Preservationists Converge On Tulsa

Tuesday, October 21st 2008, 6:48 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Some of the nation's most prominent preservationists are taking in Tulsa.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the nation's oldest and largest architectural preservation group, is hosting its annual conference in Tulsa this week.

The Art-Deco architecture of the city helped to attract the trust.  Also, the history buffs say they were impressed by a city most admit they know little about.

Tulsa neighborhoods and architecture, we may take for granted, are viewed in a whole different light by preservationists.  Nearly 2,000 of them, from all over the country, are in Tulsa for their annual conference.

Tuesday afternoon they took in a back street tour of the entire city, and many say they weren't sure what to expect.

"Tulsa is wonderful. We love seeing the buildings. We haven't been here long, but you have a lot to see," said Patty Gay with the Preservation Trust of New Orleans.

"The fact that your architecture starts at such a later date than ours is really interesting.  Your history is our recent history," said Helen Higgins with the Preservation Trust of Connecticut.

The group's buses slowly wound through much of the city.  Its members took to the streets to tour the Brady District, and then it was back on board to see the Art Deco downtown.  Organizers relished the opportunity to showcase Tulsa's past.

"We really don't, as native Tulsans, don't value our history as much as we should," said Ted Reeds with the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture.

The same can't be said of the Trust members.

While celebrating its past, the group will also make suggestions about how Tulsa can improve its preservation efforts.  If the trust ever returns to the area, it wants to see the city's landmarks left untouched.

"We've done a lot of things that haven't been very positive as far as our historic preservation realm is concerned. We've taken buildings down that we shouldn't' have, and it's time for us to take note of that," said Lee Ann Zeigler with the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture.

The National Trust is in town until Saturday.  There are more tours in store, including one of Route 66.