Some historic cultural landscapes in Oklahoma are hidden, buried under shrubs and overgrown grasses, awaiting restoration and preservation.
Dr. Charles L.W. Leider, a retired Oklahoma State University landscape architecture professor, took notice. Over the course of 25 years beginning in 1987, he and a team of students studied, documented and drew original layouts of 18 cultural sites. The findings are published in Leider’s latest book, “Historic Cultural Landscapes of Oklahoma,” which comes out Jan. 14.
“I wanted to create public awareness of endangered national landmarks,” he said.
Leider, director emeritus of OSU’s landscape architecture program, spent much of his career focused on the preservation of cultural landscapes, which could be known for their beauty or organization, or their significance to a person, activity or event.
The 128-page book highlights 18 of 47 cultural landscapes that were deemed significant based on nominations from design professionals and the general public.
Over the years, students in Leider’s historic preservation course inventoried and analyzed such sites as the Oklahoma Civic Center in Oklahoma City, Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, the Thomas N. Berry Estate outside Stillwater and the 101 Ranch, a sprawling 101,000-acre property southwest of Ponca City bordered on two sides by the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River.
“The river had destroyed much of the (101 Ranch) site over the years, but we were able to find aerial photos from 1929 to see how it was laid out,” Leider said.
Leider hopes bringing attention to cultural sites throughout the state will help with future preservation efforts.
“Dr. Leider provided tremendous opportunities for Oklahoma State University students to learn about preservation of our state’s historic landmarks,” OSU President Burns Hargis said. “His efforts and those of his students will have a lasting impact across Oklahoma.”
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