Skip to main content

Notes from the National Preservation Conference

Hip patio in Ranch AcresI 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.
  • In most of the country teardowns are a very real threat to postwar neighborhoods- though most of our "infill development" in Tulsa has targeted older areas, it's obvious the Ranch Home is the next target.
  • The Recent Past Preservation Network is working on a new website with interactive features and photo sharing.
  • "There's nothing wrong with a new building looking new." - NTHP Trustee and Conference Co-Chair, Marty Newman on developers.
  • We heard lots of new jargon- but our favorite: Garage Mahal.
    And finally-
  • We are not the only kooks who think buildings devoid of ruffles, turrets, and lightning rods are cool.
Shane Hood leads a bus tour of Tulsa's modern dwellings.One of the highlights was riding along on Shane Hood's bus tour called Mid-Century Tulsa: Back to the Future! Shane is an architect who has worked hard to promote the Lortondale neighborhood. The tour included homes in Lortondale, Ranch Acres, Wedgwood and a hidden enclave along East 71st Street. A brief stop at ORU had the attendees grasping to name the architectural style of the campus. "Space Age" seemed to be the consensus.

The Comma House near 71st and EvanstonAn unexpected treat on the tour was the unusual "comma house." It has recently changed hands and steps have been taken to preserve it. Look for more on it in the near future.


The Recent Past

OKC's Unique First Christian Church

The Church of Tomorrow Oklahoma's state capitol dome was added some 88 years after the capitol was built, finally completed in 2002. But not far away is another dome that has been turning heads since 1956. It's the First Christian Church of Oklahoma City. Call it a wigwam, igloo, earthbound spaceship or dome- no matter how you describe the shape of the sanctuary, it's definitely eye-catching. The thin-shell concrete dome is massive, with seating for 1200. Connected to the dome is a four-story administrative building and a 185-seat theater. Dedicated as "The First Christian Church of Tomorrow," the architecture caught the attention of local newspapers, as well as Life magazine (Feb. 1957). Last summer I had a unique opportunity to explore these interesting buildings. The main complex was designed by R. Duane Conner in 1953. Conner was a member of the congregation and offered three different designs for the church. Credit is also attributed to his partner, Fr

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

Oklahoma State Capitol Bank

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 2 "This is a bank," the sign outside the futuristic building read. According to legend a prankster added a strategic question mark and echoed the sentiment of many passers-by: "This is a bank?" That was back in 1964 when it opened. Today the Arvest on Lincoln Boulevard looks a bit less Jetsonian, mostly due to replacement of structural glass below the "saucers," but it's still an unusual bank. Designed by Robert Roloff of the architectural firm Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson & Roloff, the State Capitol Bank caused quite a stir in Oklahoma City when it opened. Heck, it's still pretty shocking today! Originally the flying saucers appeared to hover above the building (as seen in this vintage postcard). All the glass that made that effect possible also made heating and cooling an expensive proposition. Security concerns also mandated replacement of those windows with solid materials and small square portholes