Frazier’s Gym, Ellis Hospital Make 2012 Endangered Sites

Sweet Auburn Historical District
A view of the Sweet Auburn Historical District in Atlanta. The community in which civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was born was designated an endangered site by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the first time in 1992. Source: National Trust for Historic Preservation via Bloomberg

The gym where boxing champion Joe Frazier trained, the hospital at New York’s Ellis Island and Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood neighborhood made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2012 list of the Most Endangered Historic Places.

Also on the list are Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch in Billings County, North Dakota, the landscape of which is being threatened by a proposed road and bridge; and former Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X’s boyhood home in Boston, which was built in 1874.

Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia was selected partly because the National Trust wants to encourage the preservation of all types of historic sites beyond large buildings. The former heavyweight champion died last year of liver cancer.

“Joe Frazier was an iconic person during a very colorful chapter in our history, and it’s a place that the people and community of Philadelphia should think about protecting,” Stephanie Meeks, the National Trust’s president, said by phone.

The Sweet Auburn district of Atlanta, where civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was born, was first listed in 1992. It was relisted this year to encourage the local community to continue its restorative work.

“There has been excellent progress on the residential areas, but the commercial districts are crying out for revitalization,” Meeks said.

Ellis Island

The Ellis Island Hospital Complex was also relisted after its designation in 1992. The hospital’s 29 buildings, located on the south side of Ellis Island, have been abandoned since 1954. The hospital’s administration building has been restored, and work continues on the contagious-disease wards, according to Save Ellis Island Inc., which is helping the U.S. National Park Service raise money for the project.

The Ellis Island hospital provided medical care to immigrants who couldn’t enter the U.S. because they were sick, mentally ill or pregnant.

Since 1988, the Washington-based National Trust has listed for preservation 242 buildings, sites, neighborhoods and structures considered “historic treasures.” Anyone can nominate a site to the endangered list.

The public attention the list receives can give a boost to a restoration project.

“In the past 25 years, only 10 of the 242 buildings have been lost, so we’ve had a good track record,” Meeks said.

Zoar Village

The Trust also listed the Princeton Battlefield State Park in New Jersey, where George Washington surprised and defeated British soldiers in 1777 during the U.S. Revolution. A housing development proposed for part of the site would alter the landscape.

The National Trust’s list of endangered sites includes several U.S. Post Office buildings and the village of Zoar, in northeast Ohio, which was founded by religious separatists in 1817 and is being threatened by the removal of a levee.

Other at-risk sites are Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles, the site of the forced removal of about 3,000 Japanese residents in 1942; more than 240 deteriorating courthouses in Texas and a number of “Rustic Style” bridges in California’s Yosemite National Park that are in danger of being removed.

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