What Minnesota sites are worth saving?

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The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) is scaling back the number of endangered historic places it’s tries to save each year. PAM calls its new program “Sites Worth Saving,” which replaces its 10 Most Endangered Historic Places list.

“We were starting to get a large list,” said Erin Hanafin Berg, PAM field representative who works on the program. “Adding 10 sites a year was unworkable.”

What Sites Worth Saving will do is identify two or three projects a year in which the statewide organization will work with local groups, organizations and local agencies in reviving architectural and cultural landmarks that are now threatened by demolition.

Groups and individuals can nominate candidates for Sites Worth Saving designation by filling out an online application. The selected sites will be announced at PAM’s fourth annual (Anti) Wrecking Ball party on May 17 at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.

The new program isn’t a retrenchment from the group’s historical mission, Hanafin Berg insisted. Rather, it will focus its strategy of helping projects with collaboration of project participants and help these partners with information, mustering community support, publicity and funding. PAM’s revamp still leaves in place a program to raise awareness of emerging or other historic sites that are in need of rehabilitation and new occupants.

Minnesota 2020 salutes PAM in renewing and rehabbing properties that have been registered among national historic landmarks. Similar work is needed for often grand, mid-century architectural building such as vacant banks and post offices in small towns that need upgrading for new occupants who will put the buildings to new uses. In a report coinciding with the start of the 2013 legislative session, Minnesota 2020 called on lawmakers to explore extending tax credits and find other ways to assist local communities, entrepreneurs and property developers revitalize such artful and useful buildings. Most such structures were magnets for commerce and visitors in years past. They can anchor small town mains streets again in the years ahead.