Representatives of a Texas-based firm are scheduled to be in Tulsa this week to begin putting together research as part of an effort seeking inclusion of the city's Greenwood district on the National Register of Historic Places.
Amanda DeCort, the city's preservation planning administrator, said Austin's Preservation Central has been chosen to compile the information that will be used to complete the Greenwood district's nomination to the National Register. She expected a contract between the city and the firm of a little more than $25,000 to be signed this week.
Compiling the research is only part of the work, DeCort said. A survey of the historic structures that remain in the district is also part of that process, and the district's boundaries must be established. After the boundaries have been drawn, property owners will be notified of the effort to nominate the district for inclusion on the National Register.
"If a majority of them object, it can't be listed," she said, explaining that owners are notified by certified mail.
"It's definitely never a secret," she said of the notification process and what membership on the National Register would mean to the district. "We want everybody to be aware of it and have their questions answered."
Provided a majority does not disapprove of the effort, the nomination then will be completed and sent to the National Park Service for consideration, DeCort said, something that should take place by the end of the year.
DeCort expects to announce a community meeting soon at which a discussion of the district's potential boundaries will be held.
"One of the more challenging aspects will be determining the boundaries," she said. "It was originally an enormous neighborhood."
One issue that isn't on the table at this point, DeCort said, is any effort to have the neighborhood rezoned as a city historic preservation district, despite what a Greenwood supporter recently told Urban Tulsa Weekly.
"No one has been working with me at all to get historic preservation zoning in Greenwood," she said. "No one has even asked me about it."
DeCort said she didn't mean to imply that HP zoning might not be a possibility for the district at some point in the future. But she said it was important for Greenwood property owners to understand there is no effort currently underway to do that, and she didn't want any misunderstandings to impact the effort to gain a National Register listing for the district.
She also said Greenwood would not be dedicated on the National Register as a battlefield or culturally significant site, only as a historic district, although some of the methodology used in compiling battlefield nominations could come into play.
"We need to take a look at what's still there that relates to the history of the neighborhood and the race riot," she said. "How much can we include? That's one of the reasons we started talking about the battlefield methodology, because so much of it is gone."
DeCort said that while the National Register is literally only a list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior of historic sites, Greenwood's membership would be prestigious and would provide another way to tell the district's story.
"It's extremely significant to have National Park Service and federal recognition of Greenwood and the events that occurred there -- not just the events of 1921, but the things that took place before and afterward, as well," she said. "The National Register is our nation's list of things that are worth preservation."
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