Motorists traveling Route 66 through Oklahoma City in 1958 were treated to more than the typical array of roadside oddities and quirky motels dotting the highway; they were afforded a glimpse into what designer and futurist Buckminster Fuller considered to be the future of building design. The future, as Fuller saw it, was his patented geodesic dome, and Oklahoma City's Gold Dome Bank was an early example.
But if its present owner, Bank One, has its way, the eye-catching aluminum structure may fade to memory, as has the famed "Mother Road" along which it stands. The threat of demolition spurred the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C., to place the dome and other buildings and natural places on the 2002 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
"All the sites in this year's list are irreplaceable treasures," says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust. "These places tell America's story. Losing them would be unthinkable, and saving them isn't someone else's job."
Three other commercial and industrial buildings made the list. The Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, which revolutionized theater design when it opened in 1963, is scheduled for demolition to make room for a parking garage and sculpture garden. Crumbling St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, D.C., opened in the mid-1850s and is the country's oldest large-scale government-run mental hospital. From 1913 to 1932, more than 5,300 Rosenwald Schools were built in the South to educate African-Americans. Today, many of the schools are falling into disrepair.
For the complete list of endangered sites, visit www.nationaltrust.org.