Join me, please, in a word of prayer for the historic Pilgrim Congregational Church house, which hits the auction block June 27.
“God, let it land in the hands of people who know what they're buying, who will treat it with the respect due to the venerable old cathedral, and will find a way to fit it into inner Oklahoma City's renaissance. Amen.”
Pilgrim Congregational Church, which met in the building at 1433 Classen Drive, is long gone. The congregation merged decades ago with others that became what is now Mayflower Congregational Church, a member church of the United Church of Christ (full disclosure: I'm a member).
Mayflower has nothing to do with the property. My own interest is in history and historic preservation.
The church house, northwest of Classen Drive's intersection with NW 13, is what we're talking about — and what a property for Stillwater's Pickens Auctions to put up for bid.
The building, partially converted to commercial use, will be auctioned at 4 p.m. on site. Property inspection is from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday. For more information on the auction, call Gregg Pickens in Stillwater at (405) 747-9304 or Rachel Chillas at (405) 612-0287.
The Late Gothic Revival-style church, red brick with limestone decorations, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Oklahoma City's Hawk & Parr architects and built in 1920.
The 26,000-square-foot building is on a 39,000-square-foot lot. Additions and conversions include dressing rooms with steam rooms and saunas, and an indoor swimming pool, installed for a health spa project that didn't make. The three-story east wing has a portico with elevator and 6,000 square feet of office space. The main body of the building has been preserved.
Just look at it. Twin towers, battlements, separated by the big bay on the ground level. The second-story facade is set back between the towers, and “ends its vertical flow in a parapet gable,” the National Register nomination notes.
Inside the sanctuary, an oak-and-steel truss system with ornamental pendants — one of a kind in Oklahoma City — dominates.
If those sanctuary walls could talk! The nomination suggests they soaked up a lot:
“During the period of significance (1920-1932) the membership of the church was comprised of government, business and civic leaders. Of special note, the church due to its free thinking ideals was an oasis for Oklahoma's leading publishers of the time. E.K. Gaylord (founder of the Oklahoma Publishing Co.) ..., and the Harlow family, Rex, J.C. and Victor, who published a statewide magazine, textbooks and a ‘who's who' series, were leading members.”
It's just so churchy and historical and important a place, I just have to pray it lands in good hands. Considering the growth in the center of the city, wouldn't it still make a great church and urban ministry?