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SHPO Presents 2007 Awards

The Oklahoma Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office presented its 2007 Citations of Merit during an awards banquet in Guthrie on June 7, a highlight of Preservation is a Capital Idea: Oklahoma's 19th 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. Muskogee Housing Partners, LP and Sikes Abernathie Architects

Muskogee Housing Partners, LP and Sikes Abernathie Architects completed the certified rehabilitation of the Surety Building in Muskogee. Originally designed and used for offices, this 1910, eight-story building has new life as 37 units and 48 thousand square feet of affordable housing for seniors. The building is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the $2.5 million project demonstrates the importance of the federal and state tax credits in community revitalization efforts across Oklahoma.

2. Richard Andrews

Mr. Andrews receives the Citation of Merit for his work as the Special Projects Manager for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's enhancements program. He willingly accepted invitations to speak at the National Town Meeting and several Oklahoma statewide preservation conferences about the program and how it assists preservation-related projects such as streetscape improvements in historic districts in Durant, Okmulgee, and Shawnee and rehabilitation efforts such as the Chandler National Guard Armory. He clearly understands the SHPO's federal preservation programs and their important connection to those of his agency. The SHPO staff has enjoyed working with Richard over the past several years and wishes him well in his new position at ODOT.

3. Arvest Bank and Ambler Architects

Arvest Bank and Ambler Architects are recognized this evening for the Certified rehabilitation of the historic Union National Bank Building. In 1976 vertical tinted ribbon windows and aggregate panels were installed covering the entire 1924 red brick building. After experiencing water and air infiltration, the current owner, Arvest Bank, knew that the 1976 modifications had to be addressed. After the owner removed enough of the modern materials to demonstrate that the original building still retained its overall historic character, the SHPO revised the Bartlesville Historic District National Register nomination to include the bank as a contributing resource which made it eligible for the 20 percent federal rehabilitation tax credits. The $1.5 million project will be used as a case study in an upcoming National Park Service training program and featured in a new NPS technical publication.

4. BancFirst

Through the leadership of BancFirst's Chief Executive Officer, David Rainbolt, the bank provided $10,000 to Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. to launch the PlanFirst Grant Program. This pilot project underscores the bank's continued commitment to helping Oklahoma's communities grow and prosper and to facilitating the preservation of their heritage. BancFirst recognizes the importance of planning in successful preservation efforts, and the Plan First grants will focus on projects that involve the appropriate professionals and that result in meaningful products such as condition assessments or well-designed fundraising campaigns in the communities the bank serves. The SHPO is pleased to join Preservation Oklahoma in saying thank you to BancFirst.

5. Paul Buntz

After twenty-two years of service as Durant's City Manager, Paul Buntz retired in January of this year. Due in large part to his leadership and vision, Durant is now experiencing rapid redevelopment, especially in the downtown commercial district. Paul's support of the Downtown has made a difference in many ways. He has supported the Main Street Program through recommendations to the Council for increased funding, for grant applications, and for preserving the integrity of the original central business district. His leadership has helped insure the success of such high profile projects as the Three Valley Museum rehabilitation project the Market Square Cafe project, and three phases of downtown streetscape improvements.

6. Dr. Stanley Bussey

The SHPO posthumously presents its Citation of Merit to Dr. Stanley Bussey for his service as the Oklahoma Historic Preservation Review Committee's prehistoric archeologist from 1994 until his death in May 2006. The committee makes recommendations to the SHPO concerning proposed nominations to the National Register of Historic Places and other preservation-related issues. The membership consists of five preservation professionals appointed by the Governor, and their volunteer service is critical to the statewide preservation program. Dr. Bussey's knowledge of Oklahoma's prehistory and his tremendous sense of humor were real assets for us. We appreciated his dedication to the committee's work including service as its vice chairman, and miss his participation.

7. The Cherokee Nation, Saline Preservation Association, Fritz Baily, P.C., and Dr. George H Odell

The Saline Courthouse is one of the Cherokee Nation's nine original district courthouses and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The SHPO recognizes the combined efforts of the recipients to preserve this highly significant nineteenth century building. The Cherokee Nation designated the property as the first Cherokee National Park and provided financial resources for its preservation. The Saline Preservation Association formed in 2003 and provided the leadership for project planning. Fritz Baily, P.C. of Tulsa produced the master plan for the park's redevelopment with an emphasis on preservation of its historic resources, and Dr. George Odell provided the professional archeological services needed to adequately document the Saline property. Congratulations to all of you.

8. John Givens, Great Plains Coca Cola Bottling Company, Dean Codner, and Shaun Colbert

Chandler's 1903 St. Cloud Hotel is located on historic Route 66 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The 100 feet long, three stories high Coca Cola sign had almost faded away. However, Mr. Givens, owner of the building, and Great Plains Coca Cola Bottling Company realized the importance of the ghost sign to the community and retained Dean Codner and Shaun Colbert to repaint the lettering with soft hues of the original colors. Now, the 100-year-old sign is again noticed by local residents and the thousands of travelers passing by on Route 66.

9. The American Lung Association of Oklahoma and Fritz Baily, P.C.

Constructed in 1931, the art deco Tulsa Fire Alarm Building was the first central dispatch center for the city's fire department. But, when the building was vacated in the mid-1980s, it soon fell into disrepair and was eventually slated for demolition. A local preservationist stepped up and acquired it, donated a facade easement to the City of Tulsa, and began the search for a new owner. The American Lung Association of Oklahoma saw the potential and acquired the building. With Fritz Baily, P.C. as their architects, rehabilitation work began in 2005, and the building reopened in 2006 as the organization's new headquarters. Once listed on Preservation Oklahoma's Most Endangered Historic Places list, this National Register property is again the center for an important community service.

10. Philtower, LLC and Kinslow, Keith, and Todd

The 1927 Philtower, Tulsa's iconic Art Deco skyscraper was financed by oilman Waite Phillips. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the building mirrors the history of Tulsa itself and was a thriving business center into the 1970s. Now, after decades of declining demand for downtown office space, the heart of the city is poised for redevelopment. In 2004, the Philtower, LLC made the landmark decision to convert the upper floors to luxury residences, creating Tulsa's first mixed-use high-rise, and retained Kinslow, Keith, and Todd to design the project. The project successfully used Federal and State Rehabilitation Tax Credits and public funding from Tulsa's Vision 2025 program. The SHPO congratulates the recipients on an outstanding preservation effort.

11. Skirvin Partners, LLC, Marcus Hotels and Resorts, City of Oklahoma City, Kahler Slater Architects, and Flintco Constructive Solutions

On Monday, February 26, 2007, Oklahoma City celebrated the opening of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, and it was very clear how important the landmark building is to the community and its public officials. The historic Skirvin Hotel sat vacant for almost twenty years while one development scheme after another was proposed. Demolition was even suggested, and the hotel was included on Preservation Oklahoma's first Most Endangered Places list. Then the City of Oklahoma City stepped up, purchased the National Register-listed hotel, and conducted a competitive selection process to choose a developer. The Skirvin Partners led by John Weeman, was selected. Under the management of Marcus Hotels and Resorts, the Skirvin is once again the heart of the City's downtown. The $55 million project is the largest certified rehabilitation for federal and state tax credits completed in Oklahoma. The SHPO extends its appreciation to the recipients for their accomplishments and for the cooperative working relationship throughout the project.

12. The Small Group - Architects

Edmond's first schoolhouse was built in August 1889, just three and a half months after the opening of the Unassigned Lands. Over the years the schoolhouse was modified for use as a residence and then as a retail business, and then it sat vacant from 1975 until 2001 when the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust purchased the property. The organization retained The Small Group - Architects to plan the building's restoration. The schoolhouse was restored to its 1890-1892 period based on detailed archival research and onsite investigations. We commend The Small Group for their diligent work and look forward to the schoolhouse's availability for educational programs in the near future.

13. Waverly Neighborhood Association

The Waverly Neighborhood Association receives the Citation of Merit for its successful advocacy to prevent demolition of a house in their historic district. The owner of 1203 West Broadway requested a certificate of appropriateness from the Enid Historic Preservation Commission for demolition of the house. The church next door to the property wished to purchase the house and have the right to demolish it in the future for a possible parking lot. The owner claimed the house was in poor condition and that he lacked the resources to correct the problems. The neighborhood association maintained loss of the house would diminish the character of the historic district and that there was no evidence of serious structural problems. The commission directed the owner to market the house to the general public by placing a for sale sign in the yard. Within the sixty-day waiting period, the house was purchased for rehabilitation, and the application for a demolition permit was withdrawn. This case demonstrates the importance of a city preservation zoning ordinance and of the involvement of residents in their local government.

14. Bobby Weaver

The SHPO presents the Citation of Merit to Dr. Weaver for his work to make the fire insurance map rating booklets in the Oklahoma Historical Society's Research Division collections accessible to researchers. The John William Kirschner Collection contains 1021 fire insurance rating booklets covering 731 Oklahoma towns for the period of 1896 to 1958. These booklets were published by the Oklahoma Inspection Bureau for the purpose of setting fire insurance rates within Oklahoma. They are designed to complement the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and the maps issued by the Oklahoma Inspection Bureau. Preservation consultants and others will find this collection extremely useful for the information about building locations, construction materials, owners and their occupations, and much more. Remember that Dr. Weaver's volunteer efforts make this source of information so easy for you to use.

15. Cosponsors of Preservation Inside and Out: Oklahoma's 18th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference: Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Wilburton Main Street, Inc., Robbers Cave State Park, Wilburton Chamber of Commerce, Latimer County Arts Council, Wilburton Round-Up Club, Twentieth Century Club, and Eastern Oklahoma State College

The SHPO, the Oklahoma Main Street Center, and Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. are annual cosponsors of the statewide preservation conference. Without the generous support and hard work of local organizations and agencies, and from time to time, other state agencies, it would not be possible to present Oklahoma's biggest preservation event. We all especially enjoyed the setting of Robbers Cave State Park for the 2006 conference. We acknowledge the invaluable partnership of the recipients with a Citation of Merit. Each agency and organization was critical to local arrangements, conference publicity, hospitality, and entertainment. Thank you from Oklahoma's entire preservation community.