This interview was recorded at the Are We There Yet: Preservation of Roadside Architecture and Attractions Symposium, April 10-12, 2018, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Ron Anthony: I’m a wood scientist, by training, and so I consult on wood-related issues on projects. That may involve anything from helping the architect or the engineer understand the type of wood, the condition of the wood, why is the condition the way that it has developed, why is the condition the way that it is, what are the potential treatment options for that. Any of those kinds of things tend to be what I do as a wood scientist.
Well, I have a keen interest in military history. I spent time in the Marine Corps. It’s such a diverse field, from the standpoint of preservation. There are so many aspects, materials, technology, landscapes, all of that that comes into play. So this seemed to be a very good opportunity to try and tie that together and meet with some people that are doing that kind of work.
I think one of the key things is the diversity of the work that people are doing. Everything from materials and goggles to sites that are very expansive, to so many different things that we don’t normally see in historic preservation because they have developed through military applications and developments over the years.
The other thing I would say about the conference series is I believe that NCPTT is taking the right approach. We tend to have a hundred, plus or minus, attendees. I think anytime you can keep it below about 150 it really enhances the opportunity for the interaction between all the participants. If you have a conference where you end up with 300 people, 500 people, you become very niche oriented. Since we have such diversity in subject matter at these conferences, keeping that number of participants low, relative to other conferences, I think is extremely beneficial.
Future symposia. I think the one that comes to mind, because you look at the work of NCPTT and the grants that they have funded, there’s an awful lot of information related to mining history. The development of mining certainly in the American West is an area that could be further explored. You’ve got materials, you’ve got cultural landscapes, you’ve got technology, you’ve got deterioration mechanisms. You’ve got all of those things tied together in environments that are being impacted, certainly by climate change, but also with limited resources in many cases. So it’s very difficult for people to do, in many cases, excellent work. But by having a symposium that addresses mining aspects or mining history, allows us to do like we’re doing here and pull people together with different disciplines, different experience to the benefit of the larger body.
I think NCPTT provides a valuable service to the historic preservation community, and I would say that, as a taxpayer, it’s disappointing that we struggle to do the level of work that is done through NCPTT. It’s kudos to the staff and everyone that takes advantage of the somewhat limited resources and gets out of it not only the grants, but things like a symposium like this. That’s a very good kudo to the staff.
Ron Anthony, wood scientist, received an M.S. in Wood Science and Technology from Colorado State University. Prior to forming Anthony & Associates in 1999, he conducted research and consulted on wood properties and the use of wood in construction applications. Mr. Anthony’s research activities, several projects that have been conducted through NCPTT, have focused on nondestructive evaluation and materials testing to better understand how wood interacts with other materials and performs over time. He participates in historic preservation projects, conducts forensic investigations, and assists with timber design issues. Mr. Anthony is the 2002 recipient of the James Marston Fitch Foundation Grant for his approach to evaluating wood in historic buildings. He is a Fellow in APT International and the 2018 recipient of APTI’s Harley J. McKee Award.