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Historic Oklahoma County tepee church getting new roof to save it from deterioration

The old Hopewell Baptist Church, built to resemble a tepee, is being saved from decay. On Dec. 1, a new roof is going on the landmark church in northwest Oklahoma County.
by Robert Medley Modified: November 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: November 25, 2013

A landmark tepee-shaped church has been rotting away for more than two decades on the windswept, northwest Oklahoma County plains, but it is finally being saved.

Thanks to the $50,000 an anonymous donor gave to the project, the landmark church at NW 178 and N MacArthur Boulevard is being re-decked, re-roofed and restructured to save the inside from the elements, said the Rev. Terry Ward.

The $50,000 donation is being matched with a $50,000 loan.

Ward is pastor at God's TP Tabernacle, the nondenominational congregation that still meets on the grounds in a separate building. Services inside the tepee church were stopped in 1989 because of the building's condition.

The church was built as Hopewell Baptist Church from 1947 to 1951 by oil field and construction workers. It was designed by famed Oklahoma architect Bruce Goff, head of the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture at the time.

A thousand tons of steel tubing from an oil field site was used to shape the church like a tepee.

Ward said efforts to raise funds to save the church were lagging in recent years. The holes in the church were allowing water to get inside and further deteriorate the structure. Re-roofing it will save the structure from the elements.

“We were at the point it was decaying so fast for safety we were going to have to make a decision to tear it down,” Ward said.

Hailstorms took a toll on the glass that forms an apex, and the broken glass is being replaced to keep water out. Jenco Roofing and Custom Metal will re-roof the church.

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