Tuesday, April 28, 2009

National Trust For Historic Preservation Announces 2009 List of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places(R)

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation today unveiled the 2009 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places(R), an annual list that highlights important examples of the nation's architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. The announcement was made adjacent to the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles by Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Diane Keaton, an Academy Award-winning actress and a trustee of the organization.

The Century Plaza Hotel was chosen as the site of this year's announcement to both highlight the threat to modernist architecture nationally and to focus attention on sustainability and the need to recycle existing infrastructure, rather than throw it away. Ironically, the hotel, a prominent Los Angeles landmark designed by Minoru Yamasaki (who also designed the World Trade Center's twin towers), is slated to be razed to accommodate two 600-foot-tall "environmentally sensitive" towers.

Also on the 2009 list: the Manhattan Project's Enola Gay Hangar at Wendover Airfield in Utah, which, along with other Manhattan Project-era sites, is in a critical state of disrepair; Frank Lloyd Wright's innovative Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, an architectural icon hobbled by structural deficiencies and a lack of restoration funding; and Mount Taylor in New Mexico, a sacred site for dozens of Native American tribes whose cultural and archaeological resources are threatened by uranium mining activity.

"The 22nd annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places reflects the extraordinary diversity and fragility of our shared heritage," said Richard Moe. "These 11 sites highlight many critical issues, including the importance of preserving architectural icons of the recent past and preservation as one of the most effective forms of sustainable development. Places like these help tell all of our stories, and losing them not only erases a piece of our heritage, it also represents a threat to our planet."

Speaking about the Century Plaza Hotel, Diane Keaton, a preservation activist concerned about safeguarding architectural landmarks in her hometown, added, "All over Los Angeles, too many of our great modern buildings have already fallen to the wrecking ball," said Keaton. "We need to lead by example and show the rest of the country that buildings are renewable, and we shouldn't be throwing them away. We should be recycling them just like we recycle newspapers."

The 2009 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places(R) was made possible, in part, by a grant from History(TM).

The public is invited to learn more about what they can do to support these and hundreds of other endangered sites, experience first-hand accounts of these places, and share stories and photos of their own at www.PreservationNation.org/11Most.

To download high resolution images and video of this year's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, visit http://press.nationaltrust.org/

The 2009 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):

Ames Shovel Shops, Easton, Mass. -- In southeastern Massachusetts, the Ames Shovel Shops complex, an intact 19th-century industrial village that resembles a picture-perfect New England college campus, is threatened by a plan to demolish several of the site's historic buildings and radically alter others to pave the way for new mixed-use development.

Cast-Iron Architecture of Galveston, Texas -- The assemblage of late-19th-century Greek Revival and Italianate buildings with elaborate cast-iron storefronts in Galveston's 12-block Strand/Mechanic National Historic Landmark District is one of the largest collections of historic commercial buildings in the country. Unfortunately, the widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Ike in September 2008 caused extensive damage, leaving the district fighting to survive.

Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, Calif. -- Opened in 1966, the 19-story curved hotel, designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design New York's World Trade Center twin towers, has been a prominent Los Angeles landmark for more than four decades. Despite a $36 million facelift just over a year ago, the hotel's new owners now intend to raze the building and replace it with two 600-foot, "environmentally sensitive" towers.

Dorchester Academy, Midway, Ga. -- Founded in 1868 as a school for freed slaves, Dorchester Academy started humbly in a one-room schoolhouse and later gained prominence as a center for voter registration drives during the civil rights movement. The academy's last remaining building, a handsome 1934 Greek Revival dormitory, is deteriorating and structurally compromised.

Human Services Center, Yankton, S.D. -- Founded in 1879 as the South Dakota Hospital for the Insane and once regarded as a model institution of its kind, this campus comprises a collection of neoclassical, Art Deco and Italianate buildings that have stood vacant for years. Despite the site's potential for innovative reuse and appropriate redevelopment, the State is moving forward with plans to demolish 11 historic buildings on the Yankton campus.

Lana'i City, Hawai'i -- One of Hawaii's eight main islands, Lana'i, known as the "Pineapple Isle," has lush tropical beaches, breathtaking natural beauty, lavish resorts and one attraction none of the other islands can claim: an intact plantation town. Lana'i City, built by pineapple baron James Dole in the 1920s, features plantation-style homes, a laundromat, jail, courthouse and police station, and is now threatened by a large-scale commercial development calling for the destruction or significant alteration of 15-20 historic buildings.

The Manhattan Project's Enola Gay Hangar, Wendover Airfield, Utah -- The hangar that housed the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, is, along with other Manhattan Project sites, in a critical state of disrepair.

Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth, N.H. to Kittery, Maine -- For more than 85 years, Memorial Bridge, the first major lift bridge in the eastern U.S., has been a sturdy and dramatic landmark, spanning the Piscataqua River and connecting two coastal towns steeped in history. But like so many others in the nation, the bridge has suffered from tight budgets and postponed maintenance. The states of Maine and New Hampshire have not yet agreed on a plan to save Memorial Bridge and are now considering their options, including its removal -- a move that would be costly and in direct opposition to the desires of local residents in two communities.

Miami Marine Stadium, Virginia Key, Fla. -- Completed in 1963, Miami Marine Stadium is both a South Florida landmark and an icon of modern design. Built entirely of poured concrete and featuring a dramatically cantilevered folded-plate roof, the stadium is a sentimental favorite of many Miami residents. After sustaining damage during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the stadium, a prime target for developers, closed and has since suffered from years of deterioration, vandalism and neglect.

Mount Taylor, near Grants, N.M. -- Located in the southwestern corner of New Mexico's San Mateo Mountains, midway between Albuquerque and Gallup, Mount Taylor, with an elevation of nearly 12,000 feet, is startlingly beautiful and a sacred place for as many as 30 Native American tribes. Currently, the mountain is under threat from exploration and proposals for uranium mining, which, if allowed to proceed, would have a devastating impact on this cherished historic place.

Unity Temple, Oak Park, Ill. -- Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple, designed for a Unitarian congregation in Oak Park, is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture. Completed in 1908, the cubist, flat-roofed structure is also one of the earliest public buildings to feature exposed concrete, one of Wright's signature design elements. Years of water infiltration have compromised the structure, prompting a multi-million-dollar rescue effort that the current congregation cannot afford.

America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 200 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. Learn more at www.PreservationNation.org/11Most.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (www.PreservationNation.org) is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. By saving the places where great moments from history -- and the important moments of everyday life -- took place, the National Trust for Historic Preservation helps revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development and promote environmental sustainability. With headquarters in Washington, DC, nine regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in all 50 states, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America's stories.

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