Tolbert recalled it was Brewer who drew the community into the district by hosting parades and festivals and opening the haunted warehouse every Halloween.
“There really wouldn’t have been a Bricktown if not for Jim,” Tolbert said. “Don and I came over at the same time, but it was Jim’s promotional abilities and sense of the area that got it started.”
At the height of Brewer’s influence he was referred to as the mayor of Bricktown and was sometimes controversial as he took stands on paid parking, development of what now is Lower Bricktown, and an unsuccessful effort to tear down the Walnut Avenue bridge between Bricktown and Deep Deuce.
Early encounters between Brewer and former Mayor Kirk Humphreys were confrontational — including an early squabble over Brewer’s resistance to paving his parking lots. Humphreys chastised the Board of Adjustment for giving Brewer permission to leave his lots unpaved.
“I didn’t know you feltso strongly about this,” Brewer told Humphreys after the meeting. Brewer then paved the lots without any more prompting.
“That’s classic Jim Brewer,” Humphreys said. But Humphreys and others recall Brewer also had a tender side, as exhibited when the mayor and other leaders asked him to serve on the board of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Brewer said, tears in his eyes.
“Jim was no stranger to controversy, but cities need people like Jim Brewer who was willing to invest in a place like Bricktown when no one else will and make things happen,” Humphreys said. “We needed his P.T. Barnum flair to make things happen ... He could put money where his mouth was, and he had both in large quantities.”