Puerto Rico Iglesia San José (San José Church), an endangered historic site in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Published on June 20th, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut

Iglesia San José (San José Church), an endangered historic site in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, JFK Worldport: Now on Endangered Historic Places List

The interior of Iglesia San José (San José Church), an endangered site in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The interior of Iglesia San José (San José Church), an endangered site in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization that works to save historic places in the United States, this week announced its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. And for the first time, Puerto Rico is included in the list.

The endangered site in Puerto Rico is Iglesia San José — San José Church — which sits in Old San Juan. One of the earliest surviving examples of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture in the Western Hemisphere, the church was founded in 1532, a century before the  Mayflower settlers arrived in New England. Since it was built between 1532 and 1735 by the Dominican order, some four centuries of architectural details are on view here, with Isabelline Gothic vaults and what the organization calls a rare Catalan architectural design. Juan Ponce de León, the first governor of Puerto Rico, was buried in the church’s crypt from 1559 to 1836, when his remains were moved to the city’s cathedral.

Today, deterioration is threatening this historic site and much-photographed attraction in Puerto Rico. The organization hopes to draw attention to the current conditions, to encourage renewed preservation efforts.

LatinFlyer.com would like to strongly recommend another site for the endangered list in Puerto Rico: the abandoned El Ponce InterContinental hotel, a gorgeous mid-century modern architectural gem, opened in 1960, that today sits empty atop a hill, overlooking Puerto Rico’s second-largest city of Ponce. (Click here to see an exclusive photo gallery of the former hotel.)

The Worldport Terminal at JFK airport in New York is threatened with demolition. Photo: Anthony Stramaglia

The Worldport Terminal at JFK airport in New York is threatened with demolition. Photo: Anthony Stramaglia

Also Endangered: The Worldport at JFK Airport
Also of interest to travelers and frequent flyers is another site on the Endangered Historic Places List this year: The Worldport Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Since its debut in 1960 as the Pan American World Airways Worldport, this futuristic terminal at JFK Airport has been a sleek, stylish icon of the jet age, and was most recently featured in the short-lived TV series “Pan Am.” The first commercial flights of the Boeing 707 departed from this terminal.

In May 2013, Delta Air Lines stopped operating from the Worldport Terminal (which is now called Terminal Three), and current plans from the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey call for the total demolition of the iconic structure.

Alternatives to demolishing the Worldport include tearing down just the south concourse — which wasn’t part of the original structure anyway — and using Worldport as a connecting facility between Terminals Two and Four, as a dedicated or premier terminal or as an independent building open to the public containing a museum, restaurants, shops, aircraft observation space, airport employee daycare or other purposes. Similar plans helped save the equally impressive TWA terminal from destruction. Whether the Worldport is rescued will depend on what happens next, and how many people sound their voices. A Website, Save the Worldport, offers more information about rescue efforts.

MORE PUERTO RICO TRAVEL INSPIRATION:
Sneak Preview: The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel: Puerto Rico Luxury, Renewed
Rainbow Caribbean: A Gay Bar Guide to San Juan, Puerto Rico
VIDEO: What’s New in Condado, Puerto Rico’s Urban Beach Paradise

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About the Author

The founder and editor of LatinFlyer.com, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.


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