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.


Modern Choices

Popular posts from this blog

Home of ORU Architect on the Auction Block

Frank Wallace is best known as the man behind the futuristic look of the Oral Roberts University campus. On October 14, 2010 his unique home overlooking ORU will be sold in a public auction conducted by Mister Ed's Auctions. Jackie and I recently had a chance to visit with Mr. Wallace and learn more about the house, his career and his thoughts on architecture.

When we visited we expected to snap a few photos of an empty house and speak with a representative from the auction company. To our surprise the door opened, and we were greeted by Mr. Wallace himself! After assuring him we were not architects, he let us look around. Unfortunately we were not prepared to interview the man whose buildings incite such extremely diverse reactions- but that didn't stop me from asking him several questions anyway. 

The home, completed in 1980, was designed and built by Wallace who is now 87. The expansive home is so large that Wallace spends most of his time in a room that was his late w…

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 front …

Futuristic Acorn Hull House

Today the sign out front says "Acorn Hull House."

I've also heard it called the Zebco House (aka Zero Electric Bomb Company, an oilfield business that later became a famous maker of fishing reels). The rumor goes it was built for a Zebco executive and designed in the shape of a fishing reel. From above the home does have the shape of a fishing reel- as in round- but beyond that I don't really see that much resemblance.

I have no idea if the fishing reel story is true, or who designed the circular abode. Here's an aerial view from Google Maps- click to enlarge the image and see if you think it looks more like an acorn or a fishing reel...

It definitely has the look of a Frank Wallace design with that Klingon inspired skylight. But the Tiki-esque look also suggests a Blaine Imel. No matter who is to responsible, they did a great job creating a unique and fascinating exterior. Now if we can just get a tour of the inside!

This unusual house is located off US-412 near …