- Views & Opinions
The National Trust for Historic Preservation included Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes on its 2016 list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.”
Each year, the trust unveils a list that spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage
that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.
The trust’s designation appears to help protect the sites. In 29 years, fewer than five percent of 270 listed sites have been lost.
The trust said its latest list includes historic places in urban areas “at a time when cities across the nation are experiencing a resurgence.”
Millions of Americans are choosing to relocate to urban areas, with many opting to live in distinctive, older and even historic neighborhoods. Preservation in these neighborhoods is playing a key role in this trend of “reurbanism.”
A look at the 11 sites and what the trust has to say about them:
• Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, aka the Domes, is a beloved Milwaukee institution, a unique
engineering marvel and a highly significant example of mid-century modern architecture. Nonetheless, the Domes are facing calls for demolition, in part because of the cost of saving them.
• The Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita Neighborhoods of El Paso, Texas, have been centers of Latino community life for more than a century. Still, these neighborhoods are experiencing increasing demolition.
• San Francisco’s Embarcadero District must adapt to the threats of seismic vulnerability and sea-level rise.
• The Sunshine Mile in Tucson is an architecturally rich commercial corridor populated by smaller-scale mid-century
buildings, many of which could be lost if a new transportation plan moves ahead.
• Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin is widely regarded as the first municipal golf course in the South to desegregate. “Muny” is a civil rights landmark facing development pressure.
• Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University, Lincoln, Pennsylvania, is the oldest building on the campus of
the first degree-granting institution in the nation for African Americans. The hall currently stands empty and faces an uncertain future.
• Bears Ears in Southeastern Utah is a 1.9 million-acre cultural landscape featuring an excellent collection of archaeological sites, cliff dwellings, petroglyphs and ancient roads that illuminate 12,000 years of human history. The area is threatened by looting, mismanaged recreational use and energy development.
• Charleston Naval Hospital District, North Charleston, South Carolina, is a historic district because of the prominent role it played during World War II as a primary re-entry point for American servicemen injured in Europe and Africa. Now threatened by a proposed rail line, the district is at risk of being largely destroyed.
• The Delta Queen, in Houma, Louisiana, is a steamboat built in 1926 and today is among the last of its kind. Federal legislation that would enable the ship to return to overnight passenger cruising remains a key piece to securing the Delta Queen’s sustainability and future.
• Historic Downtown Flemington, New Jersey, features historic buildings at the core of the town that hosted the “Trial
of the Century” — the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial in 1935. That historic core is threatened by a development proposal that would demolish the Union Hotel, along with three other buildings.
• James River, James City County, Virginia. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. The river and landscape, also named to the Endangered Historic Places list in 2013, remain threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area.
“For nearly 30 years, our list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has called attention to threatened one-of-akind treasures throughout the nation and galvanized local communities to help save them,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s list elevates important threatened historic places in our nation’s cities at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas.”
She continued, “We know that preservation is an essential part of the current urban renaissance and that old buildings
contribute to the sustainability and walkability of our communities. Historic buildings are also powerful economic engines that spur revitalization, meet a broad range of human needs and enhance the quality of life for us all. With thoughtful and creative policy approaches and tools, we can tap the full potential of these important places and
secure a foundation for a stronger and more vibrant future.”