Oklahoma CLGs Preserving Local Heritage

As of 2016, the Cities of Anadarko, Ardmore, Cordell, Enid, Grandfield, Guthrie, Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City, Okmulgee, Ponca City, Sapulpa, and Tulsa participate in the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office’s Certified Local Governments (CLG) program. With CLG funding from the SHPO, each city completes projects that strengthen their local preservation programs and benefit property owners.

Preparation of National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nominations is a priority for most of the CLGs, and their efforts in the public review of nominations help increase community awareness of the importance of historic preservation. The important themes in Oklahoma history and the variety of property types included in the NRHP are illustrated through one listing in each CLG community:

Anadarko - Randlett Park
Ardmore - Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad Viaduct
Cordell - New Cordell Courthouse Square Historic District
Enid - Enid Terminal Grain Elevators Historic District
Grandfield - Rock Island Depot
Guthrie - Excelsior Library
Muskogee - Muskogee Municipal Building
Norman - Downtown Norman Historic District (Boundary Expansion)
Oklahoma City - Miller’s Boulevard Historic District
Okmulgee - Harmon Athletic Field
Ponca City - St. John Baptist Church and Rectory
Sapulpa - Sapulpa Downtown Historic District
Tulsa - Oklahoma Iron Works/Bethlehem Supply Company Building

Following are just a few examples of other CLG activities that encourage preservation of historic properties and assist property owners.

Ardmore and Okmulgee produced videos to highlight community heritage and inform the public about tax credits and other preservation tools.

Enid was an important local cosponsor for Preservation is Golden: Oklahoma's 28th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference. The event was held June 1-3, 2016, in Enid and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. The conference provided an opportunity for the statewide preservation community to learn about Enid's heritage, how the National Register and CLG programs support the local preservation program, and exchange information about preservation challenges and successes across Oklahoma.

Guthrie and Okmulgee used CLG grants to retain a consultant to work with their city government officials, conduct public meetings, and lead workshops on the issue of neglected historic properties. The consultant visited each community twice and met with the mayors, city council members, the historic preservation commissions, and property owners. The result was the development of policies and strategies for improved communication among city departments, elected officials, and the public, especially owners of property designated under the respective city historic preservation ordinances.

Oklahoma City's CLG program and the City's Office of Sustainability, with the SHPO, Preservation Oklahoma, Inc., and the Oklahoma Main Street Center presented the HISTORIC PRESERVATION EXPO: Supporting Sustainable, Livable Communities, August 19–20, 2011. The EXPO's message was historic preservation was “green” before “green was cool.” Exhibitors and speakers explained that not only is it good for the environment, but historic preservation results in quality living space and exciting places for work and play; protects property values; ensures that communities retain their unique character; attracts heritage tourism dollars; provides tax incentives for redevelopment; and connects our past with the future. The event featured exhibit booths for preservation-related products/services vendors, sustainable preservation lecture/round table presentations, and live demonstrations. For those who missed the HP EXPO or who just wanted to review highlights, they could access the presentations and exhibits online for a year after the event.

Oklahoma City has also used CLG funds to conduct a variety of workshops, from hands-on training in window repair to continuing education credits for realtors about the ins and outs of historic districts. The CLG program allows Oklahoma City's preservation program to expand beyond its regulatory duties and engage with the larger community.

Ponca City used a CLG grant from the SHPO to prepare the National Register of Historic Places nomination for its commercial district. The Downtown Ponca City Historic District, roughly bounded by Pine, Chestnut, 7th, and Central Avenue, was listed in the NRHP on March 21, 2011, for its historical and architectural significance. Ponca City is just one example of how the CLG program and the Main Street program work well together in Oklahoma. The Ponca City CLG coordinator says, “We are very aware of our heritage and very aware of the challenges we face to preserve it. But, there is great energy in our downtown, and we are excited about the future.”

Tulsa maintains a website that provides convenient and user-friendly access to anyone interested in learning more about community history, the local ordinance and design review process, the National Register of Historic Places, tax incentives for preservation, and much more.

Visit the Tulsa Preservation Commission website.

The presentation “Older, Smaller, Better: Community Character and Vitality” was delivered by Dr. Michael Powe, associate director of research for Preservation Green Lab, during the Lecture Series supported with a Certified Local Governments Fund Grant. Over seventy members of the community responded to the invitation to the event on the Tulsa Preservation Commission’s website.