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Cincinnati Site Named One Of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

terrace plaza hotel
Wikimedia Commons
A postcard featuring The Gourmet Restaurant at the Terrace Plaza Hotel.

It's considered a significant Modernist structure and one of the nation's first modern hotels built after World War II. Now it's on a significant list, too.The National Trust for Historic Preservation is naming Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza Hotel to the 2020 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The list is used to bring attention and encourage efforts to save historic sites.

"We're really grateful that they're recognizing the Terrace Plaza," says Paul Muller, executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association. "Historic buildings are difficult to take care of, to renovate, and reuse sometimes, but when people care about them, when they think they're an important part of their history, almost anything is possible."

Being named to the endangered list, Muller says, provides the opportunity to tell the Terrace Plaza's story.

The Terrace Plaza opened in 1948. It was built in the International style with designs by Natalie de Blois, a young member of the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. The hotel was also the first to have a fully automated elevator and a television in every room. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Muller says there are two goals he'd like to see come from the Terrace Plaza being named to the endangered list.

"One is to educate the public about the significance of it," says Muller. "It has a great history; it's tied to the important introduction of Modernism to American popular culture. Our second goal is to convince the city to adopt a pro-preservation policy toward the Plaza."

He says that means requiring any redevelopment plans maintain the parts of the building and its design that make it historic. Last year, the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board recommended landmark designation status for the hotel, though that effort is currently stalled.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.