The next year, a full-page advertisement was placed by Hill’s Business College, announcing its relocation to the newly opened Main Street Arcade.
The Downtown Baptist Church bought the property in 1936 during the depths of the Great Depression, turned part of the first floor into a sanctuary, and began operating a soup kitchen for the homeless.
The church did “modernize” part of the front facade in the 1950s, but Wanzer notes much of the building’s other original features remain intact.
“The majority of the storefront includes 3-foot-tall transom windows, which makes the storefronts go from floor to ceiling on the ground floor,” Wanzer said. “Our plan is to restore those to bring in a lot of natural light into the space. And most of these shotgun spaces had a mezzanine in the rear. They were likely either for storage or offices, with alley access and windows up high to get as much natural light in as possible.”
In the center of the building is a terrazzo floor that extends to two staircases leading to the second floor. One of the building’s many quirks is an extension of that stairway to the rear wall of the building, where a skywalk once connected it to a building that is now owned by the City of Oklahoma City.
“So much of the character of this building is still intact,” Wanzer said. “It really is beautiful.”