Developed by the World Monuments Fund

ANTARCTICA: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition Hut, Cape Royds, Ross Island

Built in 1908, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds is one of only a few intact buildings remaining on Earth’s southernmost continent that dates from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. The wooden structure, which was used as an expedition base and laboratory for scientific research, was specifically designed to withstand the extreme weather conditions found on the frozen continent only for the duration of the expedition. From this hut, Shackleton made the first ascent of the Mt. Erebus volcano and was the first to reach the Magnetic South Pole. It is also the only structure that remains from his expeditions to Antarctica.

The artifacts inside and outside the hut have decayed considerably and are in urgent need of conservation. The main threats to the site are environmental degradation, microbiological infestation, and increased and uncontrolled visitation, which have resulted in damage and pilfering of precious material. While conservation work has been undertaken sporadically beginning in the 1960s, it was not until 1987 that a regular program of conservation was introduced. The New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust was created for the sole purpose of preserving Shackleton’s hut and other relics of exploration, namely buildings associated with the expeditions of Robert Falcon Scott, who reached the South Pole in January 1912—a month after it was attained by the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen. Although the trust has drafted a comprehensive management plan for all the buildings and completed a conservation plan specifically for Shackleton’s hut in March 2003, preservation of these fragile relics will require strong conservation advocacy and financial support to succeed.

BARBADOS: Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill

The largest surviving wind-powered sugar-cane crushing mill in the Caribbean, with all its original working parts still intact, testifies to the importance of the industry that arose in the seventeenth century. Since the sugar-producing economies created huge fortunes and prospered due to slave labor, the preservation and interpretation of the mill offers an opportunity for profound historical and cultural reflection. The mill occupies a commanding location overlooking some of the most magnificent scenery on the island’s east coast, which is part of the proposed National Park of Barbados. Accelerating deterioration of the fabric of the mill, caused by a confluence of agents—rain, wind-blown salt water, infiltration of ground water, vegetation encroachment, and termites––could bring about its disappearance in the absence of large-scale repair and restoration. Barbados at present has no internationally listed historic sites. Recognition now will optimize the efforts undertaken to date by the Barbados National

Trust, which has already launched appeals to the business community, the public, and the government for increased support. Listing by the World Monuments Fund called attention to the accelerating deterioration of the eighteenth-century mill and as a result, had an enormous effect on the future of this important landmark. The Barbados National Trust was subsequently able to raise all of the funds needed to repair the windmill and its mechanical equipment.

BELGIUM: Previous Radio and Television Building, Brussels

Brussels is one of those ever-changing cities that has been known to sacrifice much of its early noteworthy architectural stock for generic speculative development. But as difficult as it is to save truly old buildings in city centers, it is often even more challenging to save newer structures, especially those built for highly-specialized functions. The Radio and Television Building, constructed in 1935, with its dramatic telescoping tower and bands of glass windows, is an exemplar of the vulnerability of 20th century landmark buildings.

Until 1995, the 10 acoustically renowned recording studios and 400-seat auditorium were in use. When its owners, the national radio and television, left for quarters elsewehere, a significant work by architect Joseph Diongre was left behind, including much os his furniture. Faced with expensive asbestos removal and conservation work, the owners decided to sell the property.

With the impending threat of demolition, World Monuments Fund placed the building on the 1998 World Monuments Watch to raise awareness about the structure’s plight and to support the local preservation movement. Due to extensive publicity following listing, the building was saved when a new buyer came forward with intentions of restoring and appropriately reusing the building. The building is in the process of being fully restored; work was scheduled for completion in September 2002.

BELGIUM: Tour & Taxis Transport Hub, Brussels

Tour & Taxis is the world’s most unusual example of a multifunctional transportation network. Built as a railroad, customs, and maritime hub, it once played a vital role in boosting the urban and rural economy of the country. Constructed according to rationalist design theories, the site’s buildings exploited the properties of cast iron, reinforced concrete, and glass to their fullest potential. Following the establishment of the European Community, changes in customs practices and in the treatment of immobilized stock brought about the decline of industry in the areas surrounding Tour & Taxis. Tour & Taxis was listed as an endangered site by the World Monuments Fund as a result of concerns that the Brussels city government was prepared to approve redevelopment plans that would dismantle and destroy the integrity of the historic buildings. After six years of advocating for appropriate action, and the tireless efforts of local preservationists, the threat of complete loss of the buildings seems to be over.

Although the site remains intact, the absence of an overall plan for reuse will lead to deterioration, vulnerability to inappropriate real-estate development, or eventual demolition. Implementation of a viable adaptive-reuse plan would provide a valuable example of reuse on a large scale. Fortunately, a developer has come forward with plans to sensitively reuse the buildings while maintaining their unique architectural features.

BRAZIL: Vila de Paranapiacaba, Santo André

Built by a British railroad company, the Vila de Paranapiacaba near the city of São Paulo was constructed to link the Brazilian seaport of Santos with coffee-producing regions in the country’s interior. The historic village, whose name means “a place to view the sea,” housed railroad workers and those who manned the ingenious system of steam engines that powered its funicular, which enabled entire trains laden with coffee to be transported across Brazil’s densely forested mountain terrain. Wooden workers’ houses, more appropriate for a British mining town than a tropical settlement, were constructed; more important civic structures were built in a Victorian style. Paranapiacaba flourished until automated machinery rendered the labor-intensive funicular system obsolete. The city was soon all but abandoned and decay set in.

Today, Brazil’s government is trying to preserve Vila de Paranapiacaba and its surrounding landscape to raise awareness of its natural, cultural, and industrial heritage, and promote an economic revival of the region. A plan for sustainable redevelopment has been prepared, based on converting the village into a suburb of São Paulo and promoting tourism. For it to be realized, however, funds for its implementation must be found.

CANADA: Gulf of Georgia Cannery

This late nineteenth century cannery at the mouth of the Fraser River is the sole survivor of many that dotted the coastline. Typical of numerous canneries dotting the western Canadian coast at the turn of the last century, now it is only one of a few remaining of its kind. Closing as an active cannery in 1979, the complex opened to the public as an interpretive center in 1994. Placed on the endangered list in 1998, as a result of severe dry rot and insect infestation that threatened the entire complex, it was estimated to cost millions of dollars to repair. Canadian authorities quickly address the problems after listing and allocated the necessary funds for the structural repair. Since the World Monuments Watch listing, the cannery has received federal funding to replace structural members and remedy insect infestation and dry rot. The cannery will eventually house a permanent exhibition space interpreting the west coast fishing industry.

CHILE: Alameda Railroad Station

Trains still arrive and depart from Chile’s largest and grandest railroad station. The shed’s single-span metallic vault, supported by 16 arches, seems to stretch for an infinite distance from the waiting area. The French firm of Schneider & Cie designed the 7,500-square-meter terminal at the height of Santiago’s urban development. The station is framed by two earlier (1885) single-story Beaux Arts inspired buildings. A busy schedule of trains would seem to bode well for a railroad station except that here a massive redevelopment scheme for the deteriorating area around Alameda station conspicuously includes no plan for its continued use. Despite its National Historic Monument designation, Alameda Station’s historical, cultural, and architectural significance in the city appears at risk. It is feared that the station will be shut down or, at minimum, its aesthetic integrity seriously compromised.

Restoration plans for Alameda station need to be implemented within the existing master plan since the station is still a vital ingredient in the life of Santiago. Listing by the World Monuments Watch prompted Chilean authorities to revise their development plans and preserve this architectural wonder.

CHILE: Elevators of Valparaíso

A national government effort to revive the port city through new investments in infrastructure threatens the 24 elevators (funiculars), built between 1883 and 1915, that constitute the defining characteristic of the city as well as one of Chile’s most important industrial heritage sites. Nowhere else in the world do public conveyance elevators of this type exist in such concentration or with as broad a cultural and historical significance. The elevators symbolize Valparaíso’s preeminence as a maritime center, a position it lost after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Because they are still used to facilitate pedestrian traffic, they foster social interaction among the inhabitants. Many elevators could be lost forever due to their advanced state of deterioration. The absence of a plan unifying community, municipal, and private entities in the effort to appreciate, conserve and protect the elevators threatens their survival.

American Express awarded a generous grant to undertake a study of ways to reverse the deterioration of the funiculars built between 1883 and 1915, and facilitate pedestrian traffic. Since then, a WMF Wilson Challenge Grant has also been awarded to begin conservation work based on the results of the technical report.

CHILE: Humberstone & Santa Laura Industrial Complex, Iquique

The rusting hulks of machinery and the deserted ghost towns of the Humberstone and Santa Laura mining complexes are among the last vestiges of the company towns of Chile’s saltpeter industry. The Atacama Desert, one of the driest deserts on Earth, is a natural source of sodium nitrate, used for fertilizer and in the manufacture of explosives. The nitrate industry enriched Chile, ushering in an age of wealth and splendor unparalleled in its history. The nitrate boom continued until 1929 when the Great Depression paralyzed the industry, which never recovered when synthetic alternatives to nitrates became available. Today, the derelict industrial sites of Humberstone and Santa Laura, built in the 1870s, are considered national monuments in Chile and are managed by the Niter Museum Association, which seeks to preserve the industrial complexes for public use. Humberstone retains not only its refining machinery and warehouses, but its own town, complete with a theater, church, and hotel. A masterplan has been developed to restore the sites; surveys of the existing buildings have yet to take place, however.
Public support, bolstered by government and private funds, is necessary if these remnants of Chile’s industrial age are to be preserved.

CHILE: Ruedas de Agua, Larmahue

More than two dozen waterwheels built by the Spanish at Larmahue are among the last such agricultural devices still in use in the Americas, and constitute the largest grouping of waterwheels still in use worldwide. The waterwheels, which operate along a four-kilometer stretch of irrigation canal of possible Prehispanic origin, bear witness to the Spanish colonial contribution to agriculture in the region. A waterwheel similar in design to those at Larmahue has been reconstructed near Cordobá, Spain, and evidence of several waterwheels dating to the Middle Ages has been documented near Toledo.

Waterwheels around the globe have disappeared, many replaced by mechanical devices or left crumbling from neglect. In 1988, there were 80 remaining in Chile, of these only 25 survive, 20 of which remain in use. Seventeen of the remaining waterwheels have been granted Historical Monument status; however, a plan for their preservation has yet to be developed. Their disappearance would entail the destruction of a unique cultural landscape.

CUBA: San Isidro de los Destiladeros, Trinidad

Sugar mills were an industrial force in the Trapiche region of Cuba beginning in the late-eighteenth century. San Isidro, near the city of Trinidad on the Caribbean Sea Coast, was a typical sugar plantation, operated with slave labor. For generations, the local economy was sustained by a network of such mills. Sugar production ceased at San Isidro around 1890 and its fields were used to grow a variety of crops. Remnants of this thriving and historically underappreciated heritage survive: an impressive owner’s house, three three-story tower, cistern, main sugar factory, ancillary buildings, and dikes. Almost all are in ruins or in imminent danger of collapse. While nature continues to subsume the buildings, another threat comes from future tourism. Without adequate upkeep and restoration of San Isidro, the buildings are vulnerable to vandalism and the effects of too many people visiting an ill-equipped site. Plans have been proposed for making the plantation house into a museum, reestablishing the landscape, and employing locals for restoration work. Lobbying efforts continue to include San Isidro in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site designation for Trinidad.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Puerto Plata Lighthouse

From the moment the Puerto Plata lighthouse was first lit on September 9, 1879, ships on the Atlantic ocean came to rely on its bright beacon. Employing a novel revolving light and shadow system fueled by kerosene, the light source symbolized the city’s industrial progress. The 24.4-meter-high, 6.2-meter-diameter tower is a melding of neoclassical style with industrial construction. Classical-inspired columns, bracketed by prosaic I-beams, support a delicately rendered octagonal cast-iron cupola. General maintenance on the lighthouse was last performed in 1979. Its coiling interior staircase has completely disappeared while constant exposure to hurricanes, cyclones, and salt air has resulted in severe corrosion of remaining surfaces. Puerto Plata is located within a national park and adjacent to the city’s sixteenth-century walls and the San Felipe fortress museum, which are designated collectively as National Monuments. Given a proper restoration of the component parts, it is hoped that the rare cast-iron lighthouse, one of the few still standing in the Americas, will also achieve recognition as a monument of national importance.

In 2001, WMF awarded a grant for conservation work on the structure, to help stabilize the deterioration and restore the historic fabric. The government has plans to build a visitor center and interpretive tools to explain this important site to the public.

FINLAND: Helsinki-Malmi Airport, Helsinki

With its acclaimed functionalist architecture, Finland's Helsinki-Malmi airport is a representative example of airport development in Europe in the early days of commercial aviation. When the airport opened in December 1936, its huge hangar could accommodate six Junkers 52 aircraft, making it the second largest in Europe. Helsinki-Malmi Airport is one of a number of surviving sites built to serve the 1940 Helsinki Olympic Games, which, due to WWII, were postponed until 1952. During the war, the airport played a key role in the air defense of Helsinki. Today, Helsinki-Malmi is the second busiest airport in Finland and by far the most important pilot training center in the country. It is the sole general aviation airfield in the capital region, where almost 20 percent of the Finnish population lives. Although the site has two landmarked buildings, the city of Helsinki has proposed the demolition of the airport to make way for new housing to accommodate up to 10,000 people. Current airport operations would be dispersed to other airfields some 100 kilometers away. The threat of demolition has galvanized the owners and operators of Helsinki-Malmi Airport, as well as local residents and citizens, to form the Friends of Malmi Airport Society to campaign against the destruction of the site and seek its preservation as a fully functional national and international cultural treasure.

JAMAICA: Old Iron Bridge, Spanish Town, St. Catherine
1998 World Monuments Watch listing

The crossing of a footbridge can be such a regular daily occurrence for locals that its aesthetic merits often go unnoticed. Until its recent closure, this handsome cast-iron bridge dating from 1801, its parts prefabricated in England and assembled on-site, served a vital function as a link between Kingston and Spanish Town. Thought to be the first of its kind in the Americas, the bridge is composed of four arched ribs fitted with cast-iron frames similar to the voussoirs of masonry bridges. Its clear span of nearly 82 feet over the Rio Cobre is supported by massive stonework abutments. Despite its decidedly pragmatic engineering, the bridge is a melding of European and West Indian aesthetics, and it is an integral component of the landscape.

Years of deferred maintenance and the harsh climate have caused rusting and weakening of the structural members. After WMF listed it as an endangered site in 1998, a grant was awarded to initiate restoration on the bridge. Further funding was expected from the government as restoration work continues.

JAPAN: Tomo Port Town, Fukuyama

For more than two centuries, Tomo was one of the busiest ports along Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. Sited on a dramatic, yet slight stretch of land between the mountains and the sea, the small trading hub still retains much of its original character—townhouses, temples, and shrines line narrow lanes and paths, while port facilities, docks, and warehouses provide a window on the history of maritime transportation between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.

Until recently, Tomo had been able to preserve the human scale of its civic plan and architecture, unlike so many traditional Japanese cities, which have yielded to the needs of the modern world. Today, however, the Edo-period (a.d. 1603–1867) port is threatened by the construction of a landfill and bridge that will radically alter its waterfront and increase traffic within the city. Although the historic center of Tomo was declared a historic district in 2000, the port area was not included in the landmark designation. The site’s nominators seek the protection of the waterfront and the development of Tomo in its entirety as a tourist destination, it being one of the few remaining traditional landscapes of the Edo Period.

PANAMA: Panama Canal Area, Panama and Colon provinces

The Panama Canal, built between 1882 and 1914, stands as one of the world’s greatest and most enduring engineering achievements. Eighty kilometers in length, the canal cuts through a cultural landscape of colonial ruins, planned towns and parks, sweeping vistas, and dense tropical jungle. Since repatriation from U.S. control in 1979, the region has undergone a process of integration with surrounding urban areas. The resulting rapid physical change—evidenced by large infrastructure projects, the construction of new transportation hubs, the expansion of the ports, and real estate sales and concessions—has resulted in the destruction of landscapes, forests, historic buildings, and public amenities. Development pressures, combined with the privatization of real estate and the lack of an adequate regulatory framework, pose significant short- and long-term threats to the site. A proposal has been developed to preserve a network of identified sites, including architectural and engineering works, built and natural landscapes, industrial artifacts, and cultural monuments that together illustrate the delicate interrelationship of built form and nature that defines this unique cultural landscape. However, such a plan can only succeed if it is developed as a community-based, participatory process.

PARAGUAY: Asuncion to Sapucay, Paraguay Railway System

As the last steam-powered train of the Paraguay Railway came to a halt at the Sapucay train yard in 1999, an era came to an end. Paraguay’s steam-powered railway system played a significant role in the modern development of the country. Although no longer in service, the company has a unique collection of wood-fired and steam-operated locomotives, six of which date to 1910 and are still operational. The system includes several nineteenth-century railway stations, wooden box cars, turntables, and steam-powered maintenance workshops. Although the Asuncion Station was restored with the help of Spanish funds a few years ago, the rest of the system has been maintained by a skeleton crew. The rail line itself, however, has deteriorated due to neglect and vandalism. A proposal has been put forth to return the trains to service for the purposes of tourism, running groups from Asuncion to the Ypacarai Lake Resort and the Sapucay train yard, where an industrial museum may be developed. Greater support for the initiative is needed, however, if this witness to Paraguay’s past is to be preserved for future generations.

SPAIN: Windmills of Mallorca, Balearic Islands

Sometimes the simplest vernacular buildings speak most strongly of place. It is the hundreds of flour wind mills that are the signature elements in the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera. They appear as readily in the country as in towns. Some still feature conical towers and giant soil supports, while others are ruinous truncated stone cylinders. At one time, 894 of them dotted the islands; some 200 have been lost. The fact, though, that so many still survive says something about their symbolic importance to the island inhabitants. Weather is the biggest threat to the mills, the effects of which are exacerbated by lack of maintenance. The local government, Insular Council of Mallorca, and the Association of Friends of the Mills of Mallorca have seen to the restoration of 31 mills but because most of the structures are privately owned it is difficult to address them as an entity. Efforts to convince owners to make repairs need to be stepped up and funds made available to them.

UNITED KINGDOM: Abbey Farmstead, Faversham, Kent

When Faversham Abbey was established as a royal foundation in 1147, Abbey Farm was built as its grange. Four buildings remain on the site – two barns, a farmhouse, and stables. As an ensemble, the structures demonstrate the medieval monastic economy and medieval commerce. The surviving barns are two of only eight such barns left in Kent and one of only two sets of extant twin barns in the United Kingdom. The stables are notable for their early sans purlin roof (rafters without supporting horizontal members) and splayed scarf joint; the farmhouse is a rare example of a domestic building with a scissor-braced roof. Although these sturdy buildings remained in use until 1987, none are now occupied, except for the farmhouse. They have been left to deteriorate, and their conditions have been severely worsened by acts of vandalism and arson. A British conservation trust is seeking to conduct a feasibility study and consider new uses for the structure. Depending upon the outcome, the trust would acquire the site from its legal guardians, Wadham College, Oxford, for a symbolic one pound in order to make repairs and preserve the buildings.

UNITED KINGDOM: Greenock Sugar Warehouses, Renfrewshire, Scotland
2002 World Monuments Watch listing

From the eighteenth through early-twentieth centuries, warehouses in Great Britain were often designed by architects of note—usually as part of an overall dock plan—a far cry from the perfunctory prefabricated nonentities turned out today. The extensive docks of seaport cities—London, Glasgow, Newcastle, and Liverpool—offered architects the chance to build what were, in effect, secular monuments to industry, and, with the necessity of security from theft and fire, spurred them to innovations in construction. The Greenock Sugar Warehouses, on the Clyde River near Glasgow, are exemplary, being part of the the James Watt Dock (1879–1886), designed by Walter R. Kinipple. Their red-brick fabric contrasts vividly with yellow-brick ornamentation at windows, corners, pilasters, and gables, a nod from the architect at the art critic, John Ruskin’s celebration of medieval Italian polychrome. The vast cast-iron windows—rectangular, arched, or circular—with small mullioned panes anticipate the uses of glazing in such Modernist icons as Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius’ Fagus Factory, or Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre. The eight-story warehouses, which were built for the second-largest sugar company in the world, are a rare, early example of structural cast iron externally expressed.

The James Watt Dock is the most complete nineteenth-century wet dock in Scotland; its titan cantilever crane of 1907, the oldest in existence. Today, however, the dock owner is seeking to demolish the buildings, which, because of their ruinous state, are considered a blight on the waterfront. The roofs have deteriorated and water penetration has rendered the wooden floor dangerous.

UNITED KINGDOM: Battersea Power Station, London

The four great chimney stacks of Battersea Power Station, built in 1932, have become an indelible part of London’s skyline, terminating vistas along the Thames and commanding road and rail approaches to the city. The building’s celebrated exterior was the work of prominent architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, famous for his monumental creations such as the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and the Bankside Power Station (now the Tate Modern). The Art Deco interiors by J. Theo Halliday, most notably the Control Room and Turbine Hall, are among the finest public works interiors of the era. More recently, Battersea Power Station has achieved international fame through exposure in popular culture, in particular as the cover shot of Pink Floyd’s celebrated 1977 album, Animals. The building has been abandoned since it was decommissioned in 1983, and the boiler house roof was removed during a brief period of redevelopment work in 1988, rendering the structure vulnerable to decay. Attempts by a second developer from 1993 to convert the building into a mixed use leisure center have so far proved unsuccessful. The building remains derelict with structural steelwork exposed and the possibility of corrosion jeopardizing the stability of the main structure. Recent newspaper reports suggest that the project has stalled, although the developer maintains that work will begin in 2005. The Battersea Power Station Community Group is campaigning for stabilization measures and staged rehabilitation work to commence as soon as possible, while the long-term future of the building is reconsidered.

USA: Ellis Island, South End, New York

Ellis Island in New York Harbor was the principal immigration station in the United States from 1892 to 1954. The main building for immigration inspection was opened in 1900. Over the next half-century the island was enlarged to 27.5 acres, and thirty-three structures were erected. The U.S. National Park Service today maintains the island as part of Statue of Liberty National Monument. Most of the island’s northern half has been restored over the past fifteen years. Due to the lack of a reuse plan and funding, no buildings on the southern half have been restored. The twenty-eight interconnected buildings that comprised the hospital and isolation wards have stood abandoned for over forty years. Unheated and exposed to the harsh elements, they are now in fair-to-poor condition, and each year their situation worsens. The most urgent problems relate to protecting building exteriors. The U.S. National Park Service seeks to implement an emergency plan to protect the unrestored buildings—at least the key structures—until viable new uses are determined.

USA: Hanging Flume, Montrose County, Colorado

During the gold rush of the 1800s, people flocked to the west to find their fortune. Different mining techniques were developed by prospecting companies in order to extract the maximum amount of gold and minerals from the earth. In 1887, the Montrose Placer Mining Company began construction of a hanging flume above the Dolores River canyon. Spanning a length of 13 miles and utilizing 1.8 million feet of wood, the Hanging Flume was built in different segments, depending on the contour of the landscape, such as in ditches, on a wooden trestle and as a causeway across the face of a cliff. At some points along the flume, workers were suspended from the cliff face to bore holes for the iron placement rods, while a derrick was used along other segments. After it was completed, it was used to convey over 8 million gallons of water a day for hydraulic gold mining. The Montrose Placer Mining Company went bankrupt a decade later in the late 1890s and abandoned the flume.

After the Hanging Flume project was deserted, local miners and scavengers carried away the wooden materials for use in other structures, creating large gaps in the length of the structure. Over time, biological growth has led to the deterioration of the wood elements, and sandstone erosion from wind and rain has undermined the stability of the surviving sections of the flume. These matters are made worse by the general lack of awareness of the site’s significance.


Dernière mise à jour: February 8th 2006 -