SHPO Presents 2009 Awards

The Oklahoma Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office presented its 2009 Citations of Merit during an awards banquet at Quartz Mountain on June 4, a highlight of Reaching the Summit: Oklahoma's 21st Annual Statewide Preservation Conference. The recipients have contributed to the preservation of Oklahoma's significant archeological and historic properties through research, public programming, restoration/rehabilitation, and other activities. The recipients included:

1. Jim and Charlotte Murphy

In January 2007, the Judge Harry L. Fogg Residence on South Hoff in El Reno was included on Preservation Oklahoma’s Most Endangered Historic Places list, and the Classical Revival style house faced an uncertain future. A remodeling project for it remained unfinished, and it was vacant, for sale, and rapidly deteriorating. POK and the SHPO partnered to prepare the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the house, and while POK’s consultant, Cynthia Savage, worked on the nomination, Jim and Charlotte Murphy purchased the Fogg House. In one of those amazing and happy coincidences, Ms. Murphy is the granddaughter of Judge H. L. and Blanche Fogg. Armed with a personal connection to the house and many historic photographs, the Murphy’s began the much needed rehabilitation work, and they have insured that the Fogg House can be counted as a real Oklahoma preservation success story, obviously worthy of the Citation of Merit.

2. Kenwood Historic District Neighborhood Association

The SHPO recognizes the Kenwood Historic District Neighborhood Association for sponsoring Kenwood Golden Days 2008 Festival with activities conducted in the district and throughout Enid during Cherokee Strip Days. The festival was designed to inform others about Kenwood Historic District’s rich history and architecture. Festival events included a children’s parade, wine tasting and dinner in an historic house, recitals, lectures, art shows, dedication of the Kenwood Neighborhood Park, and a grand finale concert. Since the festival, Kenwood residents often see visitors driving through the district to see the outstanding collection of historic houses. Today the entire community is more aware of Kenwood’s history and how it helps tell the city’s story. Congratulations on this exceptional public programming project.

3. General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum

The SHPO congratulates the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute & Museum for the adaptive reuse of Hobart’s 1933 Farmers Co-op Association Building. Planters Coop Association, owners of the building located on Main Street, donated the property to the City of Hobart as their contribution to the project. The City then made it available to the Institute. Since the project began in the summer of 2007, about $187,000 has been spent on the rehabilitation work and over 10,000 volunteer hours donated to the effort. Fittingly, the museum opened on Veterans’ Day 2008. Tour groups, like our group today, learn from the museum’s extensive collection of documents and artifacts from General Franks distinguished career.

4. Muskogee Historic Preservation Commission

The SHPO is pleased to recognize the Muskogee Historic Preservation Commission for publication of Traces of Muskogee’s Past, a four-color brochure, which highlights the city’s National Register properties and locally designated landmarks. The Commission completed the brochure with one of the City’s matching grants from the SHPO’s Certified Local Governments Program. The publication is distributed free of charge through the City’s Planning Department, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Office, and Downtown Muskogee, Inc. It is a helpful guide for visitors, like those on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s tour to Muskogee in October 2008, and local history teachers are using it in their classrooms. Congratulations on this successful public education project.

5. Donald and Shirley Marquardt

Donald and Shirley Marquardt receive the Citation of Merit for their preservation of Enid’s historic McCristy-Knox Mansion. The mansion was built by Joseph McCristy, president of Enid Mill and Elevator Company, and was later owned by oilman Charles Knox. The National Register listed house sat vacant from 1979 until the Marquardts purchased it in 1995 while they were still living in Texas. Sixteen years of neglect had taken a toll on the house, and it had a severely damaged roof, crumbling masonry, broken porch railings, and rotting wooden features. The Marquardts moved to Enid in 1999 and began their rehabilitation of this Enid Landmark. Their work was completed last summer when the second story porch rails were reinstalled. The Marquardts are commended for saving an important part of Enid’s past.

6. Jerry Worster

For the last few years, Mr. Worster has focused his real estate development efforts on the buildings at 2500-2522 North Robinson in Oklahoma City. The SHPO commends him for his sensitive treatment of these five apartment blocks known as Brentwood Terrace. His careful, hands-on approach to the work, including repair of the exterior windows, entrance doors, and interior features all the way down to details of the bathroom tile, resulted in certification of the rehabilitation for federal and state tax credits. Brentwood Terrace had an extremely high degree of historic integrity, and the owners made minimal alterations to its historic fabric. The project demonstrates that a comfortable, modern living space can result from meeting the spirit of the Secretary’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

7. Ron Willfong

Ron Willfong, manager of Enid’s Gaslight Theatre, receives the Citation of Merit for his research on an Enid landmark. In preparation for celebration of the Enid Community Theatre, Inc.’s fortieth anniversary, Mr. Willfong carried out an extensive research project to document the history of the Gaslight Theatre building, and his work culminated in production of a DVD entitled “A Palace on the Prairie: A Movie Palace, That Is!”. It tells the story of Walter S. Billings, who came to the Cherokee Strip from Kansas City and who dreamed of building a Movie “Palace on the Prairie” for his mother. The Billings Theatre opened in Enid on February 22, 1921 and was touted as the most beautiful and elegant theatre in Northern Oklahoma. After a fire and then operation under several theater names, the building was vacant for many years. Then, it reopened in 1991 as the Gaslight Theatre. The community theatre group now presents nine productions each year in the rehabilitated building. Mr. Robert Tydings is accepting the award for Mr. Willfong.

8. Film Exchange Row LLC and J3 Architecture

Since The Film Exchange Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, the two-block area of downtown Oklahoma City has been the subject of a multi-building redevelopment. Film Exchange Row LLC with J3 Architecture has successively undertaken the certified rehabilitations of 624 West Sheridan (United Artists Building), 628 West Sheridan (Oklahoma Theatre Supply), and 700 and 704 West Sheridan, Film Exchange Buildings, in what may become the largest certified rehabilitation of multiple historic buildings in the Oklahoma tax credit program’s history. To date both the United Artists' and the Oklahoma Theatre Supply Buildings have received certification of the rehabilitation work from the National Park Service. We are pleased to present the Citation of Merit for this outstanding effort to revitalize the district, which is significant as the point of distribution of movie film to theaters across Oklahoma.

9. Partners for Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation in Oklahoma

The SHPO thanks Preservation Oklahoma, Inc.; the City of Oklahoma City; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the Kirkpatrick Family Fund; Chesapeake Energy; and Julie Bott Miner, in honor of Lt. Col. and Mrs. Miner, for providing financial support necessary to complete Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation. The SHPO believes that the study offers community leaders in the public and private sectors the data they have long needed to support improvements in public policy that will not only stimulate our economy, but will result in improved preservation of our heritage assets. The study, completed by The Center for Urban Policy research, Rutgers University, examined the direct and indirect impacts of historic preservation activities in Oklahoma for the year 2007 and concluded that they totaled $357 million for the period. We have long believed that preservation and adaptive reuse of historic properties makes sound business sense for communities of all sizes, and now we have solid evidence of just how significant historic preservation is to a community’s economy and its quality of life.

10. Tonkawa Historical Society

The SHPO recognizes the Tonkawa Historical Society's outstanding efforts to preserve an important local landmark. In 2007 the Society received the 1890s Tonkawa Depot through a donation. For decades the depot was used only for storage, and it became a local eyesore that was greatly in need of paint and repairs. The Society proposed their new acquisition for Preservation Oklahoma's Most Endangered Historic Places List, and when POK included the depot on the list, it stimulated local support for the Society's restoration effort. Within a year, the brick platforms had been cleared of dirt and weeds, wire mesh was removed from the windows and glass replaced, a new roof installed, and the building repainted. The Society raised funds with an ice cream social, a rummage sale, and other events. While the organization did not have a large budget, they did have the ability to inspire many volunteers in the community to roll up their sleeves and help. Congratulations and thank you for saving this important piece of your community's heritage.

11. Partners for the National Preservation Conference

The SHPO is pleased to present the Citation of Merit to the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, Tulsa Preservation Commission, and Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau. Just as the State Historic Preservation Office relies on local partners to make the statewide preservation conference possible, the National Trust for Historic Preservation does the same for their annual National Preservation conference. Oklahoma preservationists had looked forward to the 2008 national conference from the moment Tulsa was announced as the location for the weeklong event. Many organizations, agencies, businesses, and individuals came together in Tulsa and across the state to support the nation's biggest preservation program of the year. The week of October 20-25, 2008 saw over 1,500 people from across the nation and from several foreign countries come together to share experiences in the preservation of the nation's heritage. While there were many who contributed their time and resources, there are always those that stand out in such an undertaking. Thank you for your leadership in bringing the conference to Tulsa and for your years of work in preparation for the highly successful program.

12. Waynoka Historical Society

The Waynoka Historical Society receives the Citation of Merit for its rehabilitation of the Santa Fe Depot's Harvey House and for exterior work on the passenger depot. The Harvey House was completed in 2000 with an Oklahoma Department of Transportation enhancements program grant. The Harvey House served rail passengers, as well as air passengers, such as Charles and Anne Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, who were traveling coast-to-coast on the Transcontinental Air Transport. The Harvey House project has made a significant impact on Waynoka's economy. El Charro Restaurant occupies the original dining rooms and kitchen areas. The original News and Cigar Stand now function as the Waynoka Air Rail Museum Gift Shop. An elevator takes visitors to the museum on the second floor. Funding from the Oklahoma Centennial Commission facilitated the museums' development. These funds also helped launch rehabilitation of the depot's exterior and surfacing of parking lots. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and we commend the Society for their stewardship of these important buildings.

13. Sacred Heart Catholic Church Rectory

The SHPO is pleased to recognize the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Rectory with a Citation of Merit. The church and rectory were constructed in 1908-1909 and were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Through the years, the resident priest often lived in a Rectory located elsewhere. Due to a lack of financial resources, the exterior of the rectory had severely deteriorated. Paint peeled, wood rotted, and one of the original chimneys leaned dangerously. In the summer of 2007, after a SHPO staff site visit, the newly formed Parish Building Committee and Father Richard Cristler made the decision to rehabilitate the exterior of the house. The deteriorated chimney was repaired, and a new roof was installed. Each piece of siding, trim, and windowsill was inspected. If the wood could not be repaired, it was replaced with custom cut pieces. However, much of the original wood remained in good condition. All of the trim pieces that had to be replaced were custom cut to match the original trim. The house was then caulked, primed and painted. The rehabilitation of the Rectory is a great source of pride to the people of Sacred Heart Parish and the town of Wilburton. The nomination form states, "It stands as a symbol of our continuous commitment to our history and the buildings that represent it."

14. Sieber Holdings LLC

The SHPO presents its Citation of Merit to Sieber Holdings LLC, led by Marva Ellard, for the rehabilitation of the Sieber Apartment Hotel. The re-opening of the Sieber in 2008 culminated a decade long effort to save the historic property from possible demolition. Ms. Ellard coordinated the acquisition, documentation, National Register nomination preparation, rehabilitation design, construction financing, collaboration with the National Park Service and the SHPO, and real estate management. Leasing of the upper floors' residential units has begun and tenant designs for the first floor commercial spaces are underway. Congratulations on a successful effort to redevelop this focal point of Oklahoma City’s Midtown.

15. Local Cosponsors of Artfully Done: Oklahoma's 20th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference

The SHPO thanks Ponca City Main Street; the City of Ponca City; the Ponca City Park and Recreation Department; the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce/Ponca City Tourism Department; the Ponca City Historic Preservation Advisory Panel; and Newkirk Main Street for cosponsoring the 2008 statewide preservation conference. Participants enjoyed sessions on a wide range of preservation issues, and learned about Ponca City’s rich heritage through tours to the Marland Mansion, the Lew Wentz Camp, the downtown commercial district, and much more. The bus tour to Chilocco Indian Boarding School was a conference highlight. Special recognition of Jayne Detten, Ponca City Main Street, is given to commend her organizational skills and hard work essential to the event's success. Generous contributions from cosponsors and local businesses demonstrated the tremendous Ponca City hospitality during receptions and throughout the day at breaks. The Citation of Merit is our way of saying thank you to our local partners, and we know that the Oklahoma Main Street Center and Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. join us in extending our appreciation to these local partners.

16. City of Okmulgee

The City of Okmulgee receives the Citation of Merit for production of “Preserving the Past, Preparing for the Future”. With its annual Certified Local Governments fund grant from the SHPO, the City and its historic preservation commission developed the script and produced this fifteen-minute video through a contract with Swearingen Communications. The video shares a brief history of Okmulgee, highlights its architecture and its preservation, and discusses the legal, financial, and other tools critical to Okmulgee’s successful downtown revitalization program. The City used the production for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s tour it hosted last October. It will be used in many other ways to build local public awareness of the community’s heritage and as orientation for visitors, such as those who attend the 22nd annual statewide preservation conference to be held June 9-11, 2010 in historic downtown Okmulgee.