Historic Preservation

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we talk about the ongoing effort to make Route 66 a part of the U.S. National Park Serivce's National Historic Trail System. If this were to happen, Route 66 would become the 20th such trail in America, joining The Lewis and Clark Trail, The Oregon Trail, and others. This designation could mean a serious economic boost to our state, as Oklahoma has more Route 66 mileage than any other state through which the highway runs. We have two guests today.

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, which is part of the National Park Service, will soon host a three-day symposium here in Tulsa regarding the preservation of roadside architecture and attractions. It happens April 10th through the 12th, and it will include 20+ invited as well as solicited papers, an evening neon-sign tour, and a half-day field session exploring local roadside attractions and issues related to their preservation.

So many attractive and impressive old buildings -- in downtown Tulsa and across this state -- would still be gathering dust, housing pigeons, and contributing even less economically without the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) program. Indeed, HTC projects have injected $163 million in private investment into the City of Tulsa alone since 2000. On this edition of ST, we speak in detail about the positive economic influence that historic preservation tax credits have had (and are still having) in our city and throughout the Sooner State.

Last night, at an event here in Tulsa, Preservation Oklahoma and the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture jointly announced the 2016 list of the state's Most Endangered Places. The list includes the Oklahoma State Capitol Building as well as two locations in Tulsa: the Oklahoma Iron Works Building (just northeast of downtown) and the mid-century Abundant Life Building (near 18th and Boulder). However, the ten sites on this year's list are not the only historic-preservation sites endangered in our state.

On this edition of ST, our guest is the bestselling novelist and philanthropist Steve Berry, who's actually in Tulsa today at the outset of a book tour; Berry's new novel, "The 14th Colony," is just out. But Berry is also visiting our community, as he tells us, in connection with his "History Matters" foundation, which is dedicated to historic preservation. This foundation, co-run by Berry and his wife, has raised more than $800,000 over the years in the name of saving historic treasures.

On this edition of ST, we speak with Christine Madrid French, a Florida-based architectural historian, historic preservation advocate, and author. (You can read about her many and various projects and publications as an architect with a passion for the past at French's website.) French will deliver a presentation called "Saving the Modern Century" tonight, Thursday the 21st, at 5:30pm at the Phlibrook Museum of Art.

On this installment of ST, a fascinating chat about historic preservation -- how it works, how it's changed over the years, and how we learn so much from it -- with Fenella France, who's the Chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division at the Library of Congress. She's also worked for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service, and from 2001 to 2007, she was the project and scientific manager for Art Preservation Services in New York.