James River at Jamestown Named to National Trust’s 2016 11 Most Endangered List
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the James River in Jamestown, VA, to its 2016 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 270 sites have been on the list over its 29-year history, and in that time, fewer than five percent of listed sites have been lost.
The picturesque landscapes and viewshed of the James River at Jamestown has been largely undeveloped for more than 400 years. Today’s view of the river is much the same as the view Captain John Smith experienced when the first permanent English colony was established on the river’s shores in 1607.
The integrity of this historic viewshed is currently in jeopardy from the proposed construction of a massive transmission line that would forever mar the landscape. Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed transmission line would include an approximately four-mile crossing of the James River and 17 towers. Some of the towers would stand nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty (295 feet) and be topped with red flashing lights. The towers would be visible from scenic viewpoints in Colonial National Historic Park as well as from parts of Jamestown Island. The same threat also landed the James River on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2013.
“The James River at Jamestown is a national treasure with a view that has been largely unchanged for centuries,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Three years after we first named the James River one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the preservation of this important region remains as important as ever. We continue to advocate for a solution that would bury the power lines or move the project to a less historically significant area.”
Alternatives exist to the proposed transmission line that would enable Dominion to continue to meet the energy needs of Virginia’s Peninsula. The National Trust continues to advocate that the Army Corps of Engineers deny Dominion a permit for this project or prepare an environmental impact study to fully evaluate alternative solutions.
The 2016 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):
- Austin’s Lions Municipal Golf Course – Austin, Texas. Widely regarded as the first municipal golf course in the South to desegregate, “Muny” is an unheralded civil rights landmark facing development pressure.
- Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lincoln University – Lincoln, Pa. The oldest building on the campus of the first degree- granting institution in the nation for African Americans, this hallowed building currently stands empty and faces an uncertain future.
- Bears Ears – Southeastern Utah. The 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears cultural landscape features a world-class collection of archaeological sites, cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and ancient roads that illuminate 12,000 years of human history yet is now threatened by looting, mismanaged recreational use, and energy development.
- Charleston Naval Hospital District – North Charleston, S.C. The historic district played a prominent role during WWII as a primary re-entry point for American servicemen injured in Europe and Africa. Now threatened by a proposed rail line, this important historic resource is at risk of being largely destroyed.
- Delta Queen – Houma, La. This steamboat was built in 1926 and today is among the last of her kind. Federal legislation that would enable this prestigious ship to return to overnight passenger cruising remains a key piece to securing the Delta Queen’s sustainability and future.
- El Paso’s Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio Neighborhoods – El Paso, Texas. These historic neighborhoods form the core of El Paso’s cultural identity, but their homes and small businesses are threatened by demolition.
- Historic Downtown Flemington – Flemington, N.J. Historic buildings at the core of the town that hosted the ‘Trial of the Century,’ the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial, are threatened by a development proposal that would demolish the iconic Union Hotel along with three other adjacent historic buildings.
- James River - James City County, Va.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 this list by the Trust in 2013, remain threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area.
- Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Domes - Milwaukee, Wis. A beloved Milwaukee institution for generations, a unique engineering marvel and a highly significant example of midcentury modern architecture, the Milwaukee Domes are facing calls for their demolition.
- San Francisco Embarcadero – San Francisco, Calif. The City by the Bay's iconic waterfront is beloved by residents and visitors alike, but needs long-term planning to address the dual natural threats of sea level rise and seismic vulnerability.
- Sunshine Mile – Tucson, Ariz. This two-mile corridor on Tucson’s Broadway Boulevard features one of the most significant concentrations of historic mid-century modern architecture in the Southwest. This unique collection of properties face threats from a transportation project that would require demolition.
America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 270 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