May 27, 2022
Oklahoma Historical Society Receives $46 Million Bond to Repair and Maintain Historic Infrastructure
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) is pleased to announce the passage of HB 4099, which provides the OHS with needed funding to address years of deferred maintenance at its museums and historic sites statewide.
The OHS worked with Representative Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) and Senator Darcy Jech (R-Kingfisher) on HB 4099 for a $46M bond issue to address critical deferred maintenance needs at 24 museums and historic sites across the state. These sites are all state-owned properties. OHS museums and historic sites are destinations for tourists, provide educational opportunities for young and old, and preserve Oklahoma’s rich history for future generations.
Upon being hired as executive director of the OHS, Trait Thompson began visits to the agency’s museums and historic sites across the state. During these visits, he noticed a big similarity between his new position and his previous work as project manager for the Oklahoma State Capitol Restoration Project—the dire need to address significant deferred maintenance issues left on the back burner due to budget concerns. With an annual maintenance budget of approximately $700,000 and properties located throughout the state, Thompson determined there would be no way to get ahead of the maintenance backlog without a significant investment. Throughout the summer, fall and winter, Thompson and OHS staff across the state began giving tours to legislators with OHS museums and sites in their districts so lawmakers could also see the critical needs to be addressed.
Many of the critical infrastructure projects the OHS will now undertake with this funding address immediate needs due to failures of finishes, water infiltration, loss of structural integrity and/or major safety hazards. This capital funding allows the OHS to mitigate damage that has already occurred.
Some of the major projects the OHS hopes to complete at sites across the state include:
- Extensive roof, façade and window repair or replacement at most museums and historic sites
- Updating and/or replacing HVAC systems at many museums and historic sites
- Enhancing IT (e.g., phone and network) infrastructure and security systems
- Major repairs, resurfacing and expansion of roads to and parking lots at museums and historic sites
- Improving ADA accessibility
“I am exceedingly grateful to Governor Stitt and the legislature for recognizing the need to invest in Oklahoma’s historic infrastructure,” said Executive Director Thompson. “This $46 million bond issue will be used to address critical needs at Oklahoma Historical Society sites across the state and provide a more welcoming atmosphere to visitors from all over the world who seek to experience our rich and diverse history. As the caretaker of these important sites, we recognize the need to preserve them for the next generation of Oklahomans and I’m thankful our elected officials continue to partner with us in this endeavor.”
“This is great news for everyone associated with the Oklahoma Historical Society across the state,” said Dr. Deena Fisher, president of the OHS Board of Directors. “This funding takes care of problems we have faced in the past and positions us for a brighter future.”
The Oklahoma Historical Society is thankful for the hard work of the principal authors to get this legislation through the process. The OHS is also grateful for the support of the coauthors—many of whom represent districts that include OHS museums and sites—and the governor for recognizing the need by signing the bill. With these funds, the OHS looks forward to tackling its deferred maintenance needs to be faithful stewards of the state’s past for future Oklahomans.
The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.