A "Prairie Cathedral" is Barn Again in Oklahoma

Posted on: October 1st, 2008 by Guest Writer

 

The famous rock barn of North-Central Oklahoma.

The famous rock barn of North-Central Oklahoma.

North-central Oklahoma is not particularly known for rock structures, although a few dot the downtown districts of the area. So rock barns are even less common, and when they grow to massive proportions - well, there's just one!

A few years ago, though, there were just about none.

Along highway 177, that splits the prairie in two from Stillwater to Chilocco Indian School, there are two structures that can be seen for miles. The OG&E Power plant and the 'rock barn'.

At first sight, usually from the exit of the interstate south of the barn, you can tell it is big. But, the distance makes it impossible to really make out its real size. You keep driving and glancing towards it as you travel north, and realize that you aren't quite to it yet, and it looks bigger and bigger the closer you get. When you finally approach it, you start to doubt yourself; it really doesn’t look that big after all. But that is because you are still not right in front of it, staring upwards at the peak of the gambrel roof, which seems to be as high as the clouds.

A landmark like that, standing against the wind and storms of the prairie, is something that everyone in the area knows about. In Ponca City, 20 miles away more or less, a conversation goes like this: "Well, some Colorado investors what to tear down that old rock barn, you know, on the highway to Stillwater"... "THAT one?".... "Yeah, they think that the rafters and stone might be valuable to build some of those fancy mountain 'cabins'"..... "they can't do that!"

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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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Preservation + Direct Democracy = San Francisco's Prop J

Posted on: October 1st, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

No doubt some of you live in states that still embrace old-fashioned notions of representative democracy: you know, that’s where citizens elect officials to represent their interests when making public policy decisions. Then there are the rest of us. We live in states, mostly in the West, where we figure, hey, why not cut out the middleman and legislate ourselves?

Before I venture too far afield (I feel a rant coming on), allow me to state for the record, loud and clear: “People of San Francisco, vote ‘Yes’ on J!” More on that below.

Funny thing: direct democracy turns out to be pretty hard work. Take San Francisco, where I live. In 2004 -- we tend to get especially animated about propositions in presidential election years -- California voters were asked to consider 17 measures. The California Official Voter Information Guide ran 168 pages (so much for our carbon emission goals). As if that wasn’t enough paper to chew through, that year there was also a Supplemental Voter Information Guide for two measures that were placed on the ballot too late for the regular Voter Information Guide (that was pretty slim volume -- just 24 pages).

That’s just the state. San Franciscans voted on an additional 28 measures. The City of San Francisco’s Official VoterPamphlet,” weighed in at 196 pages (pity the postal person). Nothing like tucking into 388 pages of electoral prose before pulling the metaphorical lever.

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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.

Hurricane Ike – Galveston Slideshow

Posted on: September 30th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

For updates on Galveston and the damage caused by Hurricane Ike, visit out web page for reports from the city, audio clips, press releases and information on what you can do to help.

Slideshow compiled by Hannah Smith, Statewide and Local Partners, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Photos by Weez Doherty and Robert Mihovil

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.

Not Your Typical Architecture Patron

Posted on: September 29th, 2008 by Dolores McDonagh 1 Comment

 

Living room of the Pope-Leighey House, a National Trust Historic Site. Photo by Ron Blunt.

Living room of the Pope-Leighey House, a National Trust Historic Site. Photo by Ron Blunt.

I know as VP of Membership for the National Trust for Historic Preservation I shouldn't have favorites among our historic sites. And I love them all for different reasons. But I can't help but have a major soft spot in my heart for the Pope-Leighey House on the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. That's why the obits took me back a little this weekend when I read that Loren Pope had passed away, the man who commissioned the Usonian jewel of a house the National Trust for Historic Preservation rescued in the 1960s when it was slated to be demolished for Interstate 66 through suburban Virginia.

Now many of us think of Frank Lloyd Wright homes as iconic, groundbreaking, beautiful. But rarely are they ever thought of as "affordable." But that's just what Loren Pope's home was -- part of FFLW's vision for "Usonian" architecture -- utopian housing for the "common man." I've heard Mr. Pope tell his story about how as a young DC journalist he wrote FFLW and asked him to design him a home within his modest budget. And how, rather than scoff at him, Wright accepted the challenge and answered "Of course I am ready to give you a house." (Of course it came in over budget, but it was still a bargain.)

I've always loved the Pope-Leighey House -- the way it sits in nature, the way you immediately feel welcome and embraced when you enter this modest home. And I've often thought it said volumes about Frank Lloyd Wright. But until today, I never really thought much about what it said about Loren Pope. The next time I visit, I will think about Loren Pope and what he taught us through his bold act to commission this masterpiece.

Don't be afraid to be bold. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want -- you might just get it. Patronize the arts -- you don't have to pay a zillion dollars to bring beauty into your life. And don't let anyone tell you to settle for less because you are looking for "affordable" housing. We ALL deserve homes, neighborhoods and communities that enrich our lives, even if we're not Wall Street magnates with golden parachutes.

Thanks, Mr. Pope.

I'll leave the obituary to the Washington Post, but I will pass along that you can learn how to visit the Pope-Leighey House (the only FFLW home open to the public in the DC metro area, and yes (National Trust for Historic Preservation Members DO get free admission) by visiting our Pope-Leighey site on PreservationNation.

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.

 

Victorian England's Mobile Homes: Hurricanes are no joke when it comes to their destructive power. Here at the National Trust, we've been all over the current season, and are still very active in Gulf Coast relief efforts due to Katrina's wrath over three years ago. What if, instead of watching your beach house wash away into the ocean, you simply drove it away to higher ground? Landscape architecture blog Pruned uses an example from Victorian prudishness to highlight the possibilities. [Pruned]

Hollywood and Period Landscapes: Major studios love incorporating dramatic, sweeping landscapes into their films, and the use of such backgrounds is both popular and helpful when highlighting specific historic periods and scenes. Architecture and environment blog a456 examines the "visual language used to depict the natural and built environments of the 19th and 20th century." [a456]

Reuse, or "Contained Use" in Historic Buildings: In response to Cathleen McGuigan's recent Newsweek article, "The Bad News About Green Architecture," Laura Keeney Zavala from the Landmark Society of Western New York points out an important issue that McGuigan overlooked--adaptive re-use and preservation. [Confessions of a Preservationist]

Green Modernism in La Defense: International firm Valode and Pistre have completed a design for the Generali tower, a huge new office building in the Paris business district making a name for itself in sustainable architecture in addition to economic prosperity. [Inhabitat]

Frank Lloyd Wright On, Well Pretty Much Everything: In a 1957 interview with Mike Wallace (and plenty of cigarette smoke), the famed architect covered organized religion, war, mercy killing, art, critics, his mile-high skyscraper, America's youth, sex, morality, politics, nature, and death. [The Harry Ransom Center: UT-Austin]

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.