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Are We There Yet? Preserving Roadside Architecture and Attractions

April 10 - April 12, 2018

Tulsa, OK

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April 10-12, 2018
Tulsa, Oklahoma

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) hosted a  three-day symposium on the preservation of  roadside architecture and attractions that are uniquely American.  The symposium focused on the preservation of these buildings and features that catered to tourists who traveled American roads during the 1920s-1970s.

The symposium brought together architects, engineers, landscape architects, site managers, conservators, facility managers, and other cultural resource professionals to discuss issues related to the preservation of roadside features, such as:

  • Unusual and oversized structures and sculptures
  • Roadside attractions and theme parks
  • Motels and gas stations
  • Roadside signs
  • Grass roots preservation
  • Interpretation

The symposium was organized by NCPTT, the Friends of NCPTT and the NPS Route 66 Corridor Program, City of Tulsa, and the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture.


Keynote Speaker: Michael Wallis

 The Coming of the Roads

Michael Wallis

 It has been said, “Reading a Michael Wallis book is like dancing to a romantic ballad. He offers his hand and gently guides you across the floor, swaying to the song of the American West.”

A storyteller who likes nothing better than transporting audiences across time and space, Michael has published nineteen books, including the award winning Route 66: The Mother Road, the book credited with sparking the resurgence of interest in the highway. He also wrote The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times to the Golden Gate. Michael’s latest book is the critically acclaimed best-seller The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny — was published in June 2017.

A best-selling author and award-winning reporter, Michael is a historian and biographer of the American West who also has gained international notoriety as a speaker and voice talent. In 2006 Michael’s distinctive voice was heard in CARS, an animated feature film from Pixar Studios. Michael also is featured in CARS 2, and CARS 3.  Michael is a co-founder of the non-profit preservation organization the Route 66 Alliance, and remains an advocate for all historic roads and trails.

His work has appeared in hundreds of national and international magazines and newspapers, including Time, Life, People, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.  Michael and his wife, Suzanne Fitzgerald Wallis, have lived in Tulsa since 1982.

Scott Sundermeyer, Cultural Resources Program Director, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Chad Moffett, Market Lead and Project Manager, Mead & Hunt, Inc., and Christina Slattery,  Business Unit Leader of Cultural Resources, Mead & Hunt, Inc., Getting the Word Out – Interpretation of Route 66 in Oklahoma.

Jim Thole, Chair of the Route 66 Association of Missouri Neon Heritage Preservation Committee, Grassroots Efforts: Neon Sign Restoration Along Route 66.

Mike Kertok, Mike Kertok, Architect, Sixty-Six Phillips 66 Stations: From Walking Dead to American Restoration.

Lynn Rostochil, architectural historian and founder of Okie Mod Squad, Signs of Oklahoma.

Stephanie M. Hoagland, Principal, Jablonski Building Conservation, Inc., Stymied by Success: Preservation Stagnation on the Jersey Shore.

Michelle Barnett, P.E., Brownfields Program Director, City of Tulsa, Brownfields Funding in Preservation.

Amy Webb, Senior Field Director and Grant Stevens, Senior Manager of Marketing Campaigns, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Celebrating the Roadside Architecture of Route 66—A Marketing Perspective

Kaisa Barthuli, Program Manager, National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Route 66: Preserving the Roadside Experience.

Amanda DeCort, Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, Reviving Route 66: A Team Effort in Tulsa.

Opening Reception

photo of the exterior of the Vault Restaurant

The Vault Restaurant, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The opening reception was held at the Vault is located  in the former First National Auto Bank building, built between 1958-1959.  The iconic mid-century modern building was the world’s largest auto bank with six drive through lanes.  The Tom Tom room was the bank’s private conference room, said to have held over 350 meetings a year.


Keynote Speaker: Dylan Thuras

Storytelling as Preservation: The Role of Media in Saving Roadside Architecture

Head shot of Dylan Thuras

Dylan Thuras

Dylan Thuras is the co-founder of Atlas Obscura, a multimedia company and “Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders” visited by over five million monthly users, co-author of NY Times #1 best seller Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, and author of the forthcoming kids book “The Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid.”

Dylan has spoken at conferences including SXSW, DMAI, and TEDxVerona about discovery, wonder, and changing nature of travel. Dylan lives in Rosendale, New York with his wife Michelle, his three year old son Finn, and new addition to the household, daughter Jean.


Frank Matero, Professor of Architecture and Chair, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, Architectural Conservation Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, After the Fair: Preserving the Texaco Road Map Pavement at the New York State Pavilion.

Mary Jean (MJ) Wojewodzki, Associate, Anath Ranon, Principal, Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company, Echoes of American Culture – Glen Echo Park.

Suzanne Wray, Independent Researcher, A Tale of Two Survivors: the Gettysburg and Atlanta Cycloramas.

Renee Benn, Historian, Texas Department of Transportation, Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas.

Reba Ashby, Assistant Project Manager, CANY Architecture + Engineering, Roadside Architecture: A Laboratory for Innovation in Concrete Technology.

Cynthia Brandimarte, Ph.D., Director, Historic Sites & Structures Program,Texas State Parks/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Roads, Model T’s, Tourists, and Tea Rooms.

Kevin Barni, Policy Scientist, University of Delaware, Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD), A Sign of the Times: Delaware’s Historical Markers as Roadside Attractions and Artifact.

Jennifer Carpenter, Preservation, Research, and Outreach Specialist, Historic Sites & Structures Program, Texas State Parks/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Tourism & T. Rex Tracks: Sinclair Oil’s Dinoland and Dinosaur Valley State Park.

 Neon Sign Tour – Tulsa

Rhys MArtin and the Meadow Gold Sign.

Rhys Martin will lead the tour of Tulsa’s neon signs.

Tulsa has a rich collection of vintage neon signs found throughout the city. The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture conducted a survey of Tulsa’s neon signs and recorded the details of 259 signs. The Meadow Gold Sign, perhaps the most iconic in Tulsa, was among the signs surveyed. No trip to Tulsa would be complete without an excursion to see these sites. Rhys Martin, a photographer, Route 66 enthusiast, and a native of Tulsa was our tour guide for this evening event. We traveled by trolley through the city to learn more about the neon signs of Tulsa and had an opportunity to photograph some of our favorites.


Joel Baker, American Giants, Bringing Back American Giants.

Kelly Caldwell, Conservator, and Sophia Zweifel, Assistant Conservator, CSI Conservation Solutions ULC, Concrete Jungle: Conserving Canada’s Menagerie of Concrete Dculptures.

Tania Alam, Architectural Conservator, Jablonski Building Conservation, Inc., Color Palettes to the Rescue: Saving Buildings from Demolition.

Erin Turner, site-specific installation artist and social practice artist, Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park

Rhys Martin, Photographer, Photography as Preservation

Field Session

The half-day field session included iconic Route 66 sites and discussions of related preservation issues The tour will began at the City-County Library and make its way through the city then on to Cahoosa, Claremore, and Foyil. We made frequent stops to look at sites including the Blue Dome, the Meadow Gold Sign, the Blue Whale, and Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park. Participants had  an opportunity to photograph the sites, and discuss preservation problems and creative solutions with property owners and managers. Along the way, we passed interesting sites, structures, and landscapes. Rhys Martin, photographer and native of Tulsa, served as our field guide. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66 and loves to share his experiences.


Conference Location

Tulsa City-County Library
400 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103

Conference Lodging

Aloft Tulsa Downtown
200 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103



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The Tulsa Downtown Coordinating Council

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Rosin Preservation, LLC


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The Society for Commercial Archeology

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April 10, 2018 @ 8:00 AM
April 12, 2018 @ 6:00 PM
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Tulsa City-County Library<br /><small></small>
400 Civic Center, Tulsa, OK 74103 United States
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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119