West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
© Brian M Davis / Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation / photo provided

The historic US sites that may soon be lost

National Trust for Historic Preservation has released a list of the most endangered historic places, including a neighbourhood in Charleston.

The US is proud of its history and tradition – but that does not save many historically valuable sites from destruction. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently released its 2023 list of the 11 most endangered historic sites in the US. These annual rankings spotlight significant sites of American history that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

The places on the list come in all forms, from individual residences to entire neighbourhoods, and are located across the country. “This year's list of the nation's most endangered historic places is a portfolio of sites that are nearly as diverse as the American experience itself,” said Jay Clemens, interim president and CEO of the National Trust.

Since first debuting in 1988, the list has proven to be a tool for illuminating the threats facing the nation´s greatest treasures.

11 most endangered historic places

Alphabetical by state:

Osterman Gas Station, Peach Springs, Arizona

Built in 1929, the Osterman Gas Station along Route 66 has been a focal point of the Hualapai Tribal community for generations. Extreme weather has damaged the already deteriorated building, and it needs stabilisation and rehabilitation to continue to serve its community and the next generation of travellers.

Osterman Gas Station, Peach Springs, Arizona
Osterman Gas Station, Peach Springs, Arizona

Little Santo Domingo, Miami, Florida

Little Santo Domingo, the cultural heart of Allapattah, is a commercial corridor in one of Miami's oldest neighbourhoods. Development interest in Little Santo Domingo is leading to displacement, demolition, and rising rents. The Allapattah Collaborative hopes to protect the neighbourhood’s heritage and culture.

Pierce Chapel African Cemetery, Midland, Georgia

Pierce Chapel African Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds for Africans enslaved at plantations in Harris County, Georgia, and their descendants. However, the cemetery has deteriorated over time and suffered damage due to the recent use of heavy construction equipment.

Century and Consumers Buildings, Chicago, Illinois

As two iconic early skyscrapers along Chicago's historic State Street, the Century and Consumers Buildings contribute to the architectural significance of the area known as ‘the Loop’. Yet, they have sat vacant since the General Services Administration bought them in 2005, and are now being considered for demolition.

West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

This 11-mile stretch along the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish includes historic villages, agricultural fields, and two plantations where the lives of enslaved people are studied and interpreted. But now, port facility Greenfield Louisiana LLC has applied to the US Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to build one of the largest grain elevators in the world amid the area’s nationally significant cultural resources.

Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church (aka Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society Hall), New Orleans, Louisiana

Built in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, this building was first home to the Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society, with its main hall doubling as a jazz venue and, later, the Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church of Eternal Life. Impacted by repeated hurricane damage, the remaining portions of the building are threatened with collapse.

L.V. Hull Home and Studio, Kosciusko, Mississippi

African American artist L.V. Hull transformed her Kosciusko, Mississippi, home into a creative wonderland that attracted visitors worldwide. Though her artwork was relocated after she died in 2008, and recently conserved by the Kohler Foundation, her unoccupied house suffers from neglect, vandalism, and weather exposure. Filmmaker and Hull's friend, Yaphet Smith, has purchased the house and is partnering with other advocates with a vision to create an arts campus celebrating Hull's legacy.

Henry Ossawa Tanner House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This North Philadelphia rowhouse was home to Henry Ossawa Tanner, an internationally-recognised African American painter, along with many other significant Tanner family members. But gentrification puts the neighbourhood’s Black cultural legacy and heritage landmarks at risk of demolition or erasure.

Philadelphia Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As one of the oldest remaining active Chinatowns in the United States, Philadelphia Chinatown has been a vibrant community since 1871. But with the 76ers basketball team proposing to build an arena abutting Chinatown, advocates are concerned that the development could further disconnect the neighbourhood and displace residents and businesses.

Philadelphia Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Charleston's Historic Neighbourhoods, Charleston, South Carolina

Union Pier, a 65-acre waterfront site along the Cooper River in downtown Charleston, has been used for maritime shipping, industrial production, and port operations since the early 18th century. The pier’s current owner, South Carolina Ports Authority, has proposed selling the land to a private developer for a new mixed-use district that could threaten the area’s historic character.

Seattle Chinatown-International District, Seattle, Washington

The Seattle Chinatown-International District (CID) has been the centre of the city's Asian American life for over a century. However, Seattle's Sound Transit is considering several transit expansion options that could impact transportation access and cultural preservation in the CID.


Robert Prazak
Robert Prazak
Editor Falstaff International
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