Every year, for the past 27 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has released a list of 11 historic American places immediately threatened by demolition, redevelopment or some other menace. That's more than 250 places in total.
How many of them have been lost? Only 11.
"We have a really good track record," says Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. One reason so few of these places have slipped away is the list itself, which draws attention to otherwise unnoticed threats. "I think that many people take historic buildings for granted because they feel like they’ve always been there," Meeks says. "It isn't until they're threatened that people say: it would be terrible if we lost that building or landscape. It mobilizes people to take action."
Nominations for endangered sites come from both the general public and the preservation community. The Trust assesses nominees based on three key points: significance (architectural, cultural, or otherwise), urgency and potential solution. The organization also strives to include a diversity of sites—from buildings to landscapes—in order to reflect the diversity of America. The staff narrows the list down to 11, then begins a public outreach campaign to raise awareness—and galvanize support.
"We are an organization chartered by Congress to do two things: save historic places and engage the American public in their preservation. The list lets us do both of those things," Meeks says.
This year's list features sites from Florida to Hawaii and spans architectural styles from Miami Modern to High Victorian. For those looking to help preserve any of the sites listed—or a favorite historic place in their own town—Meeks suggests starting at the National Trust's website, which can connect users to preservation efforts in their community or around the country.
Battle Mountain Sanitarium Domiciliary in Hot Springs, SD
The Battle Mountain Sanitarium Domiciliary in Hot Springs, S. Dak., was founded as one of the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers authorized by Abraham Lincoln and, for more than 100 years, it has provided medical care to veterans in the region. It's one of the few facilities managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that is also designated as a National Historic Landmark. In 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the sanitarium a National Treasure. On June 24, 2014, however, it was announced that the VA would move forward with plans to move the medical facilities 60 miles away to Rapid City, abandoning the historic facilities in the process. That move leaves the fate of the historic buildings uncertain and take away the main source of employment for the city.