The Mayfair, once home to some of Oklahoma City's wealthiest residents, is being added to the National Register of Historic Places as it awaits a renovation that will restore it as an apartment building.
The four-story building at 1315 N Broadway Place opened in 1931 and was last home to the headquarters of the United Way of Oklahoma from 1992 until 2009, at which time it was sold to the MidTown Renaissance group.
In a news release, Lynda Ozan, architectural historian with the Oklahoma Historical Preservation Office, said the structure is “significant” as an example of construction of “brick box” apartments in the Midtown neighborhood between 1910 and 1935.
“The Midtown Brick Box Apartments represent a distinct alteration in the Midtown's previous forms of multifamily dwellings such as wood-framed duplexes, or flats for two, four or six families,” Ozan said. “The Brick Box Apartments are significantly different from these housing forms and they provided amenities such as the ‘latest' in kitchens and bathrooms, as well as personal services that were not available in more basic multiple dwellings.”
In her report on the property, Ozan said when the Mayfair was built, most wealthy residents who settled in Midtown before 1910 had continued to move north both within Midtown and out of the Midtown area from 1910 to 1935. Blue-collar workers also started moving north, but stayed generally south of NW 10.
“The Mayfair's location was in the northern most section of Midtown, an area where the more well-to-do moved as they continued their northward migration into other areas over several decades,” Ozan said.
When the building opened in 1931, an advertisement in The Oklahoman proclaimed, “No expense has been spared in making these 24 ultramodern apartment homes the finest and most luxurious ever offered in Oklahoma City.” The ad further noted the Mayfair's advantageous location near “three car lines” (electric streetcars) and within walking distance of downtown.
The building remained a popular choice among the city's elite through the 1940s. It fell out of use as an apartment building in the 1970s.
Chris Fleming, a partner in the MidTown Renaissance group, said the register designation is an important recognition that the Mayfair is an “architectural gem” with a “rich history.”
“In the '70s, Perle Mesta lived there with her brother O.W. Skirvin,” Fleming said. Mesta was a former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg and daughter of hotelier W.B. Skirvin.
Fleming also noted the building was built by George E. Swisher and designed by his son, George F. Swisher.
“The story has it that when the Mayfair was either mortgaged or sold, those proceeds were used by Bill Swisher (George E. Swisher's grandson) to start CMI,” Fleming said.
Fleming said planning continues for a restoration of the Mayfair as apartments, but he is not ready to announce when work will begin.