May 1, 2024

Discover America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2024

Now in its 37th year, the National Trust’s annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places continues to be a powerful, galvanizing tool for historic preservation, with over 350 sites listed and only a handful lost.

This year’s list exemplifies the National Trust’s continued commitment to telling the full American story, with a diverse array of sites both inside and outside the continental United States. These places mirror the complexities, challenges, and opportunities that have always been part of what it means to be American—and each have stories that are deserving of attention and care.

One theme connecting the 2024 list is the power of communities to come together to combat erasure and protect the cultural landmarks, treasured local businesses, restaurants, customs, and traditions that help tell the layered stories of those who’ve called a place home. By rallying around the places that bring these stories to life, communities are not only empowered by their unique pasts, but also safeguarding a sense of identity, continuity, and vitality for the future.

This year’s list challenges us to broaden our perspectives about American history, what it means to save places, and what our goals for preservation should be. Places like Estate Whim Museum in St. Croix and the Tangier American Legation in Morocco embody important but lesser-known stories that help us understand the breadth and complexity of American history. The Indigenous-led work to save and reconstruct Tlingit Clan Houses in Sitka, Alaska encourages us to think more broadly about what preservation means and how it can support perpetuation and celebration of clan traditions.

For many of the places featured this year, locally led efforts demonstrate a commitment to empowering communities through interpreting and protecting their ancestors’ legacies, combatting erasure, and supporting community-centered economic development. For instance, the Cindy Walker House and Eatonville, Florida both include music and the arts at the heart of their missions, exemplifying how the celebration of creativity can animate preservation efforts. United by their visions, the descendants and activists at all 11 of this year’s endangered places have stepped up to bring attention to their unique pasts and inspire us all into a brighter and more inclusive future.

All told, this year’s 11 Most Endangered list spotlights the simultaneously diverse and unifying connections between people, place, and history. Read more about these significant sites and learn how you can support them.

Cindy Walker House, Mexia, Texas

Cindy Walker (1917-2006) lived in her Mexia, Texas home for over 50 years, filling its rooms with the sounds of her prolific country music songwriting, with the support and musical accompaniment of her mother, Oree. Walker’s country songs scored Top 10 hits across five decades and her songs have been performed by artists from Willie Nelson to Elvis Presley to Bette Midler. Walker has been recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville as “One of the finest composers in country music history” and inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1997.

Yet her Texas home—where she wrote iconic songs like “You Don’t Know Me” on her pink flowered typewriter—has fallen into disrepair. Since her death in 2006, the property suffered from foundation issues and roof leaks, leading to significant interior damage. Like many female artists, Walker was largely overlooked in her lifetime. The lack of awareness, acknowledgment, and respect for Walker’s impact on country music allowed her home and studio to fall into an endangered condition.

As Walker now gets the recognition she deserves, many people are rallying to save her property. When Mexia native Lindsay Liepman learned that Walker’s home was threatened, she worked with Walker’s family members and formed the Cindy Walker Foundation (CWF) to purchase and stabilize the building. Initial cleanup of the home by volunteers unearthed treasures including Walker’s Texas Country Music Hall of Fame plaque found under her mattress, her Country Music Hall of Fame medallion found in a trunk in her garage, and numerous unpublished songs. CWF hopes to restore the home as a museum, community arts space, and songwriter’s retreat & residency program. However, they need support to halt the imminent structural deterioration of the home so that it can be restored, as well as a plan for how they can use the home and its contents to tell Cindy Walker’s story and inspire future generations of songwriters and musicians.

Listen to this collection of hit music from Cindy Walker, featuring tracks performed by the artist as well as other musical greats!

Eatonville, Florida

Eatonville, Florida was one of the first self-governing all-Black municipalities in the United States. The town was founded by Joe Clark, who purchased the land from owners in Maitland with help from a former Union captain Josiah Eaton and New York philanthropist Lewis Lawrence. In August 1887, twenty-seven Black men incorporated the Town. Eatonville grew over the next few decades to include commercial, religious, and residential buildings, as well as the Robert Hungerford Normal and Industrial School, the first school for Black children in Central Florida. Eatonville is perhaps most well-known as the hometown of iconic author, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. The community greatly influenced her life and literary work, and she celebrates the people and their culture and heritage throughout her body of work, most particularly in her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God and her 1942 autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road.

Despite its significance, currently Eatonville’s historic properties and cultural landscape do not have the necessary legal protections to support preservation-sensitive growth and development. Many historic buildings in Eatonville also need investment and rehabilitation so they can continue to illustrate the legacy and significance of the town.

Since 1987, the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community (P.E.C.) has been leading efforts to celebrate the community’s historic and cultural significance, including establishing the annual ZORA!® Festival; advocating for comprehensive protection of the town’s historic resources; and developing year-round cultural heritage tourism as a step in the economic revitalization of the community. P.E.C. and partners like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund are working with the Town of Eatonville on comprehensive preservation planning that would support the continued protection, rehabilitation, and vibrancy of this extraordinary community.

Estate Whim Museum, Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Established during the colonization of St. Croix by Denmark, Estate Whim was a plantation producing cotton and sugar for export to Europe and North America. From 1743 to 1848, Estate Whim was run by generations of Africans and their descendants enslaved by plantation owners. Following the island-wide revolt that spurred emancipation in 1848, workers labored there for 30 more years under extreme conditions with meager wages until most of the plantation estates on St. Croix were burned in the 1878 Fireburn labor revolt. In 1917, the U.S. acquired St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John from Denmark, and the U.S. government purchased Estate Whim in 1932. The St. Croix Landmarks Society (Landmarks) has leased and operated Estate Whim as a 12-acre museum site since 1954. It includes sugar processing mills, slave quarters, a bathhouse, a cookhouse, a watch-house, and a great house built in 1794. The museum’s collections include Crucian furniture, decorative arts, and other artifacts, as well as a research library and archives significant to understanding the history of St. Croix and the broader Caribbean.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely damaged Estate Whim Museum’s historic buildings and structures in 2017. Wooden frame roofing and limestone and cut-coral walls that were crafted by 18th century enslaved African masons and carpenters are deteriorating. With the slow pace of acquiring recovery dollars, tarps are still being used to prevent further damage. Despite the challenges, Landmarks continues to host tours and public events.

Landmarks recognizes the urgent need to repair the historic buildings and collections at Estate Whim Museum, but they need support and resources to move forward. By elevating awareness of this significant place, an endangered designation can encourage all supporters of Estate Whim Museum to coalesce around a strategy to repair the buildings and ensure continued public access to the museum.

Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, Athens, New York

Opened in 1874, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse used to be one of several “middle-of-the-river” lighthouses on the Hudson River. Now it’s one of only two left standing. The lighthouse was built to guide vessels around a shallow area in the river near Athens and Hudson, New York, and continues to serve as a navigation aid today, helping commercial and leisure mariners safely navigate this portion of the Hudson River. It is also open to the public as a museum, welcoming visitors and schoolchildren to learn about the lightkeepers and their families who lived in the building up until the 1940s.

However, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse may not stand for much longer. Erosion caused by ever larger and deeper commercial ships traveling the Hudson River, as well as ice flows, tides, and currents, has significantly damaged the 200 underwater wood pilings that support the lighthouse, and engineering reports indicate the building is at risk of collapse within three years if no action is taken. Preservation challenges only compound as roof leaks cause plaster damage, shifting causes facade cracks, metal gutters and railings rust, and timbers supporting the fog bell are weakened by rot. An estimated $7.5 million in funding is needed to stabilize the pilings and address preservation needs.

Since 1982, the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society has worked to preserve the lighthouse and operate its museum. They have begun a campaign to raise funding to restore the lighthouse and install an underwater steel curtain which would keep it from collapsing into the river. Significant additional funding and partnerships will be needed to protect this iconic beacon on one of America’s great rivers.

Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California

Established in 1884, Little Tokyo has endured more than a century of adversities, including the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II by the U.S. Government, large-scale demolition for municipal building construction, and urban renewal, but the neighborhood has remained central to the Japanese American community. In the 1990s, the community fought to designate one block of the commercial corridor as a National Historic Landmark. Little Tokyo is now home to over 400 small businesses, including approximately 50 long-time legacy businesses.

Since World War II, development extending from downtown LA has encroached on Little Tokyo. Now, gentrification and displacement of legacy businesses due to rising rents endanger the historic character that makes Little Tokyo unique, and beloved restaurants and businesses have already been forced to close or relocate. The erosion of Little Tokyo’s character is compounded by large-scale development and transit projects that are changing its culture and economy.

Organizations like the Little Tokyo Community Council, the Little Tokyo Service Center, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center have advocated on behalf of Little Tokyo for decades, forming the Sustainable Little Tokyo coalition and shaping a community vision that could protect the neighborhood’s culture, residents, and businesses. Neighborhood residents, business owners, and supporters are also seeking a voice in infrastructure projects to prioritize Little Tokyo’s culture and preservation. Attention, support, and investment in initiatives like the LA Legacy Business program, the Little Tokyo Community Investment Fund, and a potential cultural district program could help protect the people, places and institutions that make Little Tokyo distinct and irreplaceable.

Sign our petition today to show your support for community-led preservation of Little Tokyo’s distinct and irreplaceable cultural heritage.

Minute Man National Historical Park, Walden, and Nearby Landmarks, Massachusetts

Minute Man National Historical Park (MMNHP), Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond and Woods, and nearby areas of Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, and Bedford are home to places of great significance in American history. The 1775 “shot heard round the world” that began the Revolutionary War took place in what is now MMNHP, and the area includes preserved homes open to the public such as Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set Little Women, the Robbins House, commemorating a formerly enslaved Revolutionary War veteran, and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond and Woods. Visitors draw inspiration from these places significant to the American literary renaissance and environmental movements.

However, a proposed major expansion of Hanscom Field Airport, which directly abuts MMNHP, could significantly increase aviation activity over nearby historic and natural landscapes, doubling private jet hangar capacity, and increasing the airport footprint in what would be the largest expansion in Hanscom’s history, if approved. Advocates are concerned that the proposed development could lead to increased noise disruption in an area that is already impacted by noise from jet traffic, often interrupting park programming. Advocates also cite the potential for increased vehicular traffic and negative environmental and climate impacts of private jets.

This is not the first time this area has been threatened by proposed changes to Hanscom Field. In 2003, MMNHP and nearby historic sites were included on the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, helping ward off potential jet expansion at Hanscom. A strong coalition has formed in opposition to the new proposed expansion, advocating that this extraordinarily important historic area that witnessed the beginning of the United States’ struggle for independence is not the right place for a development of this scale and potential impact, and the National Trust is once again joining these efforts.

Sign the petition to Gov. Healey of Massachusetts and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg urging them to stop expansion of Hanscom Field and preserve these irreplaceable American treasures.

New Salem Baptist Church, Tams, West Virginia

Built in 1921, the New Salem Baptist Church is a physical reminder of the important contributions of Black coal miners to the coal industry in the United States — a story underrepresented in national historic preservation efforts. The church was a center of community for Black miners and their families in the culturally diverse coal company town of Tams, once home to around 1,250 people. Coal companies often intentionally recruited a diverse workforce to minimize labor organizing, including European immigrants, local farmers, and Black Americans moving north in search of employment. Today, however, like many other coal camps in this area of West Virginia, the town of Tams has largely disappeared from the landscape, except for the New Salem Baptist Church.

After the coal mine was closed in the 1960s and the last residents left Tams in the 1980s, the membership of New Salem Baptist Church declined. Although community support for the church is strong, the building needs more upkeep and repairs than the small, geographically dispersed congregation can currently handle.

The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is working with the congregation and area residents including Beckley Common Councilwoman Sherrie Hunter, whose father was the milkman in Tams, to raise awareness and funds for preservation of the New Salem Baptist Church. Volunteers and donations have supported roof repairs and cleanup, but more funding and partnerships will be needed to fully preserve the church and ensure that it can remain part of community life in the Winding Gulf for years to come.

Roosevelt High School, Gary, Indiana

Constructed in 1930, Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary is one of only three high schools in Indiana built specifically to serve the educational needs of Black Americans in the Jim Crow era. It was designed by noted architect William B. Ittner and constructed in response to advocacy by Gary’s Black community following large scale protests by white students when the school corporation attempted to racially integrate an existing high school. In its years of operation, Roosevelt has many notable alumni including Olympic boxer Charles Adkins, CBS reporter Emery King, NFL player Gerald Irons, actor Avery Brooks, and members of The Jackson 5.

Despite Roosevelt High School’s continued cultural importance to the Black community in Gary, declining enrollment and deferred maintenance led to its closing as a school in 2019 when the heating system failed causing water pipes to burst. This architecturally significant building that once was a center of community life is now sitting unoccupied and vulnerable to crime, vandalism, and arson, which has impacted other vacant structures across Gary, including other historic schools.

A coalition including the Gary East Side Community Development Corporation, National Gary Theodore Roosevelt Alumni Association, Indiana Landmarks, and other key partners are exploring feasible reuse strategies for the complex now that it will no longer be used as a school. Repair costs are estimated to be at least $20 million, but with the right resources and investment, supporters hope to preserve Roosevelt High School’s legacy and with it, contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the City of Gary.

Sitka Tlingit Clan Houses, Sitka, Alaska

The Sitka Tlingit Clan Houses in southeast Alaska are critically important to both the history and the future of the Lingít (commonly spelled in English as “Tlingit”). Southeast Alaska is the ancestral home of the Tlingit people. The Sheet'ká Kwaan (Sitka people) have owned this place for thousands of years. The area now known as Sitka Indian Village began in the 1820s when several clans built a new settlement there. Clan houses are units of matrilineal lineage, not just a physical structure but part of a person's heritage and identity. The Village once contained approximately 43 clan houses.

Clan houses were rebuilt by Tlingit tribal citizens in the Western style after 1867 when the U.S. gained territorial control. Authorities suppressed Native culture, society, and language, encouraging Native people to give up tribal affiliation, clan ceremonies, and multi-generational homes as a requirement for citizenship. Tlingit people are a matrilineal society, passing clan houses down to maternal nephews, but Western inheritance laws resulted in ownership of some clan houses passing to different clans or non-tribal owners. Systemic racial bias has prevented Native people from accumulating generational wealth to maintain clan houses, and properties may not qualify for other sources of funding. Today, only eight clan houses remain and even fewer function in the traditional way.

Jerrick Hope-Lang, a Tlingit tribal citizen whose Tlingit name is Lduteen, is working to preserve the Clan Houses as a place to celebrate and perpetuate clan traditions. He is collaborating with a team of Indigenous architects to design a new clan house on the site where his clan’s X’aaká Hít (Point House) once stood. They hope that by recognizing Clan Houses as not merely physical structures, but a concept of lineage and protocol that survives various physical iterations, they can encourage preservation, new construction, and ownership restoration of clan properties throughout the Village.

Tangier American Legation, Tangier, Morocco

In 1821, as a gift to the young United States, Moroccan Sultan Moulay Suliman presented the Tangier American Legation as a token of friendship, making it the first American public property located abroad. Today, the Legation encompasses that original building as the core of a complex completed between 1927-31. The Legation is the only National Historic Landmark located outside the United States and blends Moorish and Spanish architectural traditions. It went on to serve as a U.S. diplomatic mission for a record 140 years, as well as a strategic base of operations during World War II. After the Legation stopped serving an official diplomatic role, a group of volunteers banded together to save it. Today the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM) leases the property and operates it as a museum, library, and cultural center, serving the community through programs such as women’s literacy and skills training.

Though the Legation is owned by the U.S. government under the oversight of the Department of State, it has no dedicated funding. The recent collapse of an adjacent building caused serious structural issues, necessitating closure of the library to the public and relocation of valuable books and artifacts. The Legation needs $10 million to support structural stabilization and repair, made more complex by the region’s history of seismic activity, as well as systems upgrades for museum collections.

The Fund to Conserve United States Diplomatic Treasures Abroad (Fund to Conserve) was established in 2012 as a private partner supporting preservation of the Department of State’s many properties of cultural and architectural significance. Working with TALIM and the Department of State, the Fund to Conserve is launching a campaign to support critical preservation work and ensure the Legation’s long-term maintenance. Partnerships and private sector funding are needed to maintain the Legation’s use as an important historic site and cultural center.

Wilderness Battlefield Area, Orange County, Virginia

In May 1864, the Battle of the Wilderness marked a pivotal turning point in the Civil War. In the wake of the battle, and despite heavy casualties and an inconclusive tactical outcome, Union General Ulysses S. Grant continued south, pursuing Confederate forces and forcing their surrender the following year. Today, the Battle of the Wilderness site anchors the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

However, not all the area’s significant sites are protected, and new developments have the potential to negatively impact important historic landscapes. In 2023, Orange County approved rezoning over 2,600 acres, some located within the historic battlefield boundaries, for the “Wilderness Crossing” development. As approved, the project could include millions of square feet of data centers and distribution warehouses, commercial space, thousands of homes, and road construction on previously undeveloped land where soldiers fought and died. Advocates are concerned about potential visual intrusions, noise, and traffic around one of the most intact historic battlefields in the region, where nearly 500,000 visitors come annually for quiet reflection on a difficult chapter in American history.

A broad coalition has formed in opposition, including the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, American Battlefield Trust, The Piedmont Environmental Council, National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia, and others. This area has experienced development threats before: in 2010, the National Trust included Wilderness Battlefield on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places when a big box store was proposed. As a result, the Wilderness Battlefield Gateway Plan was created to guide new development, and the store was built elsewhere. Advocates are now encouraging decisionmakers to build upon these efforts, heed community opposition, and avoid negative impacts to the historic landscapes of the Wilderness Battlefield area.

Our work to save historic places is fueled by the commitment of members and supporters like you, and we are glad to have you as a part of our community! Please donate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation today and protect the places that tell our full American story.

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

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