US Endangered Historic Sites 2004
Every year, more buildings and places important to the history of the United States are threatened with extinction. These range from ancient barns suffering from neglect to modern-era masterpieces facing controversial renovations to entire regions threatened by insensitive development.
To counter this trend, the National Trust for Historic Preservation annually publishes a list of threatened historic treasures. While the listing does not guarantee protection or funding, the designation has succeeded in raising public awareness, which has led to the rescue of some listed sites. In May 2004 the trust announced a new list of "America's Most Endangered Historic Places."
According to Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, historic places tell us who we are as a nation. "They constitute an epic cultural narrative whose chapters include not only world-famous icons but hidden treasures. Unless all of us become aware of the importance of our heritage and take action to preserve it, America's past won't have a future."
Remembering Modest Roots
One of the 11 sites on the trust's 2004 list is the Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Nicknamed "Chicago's Ellis Island" because it was once the city's primary source of health care for poor and immigrant residents, the 1913 neoclassical building, with an ornate colonnaded facade, is in danger of demolition. Preservationists have demonstrated that it can be converted to much-needed affordable housing that would help bring vitality to its neighborhood. Yet the Cook County Board remains determined to demolish it.
Another listing, perhaps less imposing architecturally, is the Elkmont Historic District in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. The 72 modest wood structures suffer from abandonment, inadequate maintenance, and vandalism. >>>
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