It’s no secret America’s past is filled with significant moments that changed the course of our history. All those battles where so many lives were lost or the empowering actions made by one brave individual who just wanted to see a change in the world. But have you ever wondered about where these life changing moments occurred? Or what happened to those historical sites afterward?
Well, here is part 1 of 2 lists of 8 once-endangered historic sites that are now thriving and contributing to their communities. The diverse range of places on this list reflects not only their rich history and compelling stories but also the tireless dedication of the people who brought each place back from the brink.
1. Antietam National Battlefield Park | Washington County, Maryland
Not only is Antietam often called the bloodiest day in American History it also ended the Confederate invasion of Maryland and led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. This historic battlefield was almost turned into a shopping center but was stopped in the late 80’s and over the last couple of decades, the history of Antietam has gained more attention, raised some much-needed funding for its preservation, and is today considered one of the nation’s best-preserved Civil War battlefields!
2. Penn School | Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
The Penn School, now a part of the Penn Center (an African-American cultural and educational center), was the first school founded in the Southern U.S. specifically for the education of African-Americans. It was established in 1862 and managed to survive for nearly 100 years, but lost many of the students due to the WWII enlistments and moved away. After that, the institution was never able to fully recover. It wasn’t until the community took control in the 90’s and raised funding for much-needed repairs. Today, the school operates as a museum and special events center, and President Obama included the Penn School as part of the Reconstruction Era National Monument in 2017.
3. Historic Boston Theaters | Boston, Massachusetts
Along with the rise of contemporary theater in the early 20th century, the Boston Theater District thrived as the epicenter of the city’s nightlife and social scene. Three of its most prominent theaters—the Paramount Theater, the Modern Theater, and the Boston Opera House—fell into disrepair as the surrounding area faced economic distress. In 1995, the City, nonprofits, developers, and many others took a stand to rehabilitate and reopen the theaters as arts and entertainment venues. This action contributed to the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood, and the National Trust gave the theaters a Preservation Honor Award in 2011.
4. Governors Island National Monument | New York, New York
From playing a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War to serving as a major United States Coast Guard installation during the mid-20th century, Governors Island was once the nation's oldest continuously used military post. The base was identified for closure in 1995, but Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush managed to save Governor’s Island and designate it as a National Monument and public park in 2001. Today, the northern half of the landmark is open for public use.
Stay tuned for the rest of the list in our, Retrospective Guide To America’s 8 Endangered Historic Places | Part 2!