Howdy! (Or, Greetings from Tulsa)

Posted on: October 20th, 2008 by Matt Ringelstetter 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.

A view of downtown Tulsa from near the convention center.

A view of downtown Tulsa from near the convention center.

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.

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Helping Preserve Galveston’s History

Posted on: October 17th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Members of the staff and board of the Galveston Historical Foundation in front of their offices in the 1861 Custom House, holding "This Place Matters" signs.

Members of the staff and board of the Galveston Historical Foundation in front of their offices in the 1861 Custom House, holding "This Place Matters" signs.

My visit to Galveston last week was bittersweet; on one hand, I was saddened by the enormous amount of damage Hurricane Ike inflicted on the city’s historic areas. But at the same time, I also saw first-hand the courageous response of Galvestonians to the storm, and the impressive progress in debris clean-up and remediation of damage that has already taken place.

I went to Galveston looking for additional ways in which the National Trust for Historic Preservation can partner with the Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) on recovery efforts. For the past three years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been working on the ground in New Orleans focusing on post-Katrina recovery, and that work has given us extensive insight into large-scale disaster response efforts. I traveled to New Orleans just a few weeks after Katrina struck in 2005, and as I walked through Galveston last week, comparisons to the New Orleans I saw then came to mind.

New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods generally looked much worse off less than four weeks after Katrina, though its most famous historic areas largely escaped flooding. There is always a danger after disasters that people seek the quick and wrong solution of demolishing still valuable structures. As I mentioned, I’m glad that Galvestonians seem focused on rehabilitation and returning to their properties. The leadership of Galveston’s city officials has been a great help.

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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.

 

US and international designers developed 13 different models for the Make it Right program.

US and international designers developed 13 different models for the Make it Right program.

Last Saturday I walked around the Lower 9th Ward marveling at the six "Make It Right" houses nearing completion on the formerly barren blocks of Tennessee and Deslonde Streets near the site of the devastating Industrial Canal floodwall failure in August 2005. The houses are bright, fresh, and optimistic, chosen by the owners from thirteen designs offered by U.S. and international architectural firms through a program conceived by actor Brad Pitt. Eventually 150 owners of the land in this area will have houses built through this program, which offers financing and support to ensure that even in today's unsettled market, the houses will remain in the family to be passed along as family homes had been before Katrina.

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.

 

Downtown Kalamazoo. (photo: Pamela Hall O'Connor)

Downtown Kalamazoo. (photo: Pamela Hall O'Connor)

Kalamazoo, Michigan's central business district is full of historic commercial buildings dating from the 1860s and later -- many of which are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and local designation. But, key areas have eroded in character -- mostly due to demolition. The loss and potential loss of character-defining eligible buildings over the past two years pushed our Historic Preservation Commission to create a tool for developers, civic leaders, property owners and the public.

The result, a 20-page booklet titled: Where Place Prospers" is a one-stop-shop for information that demonstrates "how to do a deal" in Kalamazoo and wind up with a rehabilitated historic building that actually contributes to Kalamazoo's "Place" identity, rather than a parking lot or a work of architecture that looks lonely and out of place amongst its neighbors.

Where Place Prospers offers case studies that detail the whole lot of incentives available for building rehabilitation -- local, state and federal, and believe me, they're not just rehab. incentives -- they include obsolete property incentives, brownfield credits, etc. The basics are all there, and other Michigan communities can use it as a template and add their own communities' incentives.

The informational booklet is currently available as a PDF file and is also available from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network website (www.mhpn.org).

The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission is grateful to the Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network who provided it with a $1,000.00 seed grant from the Michigan Preservation Fund to assist in the publication of Where Place Prospers. Without their assistance, this incredibly helpful tool would not exist for the benefit of Kalamazoo and other Michiganders.

-- Pamela Hall O'Connor

Pamela Hall O'Connor is the Immediate Past President of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and Principal, Preservation Practices.

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Learn more about the work of the regional offices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation here. The Michigan Historic Preservation Network is a member of our Statewide and Local Partners program.

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.

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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.

Notes from New Orleans: Trustees Lend a Hand

Posted on: October 15th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

 

The group poses in front of the Bienvenue Street house.

The group poses in front of the Bienvenue Street house.

Trustees Mary Thompson and Kevin Daniels (pictured in first photo below) joined us with another dozen volunteers on St. Maurice and Bienvenue Streets in Holy Cross this past week to work on two houses acquired from the city by the Preservation Resource Center's Operation Comeback (OC). This is the second time that Kevin has organized and coordinated a group through his own efforts, drawing folks primarily from his Seattle backyard, but also from other parts of the country. The OC house which Daniels' group worked on in January is now complete and on the market.

The week was a hot one for the Northwesterners as they gutted the two houses, did some de-nailing of salvaged material, framed one wall of the Bienvenue house, and added a coat of paint to the St. Maurice house. Friday afternoon, the frail structure on Bienvenue began to fail, but was propped up. OC will have to take on the challenge from there, but the staff is determined to try saving this neglected piece of Holy Cross.

Lean more about our Gulf Coast recovery efforts here.

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.