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Building redevelopment downtown shows preservationists winning the war to save OKC's past

While attention is focussed on the debate over whether demolition should proceed on Stage Center, other Oklahoma City historic building renovations show preservationists are making progress.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: February 3, 2014

Don’t be surprised, meanwhile, if the recently completed renovation of the Calvary Baptist Church in Deep Deuce, the birthplace of the city’s civil rights movement, wins national awards.

Each building I’ve cited sits on land that could have proved more valuable if the structures were torn down and less expensive new construction was pursued by the developers. These projects are tough to pull off. Some buildings simply don’t work well for adaptive reuse; such was the case with the old Steffen’s Dairy building on Main Street in Bricktown where the odd floor plates and concrete construction made it a dud for redevelopment.

When asked about the historic value of the Steffens Dairy, Bob Blackburn, the state’s most respected historian, noted that not every building can or should be saved. The dairy building was torn down, and the site is now being rebuilt as a Holiday Inn Express.

Not every old building can or should be saved. But Oklahoma City, still a relatively young community at 125 years old, has finally realized the value of its history. Preservationists may not win every battle, but the war to save the city’s past is being won.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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