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America's Most Endangered Places 2013

The Astrodome in Houston, Texas is among American sites most at risk

America's Most Endangered Places

Each year since 1998, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (www.nationaltrust.org) has released a list of 11 historic sites across the country that are in danger of being lost forever. Inclusion on the list does not guarantee a site's survival, but it does generate publicity for the locations and in many cases leads to increased conservation efforts. Here is the 2013 list, in alphabetical order.

1. Abyssinian Meeting House, Maine

Built in 1828, the Abyssinian Meeting House is a modest house of worship with great historic significance to the people in Maine. Serving as a school for African-American children, community center, and a stop on the Underground Railroad, the Abyssinian is the third oldest-standing African-American meeting house in the United States.

2. Astrodome, Texas

As the world's first domed, indoor, air-conditioned stadium, the 18-story multi-purpose Houston Astrodome was deemed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when it opened in 1965. It is a marvel of modern engineering, and was designed to embody Houston’s innovative, entrepreneurial and space-age development as a major U.S. city. The Astrodome was home to Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros and the National Football League's Houston Oilers for many years, and also played host to numerous other notable events, from the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973, to the Republican National Convention in 1992. Without a viable reuse plan, the Astrodome will likely succumb to calls for demolition.

3. Gay Head Lighthouse, Massachusetts

Gay Head Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard and one of the first in the U.S. to receive a first order Fresnel lens in 1856. Many men in the Aquinnah community, including members of the Wampanoag tribe, worked at the lighthouse. Standing atop the National Natural Landmark Gay Head Cliffs, the lighthouse serves as a beacon to Wampanoag tribal heritage and is the only lighthouse with a history of Native American Lighthouse keepers.

4. Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana, Montana.

The state of Montana has long had an abundance of historic, rural schoolhouses—for decades, the state has held the distinction of having more one-and-two room schoolhouses still in operation than any other state, and at least one of these iconic schoolhouses can still be found in each of Montana’s 56 counties. Montana families that farmed the land in the 19th and 20th centuries relied on these rural schools to educate their children, as the vast distances between towns made it impractical to travel to schools in population centers.

5. James River, Virginia

Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. Today, visitors trace early American history and the exploration route of Captain John Smith on the only historic National Park Service water trail – the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Carter’s Grove, Jamestown Island, Colonial National Historical Park and the John Smith Trail all provide visitors with a unique experience of the area’s history.

6. Kate Cannery, Alaska

Located in a remote village in Southeast Alaska, the Kake Cannery is one of the only canneries in the United States listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is a large complex comprised of several wooden buildings situated on land held in trust by the Organized Village of Kake (OVK), a federally recognized Native American tribe. Kake Cannery played a key role in the development of the Alaskan salmon-canning industry during the first half of the 20th century. The cannery attracted workers from many foreign countries, and was notable for its multi-ethnic—yet segregated—workforce.

7. Mountain View Black Officer's Club, Arizona

Mountain View Black Officers’ Club was built in 1942 and remains one of the most significant examples of a World War II-era military service club in the United States built specifically for African-American officers. The military, in response to “separate but equal” laws of the early 20th century, began a large-scale effort at Fort Huachuca army base to build barracks, hospitals, maintenance structures, offices, warehouses and recreational facilities, all of which were segregated and in many cases built in duplicate. During its operation the Mountain View Black Officers’ club hosted top performers and dignitaries such as Lena Horne, Dinah Shore and Joe Louis. Today, The Mountain View Black Officer’s Club faces demolition by the U.S. Army, which has threatened to place it on an active disposal list.

8. Rancho Cucamonga Chinatown House, California.

It was built from local materials in a vernacular style in 1919 and was designated a City Landmark in 1985. The two-story brick building provided housing and a general store for a community of approximately fifty Chinese American laborers. Today, the house is one of the last tangible connections to the history of the once-thriving Chinese American community that helped build modern-day Rancho Cucamonga.

9. San Josè Church, Puerto Rico.

Old San Juan's San José Church was built in 1532, a century before the Mayflower settlers established the first permanent colony in New England. One of the few surviving examples of 16th century Spanish Gothic architecture in the Western hemisphere, the building displays four centuries of architectural design and masonry traditions including the extraordinary Isabelline Gothic vaults, a rare Catalan architectural design.

10. Village of Mariemont, Ohio.

One of America’s most picturesque communities, the Village of Mariemont is a National Historic Landmark designed between 1921 and 1925 by renowned landscape architect and community planner John Nolen. Considered one of America’s most important examples of town planning, it was named a “Top 10 Great Neighborhood in America” by the American Planning Association in 2008, and its elegant layout continues to inspire planners and designers to this day.

11. Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport, New York

Opened in 1960, Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport, known for its flying-saucer shape, symbolizes America’s entry into the Jet Age and has been featured in several Hollywood films. The first commercial flights of the Boeing 707, the first “modern” jetliner, departed from the Terminal. In May 2013, Delta Airlines ceased operations from the Worldport Terminal, since renamed Terminal Three, and current plans of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey call for the demolition of the iconic structure.

Structures and Buildings

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
In addition to the phenomenon of “northern lights” (Aurora borealis) there are also the “southern lights” (Aurora australis).

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