By Lindsey Wallace
On March 11, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis announced the designation of 13 new national historic landmarks (NHLs), including Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J. Hinchliffe Stadium’s designation as a National Historic Landmark achieves historic significance in its own right, as it is the first site of any kind associated with the Negro Leagues to be listed as a NHL. Additionally, Hinchliffe Stadium is also the only baseball stadium currently designated and fourth football stadium (with Harvard Stadium, Rose Bowl, and Yale Bowl) to be designated a NHL. Hinchliffe Stadium is also one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Treasures.
Built in the Art Deco style from 1932-33, Hinchliffe was closed in 1996 and has since suffered neglect and vandalism. Described as an “exceptional example of a Negro League baseball stadium,” Hinchliffe Stadium hosted integrated baseball games at a time when many ballparks still practiced “separate but equal” spaces. In addition to professional baseball and football games, Hinchliffe hosted high school athletic contests, auto racing, and rock concerts. More than 20 Baseball Hall of Famers played at Hinchliffe Stadium.
As part of its National Treasure work, the National Trust is helping to develop and implement a community-based plan of action for the stadium’s stabilization, beginning with the formation of the Hinchliffe Stadium Steering Committee, consisting of representatives of the Paterson Public Schools/Board of Education, the City of Paterson (both the Mayor and Council), the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, and the National Trust. In 2011, the Friends of Hinchliffe secured a $500,000 matching grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust to help fund the initial stabilization of the stadium. Since coming together, the steering committee has succeeded in releasing $1 million in voter-approved bonds and almost $200,000 in federally-awarded schools funding—exceeding the $500,000 match required by the NJ Historic Trust. The steering committee is now in the process of developing a Request for Proposals to initiate work. Informed by a preservation plan, stabilization work on this stadium could provide lessons for the rehabilitation of similar historic structures. Read more about the history of Hinchliffe and the National Treasure work here.
Hinchliffe Stadium joins 12 other sites newly designated as NHLs—a list notable for recognizing a number of significant Latino, African American, and American Indian sites throughout the United States. In addition to Hinchliffe Stadium, the full list includes:
- Camden Amphitheatre and Public Library, Camden, Maine.
- Camp Nelson Historic and Archeological District, Jessamine County, Ky.
- Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Ala.
- The Epic of American Civilization Murals, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.
- George T. Stagg Distillery, Franklin County, Ky.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Hartford, Conn.
- Hinchliffe Stadium, Paterson, N.J.
- Honey Springs Battlefield, McIntosh and Muskogee Counties, Okla.
- Old San Juan Historic District/Distrito Histórico del Viejo San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Pear Valley, Eastville, Va.
- Second Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Ill.
- Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
For detailed information on all of these designations, see the list of nominations.
Walter Gallas, Field Director in the Philadelphia Field Office also contributed to this piece.
Lindsey Wallace is the Information Coordinator in the Preservation Division of the National Trust. She is also one half of the National Trust's Forum Reference Desk, which provides preservation leaders direct, easy, and timely access to the latest and best information, referrals, and tools.