New Jersey Downtown that Hosted Lindbergh Trial Named to National Trust’s 2016 11 Most Endangered List
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Historic Downtown Flemington, New Jersey 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.
Located within an hour’s drive of both Philadelphia and New York, downtown Flemington, New Jersey (population 4,500) has a wealth of 19th century architecture, and is thought to be the second-largest historic district in the state. The centerpiece of Flemington’s historic Main Street is the 1877 Union Hotel, most famous for having served the press, sequestered jurors, attorneys, and families involved in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial of 1935. Press reports issued from the hotel, located across the street from the county courthouse, riveted the nation during the trial, which ultimately led to the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann for kidnapping Charles and Anne Lindbergh’s son and prompted the government to make kidnapping a federal crime. The hotel was also known for its murals depicting local scenes that were painted during the Great Depression by two area artists, including an award-winning illustrator of the classic children’s books “Bambi” and “The Jungle Book.”
Flemington’s unique history is threatened by a developer’s proposal that would demolish the now-shuttered Union Hotel along with three other adjacent buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places to create a multi-story mixed use project that would tower over Main Street’s remaining buildings. The town council has approved the hotel/housing/retail development despite vocal opposition from citizens, the county historical society, and more than 1,500 individuals who have signed a local group’s online petition urging the preservation’s of the Union Hotel and downtown Flemington’s irreplaceable historic character.
“As a testament to Flemington’s proud history as a county seat and home of the ‘Trial of the Century,’ the Union Hotel and its adjacent historic buildings should be an integral part of Flemington’s future,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We encourage Flemington to again show the world its historic character by breathing new life into these key pieces of its history.”Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites at www.SavingPlaces.org/11Most
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