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Why Vermonters Fear This Mormon Utopia

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s latest list of America’s most endangered historic places includes four Vermont towns set to host a vast micro-housing development based of the visions of Joseph Smith.
A 21st-century rendering of Joseph Smith's 18th-century interpretation of Old Testament urban planning.
A 21st-century rendering of Joseph Smith's 18th-century interpretation of Old Testament urban planning.NewVistas

For the last 30 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has put out an annual call to arms. This year’s list of the 11 most endangered historic places in America features a typical mix of at-risk buildings, historical sites, and neighborhoods. The threats they face range from neglect to development to natural devastation. One is facing a more unusual potential disruption: encroaching utopia.

The 2018 list includes, for example, the deteriorating Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses in Bridgeport, Connecticut, possibly the oldest homes built by African Americans in the state, predating the Civil War. Ship on the Desert, an early Modernist house in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas, is also at risk of neglect. The Trust has issues a broad call to save the hurricane-wracked historic fabric of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Denver’s historic Larimer Square, on the other hand, is a potential victim of its own success, as the Trust considers the development proposals for this vibrant square ”inappropriate.”