America's 11 Most 'Endangered' Places

29 June, 2018

Route 66, a town square in Colorado, and hurricane-damaged sites in the Caribbean are among America's most "endangered" historic places.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently released its endangered list for 2018. The list includes architectural and cultural sites the non-profit group considers at risk from development or lack of care.

Places named on the list sometimes end up receiving greater support and money for repairs. But other times, a listing can lead to debates about public spending. Saving historic places is costly. Officials and the public may feel that developing the area would bring much-needed modernization or economic growth.

The National Trust has identified nearly 300 endangered historic places since 1988. Fewer than five percent of those listed have been lost, the group says.

Here are the 11 sites identified in the latest endangered places list:

Route 66

Route 66 in southern Missouri
Route 66 in southern Missouri

Route 66 represents America's love of the open road. American lawmakers have taken a first step to protect the road by proposing it be named a National Historic Trail.

The move would bring "recognition and economic development" to historic sites along Route 66. But first the U.S. Senate must pass legislation and the president must sign it by the end of 2018. If the measure does not pass, the National Trust warns "a vital preservation opportunity may be lost."

Larimer Square

The Trust says Larimer Square is the most historic part of Denver, Colorado. It also was the city's first business center. The area has for years been considered a good example of how to "revitalize neighborhoods through preservation," the group adds. However, development proposals and building projects threaten the famous square.

Hurricane-damaged sites in the Caribbean

The 2017 hurricane season brought death and destruction to the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The storms also badly damaged many historic and cultural areas. The 2018 hurricane season has already begun, and the damage remains. The Trust says these sites are further threatened because of "limited materials, financing and preservation expertise."

Walkout Schools of Los Angeles

The Walkout Schools in Los Angeles were central to the 1968 East L.A. Chicano Student Walkouts. The protests were part of the nationwide Chicano, or Mexican American, Civil Rights Movement. The five middle- and high schools are physical "representations of the power of student activism," the Trust says. But it warns they are under threat. School district officials are calling for their demolition.

City Dock Area in Annapolis, Maryland

In this photo taken Wednesday, March 17, 2010, the dome of the Maryland State House is shown as a boat leaves the City Dock in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
In this photo taken Wednesday, March 17, 2010, the dome of the Maryland State House is shown as a boat leaves the City Dock in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

The city of Annapolis, Maryland, sits on the Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis is the state capital and home to the U.S. Naval Academy. Its City Dock area is one of the most historic spaces among U.S. cities. However, a proposal to change rules on land use threatens the city's quality of life, tourism economy and views of the Chesapeake, the National Trust says.

Ashley River Historic District

The Ashley River Historic District is in the South Carolina Lowcountry, near the city of Charleston. The Ashley and nearby rivers were important for early settlers and transportation in the Lowcountry. The historic district includes sites connected to the area's rice-growing culture and timber industry of the late 19th century. The National Trust says the area is threatened by a proposal that would lead to changes and "intensive development...that could damage the historic landscape."

Ship on the Desert

The Wallace E. Pratt house, also known as the Ship on the Desert, sits within the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. The house was the home of scientist Wallace Pratt. It was built in the modern "International Style" of architecture that rose to popularity beginning in the 1920s. In the past, the National Park Service gave tours of the property and let its workers stay there. Today, the home is closed to the public and badly in need of repairs.

Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses

The Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses are said to be the oldest houses built by African Americans in the state of Connecticut. They are the final remaining structures of the "Little Liberia" community of free people of color in the North, before America's Civil War. The National Trust says the houses have been empty for many years and need extensive repairs.

Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte Memorial Hospital

The Susan LaFlesche Picotte Memorial Hospital in Nebraska is named after the first Native American to receive permission to practice medicine in the U.S. It is believed to be the first medical center built for on Indian land without federal money. Today the hospital is empty. And the National Trust says it faces an unsure future.

Isaiah T. Montgomery House

Mound Bayou, in the Mississippi River Delta, was one of the first all-black towns in post-Civil War America. A former slave, Isaiah T. Montgomery, set up the town. His home still stands today. But it is said to be in great need of repair work to prevent it from collapsing.

Mount Vernon

The Trust also notes a proposal to build a gas processing station close to Piscataway Park. The park sits on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, across from Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, America's first president. The project would affect the famous view from Mount Vernon and surrounding land.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

And I'm Caty Weaver.

Ashley Thompson wrote this report based on an Associated Press article and additional materials from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

preservation - n. the act of keeping something in its original state or in good condition

architectural - adj. relating to the art or science of designing and creating buildings

site - n. a place where something important has happened

vital - adj. extremely important

opportunity - n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done

revitalize - v. to make (someone or something) active, healthy, or energetic again

view - n. the things that can be seen from a particular place

demolition - n. planned destruction of a building or other structure

tourism - n. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

timber - n. trees that are grown in order to produce wood

style - n. a particular way in which something is done, created, or performed

practice - v. to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life