A Civil War fort and a post-war soldiers’ home are two of the 11 most endangered sites on this year’s National Trust for Historic Preservation list. Also listed this year is the city of Charleston, SC which was the sole selection for a new category the Trust has named, “Watch Status” meaning there is a growing threat but one that can be avoided or controlled.
Fort Gaines, located on Dauphin Island, Alabama, is under threat from nature as the ocean erodes its shoreline at the rate of approximately nine feet per year. Eventually the massive brick fort, a pivotal player in the Battle of Mobile Bay on Aug. 5, 1864, could wash away, according to the Trust.
The Trust proposes saving the fort by stabilizing the shoreline, although it admits that is an expensive undertaking.
One of the country’s earliest federal homes for war veterans, built in Milwaukee in 1869, is on the endangered list because of neglect. The National Soldiers Home Historic District has a 90-acre campus has 25 post-Civil War and early 20th century buildings as well as a soldiers’ cemetery. The Department of veterans Affairs owns the property but has deferred repair on many of the buildings for years. Part of the roof on the oldest building has collapsed when a truss gave way under accumulated winter snow. The gaping hole has not been closed or covered.
Charleston made the new “Watch Status” list because of what the Trust sees as a threat to the historic city from a growing cruise business. The Watch designation brings with it an offer of help from the Trust to assist the city in “finding a balanced solution that benefits the community and its rich cultural heritage.”