America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places: A Look Back ( Part I)

Take a tour of three sites that were previously listed, understand the threats they face, and how you can help.

Since 1988, the National Trust has used its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to highlight the threats facing some of the nation's greatest treasures. This list, which has identified more than 300 places to date, has been so successful in galvanizing preservation efforts that only a handful of listed places have been lost.

George Washington's Mount Vernon, George Washington's Mount Vernon, 2015-07-10, From the collection of: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Huitzilopochtli Mural, Denver, Colorado, Mural by David Ocelotl Garcia, Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado Project, 2008, From the collection of: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Rassawek, Greg Werkheiser, 2019-06-26, From the collection of: National Trust for Historic Preservation
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Each of the three sites on this tour are in a different place in their preservation journey. Hear from advocates about the status of each of these places.

Mount Vernon and Piscataway National Park

Mount Vernon, Virginia, and Accokeek, Maryland 

George Washington's Mount Vernon (2015-07-10) by George Washington's Mount VernonNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Listed in 2018.

Since Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, the view from this historic site has faced threats from new development that could have compromised the rolling hills and lush forests visible from the estate.  

This view, designed by George Washington himself—was ultimately protected as part of Piscataway National Park. In 2018, this viewshed was endangered once again when Dominion Power proposed construction of a compressor station 40 feet away from Piscataway National Park.

This video from George Washington's Mount Vernon shares the deep connection Washington had with his home in Virginia. 

George Washington's Mount Vernon (2013-10-15) by George Washington's Mount VernonNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Dr. Douglas Bradburn on George Washington's Mount Vernon

Dr. Douglas Bradburn

CEO, George Washington's Mount Vernon

Since the 1950s, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has worked closely with our neighbors, partner environmental and cultural groups, native tribes, and state and federal officials to protect the Potomac viewshed.

By Alfred EisenstaedtLIFE Photo Collection

Dr. Douglas Bradburn

"Placing this viewshed on the National Trust’s endangered places list has helped bring awareness to our preservation efforts and to our partners across the river. We were honored to receive this classification and to be among so many deserving sites."

Mount Vernon (1944) by Alfred EisenstaedtLIFE Photo Collection

Current Status

Days after the 11 Most announcement, Dominion Power changed their plans. Mount Vernon has since secured additional conservation easements, working with partners and homeowners in the viewshed, protecting the view, and allowing economic development in more appropriate locations.

Chicano/a/x Community Murals of Colorado


Huitzilopochtli Mural, Denver, Colorado (2008) by Mural by David Ocelotl Garcia and Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado ProjectNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Listed in 2022.

The Chicano/a/x community murals located throughout Colorado illuminate the nationwide Chicano/a/x Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s that integrated political activism with cultural education through the arts. 

Today, the powerful artworks are threatened in a range of ways, including a lack of legal protections, gentrification, and Colorado’s harsh climate.  

Hear from Lucha Martinez de Luna as she takes you through the murals in the La Alma/Lincoln Park Neighborhood of Denver.

San Luis-Sierras y Colores Mural in Colorado (1986) by Mural by Carlos Sandoval and Courtesy Chicano/a/x Murals of ColoradoNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Lucha Martinez de Luna on Chicano Murals Project of Colorado

Lucha Martínez de Luna

Director, Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado Project

The impact of the 11 Most designation has helped the Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx murals of Colorado project amplify our voice to advocate for the urgency in protecting and preserving the Chicano community murals in Colorado.

Lucha Martínez de Luna

"The listing has generated many important conversations describing the fragile relationship between the murals and buildings on which they are painted, that place them at immediate and ongoing risk of erasure due to gentrification." 

Lucha Martínez de Luna

"In addition, the listing has helped to bring attention to the inadequacies of preservation that have failed to recognize the importance of protecting the artistic and cultural expressions of diverse communities across the nation."

Plaza Verde Mural, Pueblo, Colorado (1978) by Mural by Leo Lucero and Photo by Juan Espinosa/Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado ProjectNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Current Status

The Chicano/a/x Murals of Colorado Project seeks support for ongoing efforts to survey, designate, protect, and preserve these important cultural treasures. 

Since their inclusion on the Endangered Historic Places list, the murals have received widespread attention from around the country, however much work remains to document and preserve these places.

Map of the State of Virginia (1863) by Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.National Trust for Historic Preservation


Columbia, Virginia 

Rassawek (2019-06-26) by Greg WerkheiserNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Listed in 2020.

Rassawek is located at the fork of the Rivanna and James Rivers and was the historical capital of the Monacan Indian Nation, the town to which all others in the Monacan Confederacy paid tribute. 

Rassawek (2019-06-26) by Greg WerkheiserNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Today the confluence of the rivers, known as Point of Fork, contains over 20 archaeological sites, many of them related to millennia of Monacan life. 

Starting in 2018, the Nation became aware that the James River Water Authority planned to build a water pumping facility on the Point, disturbing at least six National Register-eligible archaeological sites, several of which are thought to be the final resting places of Monacan ancestors.

Learn about Rassawek from this video produced in 2020 by Cultural Heritage Partners and the Monacan Nation.

In 2019, former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam visited the Point of Fork. He is pictured  below with Victoria Ferguson, a member of the Monacan Nation. 

Governor Northam and Victoria Ferguson at Point of Fork (2019-07-01) by Office of Governor Ralph Northam and CC BY-NC 2.0 via FlickrNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Chief Kenneth Branham on Rassawek

Chief Kenneth Branham, Monacan Nation

We’re really grateful to the Trust for nominating Rassawek. After a long hard fight, in 2022 the James River Water Authorities agreed to complete their project on another route. We are hopeful that a historic capital will be preserved, and that our ancestors can remain at peace.

Current Status

On March 16, 2022, the James River Water Authority voted to select an alternate site for its water supply project, protecting the sanctity of Rassawek.

Camp Naco (1919) by Bisbee Mining and Historical MuseumNational Trust for Historic Preservation

Take Action

Sign up for the National Trust's email and be the first to know about America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2023.

Read about three more previously listed sites—Olivewood Cemetery, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Memorial Hospital, Camp Naco—in Part II of this series.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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