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National Trust Releases 2014 Endangered Historic Places Watch List

By David Sokol
June 24, 2014
Photo courtesy Cincinnati Musuem Center
Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio, is one of this year's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.


Stunning architecture—as well as no architecture at all—have earned slots on America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2014. Since 1988, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been issuing this watch list of historically significant buildings and sites for which neglect, natural disaster, development pressure, and other phenomena put their continued existence at risk. This year’s newly released selections reveal the full breadth of preservationists’ interests. They are:

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  • Battle Mountain Sanitarium; Hot Springs, South Dakota
  • Bay Harbor’s East Island; Miami-Dade County, Florida
  • Chattanooga State Office Building; Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Spring House; Tallahassee, Florida
  • Historic Wintersburg; Huntington Beach, California
  • Mokuaikaua Church; Kailua Village, Kona, Hawaii
  • Music Hall; Cincinnati, Ohio
  • The Palisades; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
  • Palladium Building; St. Louis, Missouri
  • Shockoe Bottom; Richmond, Virginia
  • Union Terminal; Cincinnati, Ohio

Among the buildings representing design excellence is the only Frank Lloyd Wright–designed residence in Florida. Spring House was completed in 1954, five years prior to Wright’s death. In addition to its one-of-a-kind location, the deteriorating building is one of few remaining examples of the hemicycle vocabulary, which Wright began developing a decade earlier as an offshoot of his Usonian houses.

Two other examples of masterful composition are located in Cincinnati—the first time that the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has included two sites from the same city. Music Hall, which opened in 1878, originally served as Cincinnati’s first convention center; the Venetian Gothic building designed by Samuel Hannaford ultimately became a performance venue. The Art Deco–style Union Terminal was completed in 1933 as a commission of Alfred Fellheimer and Steward Wagner, who relied on Philadelphia architect and industrial designer Paul Cret to modernize the look and feel of the mammoth structure. The Cincinnati Museum Center occupies it today.

In New Jersey, the Hudson River cliffs known as the Palisades have been anything but occupied. John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased the craggy landscape to preserve the vista from the Cloisters museum, located in northern Manhattan. LG Electronics is poised to alter the viewshed, with plans for a nearby office building that would rise above the tree line. Echoing the threat, East Island’s collection of Miami Modern buildings made the 2014 list, due to development pressures.

Vernacular architecture like the Miami buildings makes up the majority of the National Trust’s most recent advisory, as these places figure prominently in American sociopolitical and cultural history. Battle Mountain Sanitarium is one of only several designated landmarks owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs; Wintersburg embodies the Japanese immigration experience; and in the 1940s, the Palladium housed Club Plantation, an important performance venue for African Americans, who were otherwise prohibited from entering.   

This year’s list is capped by an endangered policy, the fate of which will affect the preservation of formally brilliant and historically rich buildings alike: Members of Congress are considering eliminating the federal historic tax credit to balance the budget. To learn about this possible repeal, click here.

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