Preservation Oklahoma Inc. will celebrate its two decades of service with two events on Thursday, Nov. 8.
The first is a symposium about the role of preservation in community revitalization efforts, the education of preservation leaders, the importance of historic schools and preservation from an American Indian tribal perspective.
The second is a party featuring live music by Beau Jennings and the Tigers.
Since 1992, the organization has worked with individuals and groups to maintain some of the state's aging or abandoned monuments, buildings and communities. Each year it releases a list of endangered places; the 2012 list includes sites such as Griffin Chapel in Norman, Stage Center in Oklahoma City and the Larkin Hotel in Blackwell.
Preservation Oklahoma also hosts tombstone conservation workshops to teach people how to care for, repair and maintain burial markers. Other efforts include “This Place Matters” tours that highlight sites' importance to Oklahoma; past tours included visits to Durant and Boley, a once-vital black community that has been crumbling for decades.
“It's the why and the how,” said David Pettyjohn, the organization's new executive director. “Why is a structure important? How does it fit into the fabric of a community, region and state? We try to explain to people the importance of preserving these structures. … They've been here a long time so we can enjoy them, but we want them to remain for a long time so our grandchildren can see them.”
The organization is the state partner with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It works on projects with the Oklahoma Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office.
The Nov. 8 symposium is titled “Oklahoma's Cultural Fabric: Using Preservation to Grow and Sustain Our Communities and Heritage.”
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb will open the symposium, which is funded by a grant from the Kirkpatrick Foundation. Other speakers include people with hands-on experience at preserving historic sites and representatives from state agencies who know that preservation can strengthen Oklahoma communities, according to a news release.