NEW YORK — The National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, which spotlights sites that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or cuts to preservation funding.
In the past 25 years, the non-profit organization has listed 234 sites. New York has made the list 18 times. A section of Ellis Island, where 29 neglected hospital and support buildings are located, has been citied three times during that period, including this year.
What’s become of these sites since they were listed? How many have been saved? How many have been lost and how many have made progress as a result of the public’s awareness of their historic significance because of the 11 Most Endangered list?
Below, The Associated Press looks at each of the New York sites, the year they were cited and their status today.
The Roycroft Inn & Campus in East Aurora (1989). Saved.
An extraordinary complex of buildings where the Arts & Crafts Movement thrived at the turn of the 20th century. The Roycroft Campus Corporation was created to preserve and restore the neglected 14-structure campus, which includes an inn, chapel, power house and print, furniture and metalsmith shops. The Roycroft Inn opened in 1995.
Ellis Island Hospital Complex, South Side (1992). Threatened.
While the north side of the island has been nearly fully restored to include an immigration museum and a fully restored ferry terminal building, the south side where a hospital complex treated immigrants’ health needs from 1892 to 1954 is in urgent need of attention. These 29 buildings were stabilized when they were cited on the Most Endangered list. They now need to be stabilized again or there is a need to redefine their reuse.
The Cornices (and Buildings) of Harlem (1994). Threatened.
Some of the greatest African American luminaries of the 20th century including W.E.B. Du Bois and Count Basie lived and worked in Harlem. But in the 1990s, many of the buildings and the architectural cornices — moldings atop the buildings — were threatened by development .
The most endangered listing heightened the community’s awareness of the loss of the cornices, but development projects continue to threaten the neighborhood’s architectural character. Increased listings to the national register and the use of historic tax credits, however, are contributing to the neighborhood’s revitalization.
The Bronx River Parkway, New York City (1995). Saved.
Designed and constructed between 1906 and 1925 during a massive environmental reclamation effort, the scenic parkway was threatened in the 1990s by heavy traffic and pressure to widen and straighten it.
In 1997, the Bronx River Parkway Conservancy was formed to help preserve the parkway in Westchester County after a $13.5 million project was begun to upgrade the Woodland Viaduct to current safety standards and to comply with historic preservation guidelines.
Village of East Aurora, East Aurora (1995). Saved.
An idyllic piece of Americana, East Aurora successfully defeated proposals in 1995 and 1999 for a new Wal-Mart store that threatened the historic character of the downtown and an old-style five & dime department store.
East End Historic District, Newburgh (1996). Preservation in Progress.
Once a showcase of American history, culture and design, Newburgh’s East End Historic District is plagued by poverty, vacancy rates, widespread abandonment and deterioration.
The River City Development Corporation was formed to sensitively rehabilitate historic homes using federal historic tax credits, resulting in more than 31 row homes being restored as affordable housing. The local Habitat for Humanity’s restoration work also has helped bring vitality back to shuttered blocks.
Ellis Island Hospital Complex, South Side (1997). Threatened.
Same as previous mention.
Governors Island, New York City (1998). Saved.
The 172-acre island off the tip of lower Manhattan served as an Army base and then a U.S. Coast Guard base for nearly two centuries before it was turned over to New York state in 2003 and then to the city in 2010.
The island was opened to the public for seasonal recreation in 2006. Today, through the Trust for Governors Island, the city is managing the island’s planning, redevelopment and operation. Twenty-two acres that include Castle Williams and Fort Jay have been designated a national monument and are controlled by the National Park Service. Additionally, the island’s historic structures have been turned into a National Historic Landmark District. Other restorations also are planned.
Four National Historic Landmark Hospitals (1999). Preservation in Progress.
— The 1843 Utica State Hospital received a $200,000 Save America’s Treasures grant for restoration in 2002. And more recently, the New York State Office of Mental Health rehabilitated the first floor of the main building for use as a records archive and repository.
— The 1871 Hudson River Hospital in Poughkeepsie on grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux was undergoing a comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment project when lightning struck, seriously damaging the building and stalling the project. The owner is currently seeking redevelopment opportunities to restore and rehabilitate the structure.
— The 1887 former Buffalo State Hospital is now the Richardson Olmsted Complex with a fully conceived master plan for a mixed-use redevelopment campus that soon will have a visitor’s center on the area’s great architectural heritage.
— The former New York State Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton. A state medical college is looking at the reuse of the historic 1858 hospital.
Hudson River Valley (2000). Preservation in Progress.
This picturesque region, steeped in military, political and literary history, faces overdevelopment that threatens the character of its towns and could spoil the setting of some of its most important historic sites.
While the valley continues to be affected by inappropriate development, in recent years a coalition of preservationists has won several victories to preserve the region’s special character, including the defeat of a proposed cement plant that would have blocked iconic views of the valley for miles around.
TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City (2003). Preservation in Progress.
The soaring Eero Saarinen-designed curvilinear terminal was completed in 1962 and hailed as an icon of modern design. Portions of the terminal, whose interior was designed to complement the winged shell, were threatened with demolition in 2003.
Today, the historic terminal has been restored and serves as an entryway to the new JetBlue Terminal. Preservationists are continuing to work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and JetBlue to sensitively reuse the terminal. Proposals are being sought for the TWA terminal building’s redevelopment.
2 Columbus Circle, New York City (2004). Lost.
This 1964 modernist icon was designed by Edward Durell Stone. The building’s striking bold design was lost in 2006 when the distinctive marble facade was altered for its current owners, the Museum of Arts and Design.
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission refused to hold a hearing to consider protecting the building through landmark designation.
World Trade Center: Vesey Street Staircase, New York City (2006). Saved.
Before the 2001 terrorist attacks, the stairs consisted of two granite-clad flights of stairs and an escalator that led from the trade center plaza to Vesey Street. When the towers collapsed, the heavily damaged stairs served as an escape route for hundreds of people.
In 2008, the staircase was installed at the below-ground memorial museum being constructed at ground zero.
Brooklyn’s Industrial Waterfront, New York City (2007). Threatened.
The DUMBO neighborhood and most of the buildings at the Domino Sugar complex received protection as local landmarks soon after the 2007 listing, protecting them from the transformations taking place on the waterfront. Additionally, local community members are working to survey historic places in the Gowanus neighborhood along the industrial canal.
But efforts to save the long-neglected buildings at Admirals Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard have failed. Most of the structures will be lost to redevelopment of the site into a supermarket and retail center.
Heart of the Lower East Side, New York City (2008). Preservation in Progress.
Local preservationists have long sought to obtain Landmark District designation that would protect the physical character of the neighborhood and its history of the immigrant experience from encroaching development. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has not yet designated it a landmark district but inapproriate development has slowed following the city’s height restrictions on new construction.
1929 Peace Bridge Neighborhood, Buffalo (2008). Preservation in Progress.
A controversial plan for a second span to Canada was dropped by state and federal agencies in the last year. The plan for a greatly expanded border plaza that would require wide-scale demolition of the historic neighborhood was scaled back, saving most structures. But the Bridge Authority still owns some historic houses and has announced plans to demolish them.
The Dix Hills, Long Island, house of jazz musician John Coltrane (2011). Saved.
The site where the musician composed one of his greatest works “A Love Supreme” and other works faced imminent demolition due to deterioration.
It was saved after the Town of Huntington purchased it and gave it to the “Friends of the Coltrane Home.” The non-profit group is raising funds to complete a historic structure report and eventually hopes to turn the house into a museum, archives and learning center celebrating Coltrane and his music.
It has been designated a local historic landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ellis Island Hospital Complex, South Side (2012). Threatened.
Same as previous mention.