Classic US author Ernest Hemingway's beloved house in Cuba is the latest inclusion in the list of "America's Most Endangered Historic Places".
The estate is a shrine to Hemingway, where he entertained celebrities there such as Ava Gardner and Gary Cooper.
Hemingway lived at the Cuban Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm) from 1939 to 1960 and it was there he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea," the story of a struggle between a fisherman and a giant marlin that won him a Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize in literature.
The crumbling nine-acre estate on a hill just east of Havana was left to the Cuban people after Hemingway's suicide in 1961 and is now a museum, housing books and manuscripts of the famed US novelist.
Battered by hurricanes and exposed to the tropical climate of Cuba, the villa now has serious structural problems and experts have labelled it a "preservation emergency," said National Trust for Historic Preservation president Richard Moe.
It is the first time a property outside the US has been included on the list, but Moe said the estate's great cultural value to America made it an easy decision.
"Even though it's outside of the United States, it's an important part of our cultural heritage. Hemingway is such a revered literary figure in this country and around the world," he said, adding that "It deserves to be preserved."
The US Treasury Department granted the Trust and the Massachusetts-based Hemingway Preservation Foundation a licence last month to send a team of surveyors to the house.
"Even though it's outside of the United States, it's an important part of our cultural heritage"
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Permission is needed from the US authorities because of a US embargo against Cuba. An earlier request was denied by the Bush administration which said the project would support tourism and thus help the economy.
Moe said the team planned to leave in a couple of days for Cuba, adding the group did not yet have the US bureaucratic go-ahead to spend money on restoring the home.
Hemingway's home joined 10 other places on the annual list, such as North Alaska's King Island where structures that represented the rich culture of the Inupiat Eskimos were in danger of being washed into the Bering Sea.