New improvements are underway and old structures are getting new attention in the Greenwood district in preparation for the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
At Vernon AME Church, a long overdue project to repair the stained glass started this week. Workers are pulling the windows out and replacing them with temporary glass.
The originals will be rebuilt off site, at a studio in Colorado, and returned next spring. Rev Dr. Robert Turner noted the original windows were purchased by survivors of the massacre, when the church was rebuilt, and finished in 1928.
"The same windows that saw the rebirth of Black Wall Street, the rebirth of Greenwood, the same windows are being restored around the Centennial which I think is a divine signal of the revitalization of Black Wall Street and the Greenwood District,” Reverend Dr. Robert Turner, Vernon AME, said.
Some of those historic windows have cracks showing daylight. They've had spot repairs before, but never a complete overhaul.
Just down the street, a "Tree of Triumph" has been planted.
Up With Trees planted a 4 inch, 20-foot-tall bald cypress, after removing some less resilient trees. Up With Trees Director Steve Grantham said the tree is resilient in Oklahoma’s weather, and compared it to the resilient community where it’s planted. A historical marker was added by the tree, with text written by historian Hannibal Johnson.
“The real challenge,” said Johnson, “is condensing the history down to a couple of paragraphs and telling it in a way that makes it compelling and interesting to the reader, that's the challenge."
They're cleaning up some of the landscaping, with the expectation that many more people will visit next summer.
"So as people who come down here to experience this place, they can learn more about what happened here,” Grantham said.
On the south end of Greenwood, work on the museum, Greenwood Rising, is getting started, and a new sidewalk passage around the ballpark is well underway. The exterior of the museum is due for completion by the centennial, when the window project is expected to be complete and the sidewalk open, as well.
New landmarks are being built as the old ones are preserved and improved.