FSB’s Oklahoma City University School of Law project was featured in the recent 26th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference. The conference was held at the University of Oklahoma in the College of Architecture and drew its largest attendance with over 300 participants. The law school presentation was a part of a Track titled Back to Basics where a variety of projects that have undergone or are undergoing some sort of rehabilitation were shared. The OCU School of Law project is going through a combination of preservation and rehabilitation.
Oklahoma High School Floor Plans
The FSB presentation focused in 2 topics; the history of the building and the process of rehabilitation which is ongoing at this time. Dealing with historic properties is funneled for the most part through the National Park Service with the focus being to preserve and protect the historic fabric of our country. The NPS outlines 4 approaches to the treatment of historic properties:
- Preservation; focuses on the maintenance and repair of existing historic materials and retention of a property’s form as it has evolved over time.
- Rehabilitation; acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining the property’s historic character.
- Restoration; depicts a property at a particular period of time in its history, while removing evidence of other periods.
- Reconstruction; re-creates vanished or non-surviving portions of a property for interpretive purposes
The building in our project is in its third life and second rehabilitation. Its 3 lives are:
- The original high school for Oklahoma City (Oklahoma High School)
- Repurposing as an office building (headquarters for Bell Telephone Co. and later Am. Farmers and Ranchers Ins. Co.)
- Repurposing as a law school (Oklahoma City University School of Law)
Here’s the early Chronology and History of this historic structure:
- Built in 1909, designed by Layton Hawk Smith architects
- It is considered Collegian Gothic Style and is limestone clad
- It was the first dedicated High School in Oklahoma City
- On September 1910 the 1st students reported to class
- In 1919 the name was changed to Central High School with the advent of additional high schools under way
- In 1920 Oklahoma City had; 19 Elementary Schools, 5 Jr. High Schools, 3 High Schools (Central, Capitol Hill, Classen)
- In 1968 it stopped being used as high school
- On November 7, 1976 Central High School was placed on the National Register of Historic Places
- In 1981 it was sold to Southwest Bell Telephone Co.
- In April 1984 renovation was complete and the project received a Regional AIA Award with accolades for being saved from possible demolition.
- It became known as One Bell Central
- In 1995 it was used as the command center for Search and Rescue operations following the Federal Murray Building bombing.
- In 2005 Southwest Bell consolidated its downtown offices, moved to Dean McGee Ave. and sold the building to American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance Co. who was celebrating its centennial year.
- AFR never filled the building and in 2010 put the building up for sale.
- In 2012 after an intense bidding exercise Oklahoma City University purchased the building to relocate its School of Law from the main campus to downtown Oklahoma City.
- Ironically, their bidding competitor was Oklahoma City Public Schools who after selling the building 31 years earlier wanted it for their Administrative Headquarters.
Next Post will explore the Preservation Angle.