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.)

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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.

 

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.

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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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.

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.