In 1907, the State Capital Publishing Museum was where statehood was announced for the state of Oklahoma. On Wednesday and near the footsteps, ownership of the building was signed over to a local nonprofit. Now, let the fundraising begin.
The Oklahoma Historical Society, a state agency, signed over the deed to the nonprofit Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition Inc.
The nonprofit’s CEO Lynn Bilodeau fought back his emotions with the announcement.
“This really is a historic day. This building needs to be saved.”
The two parties needed nearly 10 months to come to an agreement on the four-story, 50,000 square foot building. The structure, constructed in 1902 at the corner of 2nd Street and Harrison Ave., was one of the first buildings in Oklahoma to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition took over the property with a cash (believed to be $262,000) and in-kind purchase.
“Do we have a solution? A final solution? I don’t think we do. But this is a good step looking for more opportunities,” executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society Bob Blackburn said. “The Oklahoma Historical Society is not walking away. The state of Oklahoma is not walking away.”
In 2012, with a lack of funding to replace a broken boiler, the museum closed indefinitely. Related article: State Capital Publishing Museum closed indefinitely
The fundraising has started for the nonprofit, including $5,000 from an anonymous donor, $3,000 from BancFirst and $5,000 from Save Our Depot.
The Save Our Depot contribution – presented by Carol Hirzel – will go towards a memorial park on the site to be named for Lloyd Lentz, who is a real estate appraiser and member of the Logan County Historical Society.
The 116-year-old building was donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1975 by the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce.
A 2016 law required the Oklahoma Historical Society to first offer to sell surplus property to the original donor (Chamber). However, last year, the Chamber board of directors voted to relinquish the building and leading the path for the nonprofit to take over.
Obtaining ownership is the first phase of the project as the estimated cost to repair the building stands at approximately $4 million.
The plan is to save the building, continue a portion of the building as a newspaper and printing museum and put it back to use for the community.
In 2016, the Guthrie Planning Commission recommended not to issue a special permit to allow construction of a multi-family development in the historic building. Related article: Planning Commission denies recommendation for downtown apartments