Demolition of history gave birth to Skirvin Hotel
As discussion continues about Sandridge Energy’s decision to demolish six buildings downtown, including Oklahoma City’s oldest structure, the India Temple building built in 1902, I came across this story from 100 years ago published in The Oklahoman, May 1, 1910.
It is timely or timeless, for it shows the change, destruction and construction of buildings, that continue to keep Oklahoma City a vital and modern city. Also, it tells us that our pioneers recognized the importance old buildings had to their history and their attempts to preserve them and reuse them when possible.
The early day preservationists recognized, in this case, that most of the buildings had changed beyond remembrance, but they made the attempt to save the one that remained. Without such forethought, the Skirvin Hotel, now one of Oklahoma City’s beloved landmarks, might not have been located where it is and might not look like it does today.
“LANDMARK DEMOLISHED MAKING ROOM FOR THE NEW SKIRVIN HOUSE”
“On the land where, but a few years ago, men vied for public favor in distributing groceries; the thirsty footsore traveler quenched his burning throat, and where a railroad then a struggling corporation, fought with the strength of a bull for a site to build a station, there will be erected within a year a magnificient modern ten-story hotel.
The work of excavating on the new Skirvin House, First street and Broadway, preceded by the removal of the old buildings, one of them a landmark, brings to the old-timers visions of the days gone by. Last week while attempting to remove, without demolishing one of the old structures, it fell apart. As old age overtakes man, so time did its work and the old Richardson real estate office is no more.
The history of the land at First and Broadway is closely allied with the settlement of the city, for there the first business section was started. The land where the Rock Island depot stands was owned by I.C. Cuppy, who staked out two lots. Soon after the opening (the Land Run opening) the Choctaw Railroad, now the Rock Island, bought two of Mr. Cuppy’s lots and one of his buildings, a two-story frame house.
For many months this was the only station house, as they were then called. Adjoining it was the old Richardson house, used and operated by real estate men and familiarly known as the “office.” The frame house, one of the first to be built in Oklahoma City, was the work of W.S. Richardson and a cousin. It was completed some time in 1889 and after serving faithfully for twenty-one years it went to pieces on April 25, 1910.
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