Zoar, Ohio, has been named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Places for 2012
The designation, announced June 6, includes Zoar Village State Memorial, an Ohio Historical Society site that is administered for the society by Zoar Community Association.
Group of young men and women posed on the steps of the Zoar Hotel, ca. 1900. The hotel was operated by the Society of Separatists of Zoar to serve visitors and earn additional income for the Society. From the Collections of the Ohio Historical Society.
The historic town is threatened by measures that may be taken in response to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers analysis of Tuscarawas River dam and levee that have protected Zoar since 1936. In response to concerns about the levee’s adequacy in the wake of numerous floods over almost 80 years, the Corps is undertaking a study to determine how best to ensure that the village and its 200 residents are not harmed. The Corps is considering three options: repairing the levee, moving the village to higher ground, and acquiring and demolishing the town. The latter two scenarios place Zoar in great peril.
Zoar was settled in 1817 by German religious separatists who operated a communal society there starting in 1819. Although the Society of Separatists of Zoar disbanded in 1898, much of what they built remains. A portion of Zoar has been a State Memorial since 1941 and today much of the community is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of Zoar’s 19th century buildings have been preserved and restored and some are available for visitors to tour and enjoy, as is the famous garden at the center of Zoar. Many local families live in historic buidings and some have bed-an-breakfasts or other small businesses.
Elevated view of the Zoar Garden, ca. 1940-1950. From the collections of the Ohio Historical Society
The 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places includes the historic rustic style bridges of California’s Yosemite Valley; the Ellis Island Hospital Complex in New York harbor; historic U.S. Post Office buildings nationwide; Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia; the Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House in Boston; Princeton Battlefield in Princeton, N.J., a site of a pivotal battle in the American Revolution; the Sweet Auburn Historic District in Atlanta, birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr.; Terminal Island, once a major ship building center in Los Angeles; 244 historic courthouses throughout the state of Texas; Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch in Billings County, N.D.; and the Village of Zoar, Ohio. Learn More Learn more about the potential threat to Zoar at www.savehistoriczoar.org and about the National Trusts’ 2012 Most Endagered Places at www.preservationnation.org. Learn more about visiting Zoar and support in its preservation at www.ohiohistory.com/zoar. More information on the history of Zoar can be found at our sister blog, Save Ohio History.