WASHINGTON – An American Indian reservation,a blacksmith's home and the race track where Seabiscuit debuted are all at risk,according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The trust named those three sites Thursday as part of its 2007 list of the 11 most endangered historic places.
The list is an annual “alarm bell” aimed at saving the sites from the slow decay of age or being replaced by new developments,said Richard Moe,president of the trust.
“If we take action,we can preserve our heritage,” Moe said.
At Stewart's Point Rancheria in Northern California,the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians' Old Round House,which stands on sacred ground has drawn arsonists. Built in 1896 and moved to its current site in 1916,it has been a church,hospital and community center and is a “focal point of tribal culture,” said Reno Keoni Franklin,a member of the Kashia Band.
Franklin said the Kashias,and other American Indian reservations,desperately need more federal funding to preserve their history.
In Charleston,S.C.,blacksmith Philip Simmons is a local legend. Hundreds of his handmade wrought iron gates can be found all over the city. Now 95,Simmons turned over his hammer to his cousin and nephew,who use the workshop where Simmons apprenticed 82 years ago.
The 1860s tin structure needs stabilization,said Rossie Colter,who works for the Philip Simmons Foundation in Charleston.
“We have hurricanes here all the time,so we're lucky it hasn't blown away,” Colter said. The foundation wants the workshop to be a continuing example of blacksmithing by hand and as a place where visitors who want to research Simmons's work could stay.
Another endangered site is the Hialeah Park Race Track,in Hialeah,Fla.,just north of Miami,where Seabiscuit first raced. Built in 1925,the racetrack was one of the hottest destinations in Florida during its heyday,said Alex Fuentes,founder of the Citizens to Save Hialeah Park.
Racing stopped at the park in 2001 and its current owner's plan to redevelop the land with retail and high-rise residential and office space,Fuentes said. He said the 220-acre park is an oasis in industrial Hialeah.
“It's our Central Park,” Fuentes said. “The community grew up around it.”
In the mid-Atlantic region,proposed power lines threaten historic sites,including Civil War battlegrounds and the childhood home of the country's fourth chief justice,John Marshall.
Chris Miller,president of the Piedmont Environmental Council,a Virginia environmental group,said the 15-story towers would obscure beautiful views of the countryside. His group says the power lines aren't necessary and that more effort should be made to conserve energy. He at least wants to change the proposed route so no historic sites are damaged.
Stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles,the iconic Route 66 is lined by independent motels,often featuring neon signs and offbeat designs,that now face destruction and decay. Interstate highways mean less traffic on Route 66,and many of the motels stand empty,while others have been torn down to make way for new developments.
“They were a key part of the travel experience for millions,” Moe said.
Another path once essential to American history is threatened by new development. El Camino Real National Historic Trail in New Mexico was the trade route from Mexico City to Santa Fe from 1598 to the 1880s. Now,a proposed Spaceport,which would take tourists into space,could damage a section of the trail with noise and pollution as well as physically changing some of the features.
Gary Wolff,executive director of the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance,said his group wants to work with Spaceport,which is still being planned.
“It's one of those experiences that is hard to portray in words,” Wolff said of seeing the trail. “You have to experience the magnificence of the valley and the solitude. You're conscious of every wind and can see where the wagon wheel ruts used to be very deep.”
Other places newly listed as endangered are Brooklyn's industrial waterfront,where old warehouses are being torn down to make way for new residential buildings; the Massachusetts home of H.H. Richardson,a Boston architect; 19th-century frontier homes in need of repair in Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest; the World War II-era Japanese internment camp Minidoka,in Idaho; and scenic Pinon Canyon,Colo.,where the U.S. Army is considering adding 400,000 acres to a training facility.
The “11 Most” list has been released annually by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for 20 years and now numbers 189 sites.