America’s Most Endangered Historic Places In 2013: Houston Astrodome, Worldport Terminal And More

on June 20 2013 5:53 AM
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The Houston Astrodome -- the world’s first domed indoor, air-conditioned stadium -- was dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened in 1965, providing crisp air to sports fans in one of the U.S.’ hottest cities. Now, it sits empty and abandoned. The same goes for the UFO-shaped Worldport Terminal at the otherwise bustling JFK Airport in New York. The Jet Age icon once housed Pan Am and later Delta, but now sits idle. The plight of both of these architectural marvels may get more buzz, however, thanks to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 26th annual list of America’s 11 Most-Endangered Historic Places.

“From Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard to Kake Cannery in Alaska, to the beloved one and two-room schoolhouses of Montana, this year’s list reflects the diversity of America, its historic places, and the variety of threats they face,” noted Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust.

Inclusion on the annual list helps raise awareness of the myriad issues each site faces, ranging from environmental concerns to neglect or worrisome development plans. Meeks said such attention is often used as a rallying tool. “For more than a quarter of a century, our list of America’s 11 Most-Endangered Historic Places has called attention to threatened one-of-a-kind treasures throughout the nation and has galvanized local preservationists.”

“We hope this year’s list inspires people to speak out for the important places in their own communities that help define our nation’s past and enrich its future,” she added. Sites in peril span from the streets of Old San Juan to the riverway populated by the U.S.’ first European settlers, and from a black officers’ club in Arizona to a residence for Chinese-American laborers in California.

In total, the campaign has highlighted more than 240 threatened historic treasures since the list’s inception in 1988, ranging from single buildings to entire communities. Scroll down for a complete look at the 2013 list, along with the National Trust’s notes on why it chose each location.


Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport – Jamaica, N.Y. The distinctive flying-saucer-shaped Worldport Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport has been a symbol of the Jet Age since it first opened in 1960, but now sits empty and unused, waiting for a creative reuse plan. National Trust/ Anthony Stramaglia


Astrodome – Houston, Texas. As the world's first domed indoor, air-conditioned stadium, the 18-story multipurpose Houston Astrodome was once dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" but now needs a viable reuse plan to avoid demolition. National Trust


Chinatown House - Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Once a general store and residence for a community of about 50 Chinese American laborers, the house is one of last remaining tangible connections to the history of the Chinese American community that helped build modern-day Rancho Cucamonga. National Trust/ O.C. Lee


Gay Head Lighthouse - Aquinnah, Mass. The first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard, Gay Head Lighthouse is in immediate danger of toppling over the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs, a consequence of a century of erosion and the direct impact of climate change. National Trust/ Martha’s Vineyard Museum


Historic Rural Schoolhouses of Montana – Statewide. Montana boasts more historic one- and two-room schoolhouses still in use than any other state, but these schools are at-risk as the state’s population shifts to urban centers. National Trust/ Carroll Van West


James River - James City County, Va. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. The river and landscape are threatened by a proposed transmission line project that would compromise the scenic integrity of this historic area. National Trust/ James River Association


Kake Cannery - Kake, Alaska. Kake Cannery played a key role in the development of the Alaskan salmon-canning industry during the first half of the 20th century, but immediate action is needed to stabilize the structural systems of the existing buildings. National Trust / Library of Congress


Mountain View Black Officers’ Club – Fort Huachuca, Ariz. One of the most significant examples of a military service club in the U.S. built specifically for African-American officers, the Mountain View Black Officers' Club faces demolition by the U.S. Army, which has blocked efforts to list the property in the National Register of Historic Places. National Trust / Ft. Huachuca archives


San Jose Church - Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Built in 1532, San Jose Church is of the few remaining Spanish Gothic architecture structures in the Western Hemisphere. Closed for 13 years, it is threatened by deterioration and structural damage. National Trust / Archdiocese of San Juan of Puerto Rico


Village of Mariemont - Cincinnati, Ohio. The Village of Mariemont has been an inspiration for a generation of planners, but it is now threatened by a proposed transportation project, which would permanently scar the careful designs that make this place so unique. National Trust / Karen Sullivan


Abyssinian Meeting House – Portland, Me. The Meeting House was the spiritual center of life for generations of African-Americans here, but it needs an influx of funding to keep that story alive for generations to come. National Trust / Greater Portland Landmarks

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