6 of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places (Slideshow)
Yes, your community’s post office — a building that may once have been the symbolic heart of your community before email and Facebook existed and many of which are “architecturally distinctive, prominently located, and cherished as civic icons country”– could be endangered, due to the US Postal Service identifying almost 4,400 post offices, big and small, to close last year.
While some city officials and local preservationists have found new buyers or uses for some endangered post offices, the USPS has yet to provide sufficient “information and guidance” as to how they might be preserved and used.
(2) New York Harbor’s Ellis Island Hospital Complex
On this year’s list is New York Harbor’s Ellis Island hospital complex. These buildings, containing hospitals and quarantine wards, are located near the restored Immigration Museum and were once the largest US Public Health Service institution in the country; millions of immigrants passed through these sites from 1892 to 1954.
Few visitors to Ellis Island (there are plenty — we frequent Liberty State Park in Jersey City where many people catch the ferry to see the island and the Statue of Liberty) are aware that there are still structures in need of rehabilitation there.
3. Boyhood Home of Malcolm X in Boston
The last known surviving boyhood home of human rights activist Malcom X is described as a “modest structure” in Boston that he once shared with Ella Little-Collins, his half-sister. Her son, Rodnell Collins, now owns the property but the house has been vacant for 30 years.
Collins’ dream is to convert the house into living quarters for graduate students studying African American history, social justice or civil rights, to carry on Malcolm X’s legacy.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
4. Revolutionary War Battlefield in Princeton, New Jersey
The battlefield in Princeton, New Jersey, where George Washington rallied his troops at a “crucial turning point” in the Revolutionary War is under threat due to a planned 15-unit housing project, says NJ.com.There are more than enough such developments throughout the state’s many suburbs but this one is proposed by the Institute for Advanced Study which owns the land and wishes to turn 7.3 acres into eight townhouses and seven single-family homes for its faculty and their families.
The Princeton Battlefield Society describes the site as “hallowed ground,” not a place for building yet more condominiums.
5. Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia
Boxer Joe Frazier won a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics and later became Heavyweight Champion of the World. He trained to fight legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in a modest three-story brick building in Philadelphia. The converted warehouse now contains a discount furniture store and two floors of vacant space.
While there is “growing interest in commemorating Frazier’s life,” the building is unprotected and lacks “formal historic designation at the local or national level.” Including it on the National Register of Historic Places would be a way to emphasize the “value of diversity within this roster of our country’s most important historic resources.”
6. Bridges of Yosemite Park
In 1864, Yosemite National Park became the first park in the US devoted to the protection of natural scenery.
Three historic bridges built in 1928 to 1932 are iconic in their own right but are not included in a comprehensive management plan for the Merced River that the National Park Service is developing. Indeed, the bridges are under consideration to be removed and “face an uncertain future” — as do all of these historic US sites: While they are not as old as Athens’ Acropolis of China’s Great Wall, these sites figure importantly in American history and more than merit protection under the National Register of Historic Places.
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Photo of Ellis Island hospital building ConspiracyofHappiness