America’s history might not rank with some European countries, but it is nonetheless filled with examples of important architectural and natural locations. And while historic preservation societies exist from coast to coast, the simple truth is that everything can’t be saved, whether or not it’s worthy.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation publishes a list of endangered locations in the U.S. every year. This year’s list contains 15 different locations, according to Architectural Record, each of which is important for a very different reason. Here are 4 of those locations that may again never be the same.
Carrollton Courthouse, New Orleans, LA
The Carrollton Courthouse has stood since 1874, and has served the Jefferson Parish community as a government building and a school. It was at risk once before, in the 1950s, when some sought to demo the building. But the Louisiana Landmarks Society was successful in protecting it. This time, the courthouse might not fare as well. It’s slated to be sold by the Orleans Parish School Board, and no provisions exist that could protect it against being demolished.
Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Of all of the natural features in the United States, few compare to the Grand Canyon. Something this massive and this beloved would surely be safe from the hazards of mining and the commercialization of business development, right? Unfortunately, no. This site, which is sacred to many Native Americans, is at risk. Proposals include a gondola ride, residential developments, spas, and a luxury resort convention center, according to AZ Central. It’s essentially the antithesis of what you’d expect to happen to a national landmark.
Old U.S. Mint, San Francisco, CA
Surrounded by new construction that supports the San Francisco area’s “tech boom,” the sandstone and granite Old U.S. Mint stands empty, at least on the inside, and in a state of serious disrepair. This 140 year old building withstood the 1906 earthquake and fire, which demolished a large part of the city. Yet the city hasn’t seen fit to preserve this important example of architecture and history. The San Francisco Chronicle also explains that while the interior might be bare, the roof isn’t. It serves as a camp for some of the city’s numerous homeless people.
Little Havana, Miami, FL
Little Havana has some of the most iconic examples of architecture in America. Its vibrant street life and cultural activities such as festivals and parades are influenced by its population, which is primarily from Central and South America. It’s an area that consists of numerous churches, shops and other businesses all within walking distance of small bungalow homes and apartment buildings, and all of which are at risk. Changes in zoning and a lack of historic preservation ordinances threaten Little Havana’s architecture and way of life.
Few people dispute the relevance of any of the locations at risk in 2015. The problem isn’t agreeing on whether or not they have played a role in history, but how they should be used in the future. Architecture isn’t just about creating buildings; it’s also about the people who use them. The National Historic Trust works with local historic preservationists, and in many cases succeeds in stopping the wrecking ball. And in some cases, those monuments can be successfully saved and restored to a functional part of the community.
PDH Academy understands that an architect’s work can take her from designing and creating a new building to saving one that’s at risk. This is one field where the community is as important as the individual client, and navigating it requires ongoing education. When your next professional development hours are due, check out our courses and see how we can help you stay relevant in the ever-changing world of architecture.
Carrollton Courthouse, Jimmy Emerson DVM, via Flickr
Grand Canyon, A Durate, via Flickr
Little Havana Apartment Building, Phillip Pessar, via Flickr