The National Preservation Conference is this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be blogging from the conference and sharing their experiences.
Welcome to Tulsa. I’m not going to try and be charming and state that all of my misconceptions of this city have been proven false over the past two days, to be honest, I had very few conceptions of the city to begin with. Outside of Noah Vanderhoff’s layover story in Wayne’s World, and an appreciation for TU basketball (three national championship-winning coaches have the Golden Hurricanes on their resume), I had very little background on the city altogether. I do have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what it has to offer.
I received my first “howdy” while running through the Blue Dome district Saturday afternoon, and the city has been nothing but friendly and helpful ever since. Blue Dome is a great downtown area. Located just about ten city blocks north our hotel, and named after a robin’s-egg-blue domed structure on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Second Street, the area has several taverns and pubs that are full of local flavor, good conversation, and live music. Some of the conference staff hung out at Arnie's on Saturday night, a live music joint next to the dome. Tulsa certainly has a vibe running through it -- it’s that dirty, weird, coolness that you find in places like Arnie’s -- an energy that makes a city passed over by many East Coasters a truly great place to visit.
This being my first National Preservation Conference, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Along with about 25 other National Trust employees, I’m here with the conference staff. We’re running the show -- getting up early, setting things up, directing buses, working sessions and exhibit halls in order to make the conference happen. It’s already been quite a bit of work, but they’re feeding us well, and the work has been rewarding.
On Sunday evening, Tulsa resident and National Trust for Historic Preservation Trustee Marty Newman and Southwest Regional Office Director Daniel Carey led the group on a bus tour of the city and surrounding areas. We traveled throughout the downtown area, hitting up the artsy Brady District, the restaurants and nightlife spots on Cherry Street, along with all the Art Deco/Modern of the inner city.
The tour also lead us through Tulsa’s many distinct neighborhoods. The lavish homes of “Black Gold Row,” built with oil money, were impressive, but what really caught my attention were the neighborhood success stories. Moderate sized homes that were saved and rehabilitated by the very people who reside in their tree-lined streets. When the tour was over we all stopped in to Magoo’s, a smoke-filled pool hall on the south side of the city, and were treated to dinner, drinks and several games of billiards. Much respect goes to the National Trust Conference Staff, they know how to treat their employees. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the start of the conference, it’s bound to be long days of work, but I know everyone attending is going to be enjoying Tulsa as much as I have over the past 48 hours.
-- Matt Ringelstetter
Matt Ringelstetter is the web team coordinator for the online communications office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Learn more about the National Preservation Conference here.