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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

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.