ZOAR, Ohio — The Village of Zoar, Ohio, has been named to the 2012 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural, and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.
“This distinction will focus a national spotlight on the Village of Zoar. It will become clear that without action this unique historic village is at grave risk,” said Jon Elsasser, president of the Zoar Community Association and member of the board of trustees for the Ohio Historical Society.
The Village of Zoar was founded in 1817 by a group of separatists who fled from their native Germany to a fertile spot along the Tuscarawas River in Ohio. Today it is a community of Old World charm nestled on the river in east-central Ohio.
The river provided much of their livelihood and prosperity, but now threatens to wash Zoar away. A levee built in the 1930s has kept water from the Tuscarawas River away from the Village for decades. But record floods in 2005 raised concerns about the levee’s integrity.
Now, the US Army Corps of Engineers has initiated a three-year study to assess the levee’s future.
Though the Corps has worked closely with preservationists and Village residents during this process, one of the options under consideration by the Army Corps is to remove the levee entirely, which would require the relocation or demolition of 80 percent of the historic Village.
Rather than pursuing that destructive alternative, the National Trust and its partners are working with the Army Corps, with the Zoar Community Association and with the Ohio Historical Society on solutions that would protect the Village.
“The Village of Zoar is one of those very few places in the country that transports visitors back in time, giving people an authentic glimpse of what life was like for previous generations” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Working closely with the US Army Corps of Engineers, we believe a solution can be found that spares this one-of-a-kind Village from catastrophic flooding or demolition.”
Since 1988, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has used its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures. More than 230 sites have been on the list over its 25-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.
Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites, experience first-hand accounts of these places, and share stories and photos of their own at www.PreservationNation.org/Places.