October 6, 2022

Promising Updates on 5 Past "11 Most" Sites

Since 1988, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has used its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation's greatest treasures. The list, which has identified more than 300 sites to date, has been so successful in galvanizing preservation efforts that only a handful of sites have been lost.

Because saving historic places often takes time, we like to keep an eye on past listings to see if there any updates. From California to Guam, here are updates on five endangered historic places.

Francisco Q. Sanchez Elementary School, Humåtak, Guam (2022)

Exterior of Francisco Q. Sanchez Elementary School in Humåtak, Guam

photo by: Guam Preservation Trust

Exterior of the Francisco Q. Sanchez Elementary School in Guam.

The Francisco Q. Sanchez Elementary School had been the center of community life in Humåtak, Guam, serving as its only school for more than six decades. Designed and built by Modernist architect Richard Neutra, the school has been sitting vacant since 2011 and has suffered from vandalism and weathering from several typhoons. In 2022, just after its inclusion on the 11 Most list, the government of Guam released $3.5 million in funding to not only preserve the Modernist building, but also transform the site into a center of village life. The restoration will include a village museum, charter school, senior center, and coffee shop and more. Construction will begin before the end of this year.

Hangar One at Moffett Field, Mountain View, California (2008)

By Christine Madrid French, California Preservation Foundation

A 2006 image of Hanger One, a long white hanger in a dome shape.

photo by: NASA/Dominic Hart

Exterior of Hanger One in California, c. 2006.

Sometimes the key to preservation is patience. Nearly 15 years after Hangar One was included on the 11 Most list, there are now solid plans for rehabilitation of this landmark, once the home of the USS Macon airship. Built in 1933, Hangar One was owned by the U.S. Navy until NASA took over the property in the 1990s. However, from 1993-2010 decisions on reuse and toxic cleanup, as well as a complicated provenance, stymied the process multiple times. Eventually, the structure was completely stripped. Notable losses during the partial demolition included the “cork room” (used to store helium gas cells) and the reinforced custom windows.

Help finally arrived in 2014, when the Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC began a 60-year lease of Hangar One and the Moffett Airspace from NASA and the General Services Administration. Now the organizations are working together to rehabilitate the building as a center for scientific innovation. The opening is planned for 2025. A timeline of the history and future of Hangar One is hosted by NASA.

James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, Illinois (2019)

Looking up at the Thompson Center which has clean grid lines leading up to a circular ceiling c. 2022.

photo by: Chris Rycroft via Flickr CC BY 2.0

A view from inside the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago Illinois.

Designed by the late German-born architect Helmut Jahn, the James R. Thompson Center, with its sloping glass façade, asymmetric design, and colorful palette, is Chicago’s finest example of grandly scaled Post-Modernism. In 2019 state legislation allowed for the sale of the building to fill a budget gap, leading to concern by preservation partners for this architectural icon, and it was included on the 11 Most list later that same year. But great news arrived in 2022 with the announcement that Google plans to purchase the iconic building and will work with architecture firm Jahn and developer the Prime Group to respectfully update the structure to meet sustainability standards while respecting the design. Updates are expected to be complete in 2026.

Trujillo Adobe, Riverside, California (2021)

Constructed in 1862, the Trujillo Adobe is the oldest known building in Riverside, California, and tells the story of migration and settlement in inland southern California. Today the Trujillo Adobe is deteriorated and fragile, protected only by an inadequate wooden structure that also hides it from public view. Local advocates with the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation are working to transform the Adobe into a cultural and educational site that recognizes and takes pride in the multiple cultures that shaped and continue to define Southern California.

Due to the national attention the site received thanks to its inclusion on the 11 Most list in 2021, the Foundation and the County of Riverside secured a $10.4 million grant for the project in the 2022 California State Budget. Funds will go toward preservation of the Adobe, and potentially for acquisition of more land to increase public access and construction of an interpretive center.

Trujillo Adobe, Riverside, California

photo by: Spanish Town Heritage Foundation

Historic image of Trujillo Adobe in California.

Brown Chapel AME Church, Selma, Alabama

photo by: Ron Cogswell/Wikimedia Commons

Exterior of Brown Chapel in Alabama.

Brown Chapel AME Church, Selma, Alabama (2022)

Brown Chapel AME Church played a pivotal role in the Selma to Montgomery marches that were instrumental to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Built in 1908 by formerly enslaved Black builder A.J. Farley, Brown Chapel provided sanctuary to civil rights activists and church members as they convened to plan protests against African American voter disenfranchisement. It also served as the starting point on March 7, 1965, when marchers—including the late Congressman John Lewis—attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, only to be beaten back by Alabama State Troopers in an event historically known as “Bloody Sunday.”

After the discovery of severe termite damaged forced Brown Chapel AME to close its doors for the foreseeable future, the church was included on the 11 Most list in 2022. The endangered listing helped elevate the needs of this significant Civil Rights icon to the national stage and has attracted additional funders and supporters.

In summer 2022, the church was awarded $1.8 million in grants from the National Park Service, $202,000 from Save America’s Treasures, and $150,000 from the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to help address termite and water issues and replace the structural beams in the church’s iconic tower cupolas. The congregation and their nonprofit partner, Historic Brown Chapel AME Church Preservation Society, Inc., hope to have raised an additional of $3.6 million in funding for repairs by the end of 2023, helping ensure a bright future for this landmark of American history.

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While her day job is the associate director of content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Priya spends other waking moments musing, writing, and learning about how the public engages and embraces history.

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