11 most endangered places list, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2015
A couple days ago, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its 2015 list of the nation's "11 Most Endangered Places."
What's important about the list is that for localities and advocates working on those projects, it brings "national attention" ("America's 11 most endangered historic places," CNN; "Grand Canyon named one of USA's 'Most-Endangered Historic Places'." USA Today) and recognition to the building/site/district as "worth saving," which usually sparks more stories and attention in the local media, and is a sign of endorsement that helps further spur local efforts.
For example, yesterday's Miami Herald had a front page story, "National preservation group: Miami's Little Havana endangered," on the Little Havana district and the status of the initiative to create a historic district in response to development pressures. From the article:
The National Trust, the country’s principal preservation organization, says the neighborhood’s historic scale and character are imperiled by two main factors: a controversial upzoning of East Little Havana under consideration by the city of Miami, and a lack of legal protection for the broader area’s extensive and architecturally diverse collection of early to mid-20th Century homes and apartment and commercial buildings.HOWEVER, in terms of presentation of information on the website, the presentation of the list on the NTHP site is deficient--only five of the listings have a call to action and/or provide links to the involved organizations. Only 3 of the 11 entries provide links to more detailed information.
Inclusion on the list puts a city that prides itself on Little Havana’s history as the principal entry point for Cuban refugees in an awkward spot. The list is meant to draw attention to architectural, cultural and natural sites of national significance that are in danger of being irreparably harmed or destroyed by neglect or incompatible development.
The city, under pressure from a coalition of preservationists and neighborhood activists, recently created a small historic district in East Little Havana encompassing a bit over three blocks. But it’s also pushing forward with an upzoning of 32 surrounding blocks of mostly low-rise, small-scale buildings in the neighborhood, a bustling working-class enclave peppered with vacant lots and rundown buildings.
The upzoning, which city officials contend would revitalize the area by replacing outdated buildings, would allow taller, denser development in residential and commercial areas. Critics say it would result only in gentrification and extensive demolition as development encroaches into East Little Havana from adjacent West Brickell, pushing out its mostly immigrant residents and wiping out its human scale and architectural legacy.
Note that the entry for The Factory, nominated to the list by the West Hollywood Heritage Project, is the exception that proves the rule, as the link to the project's webpage provides a great deal of information supporting their initiative to save the building,
Photo: Katherine Frye, Neighborhood Newspapers. From left, East Point Preservation Alliance members Dee Claborn, Alexia Ryan, and Stasio Rusek on the historic civic block.
Because of my interest in the better use of civic assets and public programs to serve neighborhoods and the impoverished, I was intrigued by the listing for the "East Point Historic Civic Block," in East Point, Georgia, a community located in Metropolitan Atlanta. From the Atlanta Business Chronicle article "National Trust: East Point’s Historic Civic Block on endangered list":
The Historic Civic Block includes East Point City Hall, the City Auditorium, the City Library and Victory Park – a contiguous block that has been the heart of East Point since the 1930s.Relating to the point in the entry "The ongoing tragedy of dying print media," about how the closure of community newspapers diminishes participation in civic affairs, the East Point issue has been covered in local community newspapers, such as this article, "East Point group hopes to keep 1930s site intact," which ran in papers published by the Neighborhood News group, which has 17 papers.
According to the Trust, the area is seeing renewed calls for private development that could lead to the unnecessary demolition of the city’s four iconic historic properties. With no plans for protection and the constant threat of demolition through neglect, the future for these historic buildings remains uncertain.
Unlike the NTHP listing, that story includes a link to the organization, Preserve East Point, working on the issue.
2015 List of America's Most Endangered Historic Places