Once a refuge for generations of U.S. veterans, Milwaukee's Soldiers Home (pictured on June 14) is now in shambles. Its many historic buildings are unused and on the verge of collapse, earning the site a place on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2011 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
"For nearly 25 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has spotlighted places that matter, places that help us understand who we are as a nation," Stephanie Meeks, trust president, said in a statement.
"While we hope the list galvanizes support for these 11 endangered places, we also hope it serves as a catalyst for communities everywhere to fight for the irreplaceable landmarks and landscapes that define our past—and enrich our present."
Ten of this year's endangered American places are presented here. The 11th is a collective category representing a multitude of sites that the trust says are threatened by cuts in historic-preservation budgets at the state level.
Photograph by Mike De Sisti, Journal-Sentinel/AP
Fort Gaines, Alabama
Fort Gaines (pictured), on Alabama's Dauphin Island, played a pivotal role in the 1864 Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay. Today the fort contains original cannons, a restored blacksmith shop, kitchens used for living-history demonstrations, and a tunnel system leading to corner bastions with vaulted brick ceilings.
Yet Fort Gaines is slowly losing its battle with the Gulf of Mexico, which is eating up Dauphin Island shoreline by as much as 9 feet (2.7 meters) a year.
The erosion is due to more frequent and intense storms, climate change-related sea level rise, and dredging of the Mobile ship channel, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Response activities related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill have also sped up shoreline loss.
Margie Manchester Pagliarulo stands on June 15 in front of the farmhouse her great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Isaac Manchester built more than 200 years ago in Avella, Pennsylvania.
The stately brick Georgian manor house and eight historic outbuildings represent a "remarkable, two-century time capsule, with objects and archival material preserved," according to the National Trust.
However, a coal company plans to mine near the property, which would jeopardize the farm's water supply. Mining infrastructure, such as access roads, will also threaten the farm's historic setting, the Trust says.
Photograph by Gene J. Puskar, AP
China Alley, California
China Alley, a Chinese neighborhood in tiny Hanford, California, was settled by immigrants in 1877 and once bustled with a temple, herb shops, and gambling dens.
Today, most of China Alley's historic buildings (pictured June 14) are suffering from deterioration and disuse.
Though China Alley is located in a local historic district, the city government has no trained preservation staff and no historic-preservation commission—leaving the buildings vulnerable to insensitive development or reuse, according to the National Trust's website.
Photograph by Gosia Wozniacka, AP
Pillsbury "A" Mill Complex, Minnesota
"A masterpiece of industrial architecture," the Pillsbury "A" Mill Complex was once a state-of-the-art Minneapolis operation on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minnesota.
The largest and most advanced facility in the world at the time of its completion in 1881, the flour mill now stands vacant (above, a recent picture of a mill water tunnel).
The complex is in danger of piecemeal development, which could strip this U.S. National Historic Landmark of its potential for reuse and rehabilitation, according to the trust.
Photograph courtesy City of Minneapolis/NTHP
Greater Chaco Landscape, New Mexico
Casa Rinconada (pictured) is a 63-foot-wide (19-meter-wide) kiva—a communal room used for ceremonial purposes by the prehistoric peoples of Chaco Canyon.
The site is one of hundreds of archaeological and cultural landmarks scattered across northwestern New Mexico. Known collectively as the Greater Chaco Landscape, these sacred sites, and the fragile prehistoric roads that connect them, are in jeopardy due to increased oil and gas exploration and extraction, according to the trust.
Photograph by David L. Brill, National Geographic
Prentice Women's Hospital, Illinois
Chicago's concrete-and-glass, cloverleaf-shaped icon, the original Prentice Women's Hospital (pictured June 15), was built as an alternative to the modernist, box-shaped hospitals of the 1970s.
Believing boxy hospitals were dehumanizing and insensitive to their surroundings, Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg designed Prentice with an open floor plan that created four circular "villages" of care on each floor. The structure facilitated interaction between patients and staff while improving the patient experience, according to the Trust.
But even its progressive architecture may not be able to save the building from demolition: The building's owner, Northwestern University—which moved Prentice to another building in 2007—plans to raze the 1970s tower in late 2011 and replace it with a new research facility.
Photograph by Kiichiro Sato, AP
Bear Butte, South Dakota
At 4,426 feet (1,349 meters) tall, Bear Butte (pictured) is a sacred mountain for as many as 17 Native American tribes, including the Lakota of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
"A place of prayer, meditation, and peace, this National Historic Landmark is threatened by proposed wind and oil energy development that will negatively impact the sacred site and further degrade the cultural landscape," according to the trust's website.
Photograph courtesy Jenny Buddenborg, NTHP
In the 1890s a nun named Katherine Drexel—later named a saint—transformed Virginia's Belmead-on-the James plantation, including its Gothic Revival manor house (pictured), into a pair of innovative schools for African-American and Native American students in the 1890s.
Set in rolling, riverside woods, many of the historic buildings on the former plantation—once home to slaves—have deteriorated since the schools' closings in the 1970s, and some need emergency repairs, according to the trust.
Photograph courtesy Preservation Virginia/NTHP
John Coltrane Home, New York
U.S. jazz luminary John Coltrane wrote his iconic album A Love Supreme in his home on Long Island, New York, in the 1960s. Five decades later, the humble ranch house (pictured in 2008) has deteriorated due to lack of funds.
An organization called Friends of the John Coltrane Home has partially stabilized the vacant house but does not have the resources needed to fully restore the building.