Tulsa History: November 2008 Archives

In last week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly, I urged making cultural heritage tourism the focus of Tulsa's efforts to attract visitors. Rather than marketing Tulsa as an "ocean of sophistication in a cultural desert," Tulsa should embrace its place in Oklahoma as "the capital of a region where visitors can experience the untamed, exuberant spirit of the American West in all its variety."

For whatever reason, the people we pay to promote Tulsa to the world -- the Tulsa Metro Chamber's Convention and Visitors Bureau -- seem uncomfortable promoting the unique aspects of our region. They position Tulsa as superior to and separate from the rest of Oklahoma, an oasis of sophistication in a cultural desert.

It's a distinctly Midtown Money Belt point of view, and it makes Tulsans seem like a bunch of insecure, provincial rubes, putting on airs -- the urban equivalent of Hyacinth Bucket.

While we should be proud of the cultural amenities that make Tulsa a great place to live, our tourism marketing should focus on what sets our region apart from the rest of the world.

A Milanese woman who lives a few miles from La Scala and the salons of Versace and Prada isn't likely to visit Oklahoma for the opera or Utica Square shopping, but she might come here to eat a chicken fried steak on Route 66, experience Oklahoma! in an open-air theater, or attend a powwow.

A resident of Berlin wouldn't cross the pond to see a Tulsa production of the plays of Bertolt Brecht, but he might travel here to two-step across Cain's curly maple dance floor, search out Ponyboy Curtis's hangouts, or attend the annual Kenneth Hagin Campmeeting -- depending on his particular passions.

Tulsa should position itself not as an enclave of Eastern sophistication but as the capital of a region where visitors can experience the untamed, exuberant spirit of the American West in all its variety.

Read the whole thing, and read more about how other cities and regions have successfully used their history as a tourist draw at culturalheritagetourism.org.

Tulsa "a baby of a city"

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From alumni of the Pratt Institute, who visited Tulsa for the National Preservation Conference:

First of all, Art Deco. It's everywhere. This Deco boom town was nouveau riche ripe with OIL! when they built it. We walked some of the shiny, shapely and well loved lobbies on our tour of downtown.

Secondly, people from Tulsa are nice, and in a good way! Not annoying at all.

And finally, like everywhere else, Tulsa is what you make of it. They celebrated their centennial last year; it's a baby of a city and has toddler like tendencies. It's fun and ridiculous, but after a certain amount of time you want to hand it back to mom and return to the adult party.

Irritated Tulsan has posted the second set of scans from the program for the 1969 University of Tulsa football homecoming game against the University of Houston.

This section includes player photos and plenty more ads, including a KTUL channel 8 ad featuring their sports director, Hal O'Halloran, a fine man that I had the privilege to get to know about 10 years later. This page has a half page ad for Kerr-McGee's Blue Velvet motor oil, Irish Mike Clancy's Pizza Village (11th & Mingo), the Country Fare restaurant (3627 S. Harvard), and the Casa Loma Barber Shop, which was in the old Max Campbell Building at 11th & Birmingham.

I.T. also continues to cover Mayor Kathy Taylor's 11th hour efforts to keep Tulsa Regional Medical Center open with a list of 10 funding options.

Irritated Tulsan says that this non-blogging life is interfering with his ability to write quality content, but that's manifestly not the case. Like an oyster, he continues to turn minor irritations into pearls of hilarity (and sometimes wisdom).

The best of all is not original material but scans of the first 16 pages of the program for the 1969 University of Tulsa football homecoming game, with a promise of more to come. The section that was posted includes ads for Page-Glencliff Dairy (and their Golden Hurricane ice cream), DX, Skelly, KVOO, Rainbo, Eddy's Steakhouse, R. A. Young and Son, Williams Brothers, Thornton, Smith, and Thornton, and Brown Dunkin (with sketches of their downtown, Southland, and Northland stores). There are profiles of TU President J. Paschal Twyman (marking his first anniversary with the school), athletic director Glenn Dobbs, and Head Coach Vince Carillot and his assistants. There's a roster of the 1969 team. Dobbs was honored as Mr. Homecoming 1969 -- Steve Turnbo's byline is over the article about that honor.

An article about the history of TU has this intriguing conclusion:

Recent addition to the University's curricula is a new bachelor of arts degree program in urban studies as a part of a $92,000 contract with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The first of its kind for undergraduates in the nation, the TU-HUD project will lead to the establishment of TU campuses in Washington D.C., and possibly other major cities.

Just found this, from Tulsa Business Journal's October 27 edition: The Max Campbell building, with its distinctive roof of multicolored clay tiles, is going to be restored as a hotel and retail space. That's the original function of this 1926, block-long building on 11th Street between Birmingham and Columbia.

Aaron Meek, owner of Group M. Investments Inc. said he plans to restore the building turning the space into a hotel with an events center and restaurant in the bottom level.

"It is my understanding that the building was originally a hotel on the top stories, and the bottom was used as retail space," Meek said. "We have gotten enough interest to where we are going to go back to that original purpose."

The project isn't new territory for Meek, who he said worked primarily on the restoration of older homes and properties in the mid-town area.

"We love the old buildings and love getting them back to their original state," he said. "We're working on another project down the street that we're turning into lofts.

In 1957, this building was home to a drug store, an auto parts store, a barber shop, an office supply company, and, upstairs, the Casa Loma hotel.

It's a neighborhood landmark that has been in that spot since before Route 66 was routed down 11th Street.

In the story, Meek notes how costly it is to restore a building. Hopefully, he'll think to apply for the historic register status to which the building is entitled, which would qualify him for state and federal tax credits. This restoration seems like it would also be a good candidate for the Route 66 Corridor Restoration Program. That program was used to help accomplish the restoration of the Vickery Phillips 66 station at 6th and Elgin, which is being reused as an Avis car rental location.

Unfortunately, reauthorization of the Route 66 Corridor Restoration Program is being blocked by our own Sen. Tom Coburn. Here's a link to Coburn's statement and the key excerpt:

Several tourism related measures, including a couple that have already become a favorite piggy bank to pay for congressional earmarks, such as the Save America's Treasures program, the Preserve America program, and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation program. The Route 66 program is currently restoring aging gas stations, motels and restaurants. Unfortunately, tourism has declined with many Americans unable to afford the cost of gas and, as evidenced by this bill, Congress' misplaced priorities threaten to drive up the cost of travel.

While I understand his perspective, this program is administered by the National Park Service and is in keeping with the NPS's mission of protecting the nation's heritage and making it accessible to visitors from our own country and from overseas. Interest in Route 66 has been growing (a long-term, Internet-fueled trend that has received a giant boost from Pixar's Cars), but at the same time, landmark roadside buildings continue to be lost to purposeful demolition and to demolition by neglect.

As Route 66 expert and author Emily Priddy points out, cruising the Mother Road is a very affordable vacation destination, and people looking for cheap ways to see America are rediscovering Old 66:

I don't know where Coburn is getting his information. Yes, some Americans are having trouble buying gas, and no, they're not traveling as far. But in my extensive travels on Route 66, I have met literally hundreds of small business owners. I've spoken with many of them this year. They are all in a position to know what's going on along the Mother Road -- and what's going on is that Route 66 is thriving, largely because of increases in foreign travelers (who are used to unholy gas prices); locals (when you can't afford Disneyworld or the Grand Canyon, you explore your own backyard); and bargain hunters (fuel-efficient speed limits and great values on food, lodging and entertainment make Route 66 a penny-pincher's dream).

The Route 66 Corridor Restoration Program is not an earmark. Congress appropriates money for the fund, but the NPS processes applications for the grants, which must be matched, and must go to projects that meet the NPS's standards for the treatment of historic buildings. No money has been earmarked by Congress for specific projects. Originally envisioned as a 10-year, $10 million program, only $1.2 million in federal money has been granted over the first seven fiscal years. The program ends at the end of Fiscal Year 2009. The new bill asks Congress to authorize $8 million over 10 years, starting in FY 2010.

Compare that to the $15 million allocated by Vision 2025 for the highway, which would work wonders on Tulsa's stretch of 66 if it were used as matching grant money for neon repair and building restoration. (It won't be, sadly.)

This may be one of the government's most cost-effective programs to encourage historic preservation and tourism, as the government foots less than half of the bill and doesn't have to pay for ongoing operation and maintenance of the sites that are improved.

My column in this week's UTW is a recap of the National Preservation Conference, which came to Tulsa back in late October. Below are some blog entries with reactions from conference staff and other conference attendees, but first I want to spotlight a blog I've just recently learned about: Rex and Jackie Brown are fans of mid-century modern architecture, and they post photos of buildings of that sort from around Oklahoma on their blog, Oklahoma Modern.

I've got some photos from the conference, too, and I'll get those uploaded and linked here sometime this weekend.

Here are those links:

PreservationNation: Tulsa Poster Presentations: Phillips 66 Stations: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

PreservationNation: Plenary, Reception Officially Open the National Preservation Conference

PreservationNation: The Old and the New: Native Americans and Preservation

PreservationNation: Video: Charles Stevens Dilbeck - The Tulsa Homes

PreservationNation: Breaktime in Tulsa: Exhibit Hall Offers Treats, Information

PreservationNation: The Tall, the Ornate, and the Sacred: Strolling Through Downtown Tulsa

PreservationNation: Rehab Solutions for Aging Moderns

PreservationNation: Candlelight House Tour Puts Tulsa Hospitality on Display

PreservationNation: Two Trust Bloggers Treat Themselves to a Day Trip to Bartlesville

PreservationNation: Tulsa Poster Presentations: Making an Impression, Poster-Style

PreservationNation: Preservation Round Up: Fall at Lincoln's Cottage, House Museums, Post-Katrina Homes

PreservationNation: Going Green Tulsa Style: Final Thoughts on the National Preservation Conference

PreservationNation: 1950/60s Neighborhoods... What to Save and Lose?

1950/60s Neighborhoods... What to Save and Lose? | Teardown Post

PreservationNation: Tulsa's Closing Plenary Looks at Historical Narratives, Need for Preservation Laws

Tips for Better Boards « National Trust Historic Sites Weblog

House Museums and Ultimate Use « Time Tells

Oklahoma Business Q&A with Richard Moe | NewsOK.com

National Trust For Historic Preservation Press Website - Press Releases

Destination Tulsa Conference is a first for Oklahoma

National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Preservation Conference Runs from Oct. 21-25, 2008 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Looking more than a little out of place, there's a shiny Airstream trailer parked on the Williams Center Green at 3rd and Boston.

It belongs to StoryCorps, a non-profit organization which aims to collect the life-stories and memories of ordinary Americans. The process works like this:

  1. You pick a friend, relative, or acquaintance that you'd like to interview.
  2. You reserve a 40 minute time-slot for recording your interview.
  3. You compose some good questions for the interview.
  4. You conduct the interview.
  5. When you're done, you get a CD of the interview; a copy is archived in the Library of Congress.

Interview a parent or an elderly neighbor. Have your kid interview you. Talk to someone who remembers downtown or Greenwood in their glory days, before urban renewal.

The StoryCorps trailer will be in Tulsa through November 29. Follow that link to book a time and learn more.

If StoryCorps isn't coming to your town, they offer some alternatives along with some tips for recording your own interviews.

Saving buildings is important, but we also need to save the memories associated with those buildings. StoryCorps is one way to do that.

Ark Wrecking is doing banner business this year. Sheridan Village, a two-story suburban shopping center on the southwest corner of Admiral and Sheridan, is set for demolition.

Construction began on Sheridan Village in September 1953 and the center opened in November 1954. It was once home to a Borden's cafeteria, a J. C. Penney's department store, a Brown's Boot Shop, and (in an out-building) an OTASCO. I can remember going to Penney's for back-to-school clothes in the early '70s -- we'd hit there and the Froug's at Admiral and Memorial. McCune and McCune were the architects.

When it opened, the center included Penney's, Crown Drug, a T. G. & Y. five-and-dime store, a Humpty Dumpty supermarket, Oklahoma Tire and Supply Co. (OTASCO), several business and professional offices, and a branch of the Tulsa Public Library.

Tom Baddley at Lost Tulsa has more Sheridan Village history and a Flickr photo set of the Sheridan Village.

I've got to finish my column tonight, but I have display ads and some text from a story about the center in a June 1957 "Old Fashioned Bargain Days" supplement to post.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa History category from November 2008.

Tulsa History: October 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa History: December 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



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