Endangered Buildings & Places

Recent Past

Mid-century architecture has suffered a lack of appreciation and understanding across mainstream America in recent years. Our society has been in danger of losing touch with our recent past. The key is to preserve the best examples so they can be enjoyed by future generations, who often have a keener appreciation for architecture styles that had previously falleb out of favor.

Tulsa has great examples of mid-century modern architecture, from “California Contemporary” homes in Lortondale to the famous Futurist campus of Oral Roberts University. Not all of these structures have been fortunate — some have fallen prey to inappropriate renovations while others have seen substantial neglect. Still more have simply been lost to the wrecking ball.

Mid-century modern Lortondale homeInsensitive alteration to Lortondale home
Mid-century modern Lortondale home (left); insensitive alteration to character-defining flat roof in Lortondale (right).

Interest in preserving the architecture of the recent past is on the rise. The Tulsa Preservation Commission is currently working to identify significant mid-century properties. The Commission is currently nominating the Ranch Acres neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places and working on an intensive-level architectural survey of the Lortondale neighborhood.

There are several nationwide organizations dedicated to this topic, such as the Recent Past Preservation Network, who strives to encourage a “contextual understanding of our modern built environment.”

In addition, the National Park Service has recently published a series of articles on the topic of the Recent Past.