Well, I woke up feeling happy, feeling good and satisfied. I woke up to the sound of Tennessee rain with a Texas woman by my side, by my side, by my side...

ULABY: This is the first time "Tennessee Rain" has ever been broadcast.


WALKER: (Singing) Have no urge to ramble...

ULABY: The list of endangered places ranges from one of the very last lighthouses on New York's Hudson River to Sitka, Alaska, where only a very few traditional clan houses of the Tlingit people remain. Extended families would live there together.

QUILLEN: And part of the preservation plan would involve reconstructing some clan houses, and that's a new thing for us, right? Preservation through reconstruction as a way of preserving an invisible cultural heritage is important.


ZORA NEALE HURSTON: (Singing) Captain got a mule, mule on the mount...

ULABY: The cultural heritage of Eatonville, Fla., was immortalized in the classic novel, "Their Eyes Were Watching God." Eatonville is where Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston grew up. It was one of the first self-governing all-Black towns in the U.S., and it's also on the endangered list.


ABRAHAM GORDON: This town will be gone. You see a little plaque - there was Eatonville.

ULABY: Abraham Gordon was a former mayor of Eatonville. He's now deceased. He talked to NPR in 2015 about the twin problems of neglect and development threatening his hometown, a vital site in American culture. The goal for all of these places is continued relevance, says the head of the National Trust.

QUILLEN: We don't want to spray these sites with Scotchgard, you know, and rope them off.

ULABY: Carol Quillen.

QUILLEN: We really want to reinvigorate them so that they can continue to bring people together now and long into the future.

ULABY: The annual list of endangered places by the National Trust has seen some triumphs over the past 30 years. The attention it's brought to endangered places has helped save dozens of them, including an old Civil War battlefield in Maryland and the high school in Little Rock, Ark., where students helped overturn a legacy of legal segregation.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.


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