Threatened places for 2009

Speaking of the Manhattan Project—and because I badly need to restore some gravitas to this blog after that last stunt—check out the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of the 11 Most Endangered Places for 2009.  This year’s list includes the Enola Gay hangar at Wendover, Utah. 

A lot of other Manhattan Project sites are in jeopardy, too.  Down the road from me in Oak Ridge, demolition of the massive (and massively important) K-25 uranium enrichment plant started last year.  The news story that I just linked mentions something about a possible “memorial and education center” there, but I didn’t see any statements to that effect from the Department of Energy.  We’ll see.

Here’s a true story.  Last year I sat in a meeting with community leaders from various counties in central Kentucky.  One of the presenters was a lady from some historic preservation agency; I think she might have been with the Kentucky Heritage Council or the Kentucky Trust for Historic Preservation.  When she took questions, one guy raised his hand and asked her—in all seriousness—how to go about getting a building’s historic designation removed. 

See, the local park evidently included a historic house that was in the way of a planned community swimming pool.  And there are only so many places you can put a swimming pool.

He asked this question of someone working for a preservation agency, mind you.  This would be analogous to asking somebody from the World Wildlife Fund if they could please recommend a good harpoon cannon for taking out humpback whales.

Thankfully, it’s pretty hard to get a building’s historic designation removed, unless its condition deteriorates to the point of becoming a hazard.  So it looks like the gentleman is stuck with it.

Alas, being a “community leader” offers no inoculation against stupidity.

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