Oklahoma's capital, Guthrie. Or, not.

Posted on: July 3rd, 2008 by Lori Feinman


img_2305.jpgYou've heard the story of the movement of the US Capital from Philadelphia to the humid, swampy, cow town of Washington. But that was all about the federal government being independent of the states, being able to secure itself, yadda yadda, yawn. The much more interesting and positively scandalous story is that of the move of the Oklahoma state capital from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. Hear that, and all of a sudden the incredible Victorian building stock in this town makes perfect sense. As does the pride and hard work that the residents of Guthrie have put into preserving the character of the town. On the Guthrie field session, you will join native Charles Scott on a walking tour of the town, hearing historical tidbits related to the buildings as well as learning about the tools that Gutherians (did I just make up a word?) use to maintain and support their NHL district. Outside of Guthrie, the tour visits what really must be one the of the most unusual adaptive use properties in the country- a former Masonic Children's home from the depression era, reused as a combination office, home, and event space, each function succeeding wonderfully. Lunch will be served here before the in-depth tour, the details of which I will keep to myself - you'll have to attend to hear about it all. A full day in Guthrie is surprising and inspiring, like all of this part of Oklahoma.

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.

"I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane": Final Thoughts on PLT 2008

Posted on: July 3rd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


It has been a few days since we had to leave cool (and apparently unseasonably rainy) Portland, Maine to return to the humidity that is Washington in the summer, but the thirty-four participants of this year’s Preservation Leadership Training left with a lot more baggage (the good kind, of course). As Robin from Maryland said, “We're back home and all suffering from withdrawal! New friends, a great educational experience, a fabulous city!”

Let’s see what they took home with them:

Preservation Leadership Training Suitcase

  1. One massive ten-pound notebook filled with written resources ranging from fundraising tips to economics of historic preservation.
  2. A pocketful of Don Rypkema’s money (good questions everyone!).
  3. Tools for reenergizing their preservation work in states across the country.
  4. Maybe a little less sleep….
  5. And new network of 34 people from across the country that they can talk to on a regular basis.

The Team Project—The Baxter Building

At the dedication ceremony for the Baxter Public Library on February 21, 1889 James Phinney Baxter said: “I have reared a structure of wood and stone. You are to build character.” At the team project presentations this past Friday the five teams attempted to do just that. Each team made proposals ranging from a culinary school to mix use development for art and architecture, a retail arts incubator project, a center for preservation studies and folk arts, and finally the new home for two special collections which would effectively return the Baxter Building to its original use as a library.

These ideas fermented after early morning interviews, late nights and lots and lots of coffee. Additionally, each team pulled from personal experiences and lectures to come up with the five very unique presentations. In the end these projects will help the building’s developer to come up with a preservation friendly plan for the building that is compatible with the Portland community and mindset. As the blue team, quoting Judge Symonds at the dedication in 1889, stated at the start of their presentation, “What is the common possession of all must be preserved in the interest of all.“

Last Words

PLT Group

Hopefully this group of newly minted Preservation Leadership Training alumni will take the knowledge and experiences gained from this past week and use it in their various capacities in the historic preservation field. As Judy from New York stated:

I did not know how much I learned until after I came home from PLT. While describing the week to a friend, the amount of material and the practical experience we had with our group project suddenly dawned on me. The curriculum and project worked so well independently and together to make a great training experience”

Thanks for making this week a success! I know I took away a lot of information on preservation programs across the country all while enjoying the wide variety of food that Portland has to offer.

For more information on Preservation Leadership Training visit www.preservationnation.org and http://www.placeeconomics.com/2008/07/preservation-leadership-training.html
Quotations from the Baxter Buildings 1889 dedication ceremony are from the Special Collections at the Portland Public Library.

Photographs by Alison Hinchman, NTHP

Priya Chhaya

Center for Preservation Leadership

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.

Notes from New Orleans: St. Francis de Sales Church

Posted on: July 3rd, 2008 by Walter Gallas


St. Francis de Sales Church, exteriorAt the request of some of its parishioners, I visited St. Francis de Sales Church in Central City recently. This 1870 wood frame church in Central City with a plain exterior and elegantly simple interior is scheduled for closing by the New Orleans Archdiocese. Despite of this threat, the members were seeking advice on repairing the structure, and on resources the National Trust for Historic Preservation could offer.

A locally designated landmark, the church was placed on the Louisiana Landmarks Society's "New Orleans Nine" list this year to call attention to its endangered status. St. Francis de Sales Church, interiorThis is one of 33 Catholic churches in New Orleans which are scheduled for closure and incorporation into other neighboring parishes. The archdiocese says some closures are due to the loss of 20 percent of the Catholic population post-Katrina. A shortage of priests adds to the problem. Some local congregations, taking their cue from resistance efforts in Boston, are contemplating day and night occupation of their churches to prevent being locked out.

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.

Historic Homes of the Wild West

Posted on: July 2nd, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Catherine Montogomery, architect with the Oklahoma Historical Society, has put together a glimpse into life on the prairie. The first stop of the day is in Hominy, Oklahoma home of the Drummond home.

Built in 1905 it is one of the few Victorian homes built on the prairie. Built by Frederick Drummond in 1905 this is one of the few remaining, intact Victorian homes on the prairie. Drummond was Scottish and trained with the Osage in Pawhuska where he met his wife, Addie Gantner. Shortly after marrying Addie they moved to hominy where Drummond had a 1/4 share in the Hominy Trading Co. He was a man of many trades - he started the Drummond Cattle Co. and served as mayor of Hominy as well. Remarkably the home was left intact and after the last relative passed away in the 70s the property was transferred to the OK Historical Society. They have taken great pains to maintain this property. Beverly, Director of the Drummond home, will take you on a journey through the life and times of the Drummond family.

After winding our way through rural Oklahoma we found ourselves in Pawhuska, gateway to the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve. Originally the Barnard-Chapman Ranch, the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is owned and operated by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. (As a side note Ben Johnson's dad was the ranch manager. Johnson was known to return to the ranch annually. At times he brought John Wayne with him. It is reported that Wayne tried to buy the ranch, but could never entice Barnard and Chapman to sell) There are a number of original buildings that still remain and are primarily used for continued ranch operations. There is a bunkhouse that has been updated and is used for trustee and development functions, but really it isn't about the remaining buildings. The best part is the drive through the prairie. This is a feast for the senses. The color, life, and sounds of the wildlife are astounding. Harvey Payne, Executive Director of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, shared a wealth of information about how the preserve was created and how it is managed and maintained. According to Harvey the prairie was originally a forest of spruce and jack pine. However, over the course of many generations of burning - probably three times a year - the prairie was created. Harvey calls it a "human induced landscape". The three burns took place during the spring and late summer - most likely lightening strikes and occassionally some Native American burning. In the fall and mid-October Native Americans set the fires for a controlled burn.  Given these changes to the landscape this is extremely fertile land. A head of cattle can gain up to 4 pounds a day grazing on the prairie. This takesme to what I think is the most remarkable sight. We had an opportunity to see the buffalo - not up close and personal, but close enough for this city girl (I still have a healthy respect for my larger than life fellow creatures) Anyway, I could have easily been enticed to "stay and set a while", watch the buffalo, the birds and the horizon forever. However time stands still for no one and after a while we were off to our next stop,  Pawnee Bill's Ranch.

Pawnee Bill, was so named by the Pawnee Indians with which he lived and worked. In his early years he worked as a teacher with the Pawnee. In 1883 Pawnee Bill created his wild west show. Not only was he was the creator, he was also the business mind behind "Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West ~ America's National Entertainment!" It was a very diverse family affair - his wife Mae was a main character in the show for practically the entire run of the show. He also included Sioux, Pawnee, Russians, Cossacks, an Aborigini, and African-Americans to name a few. In its heyday the show required 52 rail cars, would spend one day in a town, do the show and then pack up and head on to the next destination.

The ranch was originally 2,000 acres - the OKHS has been able to retain 500 acres. There are a number of buildings, including a museum which explains the Wild West Shows history, but really the piece de resistance is Pawnee Bill's home. Built in 1910, and designed by James Hamilton out of Philadelphia, the home took a year to build. The home has 14 rooms and has an interesting mix of local and exotic materials.

The day is a great prairie adventure, a unique blend of building preservation and cultural landscapes. This is a must see session!

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.

Okmulgee: Diverse Cultures/One Community

Posted on: July 1st, 2008 by Farin Salahuddin


img_3980.jpgWhat do you think of when you think of a small town in Oklahoma? Pioneers, American Indians, maybe a general store?  Well, you may find all this and more when you visit Okmulgee.  A town located 40 minutes south of Tulsa and home of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Benefitting from the oil industry, Okmulgee (winner of the 2002 annual Main Street Award) enjoyed prosperity in its past and was host to European settlers, Native Americans and African Americans alike. This rich social tapestry is evidenced through much of Okmulgee's preserved built environment.

img_3978.jpgBegin your history lesson at the Creek Nation Tribal Complex where you will meet a Muscogee Nation Supreme Court Judge.  Move on to the Creek Council House Museum and learn more about the culture of what is referred to as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" that are recognized  by Oklahoma. (The other four tribes are the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole and Choctaw.)

Though there is much to be learned here regarding the relationship between the Native American and Eurpoean settlers, there was a strong African American presence in Okmulgee as well. Visit many of the buildings that were vital to their everyday life and how those buildings endure and function today.

Not only will this Okmulgee tour offer historic reenactments, colorful anecdotes and cultural insight...there will be tasty offerings as well.  Massey's BBQ restaurant is some of the best eatin' I've had in my time in Tulsa. They'll be catering the lunch offered at Okmulgee's first church, The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

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.

Notes from New Orleans: Charity Hospital Update

Posted on: July 1st, 2008 by Walter Gallas


Contractors examine the limestone cladding of Charity Hospital.The structural assessment of the Charity Hospital building is proceeding at a steady pace. The study, supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and under the direction of the Foundation for Historic Louisiana, is a response to the call from Louisiana legislators in a resolution passed in 2006. The mandate was unfunded, and the Foundation has been raising the money to ensure that the effort produces an independent report on the condition of this 1939 Art Deco landmark. I had the opportunity last week to visit the hospital site on Thursday. Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and I were able to go up in the lift with one of the contractors to see how the exterior limestone cladding is attached to the building frame. Final results of the study are scheduled for release on August 21.

Contractors examine the limestone cladding of Charity Hospital.

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.