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.

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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.

Tulsa's Sacred Spaces: Idiosyncratic, Intriguing, and Impeccably Preserved

Posted on: October 22nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

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. Last night, James H. Schwartz, editor of Preservation magazine, filed this report.

"Tulsa truly is the heart of the Bible Belt," the guide for the Sacred Spaces tour said Tuesday afternoon, and—perhaps appropriately, for a metropolitan area where well over 50,000 residents (!) attend services each week—the range of ecclesiastical architecture here is extraordinary.

We started our tour on Cathedral Square, inside the sprawling First Christian Church, a 1920 landmark that is both a preservation success (the building is in fine shape and retains a remarkable collection of stained glass windows) AND a cautionary tale: renovation efforts in 1966 stripped the sanctuary of much of the original, ornate plasterwork, as well as superb oak doors and carved furniture.

My favorite discovery? First Christian had one of the most innovative ventilation systems in pre-air conditioned Tulsa. A central panel in the 28-ft stained glass dome overhead opened to draw warm air out of the sanctuary, reducing interior temps by as much as 15 degrees on summer days. (No wonder attendance skyrocketed for decades.)

... 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.

 

My apologies for the delay in this week's Preservation Round-Up. Our usual recapper is in Tulsa at the National Preservation Conference, so I'm jumping in, albeit a little late.

In the midst of our current hotly-contested presidential election, it's no surprise that politics is on everyone's mind -- including preservationists. Katie Eggers Comeau at the Landmark Society of Western New York has written a great, nonpartisan post about politics and preservation:

After all, historic preservation ties into issues that candidates on both sides hold dear: it’s about strengthening local economies and creating local jobs, revitalizing historic downtowns and neighborhoods, conserving a unique sense of place, protecting the environment, and protecting and promoting the places that have contributed to our national character over the generations.

Preservation New Jersey shares the stories of two specific sites that are threatened and draws connections between the budget woes in the Garden State and recent concerns that have left sites in California and Illinois similarly at risk.

The Governor and Administration have warned fans and supporters of state historic sites and parks that new sources of non-tax revenue must be found in order to keep these important places open and available to NJ citizens.

In 2006, we listed Kenilworth, Illinios on our annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places as its historic homes were at risk from teardowns. A little over two years later, Vince Michael has taken a look at the ways Kenilworth residents are fighting the trend -- and the opposition they continue to face.

So, the village came up with a clever plan: list the town on the National Register of Historic Places. This adds NO regulation to homeowners and provides NO protection against teardowns, but addresses the media embarrassment. It also would allow ONLY THOSE HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO to take advantage of the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze program. Upside without a downside.

Hmm... I've picked a couple of heavy topics there, so I'll end with a couple of lighter ones:

Our own Max van Balgooy, director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites, has recapped the lessons he learned at the Attingham Summer School program in England:

Personally, the greatest value of the Attingham Summer School is experiencing the interplay between art, furniture, rooms, buildings, and landscape. It truly points out the distinctions among historic sites, museums, and art galleries.

If this sounds like it might be up your alley, the application deadline for next year's course is January 31, 2009.

Preservation Greensboro is getting into the spirit of the season with a family-friendly evening of supernatural tales at the Blandwood Mansion this Saturday.

Blandwood’s front parlor is among the best-preserved Victorian interior's in North Carolina, and no better place to hear a story.

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

 

Lowe's store manager Joe Banks speaks at Katrina Cottage event as PRC's Operation Comeback director Pam Bryan looks on.

Lowe's store manager Joe Banks speaks at Katrina Cottage event as PRC's Operation Comeback director Pam Bryan looks on.

Last week I joined the Preservation Resource Center (PRC) and Lowe's at the construction site in Holy Cross of New Orleans' first Katrina Cottage. The PRC's Operation Comeback program is using three Lowe's designs and will be constructing Lowe's Katrina Cottages at four sites in Holy Cross. The two-bedroom shotgun style house sits at the corner of Lizardi and Douglass, along the Mississippi levee. This house will be put on the market after its completion.

The state of Louisiana has been grappling for two years to build even one Katrina Cottage as part of a pilot program to find substitute housing for the infamous FEMA trailers, and has yet to complete any houses, while the state of Mississippi has placed 2,800. It is important, though, to note that the Lowe's Katrina Cottages constructed by Operation Comeback are built from the ground up as permanent -- and in most cases expandable -- housing that meets building code specifications and that withstands hurricane force winds.  They are designed to be a part of the neighborhood for generations to come.

A view up Douglass Street in Holy Cross toward Lowe's Katrina Cottage.

A view up Douglass Street in Holy Cross toward Lowe's Katrina Cottage.

Through the support of Lowe's, Operation Comeback staff will work with homeowners who decide to purchase the plans and building materials kits to help them navigate the permit approval process in New Orleans.

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Learn more about the National Trust's Gulf Coast Recovery initiative here and more about the Katrina Cottages 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.