Video: Charles Stevens Dilbeck – The Tulsa Homes

Posted on: October 24th, 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. James H. Schwartz, editor of Preservation magazine and Matt Ringelstetter, web team coordinator,  provide this look at a field session.

Ever heard of Charles Stevens Dilbeck? Neither had I, but after a tour of more than 20 Tulsa homes designed by this accomplished residential architect, I know what I've been missing.

Dilbeck, who grew up in Oklahoma, is responsible for some of the warmest, most welcoming, and charming homes and cottages in this city.

After admiring just a few Dilbeck houses, the hallmarks of his style become clear: bold chimneys, textured clinker brick facades, eye-catching leaded windows, and romantic facades that seem part Old Europe and part Hansel and Gretel.

Dilbeck houses from the 1920s, '30s, '40s, and '50s look grand inside as well, with finely carved doorways and ceiling beams -- plus some fabulous fireplaces with carved stone hearths.

It's easy to understand why those fortunate enough to live in Dilbeck residences cherish them so. As one homeowner told me, "I think of my house as a grand old gal... after nearly 100 years she's standing strong, and I feel as if she enhances my life every single time I walk through the door."

-- James Schwartz

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.

Combining Sustainability with Historic Conservation: the English Experience

Posted on: October 24th, 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.  Today, Barbara Campagna, Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is reporting on one of yesterday's educational sessions.

John Fidler (Simpson Gumperz Heger), Sarah Staniforth (The National Trust) and Chris Woods (English Heritage) in Tulsa Wednesday morning.

John Fidler (Simpson Gumpertz Heger), Sarah Staniforth (The National Trust) and Chris Woods (English Heritage) in Tulsa Wednesday morning.

Three conservation leaders from the United Kingdom presented the “English Sustainability Experience” to a packed room in Tulsa Wednesday morning. John Fidler, formerly of English Heritage and now a principal at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger in Los Angles, developed and moderated a session with his former colleague Chris Woods, director of buildings at English Heritage and Sarah Saniforth, historic properties director, at the National Trust. Sarah discussed the impact that climate change is having on their historic properties, while Chris presented their current sustainability research including some much needed research on the energy efficiency of windows.

John started the session by posing the question: In trying to reduce carbon emissions, what if well-meaning changes threaten to endanger our environment? He believes that some of the metrics being used to evaluate sustainable design have not been properly clarified and agreed to, leading to differences in the perception of values. Indeed, efforts to define social sustainability values and economic sustainability could even further negatively impact our heritage. Decades of neglect and little investment leads to slum clearance and wholesale redevelopment, while whole life costing tied to embodied carbon modeling has been using carbon calculations (15-20 years) assigned by bankers and investors that are likely less than the true value of our material culture. In terms of ecological sustainability, models suggest that melting ice caps will cause a breach of the Thames and catastrophic flooding of London.

Sustainability & Climate Change: Impacts, Mitigation & Adaptation

The National Trust (for England, Wales & North Ireland) has a mission statement which begins “Conservation is the careful management of change.” While their motto may be “For ever, for Everyone”, in our current climate, how long can we reasonably expect to be looking after things? The National Trust has been measuring the impact of climate change to their properties (over 50,000 built structures!) for years now and their methodology will indeed help me formulate the approach to measuring the impacts to our own historic sites in the US.

A view over the lake at Stourhead to the Pantheon which is framed in autumn foliage. This bucolic view is often changed by the growth of algal blooms which is managed by dropping barley bales into the water.  (Copyright NTPL/Nick Meers)

A view over the lake at Stourhead to the Pantheon which is framed in autumn foliage. This bucolic view is often changed by the growth of algal blooms which is managed by dropping barley bales into the water. (Copyright NTPL/Nick Meers)

In England, they are specifically identifying impacts to their properties from warmer temperatures, drought, coastal erosion, storms, flash floods and heavy rainfall. At Stourhead in Wiltshire, for example, a very wet summer followed by a crisp, frosty winter led to a “soup of green algae” in their bucolic lake. It should be noted though that it wasn’t climate change alone that caused this algal bloom. The nitrogen run-off from synthetic fertilizers used in the region combined with the unusual rainfall have presented the perfect conditions for the algae growth – a sort of one/two whammy from human impact. One of the most arresting images, was the slide of historic cottages dropping off the side of cliffs in Cornwall as coastal erosion overwhelms the coastline. Again and again, Sarah showed devastation at their properties which may have been caused by increased rainfall but was often exacerbated by irresponsible land use.

The National Trust is taking direct action to mitigate these impacts, wherever it is reasonably possible. These efforts include:

  1. Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases: Changing to low energy lightbulbs including the ubiquitous CFLs. But they’ve gone one step further by working directly with light bulb manufacturers to develop new low energy bulbs for their historic fixtures.
  2. Improve energy efficiency of their buildings: Here, because of their massive landholdings, they are actually able to use their own sheep to produce thermafleece for insulation, for example.
  3. Reduce carbon footprint: They are evaluating their fuel sources, changing to more efficient boilers (often developed by German companies) and avoiding the use of electricity from non-renewable resources.
  4. Generate energy on site: They have begun using thermal and photovoltaics at many of their sites including directly on the roofs of some of the Grade 2 listed buildings. And on support buildings of lesser importance at some of their sites, they have begun installing the PV slates.
  5. Reduce embodied energy: In an effort that Sarah calls “slow conservation” (which she compared to the “slow” food movement) they are looking to building new construction in ways more sympathetic to the environment.

In order to adapt to these climate induced changes, the National Trust is looking at short, medium and long term adaptations such as installing larger gutters, going back to traditional practices (these were often done for good reason) and most importantly, managing properties better with cyclical maintenance programs.

Resolving the Conflict Between Energy and Building Conservation

Chris Woods discussed the efforts that English Heritage is undertaking to challenge the assumption that older buildings are inherently energy inefficient. As quoted from their website,

Traditional buildings can often perform extremely well in energy tests. Thick walls and relatively small windows give a high thermal mass, which means they stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer than many modern houses. This is true even of the most unexpected buildings: for example experiments have shown that 16th-century half-timbered houses can sometimes out-perform modern buildings. Older terraces are usually easier to keep warm than detached houses, simply because they have fewer walls through which to lose heat.

Buildings account for 46% of carbon emissions in England, a percentage on par with that in the US. Their basic precept is that we must change human behavior and think holistically when evaluating the energy use of our buildings. Don’t just assume the energy loss is primarily from the windows, look at all the features of a building to determine the actual impact. English Heritage is just completing a comprehensive window study whose results have not yet been released but like many of the smaller studies in the US and our own anecdotal beliefs, it appears that this study will confirm in some respects that the older windows constructed of traditional, maintainable materials and assemblies can be as efficient if not more efficient than newer high performance ones. This is a study that we at the US National Trust are eagerly awaiting and will help us in framing the approach of our own window study which we are undertaking with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California.

The UK websites

Both English Heritage and the National Trust have terrific websites detailing the impact of climate change and offering many mitigation tips. English Heritage: www.climatechangeandyourhome.org.uk/live/homepage.aspx

The National Trust (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) has sections on both climate change and environmental practices. I urge you to peruse these sites to help you in thinking how to change your behavior.

-- Barbara Campagna

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: 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.