Twenty years ago, Preservation Oklahoma, Inc., made its debut as the state’s only private nonprofit dedicated to promoting historic places and buildings.
Founded in 1992, the group since has played key roles in the preservation of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, the Journal Record Building, Centre Theater and the Gold Dome.
Those success stories and others will be told during a daylong symposium hosted by Preservation Oklahoma Thursday, as part of the group’s 20th anniversary celebration.
“This is an opportunity for the public from across the state to learn about issues that impact historic preservation,” said David Pettyjohn, executive director of Preservation Oklahoma. “They will learn about restoring historic downtowns and the importance of their history as told through their buildings.”
There are, of course, obstacles for any preservation project, as funding isn’t always available.
“As the economic and political climate continues to present challenges to historic preservation, it is vital that the importance of protecting our state’s cultural heritage be emphasized,” said Barrett Williamson, president of the board of directors for Preservation Oklahoma.
Later on Thursday, the group will host a party to commemorate its two decades of preservation work while also offering a vision for the future. The celebration will be at The Caliber, in a restored loft in Automobile Alley, an example of historic preservation.
“We hope to show people a different side of historic preservation — one that demonstrates that modern living does not have to be sacrificed to honor the historical integrity of a structure,” Williamson said.
The party will feature the premiere of a video that chronicles the existence of Preservation Oklahoma, a presentation by best-selling author and Route 66 expert Michael Wallis, and the recognition of Preservation Oklahoma’s founding board members. In addition, the organization will inaugurate the Preservation Oklahoma Young Leadership Award honoring Kristen Vails, executive director of the Plaza District Association.
The celebration, which kicks off with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, will feature music from Beau Jennings and the Tigers.