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Astrodome, JFK Flying Saucer Make 2013 Endangered List

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The Houston Astrodome in Texas, one of the 11 Most Endangered Sites of 2013 according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The sports arena built in the 1960s has been decaying and has been cited with city fire code violations. Source: Jim Lindberg via Bloomberg

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- The Houston Astrodome and a New York airport terminal are included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2013 list of the Most Endangered Historic Places.

The Astrodome was the world’s first domed sports stadium. Since Houston’s professional sports teams moved into the Reliant Stadium in 2001, the Astrodome has fallen into decay and has been cited for fire-code violations.

“This is a seminal building in American and, in some ways, international history,” said John Hildreth, the National Trust’s regional vice president for Eastern Field Services in Charleston, South Carolina. “It is still usable. The challenge is finding a viable use for it.”

Also on the list released today are the 1960 Worldport Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, whose flying-saucer shape hailed the Jet Age, and the 16th-century San Jose Church in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Village of Mariemont, a planned community of about 1,300 households near Cincinnati, Ohio, with Tudor-style architecture is threatened by a transportation project. The Kake Cannery in Alaska, a salmon-processing plant, has suffered structural deterioration.

Erosion threatens the Gay Head Lighthouse, the first one built on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, while demographic changes don’t bode well for the survival of a group of rural schoolhouses in Montana, which uses more 1- and 2-room educational facilities than any other state in the U.S.

Historic Treasures

Since 1988, the Washington-based National Trust has listed for preservation more than 240 buildings, sites, neighborhoods and structures considered “historic treasures.” Any person or organization can nominate a site to the endangered list.

The public attention the list receives -- it bears no legal force -- can give a boost to a restoration project, Hildreth said. The listing of the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex in Minneapolis on the endangered list in 2011 sparked a development project that will turn the 132-year-old building into an apartment complex.

The Trust’s 2013 list includes two structures relevant to black history. The Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland, Maine, which served as a center for spiritual life, and the Mountain View Black Officers’ Club in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

“Preserving the building is a way of talking about how we have dealt with segregation,” Hildreth said of the officers’ club. “As we interpret and tell the story of these places, it helps us understand as a culture where we have come from.”

Old Connection

The Chinatown House in Rancho Cucamonga, California, formerly a store and living quarters for about 50 Chinese-American laborers, also was selected. The weakening structure documents the community’s connection to those who helped build the city east of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

The James River in Virginia, near the site of the U.S.’s first permanent English settlement in 1607, made the list because a proposed transmission line project threatens its scenic beauty.

(For more information about the sites, see http://www.PreservationNation.org/places)

Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on dining, Jeffrey Burke on books, Jeremy Gerard on theater, Katya Kazakina on art.

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@Bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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