These Endangered Historic Sites May Surprise You

The National Trust for Historic Preservation released its list of the 11 most endangered historic sites in America Wednesday, and some of the once-proud, now-decaying landmarks may surprise you. There's a Civil Rights-era motel, a gay discotheque and one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. It's no wonder that the National Trust for Historic Preservation considers this its "most diverse" endangered compilation in the 28-year history of the list.

"This year’s list ... reflects our commitment to recognizing and preserving all facets of American history," National Trust for Historic Preservation President Stephanie Meeks said Wednesday. "From the LGBTQ history of the Factory in California to the civil rights legacy of the A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, these sites tell American stories that have been overlooked for too long. We hope this list inspires more Americans to join us in the ongoing effort to save the places that tell the full story of our nation."

The purpose of this endangered list is to highlight sites at significant points in American history that have fallen by the wayside. Once the list is out each year, the foundation urges Americans to take action through petition and fundraising campaigns to save these notable, momentous yet perhaps little-known relics of U.S. history.

Here's the 2015 list of the endangered historic sites in America...

A.G. Gaston Motel

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, the A.G. Gaston Motel once provided luxury accommodations for African-Americans during the age of segregation. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy were frequent guests at the Gaston until the motel and the owner's home became ensnared in racist anti-black violence, including attempted bombings. Now, the the National Trust for Historic Preservation states that the Gaston is vacant and decaying.

The Factory

This West Hollywood camera store-turned-gay dance club was one of the biggest hotspots of the burgeoning gay rights movements in the 1970s and 1980s, and acted as a beacon during the AIDS crisis. Now, The Factory is about to be demolished to make way for a pedestrian walkway. The National Trust, the Los Angeles Conservancy, and the West Hollywood Heritage Project have created a petition urging developers to revise their plans.

South Street Seaport

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Yes, New York City's South Street Seaport is in danger of — what else? — development. The early 19th-century seaport, located on the East River, may soon join "affordable rent" as a thing of the past.

The Grand Canyon


Considered one of the "new" wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is definitely one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring spots in America. But the National Trust for Historic Preservation says the National Park is in danger of new development ideas, including mining and fancy resorts that would ruin the landscape and harm the wildlife. The foundation has created a petition to save the Grand Canyon.

Little Havana

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

This Miami neighborhood — and Cuban enclave — will lose its smattering of historical buildings and unique architecture if it doesn't protect itself against upzoning and other dangerous development, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Old U.S. Mint

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and San Francisco Heritage are teaming together to save the Old U.S. Mint in San Francisco. Built in 1874, this building was one of the only ones to survive the 1906 earthquake. However, it has been in decay for many years, and the city is in danger of losing it for good.

Fort Worth Stock Yards

The historic Fort Worth Stock Yards is a National Register historic district known for its place in the livestock industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, the stock yards are threatened by a massive development project that may ruin the historic buildings.

Oak Flat

This sacred area in Arizona is currently threatened by plans for mining. According to the foundation, the once-protected area is home to numerous cultural resources including archaeological and gathering sites.

Carrollton Courthouse

The Carrollton Courthouse is one of the oldest and most famous buildings in New Orleans outside the French Quarters — but it's now threatened by demolition.

East Point Historic Civic Block

The Civic Block in East Point, Georgia, includes four properties: City Hall, City Auditorium, City Library, and Victory Park. Private developers have been eyeing the historic area, which could lead to the buildings' demolition.

Chautauqua Amphitheater

Located 70 miles from Buffalo, New York, the Chautauqua Amphitheater has been hosting activists, theater shows and musical artists for over 120 years. However, the Chautauqua Institution has plans to demolish the landmark to replace it with a new building.

Images: Michael Coghlan/Flickr, Getty Images (3), National Trust for Historic Preservation (4), Wikimedia Commons (1), Lars Plougmann/Flickr