Why should we bother to preserve churches, burial grounds, neighborhoods, or architectural drawings? If we can agree that historic preservation of these and other historic resources ARE important, what basic tools, procedures, laws, resources, and regulations help preserve them in our community?
We preservationists clearly love old buildings because of their fine craftsmanship and sense of history. But, there are other reasons why they should be preserved:
1. To bring life to downtown in the form of housing;
2. To make good use of existing infrastructure;
3. To increase tourism;
4. To provide an alternative to sprawling development; and
5. To prevent more farmland and open space from being covered by surface parking lots.
Who Does the Work?
Preservation takes place in both the public and private sectors and at the federal, state, and local level.
A. Private Sector Examples:
1. National Trust for Historic Preservation: works to preserve resources at national level. Founded in 1949, it is a membership organization that acts as a clearinghouse for information on all aspects of preservation, provides professional advice and training, owns and operates 28 historic house museums, and administers grant and loan programs.
2. Statewide Preservation organizations like Preservation Oklahoma in OKC carries out a variety of activities within Oklahoma: newsletter with SHPO, advocate for preservation-friendly legislature in state government, own and operate the Overholser Mansion, and offer training and educational programs to the public.
3. Local nonprofit groups like the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture operate in very much the same way with the added mission of preserving more than 35,000 architectural drawings and related materials
4. Statewide and local Main Street programs are abundant in Oklahoma. Their mission is to restore prosperity and vitality to downtowns and neighborhood business districts like Redfork in Southwest Tulsa.
B. Public Sector Examples:
1. National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior: principal federal agency responsible for preservation law and activities. The Park Service administers three programs of particular interest to preservationists:
2. National Register of Historic Places through
- Grant programs; and
- federal rehabilitation tax incentives;
3. State Historic Preservation Offices.
4. Indian Tribes;
5. Local preservation commissions like the Tulsa Preservation Commission act as an architectural review board in five historic-preservation zoned neighborhoods in Tulsa. It was established through the adoption of a local preservation ordinance; and
6. Certified Local Governments: administered by the NPS and SHPO to promote preservation at the grassroots level.
What Makes It Happen?
- Direct acquisition of properties by organizations and governmental agencies;
- Land-use and preservation regulations at the federal, state, and local level;
- Private investment in historic resources spurred by incentive programs.
And of course, YOU make it happen. Please support your local preservation organization with your time, talent, and treasure! History is in our hands.
P.S. If you’d like a copy of our brochure that explains incentives for using historic buildings, provides a list of Tulsa properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and contact information for all of the entities listed above, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org