Endangered Historic Sites
Updated: Jan 30
There are many historical structures forgotten due to lack of community interest, and the tendencies corporations have for using historic landmarks to gain a profit without the desire to maintain and preserve the American heritage sites. Many sites deserve remembrance as abandoned towns contain stories which need to be told and need to be shared before it becomes too late.
Historic District, Annapolis Maryland
Several historic homes are in danger of being demolished in the historic district at Annapolis, Maryland. A 160-year-old market house which was shut down due to zoning regulations and later reopened thanks to community outreach in the spring of 2017.
Found in this historic district is the Maryland State House. The longest-running continually operational house for legislative hearings and gatherings constructed between 1772 and 1797. The Maryland State House served as the Nation’s Capital from November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784, before the construction of Washington D.C. The homes surrounding this capital are even older ranging from 1694 to 1700. Preservation of these national treasures are crucial, but due to zoning changes and regulations, these beautiful structures are at risk of being demolished. Forgotten, never to be seen or enjoyed by future generations. It will be a shame and a significant loss if the Historical Preservation Society (HPS) does not protect these historical treasures.
Route 66, the historic national roadway, known as “The Mother Road” was established in 1926 and joined California to Chicago. Route 66’s decline came shortly after the construction of interstate 40 (I-40), which begins in western Oklahoma and runs parallel to the historic Route 66. [lm1] [AF2] [AF3] The towns and cities lining the sides of the historic ghostly highway are falling into states of disrepair, their neon signs dimming with each passing year. Some establishments found while traveling the road seem to disappear in the wind as time, and natural elements continue to consume the once-bustling highway.
Towns remain barely recognizable with only rusted pieces of metal for signage and old, hollow vehicle shells which still have engraved the name of the town the vehicle once served. Haunting reminders of days-gone-by as with each passing year, something more gets washed away by the desert heat or demolished by construction companies which place more mundane, run-of-the-mill offices — no more quirky motels or malt shops which grew around an expanding enthusiastic motorist community. Life could be a dream if something were done to save these monuments of classic Americana. Congress had not referred to the preservation of unique sites in recent bills or acts. It is best to place the historic Route 66 on your bucket list to experience or at least to pay your respects to the road which helped shape American culture and go beyond what modern roadside chains offer.
Jefferson Pools, Hot Springs, Va.
The Jefferson Pools in Bath County, Virginia were also at risk of being demolished. Construction on the octagonal structures, began with the gentlemen's bathhouse completed 1761 and ended with a lady’s bathhouse completed in 1836. These bathhouses are not just of Bath Country. They are a staple of American history. President Thomas Jefferson, spent three weeks in 1819 bathing three times a day, George Washington, and the wife of Gen. Robert E. Lee, Mary Anna Curtis Lee, were also frequent visitors. Before the natural hot springs became “The Jefferson Pools,” the pools were considered a sacred Native American ground for healing.
The Omni Corporation purchased the Pools and the Homestead in 2013. At this time, the Pools were still open and operational to the public and guests of the Resort. Between 2016 and 2017 the Omni Corp. did not reach an agreement with the Bath County historical society on how to preserve them and the county was forced to close them in 2017 due to the lack of maintenance, since the structures became too unsafe for tourists and locals.
Omni management says the Pools are scheduled to re-open to the public Summer 2020 as part of a partnership between themselves, the Bath County historical society and 3north, a multi-design, and architectural company, to preserve the Pool’s historical integrity.
Conservation efforts and commercial negotiations are typically not reached as the land value outweighs the historic site’s property value. Hence, historic sites are left abandoned in a state of decay. As these structures crumble, future generations will never know of their existence or the purpose and meaning these sites held. While they will to be remembered and referenced in books, there is nothing like experiencing these sights in person. These historic sites are pieces of American history worth preserving.
[lm1]Move here. I reworded it a bit.
By Alexander Fernandez