The role of a list of endangered historic resources is a time-tested and effective approach to preservation advocacy. Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issues its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places and does so, according to its website, “as a powerful alarm to raise awareness of the serious threats facing the nation’s greatest treasures. It has become one of the most effective tools in the fight to save the country’s irreplaceable architectural, cultural and natural heritage.” In a 2007 survey of statewide preservation organizations conducted by the Trust, it found that some 24 statewides use endangered properties lists in the same fashion.
In some locations, such compilations have been replaced by other types of lists which emphasize the potential of buildings to generate investment. While certainly a great idea, and while older buildings obviously need revenue to survive, this approach may not necessarily consider sites from certain other perspectives — the importance of the site to the history of the locality, region and/or state, the way that a given condition highlights serious issues facing similar historic resources in other locations, as well as the willingness of supporters to come together to support preservation efforts to say, in essence, “this place matters.”
In short, Preservation Ohio feels that the remotest Underground Railroad site in Ohio that faces imminent demolition is certainly just as newsworthy and deserving of highlight as the vacant older commercial building sitting in a prime location in a major city. We try to highlight both the “opportunities” and the “challenges.”