What is the America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places program?
For more than 35 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has spotlighted important and threatened historic places across the country. Since its first publication in 1988, the list has helped to save hundreds of places that are intrinsically linked with the American story—places such as Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay, Civil Rights landmark Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, revered Modernist icons like the soaring TWA Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport, Native American cultural landscapes like Bears Ears in Utah, and President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, D.C. While placement on the 11 Most list itself does not provide legal protections, we are proud of the fact that fewer than five percent of listed sites have been lost.
Why 11 historic places? Why not 10 like other lists?
According to National Trust lore, when the first list was being put together in 1988, the organization had winnowed it down to 11 places and left it to then-president J. Jackson Walter to select the worthiest 10. Walter thought all 11 were important and deserved recognition, so the first year featured 11 sites and it has been the same ever since.
How can inclusion on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list help save my endangered site?
Placement on the list raises public awareness and can be a powerful tool for local advocates to rally public support around the country to help save a threatened site. The National Trust’s annual announcement generates coverage in national media outlets such as NPR, The New York Times, and Associated Press, along with regional and local media outlets. The media spotlight can help amplify local advocacy efforts to save historic places, creating pressure for a change of course. Listing can also help attract new stakeholders and supporters to the cause of saving a threatened historic place.
In some instances, inclusion on the 11 Most list brought endangered sites to the attention of potential new owners or bolstered efforts to attract funding from charitable foundations or individual donors. (Please note: Inclusion on the 11 Most list does not come with any funding from the National Trust.)
What are some examples of sites that have been on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list?
Two exhibits on Google Arts & Culture provide a look back on six different places that previously were on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Read about each site's significance, hear directly from advocates about the impact of the listing on the preservation of the site, and learn how you can help.
You can also view the full list of sites previously included on the 11 Most list.
What is the process for selecting sites for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list?
The first step is to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI). An LOI to nominate a site for America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places can be submitted by any person or organization. An LOI is like a mini-application letting the National Trust know that you would like to nominate your site as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
The National Trust will review all submitted LOIs and will invite select applicants to submit a full nomination in November 2023. The 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places will be announced in May 2024.
A team from the National Trust thoroughly reviews all LOIs and nominations, and senior executive staff decide the final list.
What criteria guide the selection of sites for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list?
When evaluating a potential site for inclusion on the list, the Trust’s team considers a range of factors including historic significance, local support for preservation, the urgency of the threat, and potential solutions to that threat. Sites do not need to be nationally significant or “famous” to make the list. We’re looking for places that matter to you and the people in your community.
As part of the National Trust’s continued commitment to telling the full American story, we particularly invite nominations that highlight a unique or overlooked aspect of American history and that expand our understanding of our diverse shared national heritage. To that end, we welcome nominations of historic places important to communities who are historically underrepresented within preservation, including, but not limited to, places associated with women, immigrants, Asian Americans, Black Americans, Latine Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and LGBTQ+ communities.
Does my site need to be landmarked or on a historic register to be considered for 11 Most Endangered Historic Places?
No, sites are not required to be officially landmarked in any way. We gladly accept nominations for sites that have no historic designation.
What kinds of threats can the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list help resolve?
Inclusion on the America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list raises public awareness and can be very effective at discouraging demolition or inappropriate development, or at helping to resolve a pattern of neglect. It can help increase pressure on property owners, elected officials, and other decision-makers to support preservation solutions. If the threat is a lack of funding, the visibility provided by inclusion on the list can bring new partners to the table and help sites with their fundraising efforts.
Listing does not guarantee financial resources or an immediate save. Preservation is hard work and often takes a long time. Experience shows that 11 Most designation is most effective when it supports a local effort to save a historic place and amplifies locally led advocacy. It is only as helpful as you make it!
Are there any reasons to not nominate a site to the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list?
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places generates a great deal of media visibility for listed sites. If your endangered site is undergoing delicate negotiations or other preservation interventions that could be undermined by media visibility, an 11 Most listing might not be the right tool for you.
Does getting a site on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list prevent it from being demolished?
No, listing on America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places does not prevent a site from being demolished. It is a purely honorific title with no legal or regulatory restrictions attached. However, the visibility that comes from listing can help encourage decision-makers to find alternatives to demolition.
If my site is selected for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list, will I receive money or assistance from the National Trust?
If your site is selected for America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, you will receive technical assistance and support from National Trust staff to promote the media announcement of the designation. This type of assistance from a national organization can help organizations and stewards of historic places share their story more effectively with a broader audience.
By working with National Trust staff to promote the most-endangered listing, the supporters of many previously listed endangered sites have been able to enhance their own capacity to engage with the media, attract new volunteers and supporters, increase their social media profile, and connect to other potential partners. In some limited cases, National Trust staff continue to work with listed sites to provide technical assistance and advice after the endangered announcement. Inclusion on 11 Most list does not come with any funding.
What if the help my site really needs is funding—are there National Trust grants available?
Although inclusion on America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places does not come with any funding attached, the National Trust has separate grant programs that can provide financial assistance for planning, education, and brick-and-mortar projects. 11 Most designation is not required to apply for grants from the National Trust. For more information on the National Trust’s grant programs, please visit our grants page.
If my site is selected for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list, how will I work with the National Trust team to bring greater attention to the endangered place?
National Trust staff, including experts in historic preservation and media relations, work closely with the nominator and local advocates to get the word out about the designation and threats to sites included in the list. Successful listings depend upon active local advocates. In short, we can’t do it alone; we work in partnership with the people who know these places the best—you!
Do 11 Most Endangered Historic Places nominations need to come from organizations, or can members of the general public apply?
Members of the general public are more than welcome to submit an LOI. Representatives of organizations are also very welcome to nominate a site. For members of the general public, we would encourage you to connect with organizations in your area that are supporting efforts to save your endangered place, or could potentially be allies. Potential supporters include local governments, historic preservation commissions, neighborhood development nonprofits, local foundations, block clubs, local or state preservation organizations, social justice organizations, historical societies, social media advocacy groups, and many more.
Think as broadly as possible about who might be willing and able to support your efforts. Whether your site is selected for the 11 Most list or not, rallying support for the threatened place from groups and organizations in your area will bolster your advocacy efforts and help build momentum for a save.
What’s the timeline for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places selection process? How often can applicants expect to hear from National Trust staff during the process?
Letters of Intent will be accepted through October 4, 2023. Applicants should expect to hear from the National Trust in November regarding the status of their LOI. A select group of LOIs will be invited to submit a full nomination in November.
Once nomination forms are submitted, the National Trust will carefully review each nomination before selecting the final 11 for the list. Nominators may hear from National Trust staff in December and January with questions and requests for more information. Nominators will be notified in March 2024 about the status of their application. The 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places will be announced in May 2024.
If my site is in imminent danger of being demolished before the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list is announced, should I still apply?
The list will be announced in May 2024. If there is a possibility that demolition might not take place until after early May 2024, please apply and emphasize the urgency in your LOI. If you have not already done so, we also encourage you to reach out to other local and statewide preservation organizations for immediate support.
Does the owner of the historic place have to know that I’m submitting an LOI or nomination for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list? Is owner support required?
You do not have to inform the owner that you are nominating a site, and the owner does not have to be supportive. However, if your site is selected for America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the National Trust will work you to make sure that the owner and other key stakeholders are notified in a strategic way before the public announcement. 11 Most Endangered designations are not used to “ambush” the owner of a historic place.
Can 11 Most Endangered Historic Places nominators remain anonymous?
We do need nominators to share their contact information with the National Trust so we can work with you to review your submission. However, nominators may remain anonymous to the public and to the media if they wish. We do not release the names or organizations of nominators without permission.
Can I apply for the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list again if I applied and was not successful last year?
Yes. While re-applying does not guarantee selection, we’re always happy to review repeat applications. Please be sure to explain what has changed with your site since you last applied.
If my site was previously included on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list but is still threatened, or faces a new threat, can I apply again?
Yes. We select a new list of 11 sites every year, but we do sometimes re-list a site that was previously included, although rarely. Potential re-listings will be evaluated using the same criteria as new listings. Make your best case for why the site should be considered for listing again, and please be sure to explain any changes since the first 11 Most designation.
Will my 11 Most Endangered Historic Places application be rejected if I don’t have all the requested information?
Our informed review of your LOI depends upon the quality of information submitted. Please attempt to provide as much information as possible about the site. Some questions in the LOI are required in order to submit the form, so you must put some text into those fields. If you do not submit the LOI form, we won’t be able to see or review any of your information.
If you have questions about submitting a specific site, please email us at 11Most@savingplaces.org.
Where can I find technical assistance using Submittable submission platform?
The National Trust uses the platform Submittable to manage submissions of LOIs and nominations for the 11 Most Endangered program. View Submittable’s Help Center for technical assistance with the Letter of Intent.
Here are some other useful video tutorials and links on how to use Submittable
To ensure you are receiving notifications from Submittable about the status of your LOI or nomination, make sure you have selected "Yes, I want to receive email notifications" in your Submitter Profile under Personal Settings/User Settings. As a second step, if you have not already, safelist Submittable.com with your email provider: How Can I Safelist Notification Emails From Submittable?