Press Release | Washington, DC | October 5, 2016

North Charleston’s World War II-Era Naval Hospital District Named To National Trust’s 2016 11 Most Endangered List

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Charleston Naval Hospital District in North Charleston, SC, 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 260 sites have been on the list over its 29-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.

Dating to 1902 and chiefly constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938, the Charleston Naval Hospital District was completed just in time for the outbreak of WWII. The Naval Hospital District is one of three National Register Districts on the site of the former Charleston Navy Base and played a prominent role during WWII, serving as the primary re-entry point for American servicemen injured in Europe and Africa. At times as many as 4,000 wounded soldiers were received and treated here every month.

The Naval Hospital District was constructed on a portion of what was Chicora Park, designed by the firm of famed landscape architect Frederick L. Olmsted in 1899. Additionally, the District features a hospital with a layout that reflects important contemporary advances in military medicine. The main hospital building was constructed with specialized wings to include psychiatric care, reflecting the growth of medical specializations.

Located in the rapidly developing area of North Charleston, the Naval Hospital District currently sits primarily vacant, with only a few outlying buildings in use. Proposed construction of a rail line by Palmetto Railways, extending the length of the District, calls for the demolition of nine of the 32 buildings that make up the District, and would seriously hinder the reuse of 19 others. Not only would the rail line result in the destruction of integral buildings within the Naval Hospital District, which could cause a de-listing from the National Register, it would also diminish the potential ability for adaptive reuse of the complex as a vibrant community space.

“The Charleston Naval Hospital District is an incredibly important historic resource that has been underappreciated for far too long,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We believe there is a solution and, indeed, a great opportunity to incorporate the site as a vibrant and integral part of the larger North Charleston community.”

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.

Follow us on Twitter at @savingplaces and join the conversation using the hashtag #11Most.

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 history.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
SavingPlaces.org | @savingplaces

Each year, America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places sheds light on important examples of our nation’s heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

See the List