Preservation in Progress: Updates on 9 Previously Listed 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Since 1988, the National Trust 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 350 sites to date, has been so successful in galvanizing preservation efforts that only a handful of sites have been lost.
Occasionally, we like to revisit the list and check in with some of the previously listed sites to share with you how they are doing. This update includes sites that are in active danger, some that we have lost despite all efforts, some that have scored significant victories, and others that are in the midst of their preservation process. Hear about nine of our previously listed sites below.
John and Alice Coltrane Home, Dix Hills, New York (Listed 2011)
Since its listing in 2011, the National Trust has continued supporting the John and Alice Coltrane Home. Through the work of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, this support—in an advocacy and advisory capacity—continued through the various phases of stabilization and rehabilitation, and the work to strengthen the site's organizational capacity. As an Action Fund grantee in 2018, this partnership has facilitated and leveraged additional philanthropic support for the project from the Mellon Foundation, Kenan Charitable Trust, and the Gardiner Foundation.
This has allowed the development of a programmatic vision and business plan, and the Friends of the Coltrane Home are currently implementing exterior rehabilitation and bringing the interior structure up to commercial loading for future use. The home is moving into the next project phase with a recently selected preservation and design team partnership between Perkins Eastman and AARIS to bring the interior space back to life. The Action Fund and our partners want to create a new kind of historic site at the John and Alice Coltrane Home, one that will inspire visitors to embrace the creativity, love of music, social justice, and goodwill embodied in the lives of both artists.
Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Listed 2016)
The future of the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee is still uncertain. Milwaukee County leaders will be meeting September 12 to discuss options for this community landmark, and demolition of one or more Domes is being considered. A Milwaukee landmark for generations, a unique engineering marvel, and a nationally significant example of Midcentury Modern architecture, the Mitchell Park Domes have been a center of community life and an international tourism destination for more than 50 years.
Milwaukee county residents and people from around the world have consistently voiced their support for saving the Domes since 2017, when county leaders began considering options for the future of these modern gems. The Domes are visited by over 250,000 people per year and are an iconic part of Milwaukee’s skyline. To show your support, add your name to the petition calling for a preservation solution for the Domes!
Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, Chicago, Illinois (Listed 2020)
On Tuesday, July 25, 2023, President Biden established the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument. This action memorializes Chicago’s Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, and Graball Landing, creating a national monument of conscience, memory, and justice to continue telling a fuller and more accurate American story. In 2020, the National Trust placed Roberts Temple on the 11 Most Endangered List due to concerns about its structural condition. Subsequent funding support from the Action Fund allowed temporary stabilization of the building, which has allowed for time to develop a full plan for the building’s rehabilitation.
Additional funding from the Mellon Foundation and the Action Fund’s Preserving Black Churches program will support restoration of the Roberts Temple facade to its 1955 appearance and development of a plan for restoration of the sanctuary.
The preservation of the sites associated with Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley is led by the Action Fund in partnership with local and national partners. These partners include the Till Family, Roberts Family, Emmett Till Interpretive Center, Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, National Parks Conservation Association, and the National Parks Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and Lilly Endowment Inc.
Threatt Filling Station, Luther, Oklahoma (Listed 2021)
The Threatt Filling Station has come a long way since being listed on the 11 Most Endangered list in 2021 when the Threatt family emphasized a need for partners and financial support to fully restore the filling station and do justice to its stories of Black entrepreneurship and travel. Thanks to a major grant from the Action Fund, interior and exterior rehabilitation work was carried out in 2022 and 2023.
During a two-week HOPE Crew project in June 2023, participants from the Guthrie Job Corps worked alongside a master mason to learn appropriate techniques to rehabilitate the “giraffe style” masonry of the station, and crew members and community volunteers also completed exterior painting using donated Benjamin Moore paint, including sanding and repainting the original rusty Conoco signpost. The HOPE Crew project received national media attention in August on CBS Saturday Morning News.
Olivewood Cemetery, Houston, Texas (Listed 2022)
The historic Olivewood Cemetery in Houston has been designated as a Houston Protected Historic Landmark, and talks are continuing with city officials about providing a permanent parking facility for cemetery volunteers and visitors. Listed as one of the 2022 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, Olivewood was threatened by changing demographics, and increased development led to the cemetery’s decline and abandonment, with the most persistent threat being the impact of extreme flooding linked to climate change.
Thanks to a recent grant from the National Trust Preservation Fund, geophysical and topological surveys are currently underway at the cemetery. These studies are in preparation of the implementation of a site-wide drainage plan developed as the result of a 2021 grant from the Action Fund.
The cemetery faced a new challenge this spring when a local developer proposed building a 5-story fitness center on two vacant lots adjacent to the cemetery’s western property line in an area the Descendants of Olivewood believes includes unmarked graves that were once part of Olivewood. Fortunately, the Descendants were able to generate considerable community support during the July Planning Commission hearing, and the developer was denied their request for a parking variance. While more will need to be done to investigate potential unmarked burial sites and address new threats impacting drainage, traffic congestion, noise, and inappropriate architecture adjacent to the site, this was a positive first step.
Deborah Chapel, Hartford, Connecticut (Listed 2022)
The Deborah Chapel, a rare and early American example of an intact Jewish funerary structure, was included on the endangered list after its owner, Congregation Beth Israel, applied for permission to demolish the structure despite its historic designation. Despite years of advocacy by community members and leaders in Hartford and Connecticut, the Deborah Chapel was demolished on August 23, 2023. The National Trust for Historic Preservation was honored to work alongside Friends of Zion Hill Cemetery, the Hartford Preservation Alliance, Preservation Connecticut, Mayor Luke Bronin, and Attorney General William Ton, among many others, to try to save this significant place, and was saddened by its demolition.
Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado, Denver, Colorado (Listed 2022)
In 2022, the National Trust listed the Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. The murals, which are spread across the state, are threatened by rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, and lack of legal protections can put murals at high risk of destruction and erasure. They are also impacted by Colorado’s harsh climate as well as the loss of the original muralists whose guidance is needed to conserve these important pieces of heritage.
The Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado (CMCP) worked over the past year with muralist David Ocelotl Garcia to successfully complete the restoration of Garcia’s Huitzilopochtli mural in Denver. As the mural had been whitewashed in 2020, Garcia needed to employ special techniques to remove the paint before completing restoration work on the mural. CMCP also collaborated with History Colorado to successfully list the "Sierras y Colores" mural by Carlos Sandoval in San Luis on the National Register of Historic Places. CMCP is also collaborating with the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs to restore another long-neglected mural by Emanuel Martinez.
Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods, Charleston, South Carolina (Listed 2023)
One month after the endangered list highlighted the potential for a controversial new development to negatively impact Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods, the South Carolina Ports Authority announced that they were pausing the Union Pier project for the next year in order to work with the City of Charleston and to seek more community input.
The National Trust strongly supported the June 2023 decision by the Ports Authority to halt the redevelopment of Charleston’s Union Pier while planners gather community feedback and comprehensively reevaluate existing plans. The National Trust included Charleston’s historic neighborhoods on the 11 Most Endangered list after the Ports Authority proposed selling the land to a private developer for a new mixed-use district that could threaten the area’s historic character, viewsheds, and climate resilience.
Osterman Gas Station, Peach Springs, Arizona (Listed 2023)
The 1929 Hualapai-owned Osterman Gas Station is undergoing much needed stabilization work based on recently completed construction documents prepared by a Phoenix-based preservation architect. The additional damage from a collapsed wall after a 2023 windstorm, coupled with rising construction costs, brought the bids for this project in higher than originally anticipated. Fortunately, the National Trust’s Preserve Route 66 initiative was able to provide a stabilization grant of $158,000 that helped the Hualapai secure full funding to allow the stabilization work to move forward this summer.
The Hualapai Planning Office is also concurrently undertaking a master planning process for downtown Peach Springs and a tribal tourism plan for the surrounding area that will help to inform this project. An 18-member community planning committee will help identify a use for this and other downtown buildings to meet the community’s needs. Preliminary community input shows support for a tourism-related venture in the Osterman Gas Station such as a visitors’ center, coffee shop, entrepreneur business incubator, or artist guild.
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