Civil War battlefield on U.S. endangered places list

Wed May 19, 2010 5:11am EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - A Civil War battlefield and a 19th century African-American church that hosted the funeral of activist Rosa Parks were among 11 sites named on Wednesday as America's most endangered historic places.

The 2010 list also included an ancient Chamorro cultural site at Pagat on the U.S. territory of Guam, which is threatened by a planned U.S. military build-up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation said.

National Trust president Richard Moe said the list highlights examples of U.S. architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction, damage or neglect.

"These endangered places -- from a Civil War battlefield to the farthest U.S. territory in the Pacific -- are enormously important to our understanding of who we are as a nation and a people," Moe said in a statement.

The Wilderness Battlefield in northern Virginia -- where generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first faced off against one another in 1864 -- is considered by historians to be one of America's most hallowed Civil War sites.

Campaigners have been fighting through the courts for years to try to stop retail giant Wal-Mart from building a 138,000 sq ft (12,820 sq meter) store within its historic boundaries.

The Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington D.C. is considered a landmark of African-American heritage, but its 1866 structure has been weakened by water damage and adjacent construction, the Trust said.

The church hosted the 2005 funeral of Rosa Parks, whose refusal in 1955 to give up her seat to a white passenger on an Alabama bus helped to spark the U.S. civil rights movement.

The most endangered historic places list has been compiled annually by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for more than 17 years and has identified more than 200 U.S. treasures since 1988 ranging from sports arenas to wetlands and entire communities.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Miral Fahmy)

 
<p>A scene of the Wilderness Battlefield is shown in this undated handout photo released May 19, 2010. REUTERS/National Trust for Historic Preservation/Handout</p>