Earlier this summer, the National Trust for Historic Preservation unveiled its 2023 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, an annual ranking that spotlights significant sites of American history that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.
“This year’s list of the nation’s most endangered historic places is a portfolio of sites that are nearly as diverse as the American experience itself,” said Jay Clemens, interim president and CEO of the National Trust. “The places on this list come in all forms, from individual residences to entire neighborhoods, and are located across the country from small communities to urban streetcorners and rural landscapes. The diversity of sites on the 2023 list—and the stories behind them—reflect the complexities and challenges that have always been part of what it means to be American but have not always received the attention they deserve. Losing any of them would diminish us all.”
Since first debuting in 1988, the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has proven to be a highly effective tool for shining a light on the threats facing our nation’s greatest treasures. Due to the efforts of the National Trust and our passionate supporters, the 11 Most list has often provided the decisive force needed to preserve important cultural landmarks. Now in its 36th year, the ongoing initiative has galvanized public support behind more than 350 sites across the country with only a handful lost. Below are the 11 places that make up the list for 2023, sorted alphabetically by state.
Built in 1929, the Osterman Gas Station along Route 66 has been a focal point of the Hualapai Tribal community for generations. Extreme weather has damaged the already deteriorated building, and it needs stabilization and rehabilitation in order to continue to serve its community and the next generation of travelers. In consultation with experts, the Tribe is developing a preservation and reuse plan and raising funds to save the Hualapai-owned gas station.
Little Santo Domingo, the cultural heart of Allapattah, is a key commercial corridor in one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. Growing development interest in Little Santo Domingo is leading to displacement, demolition, and rising rents. The Allapattah Collaborative hopes to encourage a more balanced approach to development and preservation while protecting the neighborhood’s heritage and culture.
Pierce Chapel African Cemetery, established circa 1828, is one of the oldest burial grounds for Africans enslaved at several plantations in Harris County, Georgia, and their descendants. However, the cemetery has deteriorated over time and suffered damage due to recent use of heavy construction equipment. The descendant-led Hamilton Hood Foundation is leading efforts to raise awareness about this significant place and preserve Pierce Chapel and its stories for future generations.
As two iconic early skyscrapers along Chicago’s historic State Street, the Century and Consumers Buildings contribute to the architectural significance of the area known as “the Loop.” Yet they have sat vacant since the General Services Administration bought them in 2005 and are now being considered for demolition. Advocates are urging reuse options that could meet security needs of the adjacent federal courthouse while avoiding the buildings’ wasteful demolition.
This 11-mile stretch along the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish includes historic villages, agricultural fields, and two plantations where the lives of enslaved people are studied and interpreted. But now port facility Greenfield Louisiana LLC has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to build one of the largest grain elevators in the world amid the area’s nationally significant cultural resources. A coalition of local and national advocates, including many descendants of people enslaved in the area, is advocating for the Army Corps to deny the permit or for the developer not to build the terminal.
Built circa 1880 in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, this building was first home to the Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society, with its main hall doubling as a jazz venue, and later, the Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church of Eternal Life. Impacted by repeated hurricane damage, the remaining portions of the building are threatened with collapse. Working in partnership, the pastor and congregation of Holy Aid and Comfort and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans are seeking funding and support to stabilize the remaining historic fabric and reconstruct the rest of the building for congregational and community use.
African American artist L.V. Hull transformed her Kosciusko, Mississippi, home into a creative wonderland that attracted visitors from around the world. Though her artwork was relocated after her death in 2008 and recently conserved by the Kohler Foundation, her unoccupied house suffers from neglect, vandalism, and weather exposure. Filmmaker and Hull’s friend Yaphet Smith has purchased the house and is partnering with other advocates with a vision to create an arts campus celebrating Hull’s legacy. However, they need partners and funding to restore and revive the home as the heart of this broader project, where it will tell a unique, overlooked story of a Black woman in the South who claimed a space to pursue her full artistic vision.
Built in 1871, this North Philadelphia rowhouse was home to Henry Ossawa Tanner, an internationally recognized African American painter, along with many other Tanner family members with significant achievements. But gentrification is putting the neighborhood’s Black cultural legacy and heritage landmarks such as the Tanner House—already seriously deteriorated—at risk of demolition or erasure. The Friends of the Tanner House and its partners are creating a long-term stewardship plan to reimagine the house’s future.
As one of the oldest remaining active Chinatowns in the United States, Philadelphia Chinatown has been a vibrant community since 1871. But with the 76ers basketball team proposing to build an arena abutting Chinatown, advocates—including the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation—are concerned that the development could further disconnect the neighborhood, discourage visitors, impact the local economy, displace residents and businesses, and ultimately contribute to the erasure of the area’s cultural heritage. Neighborhood residents and leaders are encouraging arena supporters to listen to and invest in protecting the Chinatown community as they consider their options.
Union Pier, a 65-acre waterfront site along the Cooper River in downtown Charleston, is former marshland that has been used for maritime shipping, industrial production, and port operations since the early 18th century. The pier’s current owner, South Carolina Ports Authority, has proposed selling the land to a private developer for a new mixed-use district that could threaten the area’s historic character, viewsheds, and climate resilience. Advocates and residents are encouraging the city government to start with a community-led vision for the site before the formal review of a specific development plan.
As one of the oldest Asian American neighborhoods on the West Coast, the Seattle Chinatown-International District (CID) has been a center of the city’s Asian American life for more than a century. However, Seattle’s Sound Transit is considering several transit expansion options that could impact transportation access and cultural preservation in the CID. Transit Equity for All, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Wing Luke Museum are part of a coalition advocating for a more transparent, equitable process that reflects careful decision-making, centers the voices of the CID, keeps the community connected to transit, and protects the neighborhood’s vitality and cultural heritage for future generations.
—To learn more about the places on this year’s list and find out what you can do to help preserve them, go to www.SavingPlaces.org/11Most.