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A group of preservationists has raised $50,000 to begin repairs on one of 24 decaying buildings on the long-neglected south side of Ellis Island, the New York Times reported today.

Repairs to a two-story building that housed pharmaceutical laboratories, a pharmacist's apartment and a doctor's office began Tuesday and should take two weeks, New York Landmarks Conservancy President Peg Breen told the Times.

The conservancy, worried that Congress is ignoring the accelerating decay of buildings on the island's south side, says it hopes its work will shame the federal government into allocating funds for repairs to 23 other buildings.

The crumbling Ellis Island hospital building -- which once housed immigrants too sick to be allowed into the country -- was declared in June to be one of the 11 "most endangered historic places" in the country by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit group chartered by Congress.

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