40 Under 40: The Next Generation of Historic Places
When the editorial staff of Preservation magazine embarked on our 40 Under 40: Places project, we wondered how the National Trust’s members would feel about it. After all, our organization exists to save historic places, and here we are presenting you with a list of newer sites built between 1978 and 2018. We hope that by highlighting these places before they become historic, we can encourage their long-term preservation.
Instead of trepidation, you met us with enthusiasm. During our two-week public online voting period, you cast more than 35,000 votes for your favorites on the list. Paisley Park, Prince’s estate outside Minneapolis, was the runaway winner, with 4,399 votes. Coming in second was the Go For Broke Monument in Los Angeles, which honors Japanese American veterans of World War II. Housing for New Orleans musicians who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina was next, followed by an ethereal chapel in the woods and the three national memorials to those who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
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Perhaps unsurprisingly, four of your top 10 choices came from the list’s history category, showing us that you feel strongly about the need to address and reflect on our nation’s past. Your overall engagement with 40 Under 40 tells us that you care deeply about places in general, no matter when they were built.
Read more about the top vote-getters below, and click here for stories on all 40 places on our list.
1) Paisley Park—Chanhassen, Minnesota
By Lauren Walser
Paisley Park began as a song—Prince’s ode to an imaginary paradise where everyone could find happiness and acceptance. “Paisley Park is in your heart,” he sang on the chorus of his 1985 single of the same name.
Two years later, Prince brought Paisley Park to life, creating his own kind of paradise in the form of a $10 million, 65,000-square-foot complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota, 20 miles southwest of his hometown of Minneapolis. He wanted a place where he could pursue all his creative endeavors—music, film, performance, art, fashion—under one roof, and he enlisted the help of Bret Thoeny, a young architect who had designed his previous studio in the early 1980s. “Prince was very involved in the design [of Paisley Park],” says Thoeny, principal at Los Angeles–based BOTO Design Architects. “It was a very straightforward process. He knew what he wanted.”
From the outside, Paisley Park is a stark, angular edifice of white aluminum panels. Several pyramid-shaped skylights emerge from the roof—a design element that Prince specifically requested. Inside, Thoeny designed space for a two-story atrium, four recording studios, a 12,500-square-foot sound stage, a live music venue, rehearsal rooms, editing suites, offices, and living quarters.
It was there that Prince recorded albums such as Diamonds and Pearls, Emancipation, and Musicology. He also filmed part of his 1987 concert film Sign O’ the Times there, as well as his 1990 feature film Graffiti Bridge. “Paisley Park was the center of Prince’s recording and film universe,” says Mitch Maguire, the site’s tour operations manager.
Prince also welcomed other artists to Paisley Park to rehearse, record, and film, including Neil Young, the Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, and Madonna. And despite his famously private nature, he opened the doors to his estate for public performances and the occasional tour.
Prince died at Paisley Park in April of 2016, at the age of 57. Six months later, the property opened to the public. There are live doves in the atrium, as there were in Prince’s time. Artifacts on display include Prince’s old Walkman and his custom Hohner guitar, which he used for many recordings and live performances. The collection also contains awards, wardrobe pieces, and motorcycles.
It’s a glimpse into the life and work of one of the most prolific, influential artists in music history—one who recorded more than 40 studio albums, sold more than 100 million records, won seven Grammys and an Academy Award, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and famously battled his record label for artistic and financial control. Throughout much of his career, Paisley Park was his sanctuary.
“Prince created it,” Thoeny says. “It was his world.”
2) Go For Broke Monument—Los Angeles
By Nicholas Som
For the second-generation Japanese Americans (or Nisei) who composed the United States Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, “Go For Broke” was more than just a motto. “Go For Broke” meant risking your life for liberty and justice while your parents and siblings back home were forced into incarceration camps due to anti-Japanese sentiment. It meant being treated as cannon fodder—receiving some of the most dangerous assignments—and becoming the most decorated unit of its size and length of service in U.S. military history. And it meant proving your loyalty in blood because, as Staff Sgt. Kazuo Masuda said two weeks before his death in combat, this was the only way that he knew that his family could have a chance in America.
The Go For Broke Monument in Los Angeles, built in 1999, honors all of the approximately 33,000 Nisei who served overseas in many different roles during World War II. Roughly 16,000 of their names adorn the exterior of the black granite monument, which slopes up to a height of 9 feet. The shape symbolizes the “banzai hill” the 442nd captured during its 1944 rescue of the Lost Battalion, a group of 211 fellow American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines in the Vosges Mountains of France. Hundreds of Nisei were killed or wounded in the mission.
“The story as a whole is not a great Japanese American story; it’s a great American story,” says Mitchell T. Maki, president and CEO of the Go For Broke National Education Center. “It’s a story that speaks to the frailties of our Constitution and the strength of the American spirit, regardless of your background.”
A group of Nisei veterans established what would become the Center in 1989 to ensure that their story would not be forgotten. Over the next decade, they raised $1 million in private and corporate contributions, and worked with the city to locate a site for the monument in the Little Tokyo neighborhood. While the question of which names should be displayed stirred some discord within the Japanese American community, this issue was mostly resolved with the construction of a separate memorial nearby that specifically commemorates Nisei killed in action.The Center continues to promote not only the story of Nisei in World War II, but also justice and equality in a broader sense through its permanent exhibit in Los Angeles and speaking engagements across the country. “The story in our exhibit is from 1942, but it rhymes with today,” Maki says.
3) Musicians' Village—New Orleans
By Meghan P. White
Music permeates the heart of New Orleans. The sounds of R&B, blues, jazz, and funk reverberate down many of the city’s narrow streets at all hours. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the din of music was much quieter. The hurricane had washed away many musicians’ homes, and those whose residences survived couldn’t return for months. Their fluid streams of revenue—a necessary byproduct of a gig economy—all but halted in the hurricane’s aftermath.
“We had given up on our dream of home ownership,” says Freddie Blue, a production manager, singer, and guitar player. His apartment building’s roof was blown off in the hurricane. “Like everybody else, the storm took every nickel and then some.” But Blue’s fortunes changed in 2008, when he and his partner, Tommy Webb, moved into Musicians’ Village, a Habitat for Humanity-built community for music professionals.
The concept for the neighborhood came to Crescent City natives and musicians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis as they were driving to a concert for Katrina evacuees in Houston. Along with their manager, Ann Marie Wilkins, and Jim Pate of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, they helped bring Musicians’ Village to life on the site of a former school in a five-and-a-half-block section of the city’s Upper Ninth Ward.
“We were raised with the idea that we should do whatever we can to help those we can. The crisis was one of those profound moments when action was required,” says Marsalis.
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The houses that line the streets of Musicians’ Village are reflective of the New Orleans vernacular Shotgun House style. Bell Architecture designed three house plans for the community, which residents personalized through exterior color schemes.
The first round of houses was completed in June of 2006, 10 months after Katrina stormed the city. By the time the last ones were built in 2010, an astonishing 40,000-plus volunteers—mostly from out of state—had worked side by side with musicians who would later call the village home, helping to construct 72 single-family residences, five duplexes, and a park. The 17,000-square-foot Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, designed by Mathes Brierre Architects and built by construction firm Broadmoor, has recording space and hosts after-school programs for the community.
“Having stability as a musician, having a home, it really does take the stress off,” says resident and cellist Helen Gillet, who also moved into the village in 2008. “It’s helped me focus more on my music.”
4) Thorncrown Chapel—Eureka Springs, Arkansas
By Meghan Drueding
When Thorncrown Chapel was first constructed, its creators feared the daring little building wouldn’t attract many people. The remote chapel—the brainchild of retired teacher Jim Reed and architect Fay Jones—is tucked away in the Ozark Mountains. “Fay and my dad, especially Fay, were concerned that no one would come up and see it,” says Reed’s son Doug, who is now one of Thorncrown’s four ministers.
They needn’t have worried. The 1,440-square-foot building, completed in the summer of 1980, receives about 200,000 visitors per year. It won the American Institute of Architects’ Twenty-five Year Award in 2006 for a building “that has stood the test of time.” Thorncrown is already on the National Register of Historic Places—an unusual designation for a place that hasn’t hit the 50-year mark yet. Two nondenominational services are held every Sunday, and the wood, glass, and stone chapel ranks as one of the most coveted wedding locations in the country.
Jim Reed wanted to create a place where anyone—religious or not—could experience the sense of peace that comes from immersion in a leafy forest filled with dappled light. He found the perfect architect in Jones. The Arkansas native had apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright before rising to become dean of the architecture school at the University of Arkansas (now called the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design). Jones shared Wright’s reverence for nature and his belief that a place should contain a sense of discovery, and both ideas underpin the chapel’s design. “You have a leisurely walk through the woods before you turn a corner, and suddenly you are confronted with the facade of Thorncrown,” says Jeff Shannon, a professor at the university and editor of a 2017 book of essays about Jones, who died in 2004.
The tall, narrow chapel’s proportions evoke those of the trees around it—and the general form of the Gothic cathedrals Jones admired. Inside, hundreds of wood trusses interlace overhead, connecting wood-framed walls that hold 425 clear glass windows in place. Though the engineering is complex, the effect is that of an open-air chapel in the woods. The building’s ductwork is part of its stone base, so all you see is the soaring, delicate enclosure around you and the forest outside.
Even Thorncrown’s name has a poetic, otherworldly sound to it. (Reportedly, Jones and his wife, Gus, selected it by compiling a list of words from the Bible and choosing the two they thought worked best together.) “There is something in architecture that touches people in a special way,” Jones once said. “I hoped to do that with this chapel.”
5) September 11 Memorials
By Emma Sarappo
On Sept. 11, 2001, four hijacked planes crashed into three East Coast sites, killing nearly 3,000 people and wounding thousands more. In the nearly two decades since, permanent memorials have been built on each of those sites—in New York, rural Pennsylvania, and Northern Virginia—to honor the dead and tell the story of the deadliest terrorist attack in American history.
At the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York, a street-level plaza stretches across Ground Zero and interrupts Manhattan’s dense skyscrapers. The memorial, dedicated in September of 2011, was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. Instead of filling the vertical space the World Trade Center’s towers once occupied, the memorial reaches down. In the footprints of the Twin Towers are two reflecting pools fed by 30-foot waterfalls, surrounded by panels engraved with the names of the 2,983 people who died there, including six victims of the 1993 attack on the site. Names are grouped by their relationships to one another and the building, so coworkers and family members are remembered together. Growing on the plaza are young oaks and a single “survivor tree,” found at the crash site and nursed back to health, which form a living roof for the museum underground.
The National Park Service runs the Flight 93 National Memorial, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which honors the passengers and crew who battled their hijackers and crashed on a former strip-mining site instead of another target in Washington, D.C. The design, by Paul Murdoch Architects and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, emphasizes nature and functions as a “living landscape” where the land and community can heal together. A semicircular allée passes by 40 groves of 40 trees representing the 40 passengers and crew members, but much of the land remains open. The field is punctuated by the 2015 Visitor Center, the marble Wall of Names on the memorial plaza, and the Tower of Voices, a pillar designed to hold 40 cutting-edge wind chimes that “speak” to honor passengers who called their families from the plane.
The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, designed by Keith Kaseman and Julie Beckman, opened in September of 2008 with 184 benches that rise from the ground to reveal shallow pools. Each displays the name of a victim who died when a plane hit the building’s west side. The benches’ positions vary according to whether the victim was in the Pentagon or on the plane. They are organized by the age of the victims, from 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg to 71-year-old John Yamnicky. The same wide range inspired a separate “age wall” that begins at a height of 3 inches and reaches 71 inches by its end.
6) Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
Completed in 2017, the Church Creek, Maryland, site is jointly operated by the Maryland Park Service and the National Park Service. It serves as a hub for travelers on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.
7) Millennium Park
This 24.5-acre park in downtown Chicago contains popular public art pieces such as Cloud Gate (right) and Crown Fountain, Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and a four-season garden. It receives up to 20 million visitors per year.
8) The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
The Equal Justice Initiative opened this Montgomery, Alabama, memorial in 2018 to honor victims of lynching, convey the pain of slavery, honor Civil Rights activists, and highlight contemporary injustices. A related Legacy Museum focuses on the history of racial injustice in America.
9) Walt Disney Concert Hall
Frank Gehry’s stainless-steel concert hall, completed in 2003, occupies a full city block in downtown Los Angeles. The swooping, dramatic structure houses both the L.A. Philharmonic and the L.A. Master Chorale.
10) Very Large Array
The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array of 27 supersize dish antennas in New Mexico was dedicated by the National Science Foundation in 1980. The antennas work together to pick up signals from billions of light-years away.
Want to find out which 30 other places made our list? Read our stories on them here.