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Tulsa Poster Presentations: Phillips 66 Stations: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on: October 23rd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, is in the Exhibit Hall checking out the poster presentations.

The Phillips 66 poster project, full view.

The Phillips 66 poster project, full view.

I had just had some amazing fudge at the Bryant Pecan Company booth, while coveting some of those shirts from Vintage Roadside (Lori & Susan blogged about them a few days ago), when I ran across Mike Kertok in front of his poster on the Phillips 66 Stations. While he’s putting up sections of his project he tells me how the first station and subsequent ones from 1927-1938 were built in the cottage style before changing over into more boxy, modernistic structures.

A closeup of the Phillips 66 poster presentation.

A closeup of the Phillips 66 poster presentation.

His passion for these stations is clear from the images on the bulletin board, and his story of how he went from restoring one to completing three full restorations with a fourth in progress is interesting. In addition to his own personal works he began documenting the stations from this period and found that there are about 80-90 still in existence. Some are falling apart, others are pristine and a few are -- as Mike says --  "ugly," but you can learn all about them by reading a report he’s put together on where these stations reside. By reading his poster I learned that there are four categories: company stations, marketing stations, re-branded stations, and "others." If you’re in Tulsa you can see one of these stations, which opened in 1931 at 6th and Elgin. It operated as a Phillips 66 station under various leases until the early 1970s. It was restored in 2007. If you’re in Tulsa you can see his poster in the exhibit hall. For more information you can email Mike at: kertokmb [at] netscape [dot] net. *

-- Priya Chhaya

* Replace the bracketed words with the corresponding symbols, and viola! It's a proper email address.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

The Old and the New: Native Americans and Preservation

Posted on: October 23rd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

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. This morning, Arnold Berke, executive editor of Preservation magazine, sat in on an education session about Native American preservation.

Mention "Tulsa" to your average citizen of Preservation Nation and the images you’ll likely elicit are oil, art deco, and Route 66. But the story of Tulsa and Oklahoma began considerably before those 20th-century images entered the collective mind. I refer to the original residents, the Native Americans who have long lived here. The state’s very name—in Choctaw "okla" means people and "humma" means red—refers to those inhabitants.

It’s only natural, then, that preservation and Native America should intersect at this particular conference city, and that one result would be the temptingly-titled educational session "Indian Tribes and Historic Preservation: What’s In It for Us?" What indeed? Only four of the nearly 40 tribes in Oklahoma have THPOs—tribal historic preservation officers, a newish construct akin to the state preservation officers (SHPOs) that movement pros know so well—so it would seem time, as the session promised, to "discuss why—and how—tribes should embrace preservation."

"Why" is really the first matter. Since "historic" and "preservation" don’t mean the same thing to everybody, might Native Americans have their own take on these terms? What’s historic to them? What should be preserved? A lingering popular answer, that native resources are mainly ephemeral and "cultural," their physical manifestation limited to archaeological remains, is a simplification, as session leader Jeremy Finch, the THPO for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation stated: "I take fundamental issue with the bifurcation into, ‘if it’s archaeological it’s Indian, if architectural, it’s Anglo.’ That’s just not true." The structures that Indians have as part of their history, often from interaction with those Anglos but also buildings they’ve constructed (schools to courthouses to whole towns), are increasingly embraced as part of native history.

As tribes become "economic entities," Finch said, "they’re asking if these new opportunities are consistent with their cultural values. And how will they benefit us?" Heritage tourism may be the biggest prospect for tribes to use native historic places to advantage. "That’s where the rubber hits the road." Yet he says tribes, at least in Oklahoma, have been slow to line up for preservation in the first place. Tribes are also asking how these new opportunities will affect that all-embracing, all-important requirement of maintaining sovereignty.

John Fowler, executive director the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, described how tribal participation in the federal preservation matrix has been expanded and smoothed by amendments to the National Preservation Act, which included establishing the THPOs (76 now exist). Agency recognition of native cultural properties has not always been an easy path, he pointed out. But the new laws—and regs—are smoothing the consultation process. (There is now a national THPOs association to speed this along, and the Advisory Council has created a Native American program.)

Fowler also spoke about the Preserve America program (run by the council and Park Service). Nearly 690 communities are PA towns now (they apply for the designation), but only one native community has signed up. Beyond the honorific boost, the program offers grants up to 150K for promoting historic sites, certainly a perk for the heritage tourism-inclined. Alas, he said, "we find the reaction from tribes only lukewarm at best—it takes a backseat to gaming."

Katherine McLaughlin, a Boston preservation planner, has studied the tribal preservation officer phenomenon, interviewing THPOs nationwide. What’s in it for them? Suspicions of not understanding the unique, non-Eurocentric nature of Indian heritage persist—how can others understand the importance of, for example, oral history—as do, once again, fears of losing sovereignty. (The session also included a revealing look, by Phil Lujan, chief district judge of the Citizen Potawatomi, at the history of Indian sovereignty and issues of determining the jurisdiction of courts.) Although a large number of tribes have yet to name THPOs, McLaughlin found, "there is a lot to gain for them, and for historic preservation at large."

-- Arnold Berke

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Plenary, Reception Officially Open the National Preservation Conference

Posted on: October 23rd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

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. Today, Max van Balgooy, director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites, reports on the official opening of the conference -- last night's plenary session and the party that followed.

The Cherokee Youth Choir performing at the Plenary.

The Cherokee Youth Choir performing at the Plenary.

Wednesday’s plenary session officially opened the National Preservation Conference in the magnificent Art Deco setting of the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, recently recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Its soaring tower with narrow stained glass windows is more reminiscent of a skyscraper than a church. Inside, preservationists packed the main floor and balcony while listening to the Cherokee Youth Choir sing from the risers on stage. Cliff Hudson, Chairman of the Board, moderated the plenary session and we were welcomed by Mayor Taylor of Tulsa. Commissioner Winstead of the US General Services Administration described the recent successes in preserving federal buildings and their continuing efforts to find new uses for the obsolete federal buildings, either through commercial leases or transfer to government agencies, citing the example of the rehabilitation of the U. S. Post Office in Washington, DC as the Hotel Monaco.

In his report, Richard Moe, who now celebrates his fifteenth years as president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, noted that preservation is always a work in progress and always facing new opportunities and challenges, thus the work of the National Trust will never be done. The current economic downturn is a major speed bump and the National Trust has already taken steps in response, but he acknowledged that it will cause all of us to rethink the way we are operating. He reminded us that the current situation is temporary but the loss of historic places is permanent and encouraged all of us to seek partnerships to help overcome the current challenges.

A highlight for me were the brief comments of Robert Wilson, who has long been a major supporter of preservation, most recently providing challenge grants to statewide and local preservation organizations to build a sustainability. In his tour of Tulsa, he found that he was struck both by the beauty of the architecture but also by the desolation in parts of the city, the tragic result of demolition caused by the citizens themselves. Philanthropists have many ways to give away money, including health and homeless, but he’s pursued historic preservation because of the ability of great architecture to enhance the lives of many people, both today and into the future. Pennsylvania Station in New York City was a tremendous loss, especially since it was replaced by a “grubby subterranean space” and as a result, everyone’s life has been diminished.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Tulsa Poster Presentations: Excavation of the Steamboat Heroine

Posted on: October 22nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, is in the Exhibit Hall checking out the poster presentations.

Bright colors and conversation surround you when you walk through the Exhibit Hall here in Tulsa. Conference-goers seem to be holding up despite the turn in the weather -- rain-rain-and more rain! People are darting to field and education sessions and attending the twice daily nosh and networking periods in the hall and most of them are smiling. On Tuesday night we got a taste of Oklahoma history at the special lecture by Dr. Bob Blackburn (we were in the gorgeous First Presbyterian Church which is just one of the architectural vistas here in Tulsa). We learned about the state’s unique preservation story and the great work that they are doing to preserve and embrace the various pasts.

Poster on the preservation of the "Heroine."

It was with this in mind that I started wandering through the poster presentations. As I took in the landscape I came across John Davis and Bob Rea of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Their poster, “Excavation and Preservation of the Steamboat Heroine” is a detailed look at their work to preserve the only underwater archaeological site in Oklahoma.

The earliest example of steamboat technology in the United States, the Heroine was built in New Albany, Indiana in 1832 and “transported freight, livestock and passengers on the Ohio, Mississippi and Red Rivers.” In May 1838 the boat got stuck in a snag two miles down from a public landing on the upper Red River and sank.

Bob and John have been working on the boat since 1999 -- working underwater for eight weeks at a time. If you’re in Tulsa visit their poster in the Exhibit Hall. If you aren’t, more information on the Heroine can be found at www.okhistory.org or www.ohs.org.

-- Priya Chhaya

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Is Less More? Conversations of the National Trust Historic Site Directors at the National Preservation Conference

Posted on: October 22nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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.  Yesterday, two members of our staff participated in the Site Directors meeting, and came away with a lot of thoughts surrounding technology, sustainability, and preservation at our sites. Below are their reports.

The directors of National Trust Historic Sites hard at work in Tulsa.

The directors of National Trust Historic Sites hard at work in Tulsa.

At every National Preservation Conference, the Site Directors of National Trust Historic Sites meet for a day and a half to discuss issues of mutual concern—many are the same issues facing the thousands of historic sites across the nation. This meeting includes topics such as measuring success, insurance, image management systems, heritage travel, and the current souring economy. A thought-provoking discussion on the value of air conditioning in historic buildings noted that the widely adopted 1991 New Orleans Charter calls for a balance between the needs of buildings and the collections they house, however, there has been no agreement how this should be achieved.

Barbara Campagna, Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, explored several recent projects at National Trust Historic Sites that questioned the benefit of high tech solutions and proprietary systems due to the damage they caused to historic buildings, the high capital and maintenance costs, and more seriously, failure to operate as planned.  (Details on these projects can be found in Barbara's report below.) New projects at Cliveden and Woodrow Wilson House offer potential strategies that could be far less intrusive and expensive, while achieving reasonable levels of preservation for both the buildings and collections. These include allowing wider tolerances of temperature and humidity, focusing on controlling humidity rather than temperature, focusing on the rate rather than range of change in temperature and humidity, changing visitor behavior (e.g., altering tour routes or time spent in each location), and relocating functions (e.g., separating staff and collections storage areas).

This may not always meet the standards of current museum practices nor provide ideal comfort for visitors or staff in every season, but these strategies seem to be better long term sustainable ones for preservation.

As funding allows, NTHP will be pursuing this further through additional studies with the intent of developing best and future practices for climate management at historic sites.

- Max van Balgooy

Max is director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites.

***

Shutters on Lyndhurst for a forced ventilation system when there were never any shutters.  Lyndhurst is a National Historic Landmark National Trust Historic Site, in Tarrytown, NY.

Shutters on Lyndhurst for a forced ventilation system when there were never any shutters.

The National Trust is launching a National Initiative on Historic Sites as a means to assist historic sites struggling with issues of long term sustainability. One of the key issues that has been impacting the financial, programmatic and building fabric aspects of our sites is the appropriate installation and use of environmental management systems. I am leading this component of our Initiative and used this meeting to initiate the discussion among all of our directors and pose some rhetorical questions to get them thinking. We are not alone among cultural institutions that have discovered over the past decade that many of the new HVAC (heating, ventilating and cooling) systems that we’ve been installing have often caused more problems than they have solved. A basic reality that we discussed was whether we’ve been asking the right questions.

Rather than start a project by asking what kind of HVAC system we want, we should be asking what kind of uses our buildings and spaces need and can support. Do we even need HVAC systems? Should we be rethinking our programming first?

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.