Page N3.2 . 17 August 2005                     
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    U.S. History at Risk


    A "hit list" was recently issued by the city calling for the demolition of more than 100 buildings, and just last month, the Madison-Lenox Hotel, a site listed by the National Trust in 2004 as endangered, was destroyed, and the Statler Hilton Hotel is currently being demolished. Preservation groups and civic organizations are preparing restoration plans for surviving sites.

    Also threatened by development pressures are numerous historic Catholic churches in and around Boston. In 2004, the Boston archdiocese began closing, consolidating, and disposing of properties in over 80 parishes. The church buildings have been slated for sale, redevelopment, and possible demolition. They represent a range of styles and are intertwined with the growth of historic and ethnic neighborhoods across eastern Massachusetts.

    Although deferred maintenance and deterioration are major threats, the closed historic churches and their surrounding complexes are directly threatened by sale for redevelopment that may involve total or partial demolition, new construction that may be out of character, or rehabilitation that would alter significant features.

    Avoiding these losses will require local governments, preservationists, developers, architects, realtors, and the Archdiocese to work together to find appropriate new uses for the buildings so they can continue to serve their communities.

    Historic Homes of Famous Men

    Two listed sites are historic by virtue of famous former inhabitants. One is the Daniel Webster Farm in Franklin, New Hampshire. Twenty years after the death of the 19th-century statesman, the farm was converted to an orphanage. Now the land and buildings may be lost to subdivision development unless a new plan is adopted.

    The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and State Historic Preservation Officer are working with conservation advocates to create a plan and to increase public awareness about the site's heritage value.

    The second endangered house with a famous former inhabitant is Finca Vigía, the Cuban home of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway. He lived there from 1939 to 1960, but since then, structural instability and damage by tropical humidity, wind, and rain have caused the site to deteriorate so severely that experts now call it a "preservation emergency." A recently constructed exterior wall has trapped moisture and is causing rot and mold.

    The house, designed in 1886 by the Catalan architect Miguel Pascula y Baguer, is now a museum and a chronicle of Hemingway's life. The National Trust and the Hemingway Preservation Foundation have assembled a team of architects and engineers who recently received permission to go to Cuba to prepare an emergency stabilization and preservation plan. Even these preliminary efforts will require significant restoration funding.

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities.


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    Daniel Webster Farm House, in Franklin, New Hampshire, has been designated as one of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
    Photo: Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation

    ArchWeek Image

    Daniel Webster Farm Orphanage.
    Photo: Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation

    ArchWeek Image

    Threatened by deterioration is Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway's home in Cuba.
    Photo: Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation

    ArchWeek Image

    Finca Vigia.
    Photo: Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation


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