The Bavinger House apparently is no more.
The Bruce Goff-designed architectural oddity in east Norman either fell to a recent microburst of high winds — or at the hand of the owner, Bob Bavinger, son of Nancy and Eugene Bavinger, the art professor for whom Goff, the noted architect and 1940s head of the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture, designed the house.
“Fell” would be the best word for it. The home, a three-story design patterned after a DNA helix, basically was suspended from its tall spire. The exact condition of the structure could not be determined Wednesday.
The house, finished in 1955, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Bob Bavinger did call the State Historic Preservation Office on Monday to report its demise, said Melvena Heisch, deputy state historic preservation officer.
Heisch said she had seen a photo of the house showing it severely damaged. However, the Norman Transcript reported Wednesday that the spire could be seen from 60th Avenue SE. The property is behind a fence that has been covered with black plastic, the Norman paper reported.
Bavinger said a dispute with OU over ongoing efforts to restore the house left him “backed into a corner” so he decided to “remove the target,” according to the Norman Transcript.
However, on Wednesday, the Bavinger House website, www.thebavinger
The website also revealed something of the difficulties the restoration effort has encountered:
“2008 showed us the nonprofit environment was not fulfilling the goals and wishes of Gene and Nancy Bavinger. So for 2009 we have changed from a nonprofit to a for-profit corporation,” it said. “This change will not affect the mission and the needs of the house but will allow them to be carried out in a much more effective way.”
Bob Bavinger could not be reached for comment.
Architecture writer and photographer Lynne Rostochil blogged on the website OKC.net that the house had been significantly damaged.
“That's the top spire of the house you see tilted over at a 45-degree angle,” she wrote describing a photo credited to Shane Hood. “According to those in the know ... the spire housed all of the structural cables that held up the roof and the room pods. With the failure of the spire, it is entirely possible that the rest of the roof and house sustained catastrophic damage.”