Preservationists coming to Tulsa

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The long-anticipated National Preservation Conference, the annual convention of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is just around the corner -- next week! -- and that's my column in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly is a preview of what Tulsans will find in the exhibit hall, field sessions, and workshops. The conference will bring about 2,000 people with an interest in preserving historic buildings to Tulsa, but Tulsans can participate as well. There's still time to register online at the pre-conference rate.

If you live in Tulsa and are interested in preserving our historic buildings, neighborhoods, and streetscapes, you should make plans to attend. Not only will you learn valuable strategies and information, you'll have the chance to connect with other Tulsans who share your concerns.

RELATED: A couple of years ago, I wrote a column about resistance by downtown property owners and Downtown Tulsa Unlamented to a set of proposals to encourage downtown preservation. That column began with a spoof letter welcoming delegates to the 2008 National Preservation Conference:

Dear Delegate, Welcome to Tulsa and the 2008 National Preservation Conference! We want to do everything we can to make your stay a pleasant and memorable one.

Tulsa is a young city, but one with a rich history. As you walk the streets of downtown, we invite you to imagine the bygone days of wildcatters and oil barons and to imagine the bygone buildings where they did their deals, dined, shopped, and were entertained.

For those of you staying at the Westin Adam's Mark Crowne Plaza whatever the heck it's called now, you're sure to enjoy the history of the walk between the Convention Center and your hotel.

Fourth Street was once Tulsa's Great White Way, home to vaudeville and cinematic spectaculars. Close your eyes and you can imagine the Ritz (southeast corner of 4th and Boulder, now a parking garage), the Majestic (southwest corner of 4th and Main, part of the same parking garage), and the Orpheum (east of Main, south of 4th, now part of one of downtown Tulsa's foremost attractions, the Big Hole in the Ground).

Don't miss the site of the Skelly Building on the northeast corner of 4th and Boulder, designed by famed architect Bruce Goff, now an exclusive deluxe gated, 12-space parking community owned by the Tulsa World.

As you head north on Main Street, you'll be awed by the Totalitarian-Moderne Tulsa World building, a design inspired by the pillbox gun emplacements built by longtime Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

Main Street dead-ends at 3rd, cut off by your hotel's conference rooms, symbolically celebrating the irreparable division between north and south Tulsa.

We hope you'll take time to get some kicks on old Route 66. 11th Street, also known as the Mother Road, is today a lovely tree-lined boulevard, no longer cluttered with unsightly old motels and diners, which were cleared out to provide an attractive approach to the gateway to the portal to the grand entrance to the University of Tulsa.

We've got an "explosive" event planned for the final night of the conference - or should we say implosive! This town will rock! Promptly at sunset, every downtown building at least 50 years old will be simultaneously demolished in a symphony of light, sound, and debris.

"Clean Slate 2008" is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Twenty-First Properties, the Tulsa World, Ark Wrecking, the Tulsa Parking Authority, and Downtown Tulsa Unlamented.

Enjoy your visit!

Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tulsa is about a half-century past due for developing a culture that supports historic preservation. I'm hoping this conference will kick-start the process.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 13, 2008 5:50 PM.

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