June 14, 2005
Finca Vigía: Ernest
Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis
Images Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
in early June released its annual list of the nations
11 most endangered historic places. Along with a variety of
historic buildings, this year's selection includes national
conservation lands, historic battlefields, and farmland. The
endangered list, first issued in 1988, serves as a preservationists'
call to arms on behalf of sites deemed to be threatened by
"neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development
or insensitive public policy," according to the Trust's
Ernest Hemingways Finca Vigía,
or Lookout Farm, located near Havana, Cuba , is
a in serious need of preservation, and is the trusts
first-ever extra-territorial listing. The house was built
in 1886 and author lived here from 1939 to 1960. The Hemingway
Preservation Foundation alerted the trust to the building's
deterioration, and that there were many bureaucratic roadblocks
to restoring it. The organizations now have U.S. permission
to send a survey team, which they plan to do this summer,
This year's list also includes historic
buildings in downtown Detroit, some of which stand in the
way of the citys plans for hosting the 2006 Super Bowl.
Such a wide-reaching designation is also a rare instance for
the Trust which previously flagged the historic buildings
of Lower Manhattan and the state of Vermont for its list.
Detroit's preservation community lacks the muscle of a Boston
or New York, so the city's penchant for the wrecking ball
is harder to counter, according to Brink. Prominent recent
losses include the Statler Hilton Hotel and the Madison-Lenox.
"Detroit's a rough game," says
Brink. "Preservation involves a good deal of adaptive
reuse and rehab, but in this downtown area, the emphasis is
Also highlighted are properties of the
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, which is selling off
churches and other buildings in the more than 80 of its 357
parishes that it is in the process of closing. Development
plans threaten many of the structures. In Los Angeles, Frank
Lloyd Wrights 1924 Ennis-Brown House, the last of his
textile block designs, is crumbling, its steel
reinforcing bars rusting and concrete blocks falling apart
as a result of water damage, according to Trust officials.
Mudslides and the 1994 Northridge earthquake have also caused
Elsewhere, the lone building of Indianas
first college, Eleutherian, which was founded in 1848 and
admitted students regardless of race or gender, has suffered
vandalism and extensive water damage; the 1897 Belleview Biltmore
Hotel in Bellair, Florida faces demolition; the Inupiat Eskimo
village on Alaska's King Island is mostly deserted and collapsing;
and the 141-acre Daniel Webster farm in Franklin New Hampshire
is slated to become a subdivision .
The National Trusts 2005 List
of Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places:
- Belleview Biltmore Hotel, Belleair, Fla.
- Camp Security, York County, Pa.
- Daniel Webster Farm, Franklin, N.H.
- Eleutherian College, Madison, Ind.
- Ennis-Brown House, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Finca Vigía: Ernest Hemingway House, San Francisco
de Paula, Cuba
- Historic Buildings of Downtown Detroit, Detroit, Mich.
- Historic Catholic Churches of Greater Boston, Mass.
- King Island, Alaska
- National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), Western
- The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Corridor,
VA, MD, PA