The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) released its annual list of the U.S.’s most endangered places on May 30, highlighting an often surprising group of places and spaces threatened by forces like climate change and aggressive developer schemes across the country.
While a listing signals a building’s realistic peril, a listing can also aid in reviving a building, as the NTHP brings national attention to the spaces, which can help spark awareness and action. The list has been published for 32 years, and has highlighted over 300 places. In that same time period, only five percent of the listings were actually lost. Katherine Malone-France, the interim chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a statement, “We know that this year’s list will inspire people to speak out for the cherished places in their own communities that define our nation’s past.”
The tides of taste often bring buildings in styles like postmodernism and brutalism to the list. The youngest building selected this year is the Thompson Center in Chicago, a spaceship-shaped building of glass and steel known for its soaring 13-floor atrium. In 1985, the design was meant to allude to a new, more transparent government. However, like many of the listed buildings, the Thompson Center is in danger due to neglect and financial troubles.
Often developers see these historic buildings as opportunities for more profitable high rises or denser floor plans, and swoop in on economically imperiled lots. Nashville’s Music Row, a historic district listed this year, is threatened by a tantalizing proximity to the city’s downtown core and its relatively low density. Developers are itching to knock down the 19th-century homes and set plans in motion for high rises and corporate office spaces, much more profitable footprints that would erase much of the music-making history of the city.
Aside from development, climate change and social justice histories also play a large role in the 2019 selections; the iconic National Mall Tidal Basin is under threat from rising sea levels and unstable sea walls. Small establishments, like the Excelsior Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, an African-American social club dating from 1944, that trace the history of race relations in America, have far less attention and protection.
The eleven design landmarks that make up the 2019 list are not only aesthetically appealing, but they are also vital chapters of the American cultural, historical, and artistic stories, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is committed to help inspire their rescue.
The eleven places listed in 2019 are:
Tenth Street Historic District
Nashville’s Music Row
Hacienda Los Torres
Lares, Puerto Rico
Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah
James R. Thompson Center
Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge
Bismarck, North Dakota
Industrial Trust Company Building
Providence, Rhode Island
The Excelsior Club
Charlotte, North Carolina
National Mall Tidal Basin
Willert Park Courts
Buffalo, New York
Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital
Mount Vernon, Alabama