The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced a list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places on June 19. All of the featured sites were nominated for their historical or architectural significance, their deteriorating conditions, and the viability of a solution to restore them. But five sites stand out as the most endangered, according to Virgil McDill, associate director of public affairs at theNational Trust.
The Astrodome in Houston, Texas (pictured) is the world's first domed indoor stadium. But it has lost its athletic residents—and relevance—to newer stadiums in recent years. Currently empty, the dome faces an uncertain future, which may include demolition if it doesn't find a new purpose.
Built in 1960, many view the structure as an icon of the modern sports industry. "With all the new stadiums being built, old ones are being left behind," explained McDill. "The Astrodome is iconic, but it's in need of a plan."
The gridiron monument isn't the only building in need of a new life. Schoolhouses in Montana also need a different reason to live. McDill says Montana has more one- and two-room schoolhouses than any other state, but recent demographic shifts have been putting these historical buildings out of use.
"People are moving to more urban areas, and the children who once used these schoolhouses are moving too," McDill said. "In Montana it's a funding issue. The state doesn't have the funds to repurpose all these schoolhouses." (Read about "The Emptied Prairie" in National Geographic magazine.)
A salmon cannery in Alaska is threatened by brutal environmental conditions in this most northern state. "The Kake Cannery in Alaska is a wooden building exposed to harsh conditions," McDill said. "It's in a remote area, and it needs immediate help to make sure it doesn't collapse."
The Rancho Cucamonga Chinatown House in southern California faces similar threats. Built in 1919, the two-story brick building has been deteriorating rapidly in recent years, despite being "one of the last tangible connections to the community of Chinese-American laborers" that once thrived there.
"It's got a great story, and a very strong nonprofit that would like to do work on it," McDill said. "But it needs a strong partner that can steward the changes."
The Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport in New York City has recently become endangered since Delta Airlines ceased operations there in May 2013.
Current plans call for the demolition of the iconic structure, whose flying-saucer shape is viewed by many as a symbol for the Jet Age and 1960s culture. According to McDill, the Worldport is in desperate need of a "viable reuse plan," in order to avoid destruction.