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Most endangered historic places named

By Stephanie Steinberg, Special to CNN
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation list includes sites reflecting U.S. history, culture
  • Alabama's Fort Gaines is facing erosion from the Gulf of Mexico shoreline
  • Charleston, South Carolina, received "watch status" due to growing cruise ship tourism

(CNN) -- A Civil War fort, a Chicago hospital and a Chinese neighborhood are among the sites listed as America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The 24th annual list, released Wednesday, includes significant sites that reflect U.S. history and culture and are at risk of permanent damage or destruction.

While Alabama's Fort Gaines withstood cannon fire and artillery shells during the Civil War, it is losing a fierce battle with the Gulf of Mexico shoreline.

The Dauphin Island fort is one of this year's most threatened places. The battlefield has lost 400 feet due to erosion from rising waters, frequent storms, hurricanes and effects from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year.

"Fort Gaines, a place of extraordinary national significance, is in a precarious position," Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, wrote in a statement. "While we cannot stop the tide, we can stabilize the shoreline, serving to protect Fort Gaines and Mobile Bay from ever-increasing coastal storms."

The fort includes original cannons once manned by Confederate soldiers in the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. Today, visitors can see a restored blacksmith shop, kitchens and a tunnel system leading to corner bastions where soldiers defended the stronghold.

In Chicago, Prentice Women's Hospital -- which opened in 1974 and is known for its clover-leaf shape architecture -- was placed on this year's list for being in jeopardy of demolition. China Alley in Hanford, California -- once home to a booming Chinese community -- also was named an endangered site due to the deterioration of buildings that used to house Chinese restaurants, herb stores and grocers in the late 1800s.

One entry on the list doesn't address a specific place but encompasses sites across the U.S. "imperiled by state actions," including budget cuts.

In addition to the 11 sites, Charleston, South Carolina, received "watch status" because of expanding cruise ship tourism that could threaten the historic character of the city.

To help save an endangered place, people can donate $10 by texting "PLACES" to 25383. Proceeds will be used by National Trust outreach programs to help preserve the historic landmarks.

America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2011

Bear Butte, Meade County, South Dakota

Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Alabama

Belmead-on-the-James, Powhatan County, Virginia

China Alley, Hanford, California

Greater Chaco Landscape, New Mexico

Isaac Manchester Farm, Avella, Pennsylvannia

John Coltrane Home, Dix Hills, New York

National Soldiers Home Historic District, Milwaukee

Pillsbury "A" mill complex, Minneapolis

Prentice Women's Hospital, Chicago

Sites imperiled by state actions, throughout U.S.