Table of Contents
- Osterman Gas Station, Peach Springs, Arizona
- Little Santo Domingo, Miami, Florida
- Pierce Chapel African Cemetery, Midland, Georgia
- Century and Consumers Buildings, Chicago, Illinois
- West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
- Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church (aka Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society Hall), New Orleans, Louisiana
- L.V. Hull Home and Studio, Kosciusko, Mississippi
- Henry Ossawa Tanner House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Philadelphia Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods, Charleston, South Carolina
- Seattle Chinatown-International District, Seattle, Washington
Earlier this summer, the National Trust for Historic Preservation revealed its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2023. This list aims to shed light on significant sites of American history that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. The diversity of the sites on this list reflects the complexities and challenges that have shaped the American experience. The National Trust emphasizes the importance of preserving these places to maintain the country’s cultural heritage. Over the years, this initiative has successfully rallied public support and contributed to the preservation of numerous cultural landmarks.
Osterman Gas Station, Peach Springs, Arizona
The Osterman Gas Station, a focal point of the Hualapai Tribal community, is located along Route 66 in Peach Springs, Arizona. Built in 1929, this historic gas station has suffered from extreme weather conditions and deterioration. To continue serving its community and future generations of travelers, the Hualapai Tribe is developing a preservation and reuse plan. They are also raising funds to stabilize and rehabilitate the gas station, ensuring its cultural significance is preserved.
Little Santo Domingo, Miami, Florida
Little Santo Domingo, situated in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami, Florida, is a vital commercial corridor in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. However, growing development interest in the area has led to displacement, rising rents, and demolition threats. The Allapattah Collaborative aims to strike a balance between development and preservation while safeguarding the neighborhood’s rich heritage and culture.
Pierce Chapel African Cemetery, Midland, Georgia
Established around 1828, the Pierce Chapel African Cemetery in Midland, Georgia, serves as one of the oldest burial grounds for Africans enslaved on multiple plantations in Harris County. Unfortunately, the cemetery has deteriorated over time and suffered damage from recent heavy construction equipment use. The Hamilton Hood Foundation, led by descendants of those buried in the cemetery, is raising awareness about its historical significance. Their efforts focus on preserving Pierce Chapel and its stories for future generations.
Century and Consumers Buildings, Chicago, Illinois
The Century and Consumers Buildings, located in Chicago’s historic State Street area known as “the Loop,” are iconic early skyscrapers. These buildings have been vacant since their purchase by the General Services Administration in 2005, and their demolition is currently under consideration. Advocates are urging alternative reuse options that can meet the security needs of the adjacent federal courthouse without destroying these architectural gems.
West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
The West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, an 11-mile stretch along the Mississippi River, encompasses historic villages, agricultural fields, and two plantations with a focus on the study and interpretation of the lives of enslaved people. However, a port facility called Greenfield Louisiana LLC has applied for a permit to build one of the world’s largest grain elevators in this nationally significant cultural area. A coalition of local and national advocates, including descendants of enslaved individuals from the region, is fighting to prevent the permit’s approval or the construction of the terminal.
Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church (aka Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society Hall), New Orleans, Louisiana
Built around 1880 in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, the Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church has a rich history. It was originally the home of the Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society, doubling as a jazz venue, and later became the Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church of Eternal Life. Repeated hurricane damage has left the remaining portions of the building in danger of collapse. The Holy Aid and Comfort congregation and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans are working together to secure funding and support for stabilizing the historic fabric and reconstructing the rest of the building for congregational and community use.
L.V. Hull Home and Studio, Kosciusko, Mississippi
L.V. Hull, an African American artist, turned her home in Kosciusko, Mississippi, into a creative wonderland that attracted visitors from around the world. After Hull’s death in 2008, her artwork was relocated and conserved, but her unoccupied house has suffered neglect, vandalism, and exposure to the elements. Filmmaker Yaphet Smith, a friend of Hull, has purchased the house with a vision to establish an arts campus celebrating her legacy. However, partnerships and funding are necessary to restore and revive the home as the heart of this broader project, telling the overlooked story of a Black woman in the South who claimed a space to pursue her artistic vision.
Henry Ossawa Tanner House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Henry Ossawa Tanner House, a North Philadelphia rowhouse built in 1871, holds historical significance as the former residence of Henry Ossawa Tanner, an internationally recognized African American painter. However, gentrification threatens the neighborhood’s Black cultural legacy, and the Tanner House itself is deteriorating rapidly. The Friends of the Tanner House and their partners are developing a long-term stewardship plan to reimagine the future of the house and ensure its preservation.
Philadelphia Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Chinatown, one of the oldest active Chinatowns in the United States, has been a vibrant community since 1871. However, a proposal by the 76ers basketball team to build an arena adjacent to Chinatown raises concerns about the potential negative impact on the neighborhood. Advocates, including the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, are calling for a transparent and equitable decision-making process that prioritizes the voices of the community. It is essential to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of Chinatown and avoid its displacement and erasure.
Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston’s Union Pier, a 65-acre waterfront site along the Cooper River, has a rich history dating back to the early 18th century. It has served various purposes, including maritime shipping, industrial production, and port operations. The South Carolina Ports Authority plans to sell the land to a private developer for a new mixed-use district. However, this development could threaten the area’s historic character, viewsheds, and climate resilience. Advocates and residents are urging the city government to prioritize a community-led vision for the site and carefully review any specific development plans.
Seattle Chinatown-International District, Seattle, Washington
Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID) is one of the oldest Asian American neighborhoods on the West Coast, with a history spanning over a century. However, transit expansion plans by Seattle’s Sound Transit have raised concerns about the impact on transportation access and cultural preservation in the CID. Advocacy groups, including Transit Equity for All, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Wing Luke Museum, are working together to ensure a transparent and equitable decision-making process that considers the voices of the CID community. Their goal is to protect the neighborhood’s vitality and cultural heritage for future generations.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places shines a light on significant sites at risk of destruction or damage. These places represent the diverse history and heritage of the United States. Through public support and preservation efforts, many sites on previous lists have been saved from destruction. It is crucial to recognize the value of these historic places and take action to protect and preserve them for future generations. To learn more about the 2023 list and how you can contribute to their preservation, visit https://travellosa.com/11Most.