Historic preservation's biggest wins and losses for 2015

Nathalie Dortonne, Special to CNNPublished 31st December 2015
(CNN) — The house of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a famous recording studio and the psychiatric hospital where folk musician Woody Guthrie was treated for Huntington's disease made the National Trust for Historic Preservation's top 10 Wins and Losses List for 2015.
For the fourth year in a row, the list compiles 10 historic sites that were either destroyed or saved as a result of local groups' efforts.
"This year demonstrated once again what remarkable things are possible when people come together with a plan for action and a determination to save places that matter to them," said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Among the sites saved were the Chicago district where the first African-American union in the country was formed and the only lighthouse with a history of Native American lighthouse keepers.
This list is "a good way at year's end to look back at some special places and their impact, or the impact of their absence, on communities across our country," Meeks said. "We like to infuse our future work and planning with some of the lessons learned."


Honouliuli Internment Camp, Waipahu, Hawaii
Built in 1943, the Honouliuli Internment Camp held thousands of prisoners of war and hundreds of civilians on Oahu during World War II. Most of the civilian internees were Japanese-Americans.
At the close of the war, Honouliuli Internment Camp became overgrown and slipped out of view.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, supported preserving the site in part as a reminder to never repeat that dark period in U.S. history. President Obama designated the Honouliuli Internment Camp as a National Monument on March 5.
RCA Studio A, Nashville
Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings all have at least one thing in common: RCA Studio A in Nashville.
In December 2014, the recording studio to the stars was saved from being razed for condos when Mike Curb, Chuck Elcan and Aubrey Preston's Studio A Preservation Partners purchased it from Bravo Development.
In July, RCA Studio A was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Pullman Historic District, Chicago
The Pullman Palace Car Co., founded by George Pullman, was one of the largest employers of African-Americans in post-Civil War America.
Founded in 1880, the nation's first model industrial town is where Asa Philip Randolph organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first all African-American union in the country.
In February, President Obama designated a portion of Chicago's Pullman Historic District as a National Monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives presidents the authority to protect historic or ecologically significant sites without congressional approval.
The Mount, Edith Wharton House, Lenox, Massachusetts
Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, for "The Age of Innocence" in 1921.
She designed and built her 17th-century inspired estate, the Mount, in 1902. The Mount is part of the 5% of National Historic Landmark sites dedicated to women.
In 2008, Wharton's home-turned-cultural center nearly closed its doors after defaulting on payments on millions of dollars of debt.
In addition to financial restructuring, a "Save the Mount" Campaign helped raise money to alleviate the home's $8.6 million debt. In September, the Mount announced that it is no longer in debt.
Gay Head Lighthouse, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Wampanoag tribe members would beam light from this 400-ton brick building to prevent boats from running into the coastline. It's the only lighthouse with a history of Native American lighthouse keepers.
The Gay Head Lighthouse, the first on Martha's Vineyard, was also one of the first in the U.S. to receive a Fresnel lens in 1856.
Before it was moved to safety, the historic lighthouse was perched precariously close to a cliff that was eroding at a rate of about 2 feet per year.
The 160-year-old lighthouse was placed on America's 11 Most Endangered Places List in 2013. The Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee stepped in and raised more than $3 million to fund the effort to move it out of harm's way.
On May 30, the relocation of the Gay Head Lighthouse 135 feet from the edge of the Gay Head Cliffs was completed.


Park Avenue Hotel, Detroit
Designed by Louis Kamper for Detroit hotelier Lew Tuller, the Park Avenue Hotel housed people from all walks of life throughout its history as a hotel, a senior housing complex and a rehab center.
The billionaire Ilitch family, owners of the Detroit Red Wings, purchased the Park Avenue Hotel, the former Eddystone hotel and other area real estate. In return for agreeing to rehab the Eddystone, the family was given permission to demolish the Park Avenue Hotel.
On July 11, the hotel was imploded to accommodate a loading dock for the new Red Wings arena.
Portland Gas & Coke Co. Building, Portland, Oregon
Built in 1913, the Portland Gas & Coke Co. building was the plant responsible for "coking" gas from coal and oil, a process that was abandoned for natural gas in the 1950s.
Despite historic preservationists' efforts to raise money to stabilize and clean the abandoned building, it was demolished in November.
Harry Sythe Cummings House, Baltimore
Harry Sythe Cumming was a man of many firsts. In 1889, he became one of the first two black men to graduate from the University of Maryland Law School. He was the first African-American elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1890.
In February 1892, he introduced the ordinance, signed and passed by the mayor, founding the first Manual Training School for Colored Youth in the City of Baltimore.
The council member's home, located just outside the boundaries of the Marble Hill Historic District, stood the test of time until November, when the Bethel AME Church demolished it.
Belleview Biltmore Hotel, Belleair, Florida
If you were looking to rub shoulders with presidents, European royalty, business tycoons and U.S. Army officers during World War II, the Belleview Biltmore Hotel was the place to be. The 1897 hotel enjoyed more than a century of welcoming guests before it closed in 2007.
Despite ongoing efforts by the Friends of the Belleview Biltmore and other groups to preserve the hotel, the 118-year-old property was demolished in 2015 to make way for a townhouse and condominium community.
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, Morris Plains, New Jersey
The Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital opened in 1876 to relieve overcrowding at the state's other asylum in Trenton.
Though the hospital was part of a movement to reform the treatment of the mentally ill in the United States, the practice of institutionalization lost popularity, and the hospital began to deteriorate during the second half of the 20th century.
The Guthrie Foundation, whose founder Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land is Your Land" and spent several years at the hospital for treatment of Huntington's disease in the 1950s, fought to preserve Greystone along with the group Preserve Greystone.
Despite their efforts, the abandoned facility was destroyed in April.