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Showing posts from October, 2008

Notes from the National Preservation Conference

I am grateful to the Oklahoma Main Street Center for the opportunity to attend the 2008 National Preservation Conference. This was the first time I had ever participated in such an event and it was an inspiring and educational experience. Jackie and I attended a number of sessions and events. Here are some general observations we made: Tulsans don't realize how much wonderful architecture we have (or how much we've squandered). The National Trust for Historic Places has recognized the relevance of Recent Past structures and design.

What happened to your downtown?

This week Tulsa hosted the National Preservation Conference . The experience has exceeded my expectations in a number of ways. And I think it may have done the same for our City. While most of the 1500 attendees came to Tulsa to learn, some of the real lessons came from observing these first-time visitors. They notice those architectural treasures we have become accustomed to. I think Tulsans may have a better appreciation for their hometown after this event. But these preservation-minded tourists, most from larger cities, also observe that which is lacking. One attendee remarked, after walking across a sea of asphalt parking, "What happened to your downtown?" Another visitor asked if there had been a fire. The concept of tearing down a building to provide a handful of parking spaces is foreign to these outsiders. Hopefully a little bit of that will rub off while they're here.

Kudos to Modern Tulsa

Congratulations to Cole Cunningham, curator of the Modern Tulsa blog and website, and featured in Tulsa People magazine this month. The article is titled Endangered Tulsa , and lists the movers and shakers in Tulsa's architectural preservation community, including Rex Ball, LeAnne Ziegler and Herb Fritz. Cole's photo features him in front of one of my favorite endangered buildings- the futuristic branch bank complex. The Auto Bank provides the backdrop for this 2005 amateur video featuring Scott Smith. The mid-century marvel is often referred to as the Auto Bank, which makes sense as the drive-through lanes dominate the site (erroneously listed in the article as being located at Sixth and Cheyenne- it's actually Sixth and Cincinnati). But I recall it being called "branch bank" and "model bank" over the years. And indeed, it does seem like a suburban branch bank someone deposited in the downtown environ. Two huge tall doors open to the main lobby while

The Recent Past

The Bruce Goff House in Vinita

We were recently surprised to learn about a Goff-designed home just an hour away from Tulsa in Vinita, Oklahoma. Vinita is probably best known to OK Mod readers as the home of the Glass House on I-44, also known as (shudder) the World's Largest Largest McDonalds . Anywho, turned out the Goff house was on the market, and the owner was more than happy to let us have a look around. We took a short drive up the turnpike one Sunday afternoon to meet the realtor, snap some pictures, ask some questions and enjoy another one of Bruce Goff's unique creations. The home is known as the Adams House and was built in 1961. The 3,700 square foot home is arranged in a circular floor plan with a large sunken "conversation pit" at the center. Rising up from this pit is a large metal fireplace, its chimney surrounded by skylights, which dominates the entire house. Rooms surround the perimeter with folding accordion doors acting as walls. To maintain some semblance of privacy an inner

The World Museum

The widening of I-44 through Tulsa will soon claim another mid-century building (see Modern Homes Make Way for I-44 ). This unusual landmark near Peoria, once known as the World Museum, is being emptied in preparation for demolition. The concrete complex was built in 1963 by the Osborn Ministries as a museum and "Interstate Temple." Self-proclaimed minister, T. L. Osborn, and his wife, Daisy, traveled the world as Christian missionaries and collected art and artifacts on their journeys. The unusual La Concha-esque building housed their partial collection and distracted motorists touring along the new Skelly Bypass (aka I-44). The exterior of the building is adorned with maps of the world's continents. In its heyday there was a good deal more- a giant outline of Jesus was on one wall. The inscription below it, "REX," provided one of my earliest Latin lessons when I asked Dad why that building had my name on it. There was also a large globe that once stood out fr

Visit to the Prairie Chicken House

This unique house on the edge of Norman, Oklahoma is known to most as the prairie chicken house. Designed by Herb Greene in 1960, he preferred to call it simply the Prairie House .  Thanks to the  Prairie House Preservation Society  (PHPS) it is now possible for the public to experience one of Oklahoma's most unusual architectural treasures.