This interview was recorded at the Are We There Yet: Preservation of Roadside Architecture and Attractions Symposium, April 10-12, 2018, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Patrick Sparks: My name is Patrick Sparks. I’m the President of Sparks Engineering in San Antonio. We’re an engineering firm that specializes in existing structures and part of that is historic conservation.
I’m a structural engineer, and I have expertise in conserving reinforced concrete, iron and steel, timber, masonry. We’ve worked on a full range of kinds of buildings, national historic landmarks, and just ordinary everyday buildings. They’re part of our heritage.
I’m a big World War II buff, I guess. It’s something that’s very important to me. We’ve done some work on some buildings, World War II era buildings. I also wanted to take the opportunity to sponsor the conference. Meeting people from different areas, what they’re working on, the full range of things, the approaches that they’re using, and then just the things they’ve discovered, things I’ve never heard about. I think every talk had something along those lines, that it’s some aspect of that history that isn’t really well known. I can’t pinpoint any one thing, but certainly those are the important things.
I have been to many of the NCPT-sponsored symposia. I can’t list them all, but they’re one of my favorite things to go to. I can recall a number of them. One, we did a timber workshop at Natchitoches, and I’ve participated in a number of workshops in Galveston about resilience and recovery and rising damp and cast iron and things. A lot of fun. I always appreciate the synergy that we get out of those.
The symposium series is going great. I get a lot out of those and I’ve been to many of them. I can’t remember all of them right now, but a few. One was the great timber workshop that I participated in. It was a lot of fun, I learned a lot from that. A number of symposia we had at Galveston about coastal resilience and rising damp and cast iron, just a lot of fun. I really would like for more people to share that experience, that’s the main thing. This conference in particular, because of the subject matter, the importance of World War II now for us and the opportunity to conserve that heritage. There’s so many people I can think of that would really have gotten a lot out of this conference.
Well, I’m a structural engineer, so I would suggest that NCPTT do more things that are about physical conservation. Of course I know that’s a main focus of your organization, but that’s just now my natural interest. I think that I would say, at this time, the World War II era, Depression era, World War II era, the era of the greatest generation, I think that’s a huge opportunity because the public is open to those things now, as a big subject matter. As far as technical things, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head other than just stay the course and keep coming up with stuff.
It’s been a great conference. I’m glad we had it here in Fredericksburg, Texas, the home of Chester Nimitz and the Pacific War Museum, and that so many people got to come to this.
Patrick Sparks is co-founder and former president of Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc. He is also president of Sparks Engineering, Inc., a consulting firm based in San Antonio, Texas, specializing in the preservation of historic structures. He is a former director of the Association for Preservation Technology; a professional fellow of the Center for Heritage Conservation at Texas A&M University; and an expert member of ISCARSAH, an international committee on structural conservation.