Sunday, April 25, 2010

Still Running 121 Years After The Run


Exactly 121 years earlier, on April 22, 1889, a lot of running was going on as trains and wagons and horses furiously carried our ancestors to an empty place on the plains near a meandering stream called the North Canadian. By April 22, 2010, the stream had been straightened and renamed and a jet plane had just brought some guys into town to play our boys in a friendly little sporting event -- a running event, too, with some baskets and stuff.

More particularly, the event would be the third game in the 2010 NBA Playoffs, and our guys are called the Thunder. Click any of the quarters below to watch and hear the full quarter in a 640 x 480 px flash file, wider than be accommodated in the width of this column. Separate files will open in other windows/tabs which you should close when you are done watching. If you're in a hurry, you might want to start with the 4th quarter.

2010 NBA Playoffs Videos
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 3 April 22, 2010, at Oklahoma City



The game videos were obtained at DavkaBT - basketball torrents, and the files were reworked at my end to make this presentation possible. Video quality is much better in Game 4 than in Game 3.

2010 NBA Playoffs Videos
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 4 April 24, 2010, at Oklahoma City


If later playoff videos become available, I'll likely be adding them in this same page.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Appeal From SandRidge Decision By Preservation Oklahoma

Originally posted April 20, 2010; updated on April 21 to include profiles of the members of the Board of Adjustment.

The April 8, 2010, decision by the Downtown Design Review Committee to approve SandRidge Energy Corporation's campus plan has been appealed by the venerable organization, Preservation Oklahoma, Inc., it being perhaps the most prominent and prestigious organization in the state of Oklahoma which is committed to historical preservation — and one which does something about it. Among its many other activities, the organization manages the Henry Overholser Mansion, shown at the right, the building itself being owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The letter from Preservation Oklahoma which constitutes the appeal was filed yesterday, April 19, 2010, with the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment is set out below. This article supplements the earlier Bye Bye Miss American Pie article posted on April 12, and should be read in conjunction with the information contained there.

Letter of Appeal
April 19, 2010
Board of Adjustments
City of Oklahoma City
Municipal Building
200 N. Walker Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Dear Members of the Board of Adjustment:

Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. files this appeal of the recent decision of the Downtown Design Review Committee to allow the demolition of a significant number of historic buildings in the core of Oklahoma City by SandRidge Energy Corporation. The immeasurable impacts of this proposal have not been fully and adequately investigated, and the considerable loss of historic building fabric has not been sufficiently recognized.

The charge of the Downtown Design Review Committee is to "promote the development and redevelopment of the downtown area in a manner consistent with the unique and diverse design elements of downtown, ensure that uses are compatible with the commercial, cultural, historic and governmental significance of downtown, promote the downtown as a vital mixed-use area, create a network of pleasant public spaces and pedestrian amenities, enhance existing structures and circulation patterns, and preserve and restore historic features" (Zoning Ordinance Sect. 7200.2A Downtown Business District, Purpose and Intent).

While the recently approved SandRidge proposal admirably includes mixed use areas and ample public space, it does not, in our opinion, sufficiently address issues of consistency with existing design elements, compatibility with and preservation of existing historic features, or enhancement of circulation patterns. The lack of preliminary review by the Committee prior to the presentation of the fully developed project has left no window for mitigation of these issues. Further, we feel that adequate information about the true structural integrity of the historic buildings proposed for demolition has not been presented to the Committee and the public at large.

We welcome and applaud SandRidge's decision to invest in downtown Oklahoma City, and their decision to restore the historic Braniff Building as part of their proposal, but ask for a more thorough consideration of alternatives to such extensive demolition of the other historic buildings on the site. Preservation Oklahoma welcomes the opportunity to participate in a discussion of these alternatives with SandRidge, and all other interested parties as applicable.

Sincerely,
/s/
Katie McLaughlin Friddle
Executive Director

Enc: Board of Adjustment Appeal Application, Support documentation

Attachment A

Decision, from draft 4/8/2010 minutes, being appealed: "Tanenbaum/Ainsworth to approve items 1-4 [to demolish structures located at 300 N Robinson, 135 Robert S. Kerr, 125/131 Robert S Kerr, 107/111 Robert S Kerr, 120 Robert S Kerr, and portions of 136 Dean A McGee; expand lower levels of tower and remodel exterior; remove and replace existing landscaping and hardscape, construct outdoor canopy, plazas and decks] and approve item 5 [to construct a five story structure at 120 Robert S Kerr and an outdoor seating area] contingent with the applicant returning in 90 days with additional information and more complete plans for the new construction of the proposed structure at 120 Robert S Kerr Avenue.

List of addresses proposed for demolition to which we object:

300 N. Robinson (a.k.a. 135 Robert S. Kerr), designated 2A on project proponents' map SD-103
        -Historically known as the Oklahoma Savings and Loan Building, built 1928.

135 Robert S. Kerr, designated 2B on same map
        -Historically known as the YMCA building, built in 1918.

125 Robert S. Kerr (a.k.a. 131 Robert S. Kerr), designated 2C on same map, with label reading 135 RS Kerr
        -Historically known as the Capital Savings and Loan building, built 1924.

107 Robert S. Kerr (a.k.a. 111 Robert S. Kerr), designated 3 on same map
        -Historically known as India Temple building, built 1902.

120 Robert S. Kerr, not shown on map.
        -Historically known as the Petroleum Club building, built 1957.

*We have no objection to the removal of the "pedestal" around the base and other proposed changes to the Kerr-McGee Tower.
The item is presently on the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment's May 20, 2010, meeting agenda/docket in the City Council chambers, presumably at its regular 1:30 p.m. meeting time -- see below. If that should not be the case, I will amend this article as needed.

THE SETTING — THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT. The city's Board of Adjustment webpage describes the board as follows:
Board of Adjustment

Planning

The Board of Adjustment meets on the first and third Thursday of each month at 1:30 pm in the Council Chambers, Third Floor, Municipal Building, 200 North Walker Avenue.

The Board consists of five members, appointed by the Mayor. The Board members serve without compensation for terms of three years. One Board member must also be a member of the City Planning Commission.

Public hearing items

The Oklahoma City Municipal Code charges the Board of Adjustment with the authority to hear several different types of requests which are as follows:

Special Exception: This request permits consideration of specific land uses that generally do not conform with traditional use groupings in specific zoning districts. Consideration is given to setting, physical features, compatibility with surrounding land uses, traffic and aesthetics. The Board can apply conditions on the approval of the request, which may make the use more compatible with existing or planned land uses in the area.

Variance: In any specific case where the literal enforcement of the Zoning Code regulations would cause an unnecessary or unusual hardship, upon application, the Board may vary or modify that regulation.

Oil/Gas Related Cases: Any request devoted to subsurface mining, storage and transmission of oil and gas and the production of such.

Appeals from Other City Commissions: The Board is designated the power to hear and decide an appeal of the decision of the Urban Design Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission.

Appeal from the decision of the Director: The Director, or his/her designee, is responsible for the enforcement of the development regulation of the Zoning Code. Any decision of the Director may be appealed to the Board by persons affected by the decision such as a zoning code interpretation or the issuance of a building permit.

Board Action

After a case has been fully presented, the Board will vote to approve, approve conditionally, or deny the request. A concurring vote of three members is required to approve, defer or deny an item. If the request is approved, the applicant can use the property in accordance with the Board's approved action. If denied, appeals of the decision of the Board may be filed with the District Court of Oklahoma County (any person may appeal any decision of the Board to District Court), or re-apply after a minimum of six months, providing the request is different, or the physical facts in the area have changed.
      Board of Adjustment Members. I figured that my readers would want to know who the present members of the Board of Adjustment are, and I figured that getting those names would be a piece of cake. It turns out that the city likes to keep that information close to its chest, even though it is analogous to, say, looking up to find out the names of the judges of the District Court of Oklahoma County. To my amazement, that proved not to be the case. To get this simple information, here are the steps taken:
  1. Checked the city's website but could not find the members of the Board of Adjustment listed anywhere.

  2. Called Preservation Oklahoma. They didn't know but it was suggested that I call Lance Gross with the Board of Adjustment staff. I did. He said that he couldn't just tell me, but he said that I could call Cynthia Workman of the City Clerk's office.

  3. I did. She was not in but I asked the person who answered the phone if she could tell me. "Yes, but you'll need to file a request." "A written request, and not just this oral request," I asked? "Yes. I cannot just give you the names over the phone." "Now this is really getting weird," I thought to myself.

  4. Then, I called a person I know at city hall thinking that he/she could just tell me. Even that person was cautious and would not say, I adding, "Well, I don't want to put you on the spot." However, it was suggested that I look at some of the on-line Agendas of the Board of Adjustment and see what I could see. "Amazing," I thought to myself.

  5. Anyway, I found the Agenda for the April 15, 2010, Board of Adjustment meeting, and there they were ... the actual names of the closely held membership of the Board of Adjustment. I'll make it easy on everyone and show those names below for all to see.
Current Members of the Board of Adjustment
(I hope I'm not letting out a state city secret here)
  1. Rod N. Baker, Chair
  2. David Wanzer
  3. Jim Allen
  4. Jeff Austin
  5. Michael E. Dunn
Geez! What a deal, what rigmarole was needed to be circumvented just to quickly find the names of the five members of Board of Review, just a little bit of public information which ought to be immediately available to anyone. Should one need to submit a written request? I don't think so.

      About The Board of Adjustment Panel. This April 21 update adds a bit of information about the above Board of Adjustment members, such as I could locate on the internet.
  • Rod N. Baker, Real Property Broker. According to Spoke, he "has 26 years of real estate experience, and founded Baker First Commercial Real Estate Services in 1988. Rod's specialties include commercial sales, leasing, management and development of retail, multifamily, office and mini-storage projects. He has sold and developed hundreds of properties throughout central Oklahoma. Rod is a CCIM designee, and a licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of Oklahoma. He is a member of many organizations - Chairman of Board of Adjustment for Oklahoma City, Member of the Board of Commercial Real Estate Council, and Board of Advisors for the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. He is a past Chairman of the Commercial Industrial Division of the Oklahoma City Association of Realtors, the Uptown Kiwanis Club and of Oklahoma Goodwill Industries."

  • David Wanzer, Designer. Film Row development has engaged much of his time and a very nice interview in January 2010 by Steve Lackmeyer with Wanzer in that regard is located here. See this link and this link for more about David Wanzer.

  • Jim Allen. I have no information about this Jim Allen. Initially, my best guess was that he is the same Jim Allen who is with Nichols Energy Advisory Group at 1125 N.W. 50th Street, but I now know that is not correct.

  • Jeff Austin. No information found, as yet. I'll amend this when I do.

  • Michael E. Dunn. He is a lawyer officing in the Oklahoma Tower. According to this website, a snapshot of his background is: "President, Oklahoma City Tax Lawyers Group, 1979. President, Oklahoma City Estate Planning Council, 1981-1982. Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment."
The resolution of Preservation Oklahoma's appeal is in the hands of the above citizens. I presume that it would be inappropriate for ANYONE to contact them about the matter — in the same way that it would be inappropriate for a litigant to have a private conversation with a judge.

      Procedure Before The Board of Adjustment. I have no first-hand knowledge, but the quoted portion of the April 15, 2010, agenda which appears below suggests that appeal will not get a heck of a lot of time to be presented. Presumably the appellant and appellee get more than the 5 minutes allotted to other citizens who are there to state their views.
ADDRESSING THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT

The applicant will be requested to present their case first. Following the applicant's presentation, the public will be called upon to present testimony, for or against, the stated request. Each person who speaks should first state their name and address. Each person shall be given the opportunity to present their case once, as succinctly as possible. All parties should limit their remarks to five minutes. Large groups who want to address the Board should choose one spokesperson. After protestant's remarks, the applicant will be entitled to one brief rebuttal.
* * *
BOARD ACTION

After the case has been fully presented, the Board will vote to approve, approve conditionally, or deny the request. A concurring vote of three members is required to approve, defer or deny an item. If the request is approved, you may seek a building permit, if applicable, to use the property in accordance with the Board's approved action. If denied, you may: (1) Appeal the decision of the Board to the District Court of Oklahoma County (any person or persons, jointly or severally, or any taxpayer, or any officer, department, board or bureau of the municipality may appeal any decision of the Board to District Court of Oklahoma County pursuant to the requirements set forth in Section 59-4250.10.F of the Oklahoma City Municipal Code, 2007), or (2) Re-apply after a minimum of six months, providing the request is different, or the physical facts in the area have changed. If an appeal is filed with the District Court of Oklahoma County, the Board may enter into a settlement of the case. Should the Board of Adjustment's decision regarding an application be appealed to the District Court, all interested and affected persons that were originally notified and persons who made an official appearance before the Board will be notified by regular mail to inform them of the appeal.

For more information about the Board of Adjustment, call 297-2417 (TDD 297-2020)
Just don't try calling that number to find out who the Board of Adjustment's members are, though.

THE APPEALING PARTIES. If this were regular civil court (i.e., District Court to Supreme Court stuff), the appealing party would be called the "appellant" and the other party would be called the "appellee." I don't know whether those labels are the terms used in municipal appeal parlance, but I'll use them since that's what I'm familiar with in civil court stuff.

        The Appellant — Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. At its About Us webpage, the organization describes itself as follows:
Preservation Oklahoma, Incorporated, is the state's only private, nonprofit membership organization that is dedicated to promoting, supporting, and coordinating historic preservation activities throughout the state. Founded in 1992, Preservation Oklahoma is a Statewide Partner with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and works on joint projects with the Oklahoma Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
The organization has an impressive list of accomplishments and also bestows honors, some shown at right (click the image for larger view).
The mission of Preservation Oklahoma is to promote historic preservation statewide. Preservation Oklahoma addresses this mission by:
• advocating for preservation issues at the local, state and national levels
• serving as a clearing house for technical assistance to homeowners, municipalities and other nonprofit preservation organizations
• conducting lectures and conferences to educate the public about historic sites and preservation issues
• building awareness through publishing an annual list of Oklahoma's Most Endangered Historic Places
• collaborating through peer groups and associations with other organizations
• communicating through a quarterly newsletter and web site
• acting as steward to the Henry Overholser Mansion
It maintains a list of endangered historical properties throughout the state, placing them in "most endangered" and "moved to watch list" categories. It's 2009 rendition did not include any of the properties which are the subject of the SandRidge proposal — my oh my, the times, they are a-changing!

        The Appellee — SandRidge Energy Corporation. The visually impressive plans that SandRidge has been approved to proceed with include the demolition of several vintage downtown buildings, most notably the original Oklahoma City Savings & Loan (and its abutting structures) and the 1902 India Temple. Much of that has already been covered Bye Bye Miss American Pie, even though my focus there was the India Temple Building.

SandRidge has some impressive moral support figuratively sitting on the front pew within the direct gaze of the Board of Adjustment as it considers the appeal. See Larry Nichols' (CEO of Devon Energy) March 25 letter and Thunder Chairman Clayton Bennett's April 6 letter.

The members of the Downtown Design Review Committee are not parties to the appeal, as such, but Steve Lackmeyer has nicely described the 1st meeting (April 15) of that committee after its April 8 6-1 approval of SandRidge's request to destroy the old buildings and replace them with something of its own concoction, largely beautiful plazas, trees, and public spaces. In his April 16 Oklahoman article, he described what several committee members had to say about the flawed process that led to its own 6-1 vote a week earlier.

Will the committee's staff report opposing the destruction of the old properties come up? One would suppose so, as may Anthony McDermid's now famous statements that,
I think that some of us will feel that we will have blood on our hands at the end of this decision. I have seen a lot of terrible mistakes made in this city from an urban design standpoint in my lifetime as well as before my arrival in Oklahoma City. I fear some of us will become a part of that legacy.
We shall see.

One last thing. I like the tone of the comment made by Pete Brzycki (owner of www.okctalk.com) in Steve Lackmeyer's April 19 OkcCentral blog post, where Pete suggested that a compromise might be in order and would be a good thing. Among other things, Pete said,
April 20, 2010

Lots of good points made here but this is not simply a binary all vs. nothing issue.

Of course, SR is great for downtown and should be commended for renovating the old KMc tower, bringing great jobs downtown, etc.

And of course further investment in downtown is a good thing.

But can’t we have both those things and still retain SOME of the density, preserve the Robinson urban canyon and not great a huge open space in the middle of the CBD? Certainly we can.

So, how about a compromise??? If SR would merely add back a building or some sort of structure south of the Braniff building along Robinson, I think 99% of the objections would cease and this entire project would could move forward with great support.
As for me, I'd be in what Pete might see as the 1% for what it would take for SandRidge to become the hero and not the goat since, of all the endangered buildings, by far the one with the most historical significance is the 1902 India Temple building on Broadway.

But, to each, his and her own. I agree with Pete that it doesn't really need to be an all or nothing solution and that compromise would be a good thing for SandRidge and for you and me.

This article is now substantially done but will be updated to include corrections and later developments as the May 20 hearing draws nigh.

For Further Reading. Oh, yeah, one more thing: Check out this grass roots website, KeepDowntownUrban.com, as well as Steve Lackmeyer's OkcCentral.com blog for more information.

Related articles:

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Bye Bye Miss American Pie

I love you, SandRidge, maybe even you, too,
Downtown Design Review Committee, but ... but ... but ...

(and with credit and respect to Don McLean)




This article should be considered updated on April 20,
after the April 19 appeal was filed.

A thread at OkcTalk.com began the non-official on-line discussion well before SandRidge's official proposal was kinda-sorta made public, as reported by Oklahoman reporter Steve Lackmeyer on December 6, 2009, he noting in a companion article that approval by the city's downtown Design Review Committee was also necessary for SandRidge's proposal when it would eventually be made.

In the same OkcTalk.com thread on January 28, 2010, poster "Edge" identified this link at rogersmarvel.com which showed several very nice drawings of SandRidge's proposed new campus ... click the images below for larger views.
About that, I replied to Edge's link in this reply at OkcTalk.com:
Thanks for the link, Edge.

Having looked over the images there, I have to say that IF Sandridge does everything contemplated in those images, my general opinion is that, overall and in balance, what Sandridge proposes would be a good step in Okc downtown development, though I say this with caveats and some caution.

I say this as one interested in historical preservation on one hand, but having an equal interest in making downtown more spiffy on the other. That mix does present some degree of conflict, but only qualifiedly so.

According to the images at the link, the view from west of Robinson presents a very nice image of that eastbound view ... the former Oklahoma Savings & Loan is gone but, as much as I like hugging old buildings, the replacement view is better, imo ... the saved Braniff building is at the left, but the less significant Ok Savings & Loan, which obscured SandRidge's view from/to and integration with the core of downtown, is gone ... and SandRidge is immediately drawn into having a more integrated identity with downtown's core, at least as I see it.

Actually, the OK S&L building can be seen as being a barrier which obscured and prevented SandRidge/Kerr McGee's integration with downtown in a more intimate way. Seeing the above, I'm inclined to see it that way. "Walls" of urban-ness strike me as a cliche and mean much less to me than does overall integration -- the "wall" concept strikes me as a predisposition favoring "walls" with a lesser importance, at least in this case, with a major downtown's integration into the whole. But, I'm not one who sees "urban walls" nearly as important as some do, and I'll opt for SandRidge's plan in the above image against such an argument. The next 3 views, east looking west, show the integration.

[DL note: images not shown here ... they are above]

Only one item in the pictures at the link puzzles me and gives me my greatest and only pause in wholeheartedly embracing what is shown at the website. All of the following relates to the 1902 India Temple building located at the NW corner or Couch & Broadway.

Do we, or SandRidge, really want to do away with a building which (1) is Okc's oldest remaining structure and (2) which has the historical significance of housing the State Legislature from 1913-1917 until the State Capitol building was done?


Probably the answer depends upon whether the old building has a realistic and economically feasible capacity to be restored. The answers about both those factors are not presently known, as far as I know.

The website images do not contain explicit images showing what would become of that building's space (that I can see), even though it would clearly be destroyed by this development (by all previous announcements).

I'm one who wants to know more about this matter before jumping on board, full speed ahead. If the 1902 building has a reasonable capacity of being restored, then I'd want SandRidge to act in a responsible historic way. If not, then go for it. But we just don't know about that, one way or another, as we speak.

[Emphasis and spelling correction supplied]
Until this article, I've not particularly commented on this topic since making the above post on January 28, 2010.

But, now, I do.

Why? The reason has to do with information conveyed in Steve Lackmeyer's OkcCentral.com where he has closely covered these developments on behalf of the Oklahoman.

The 1st such information was stale-data, reported in 2006, and it was unconfirmed. Although Steve doubtless reported accurately, it was yet to be confirmed. In his March 17, 2010, blog article, "To Tear or Not To Tear Down, That is the Question," he wondered out loud whether the home of the state legislature as still hidden underneath the concrete face. About that, he said,
      That’s the question in today’s story on the plans for SandRidge Commons facing a potential roadblock at Thursday’s Downtown Design Review Committee. The city’s planning staff has sent a report to the committee recommending they reject SandRidge Energy’s plans to raze four buildings on the campus, including the above 111 N Robinson building (shown above with, and without, a fake concrete facade added in the 1960s). You can read the report here.
      An intriguing part of the report is a plea by Preservation Oklahoma sent to SandRidge CEO Tom Ward asking that they delay deciding whether to tear down 111 N Robinson and invest in determining whether the original building is still hidden behind the facade.
      When the deal between Kerr-McGee and the Triangle development group fell apart, leaving the fate of the older buildings on the campus in jeopardy (prior to the properties sale to SandRidge), I wrote this column in August 2006. Note the comments about the contractor who installed the facade at 111 N Robinson, and what they had to say about chances of finding the original building still intact:
      I wanted to share Bob Maidt’s story at a triumphant moment.
      Maidt and his son Bob Maidt Jr. were veterans in the plastering business, and I was first introduced to Bob Maidt Jr. when he helped me understand the pros and cons in the use of EIFS stucco in new construction.
      In March, I wrote a story about a building on the Kerr-McGee campus that was to be part of a condominium development. At first glance, the building at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr Avenue in Oklahoma City is hardly spectacular. But developer and architect Anthony McDermid was aware that the concrete facade covered up a historic facade that dated back to 1902. The building, far from a forgettable Urban Renewal addition to downtown, is a true gem — and its restoration would give back a bit of history in an area that lost much of its past in the 1960s and 1970s.
      But McDermid had no information on how the fake facade was added or whether the original India Temple facade was still intact. Before and after photos were printed with my story, and Bob Maidt Jr. immediately recognized the project as one completed by his ailing father. Maidt Jr. later e-mailed saying he approached his father, who was bed ridden, and memories started to flow.
      The elder Maidt, 82, had been released from the hospital a couple of weeks earlier, with doctors telling the family they could do no more to relieve the man’s failing health.
      “He did most of the Kerr-McGee work, so I figured it was his job,” Maidt Jr. said. “I went over in the afternoon, after work, and he seemed pretty excited. It perked him right up — put a gleam in his eyes. He said, ‘Oh yeah, I remember doing that.’”
      Maidt Sr. not only recalled the job, but also told his son where to find the job files and photos of the new facade’s installation. The original building, he said, wasn’t seriously damaged during the 1960s-era renovation.
      For Maidt Jr., the conversation was a chance to relive the days when the pair worked together, running the family business. Their plastering business had been started a century earlier by Maidt Jr.’s grandfather’s uncle, Albert Maidt (who also was one of the founders of Twin Hills Golf and Country Club). The family business had passed from one generation to another until it closed in 1997.
      The visit about the Kerr-McGee campus building would be their last. That night, Maidt Sr. died. Ironically, the story that sparked the Maidts’ visit had been written a couple weeks earlier — intended to run at a later date. Had the story been delayed one more day, the information needed to restore the India Temple building to its original facade might have disappeared forever.
      I’d hoped to tell the Maidts’ story once McDermid and his partners started on the property’s renovation. Now that renovation, and the future of two other old buildings on the former Kerr-McGee campus, appear to be another unfulfilled downtown dream. A deal between McDermid’s Corporate Redevelopment Group and Kerr-McGee fell apart last week.
      As the two sides go to court, hundreds of new residential units are being added to downtown, leaving the prospect of the planned Braniff Towers a question of will, timing and demand.
      Meanwhile, if someone does decide to bring the old India Temple building back to life, Maidt Jr. is waiting to share more details about his father’s last discussion about what’s under the concrete facade.
Steve Lackmeyer's December 6, 2009, blog article contains a fascinating bit of discussion from architect Anthony McDermid (also a member of the Downtown Design Review Committee who voted to approve SandRridge's proposal last week) and other relevant information. Earlier, McDermid was involved in what was an almost-done purchase from Kerr McGee before it was absorbed by Anadarko Petroleum of Houston in 2006. Purchase agreements had been entered into to purchase from Kerr McGee the old Braniff, Oklahoma City Savings & Loan, and India Temple. The announced plan was to convert these properties into downtown residential units, but the plan went south upon Anadarko's acquisition of Kerr McGee.

Here is most of the content of Lackmeyer's December 6, 2009, blog article:
      Architect Anthony McDermid was once part of a team chosen by Kerr-McGee to redevelop these old buildings into housing. The team did a lot of work – they obtained TIF money to tear down the old YMCA building and replace it with a modern garage for the Kerr-McGee workers and the future residents of the Braniff Tower and neighboring KerMac Building. The deal fell apart just as they were about to seek building permits. From the start, McDermid shied away from stating any plans for the India Temple Building.
      Three years later, McDermid admits they likely never would have pursued housing for the 107-year-old building.
      Here’s what didn’t make today’s paper:
      The building at 111 Robert S. Kerr, would, at first glance, seem to be most historic property on the block. The building, built in 1902, briefly housed the state legislature and its ornate fa├žade, if it still existed, would be a unique reminder of an era that was removed entirely during the Urban Renewal era.
      But McDermid, who surveyed the buildings extensively, said he came to the same conclusion reached by SandRidge Energy – the former India Temple building was too far damaged by Kerr-McGee to be restored.
      “We even had someone from the State Historical Preservation Office look at it,” McDermid said. “He came, we walked the entire building and evaluated what was going on with it. It had been so altered – a new floor had been added into the two-story lobby, it had been torn up inside, and while we never pulled the outside panels, we had eyewitness reports the exterior features had been sawn off.”
      McDermid has no involvement with SandRidge Energy, the campus makeover, or any of the old buildings. So one might conclude he’s a good neutral judge of whether the India Temple Building could be brought back to life.
      Consider this account by yet another team of respected developers who looked at the building in the early 1990s:
      Mark Ruffin, Nicholas Preftakes and Jim Parrack looked at the odds of renovating the buildings and walked away.
      “The bones weren’t really that conducive,” Ruffin said. “They had low clearance heights, they had significant asbestos issues. From a functional standpoint, they just weren’t that conducive.”
      That’s a lot of damning expertise. And yet something else makes me wonder if more should be known before calling out the wrecking ball. Consider the testimony of a dying man I reported in a column three years ago as McDermid’s housing project was falling apart due to the demise of Kerr-McGee:
I wanted to share Bob Maidt’s story at a triumphant moment. Maidt and his son Bob Maidt Jr. were veterans in the plastering business, and I was first introduced to Bob Maidt Jr. when he helped me understand the pros and cons in the use of EIFS stucco in new construction.The visit about the Kerr-McGee campus building would be their last. That night, Maidt Sr. died. Ironically, the story that sparked the Maidts’ visit had been written a couple weeks earlier — intended to run at a later date. Had the story been delayed one more day, the information needed to restore the India Temple building to its original facade might have disappeared forever.
      In March, I wrote a story about a building on the Kerr-McGee campus that was to be part of a condominium development. At first glance, the building at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr Avenue in Oklahoma City is hardly spectacular. But developer and architect Anthony McDermid was aware that the concrete facade covered up a historic facade that dated back to 1902. The building, far from a forgettable Urban Renewal addition to downtown, is a true gem — and its restoration would give back a bit of history in an area that lost much of its past in the 1960s and 1970s.
      But McDermid had no information on how the fake facade was added or whether the original India Temple facade was still intact. Before and after photos were printed with my story, and Bob Maidt Jr. immediately recognized the project as one completed by his ailing father. Maidt Jr. later e-mailed saying he approached his father, who was bed ridden, and memories started to flow.
      The elder Maidt, 82, had been released from the hospital a couple of weeks earlier, with doctors telling the family they could do no more to relieve the man’s failing health.
      “He did most of the Kerr-McGee work, so I figured it was his job,” Maidt Jr. said. “I went over in the afternoon, after work, and he seemed pretty excited. It perked him right up — put a gleam in his eyes. He said, ‘Oh yeah, I remember doing that.’”
      Maidt Sr. not only recalled the job, but also told his son where to find the job files and photos of the new facade’s installation. The original building, he said, wasn’t seriously damaged during the 1960s-era renovation.
      For Maidt Jr., the conversation was a chance to relive the days when the pair worked together, running the family business. Their plastering business had been started a century earlier by Maidt Jr.’s grandfather’s uncle, Albert Maidt (who also was one of the founders of Twin Hills Golf and Country Club). The family business had passed from one generation to another until it closed in 1997.
When I last spoke to Bob Maidt Jr., he indicated the paperwork and plans from the job were safe and could be provided to anyone wanting to delve deeper into whether the building could be saved. SandRidge reports the building’s facade was shaved off and is lost forever.
      These two accounts, at first glance, appear to be in direct contradiction of each other. And as we know from the example set by Steve Mason along NW 9, what may appear to be a hopeless cause may simply be a question of commitment. I don’t think anyone would blame Tom Ward or SandRidge for wanting to get rid of the India Temple Building. But it’s up to the members of the Downtown Design Review Committee (some of whom read this blog) to decide how much diligence is needed to see whether the India Temple Building, as with the original first two stories of the Skirvin, can be restored.
      And now for the final target for demolition – the old KerMac Building. Standing at 135 Robert S. Kerr Ave., the 11-story, 155,911-square-foot building was built in 1921 and was once Kerr-McGee’s headquarters.
Now, to be sure, that's one heck of a lot of words for you to evaluate but I did not want you NOT to see this part of what I was basing my opinion about the India Temple on.

Draw your own conclusions, but my take from this 3-year or so discourse is this:
  1. Bob Maidt Sr., Kerr McGee's contractor for the India Temple project, gave first-hand reports to a reliable reporter about the viability of the India Temple.
  2. Bob Maidt Jr. said that the paperwork and plans from/for the job were safe and could be provided to anyone wanting to delve deeper into whether the building could be saved.
  3. During the 2009-2010 reporting phase, Bob Maidt Jr. has not been reported as being contacted by principles who are wishing to demolish the India Temple; so, accordingly,
  4. One is left to wonder, "Why not?"
That was pretty much the state of things when I was ambivalent about being supportive or not of SandRidge's proposal to demolish the India Temple building. The information was conflicting and neither the pro or con positions were corroborated by anyone who had actually inspected the building (and that includes the venerable Bob Blackburn who appears to have offered offhand comments without actually done first-hand research to to obtain first-hand personal knowledge).

Hence, I waited to form an opinion.

Next Question. Is there any corroborating information relevant to the above ... reasonable viability of preserving the India Temple as opposed to demolishing it? Frankly, I'm disappointed that what available information we have to answer the question is not more specific than it is. The only information I have knowledge of is from Steve Lackmeyer's columns and blog articles. Consequently, some degree of scrutiny is called for when reading and evaluating what he (or any journalist similarly placed) has to say when it is otherwise uncorroborated. On the other hand, journalists are sometimes impressed with considerations which mitigate against reporting on all of what they know. And that's fair. I've not spoken with Steve about this so I'm not trying to mask anything at all, I'm just saying.

Did Steve saying which falls into the same category, "just saying," which is relevant to this discussion?

Yes, he did.

In his April 8, 2010, blog post, Letting the Days Go By, he said,
I’m hearing that the tours last week of the India Temple Building revealed the original brick facade is very much intact under the fake facade, though some of the protruding granite window sills were shaved off and windows were removed. This would appear to be a very similar situation to the Skirvin prior to renovations a couple years ago.
As a reader, would I have wanted to know "who" he had heard such report(s) from? Absolutely. I always want to know the names of the 1st hand sources ... that adds enormously to credibility in reporting. But, maybe, for reasons that I'm not privy to, he chose not to name names.

So, what does it boil down to, when evaluating the above information from Steve Lackmeyer? It certainly doesn't boil down to something that either you are I are able to objectively evaluate since he didn't give it to us in his report.

In the end, for reports which present but do not identify source statements believability boils down to one thing, posed to the reporter: "Do you trust me to be accurate in what I am saying?"

And, so, Lackmeyer is asking for us all to make a leap of faith ... for him to be accurate, honest, and objective, regardless of his personal opinion or point of view.

I'll take that leap. I have complete confidence that what Steve said above has a completely solid basis in fact. The reasons that I am willing to do that relate to my first-hand knowledge of him and of my personal knowledge of his penchant for accuracy when he writes anything for publication. He may mumble when I talk with him on cell phone calls, but I have known no instance that he has not reported anything objectively and accurately. Would I much prefer to know who said what to him and know the verbatim conversation? Absolutely. But the fact that he didn't do that does not diminish my confidence and trust in his summary statements.

Now, to be sure, if we are going into a courtroom, what has been said on-line here or in Steve Lackmeyer's articles, quoted above, would not prove a damn thing about anything. There's a lot of tippy-toeing going on here, I'm thinking.

But, while wanting more detail, I am content in reaching the opinions and conclusions that I have. Whether you are, or are not, is for you to decide.

April 8, 2010, Approval By The Downtown Design Review Committee. As noted above in Steve's March 17, 2010, blog article, a Downtown Review Committee staff report recommended that the Committee reject SandRidge's plans to raze four buildings, inclusive of the India Temple.

After the fact (of the April 8 vote), I wondered to myself, "What IS the Downtown Review Committee?" Now, belatedly, I know. According to this page in the City's website,
      The Downtown Design Review Committee was created in 2007 to review proposed projects within the Downtown Business District, the Downtown Transitional District Limited, and the Downtown Transitional District General.
      Committee review includes buildings and parcel development over 20,000 gross square feet involving new construction, expansions, or alterations to the exterior of existing buildings. In addition, the Committee reviews signage, requests for demolition, and City projects such as street furnishings.
      The Review Committee applies the regulations and criteria outlined in the new ordinance which are intended to promote the development and redevelopment of the downtown area in a manner consistent and compatible with the existing unique and diverse design elements of downtown Oklahoma City. Downtown Design Distric[t] requires a seperate[sic] design review and approval.

An excerpt from the staff report prepared for the April 8, 2010, meeting appears below but you can read the full staff report here.


The report related to a special meeting called by the Downtown Design Review Committee scheduled for April 8. Minutes of the special meeting are here -- approval of those minutes is on the committee's April 15 agenda.

Steve did live blogging of the April 8 meeting giving us developments play by play (so to speak) ... see
Steve was much more complete when he wrote the Oklahoman story the next day. A snapshot of the story is shown at the right but the full article is here.


Some of the more fascinating and/or troubling items in his story are set out below.
      The committee originally planned to tour the buildings Thursday [April 8] — but those plans were changed without public notice and committee members were given tours in pairs so as to avoid meeting quorum requirements that would have allowed the public to see the buildings, as well.
      * * *
      Betsy Brunsteter, chairwoman of the Downtown Design Review Committee, cast the lone "no" vote to SandRidge's demolition plan. "When the city council created the Downtown Design Review ordinance and this committee, their intention was to place the central business district in safe hands," Brunsteter said. "We were to help guide future development of the downtown area. In my opinion this committee was appointed to carefully consider development options. The ordinance only allows demolition under very special circumstances."
      Brunsteter asked fellow committee members and SandRidge officials to consider potential negotiations, a request that was ignored. She also asked whether SandRidge might consider phasing demolition or putting up a “bond” to ensure that it wouldn’t tear down buildings only to leave the areas unfinished afterwards. Those requests also went unanswered.
      Committee members Dick Tanenbaum and Jim Loftis led the charge to tear down the aging structures. Tanenbaum confirmed he once sought to redevelop the buildings for housing as he has previously with the Park Harvey and Montgomery buildings. He said the tour changed his mind about the viability of the structures. "After the tour, it struck me there is no way to retrofit those buildings," Tanenbaum said. "They might just fall down if you do nothing with them."
      Loftis, an architect who participated in the planning and design of the Myriad Gardens and the Murrah Federal Building in the 1970s, said he doubts the market exists for the buildings to be converted into housing or offices. "From a historic preservation standpoint, in touring the buildings, it appears they’ve been horribly neglected, horribly altered on the outside, and what's there has been butchered," Loftis said. "They sat there for a long time. They just sat there. I’m ready to see someone have this stuff improved. I’m ready to see the city move forward."
      McDermid and developer Chuck Ainsworth both indicated they were conflicted in their votes.
      "We're all struggling with Oklahoma City’s history of tearing down buildings and downtown, and how important it is to save as many buildings as we can," Ainsworth said. "As a developer I went through those buildings and asked if they are functional and are they worth saving. And I couldn’t come up with a reason to save them. It distresses me these buildings are in the condition they are in."
* * *
      McDermid was once a part of a development effort to turn the buildings into housing — an agreement with then-owner Kerr-McGee that was severed by the company when it was acquired by Houston based Anadarko Petroleum. McDermid voted for the demolition after arguing at least one of the buildings, 135 Robert S Kerr, remains a good candidate for redevelopment.
"I think that some of us will feel that we will have blood on our hands at the end of this decision,"
McDermid said. "I have seen a lot of terrible mistakes made in this city from an urban design standpoint in my lifetime as well as before my arrival in Oklahoma City. I fear some of us will become a part of that legacy."
One last thing and I'm done with this. After the committee's April 8 meeting, Steve reports here on something he learned the day after the vote had already been taken. He learned of a pair of letters sent to SandRidge, which in turn passed them along to the committee, by two of the city's heaviest hitters, Larry Nichols (Devon's chief executive) and Clay Bennett (Thunder's chief executive). About these letters, Steve merely observed, "Here are letters that the Downtown Design Review Committee members, consisting of architects, developers and business executives who must do business in this town, received prior to their vote on SandRidge Energy’s plans to tear down six buildings." (Emphasis supplied by me.) Click on either thumbnail below to read the respective letters.
Larry Nichols' March 25 letter
Clay Bennett's April 6 letter

Were the letters just from one friend to another and not written to influence the decision? Uh-huh uh-huh.

The deed is done. Absent an appeal from the committee's decision, or absent a thoughtful reconsideration by SandRidge itself, Oklahoma City's oldest existing downtown building, the very same building that housed the Oklahoma Legislature from 1913 -1917 after the city succeeded in moving the state capital from Guthrie while our existing State Capitol building was being constructed, add the loss of this building as another brick in the wall. Damit. Where is Flash Gordon when you really need him? It finally dawns on me that he doesn't exist. And, quite possibly, neither does a committee, when the heavy hitters are involved, which matches the committee's description given by committee chair Betsy Brunsteter who stood alone on April 8 when she said,
When the city council created the Downtown Design Review ordinance and this committee, their intention was to place the central business district in safe hands.
The committee's members are Betsy Brunsteter (Chair), GiGi Faulkner (Vice-Chair), Richard Tanenbaum, James Loftis, Charles Ainsworth, Mark Grubbs, and Anthony McDermid, but a shout out goes only to the committee chair, Betsy Brunsteter, AIA, ACHA, with Architectural Design Group, Inc. For her efforts and backbone, she has proven her mettle and her worth.

Related articles:


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Friday, April 09, 2010

North on Lincoln: The Park-O-Tell

Original article posted on July 20, 2006; major edit & update on April 9, 2010

This is my second post on North Lincoln Blvd. (the 1st being Beverly's), and it's about the Park-O-Tell, which one could subtitle, What? No wireless internet?

Nope. Back in those pre-internet and pre-cable TV days, probably even pre-color TV for the most part, the best you could get was, “Free garage under same roof," "Air conditioned in summer, steam-heated in winter,” shown on the back of the 1940 postcard, below:

(credit: postcardsfromtheroad.net)
Click on the image, above, for its source pic

Since the original version of this article was posted in July 2006 and because of the motivation by the queries by KL of NYC (shown in the comments following this article), I've learned a bit more of the history of the Park-O-Tell which remains a point of interest to Route 66 aficionados around the country.

A 5" x 7" picture (matches not included) costing $25 of Park-O-Tell matches was once available at this location but the picture of the matches is now long gone since this post was originally made around 4 years ago. The Park-O-Tell is a part of the crazy "Route 66" phenomenon.

A pair of Park-O-Tell postcards appears in Vanished Splendor II by Jim Edwards & Hal Ottaway (Abalache Bookshop Publishing 1983) and they may also be seen at www.route66photographs.com and at www.playe.com — those shown below are from the Vanished Splendor II book — click on the images for larger views ...




As I said in the North on Lincoln: Beverly's article, I was on the debate team at Lawton High, graduating in 1961. In my 3 years at LHS, the team would travel to Oklahoma City fairly often and I think that we always stayed in the Park-O-Tell and always ate at Beverly's. By time we were doing such things, the Park-O-Tell was very obviously past its prime — I don't know its exact closing date but it was during either the 1960s or 1970s when Lincoln Boulevard was being expanded to circumvent the State Capitol.

But, on its opening day, February 9, 1930, a full-page spread in the Daily Oklahoman called it a "palace for tourists." Click here to read that full page description. Parts of the article and images contained in it appear below.









The following images show the Park-O-Tell most probably in the 1940s and are all from the Oklahoma Historical Center's on-line public archives. Click on an image for a larger view.

About The Park-O-Tell. The description given in Vanished Spendor II by Jim Edwards and Hal Ottaway appears to have been largely taken from the above-linked Oklahoman article, but here is their synopsis:
The Park-O-Tell complex in Oklahoma City was the first of a proposed chain of ten such units that were to be built north to Wichita and south to El Paso. The Daily Oklahoman called it a 'Palace for Tourists' on opening day, Sunday February 9, 1930. Completed at a cost of $185,000, the complex consisted of three Spanish-style buildings, facing east on Lincoln Boulevard, two blocks north of the State Capitol. Thee was a two-story hotel of sixty-eight rooms, along with a sixty-eight far garage; a coffee shop; and a gas station, which also housed a beauty parlor and barber shop. One patron remembered the convenience of 'being in your room and snapping on the radio connection and listening to whatever the operator of the master set downstairs chose to bring in.' There was also a special type of door used on the guest rooms. With a small knob the shutter could be regulated to permit air and light to enter the room without disturbing one's privacy. Velvety carpeting, a spacious lounge, and soundproofing between the bedrooms and the garage area, and later, sightseeing tours in a station wagon ... why, everything was 'Jake' at the Park-O-Tell."
Where Was It? The Park-O-Tell was located on the west side of Lincoln Boulevard between NE 26th and NE 25th Streets. A 1949 Sanborn map shows its exact location and a contemporary Google map shows where it was located, both maps being shown below. Click on either map for a larger view.
Though long gone due to developments surrounding Lincoln Boulevard and the State Capitol area, the Park-O-Tell's and Beverly's locations are shown in the right map.

Personal Experiences. In 1959-1961, I do recall having some of the best ever shaving-cream fights with my debate team members (one of whom died in the Vietnam War shortly later as well as with another, Mike Lewis, now a prominent Tulsa lawyer — I crashed his dad's car while on a debate trip at Shawnee) up and down the halls and in the rooms of the Park-O-Tell. It's not only amazing that we were not evicted from the premises, it's amazing that we survived puberty. By the time we spent our time there, it was on its downside — we'd probably have been kicked out of the Skirvin. Regardless, my stints at the Park-O-Tell are a part of my personal history that I remember very fondly.

Damn Kids! What are they good for besides making way too much noise and others wishing they were not there?

Looking back, my best answer is, yes, I understand, but "Thank you, God, for a great childhood, and for these great Oklahoma City memories! I think, in retrospect, that not only do kids get the benefit of the doubt, old geezers, in their nostalgia, do, too!

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Friday, April 02, 2010

This One's Just Bunky

Originally published on 3/24/2010 But Updated 4/2/2010 To Add Full PDF & HTML versions of ...


In 1st National Bank & Bunky, 1st National's 1939 64-page booklet was the subject — pages 3-45 of which contained excerpts from the booklet, The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City by "Bunky" (McMaster Printing Company 1890). As to Bunky's 1890 work, I said,
I have not yet had the privilege of seeing an original copy of this publication. If and when I do, the contents of this PDF file will be revised as needed. For now, that which follows are taken by me as substantially if not completely matching the original work.
I'm glad to say that I can now discard the qualifications expressed in the 1st National & Bunky article. Although my eyes have still not seen a copy of the original 110 page book, they have now seen a facsimile replica of the hard-to-find original work.

Better still, I now own a copy of that facsimile. Here's how that came to be. When waxing poetic to my wife, Mary Jo Watson, over the great "find" in the 1st National & Bunky booklet and, more particularly, when I described with enthusiasm the part of the booklet which contained excerpts from Bunky's work, she said (not being titillated by my remarks), "Oh, I have a copy of that," but she didn't share my enthusiasm. She said, "It contains some very racist remarks," which, in fact, it does in one of its sections. But, history is what it is, and I said, "Wow! You know my interest in Oklahoma City history and you've not told me that you have a copy of Bunky? Let's find it!" We searched high and low through her bookcases and cabinets but to no avail. Quite possibly, we did not look in the right part of her personal multi-thousand book library (I'm not kidding ... mostly her library's volumes are about art and art history, particularly Native American) but, in any event, it was not to be found.

"I'll call a few friends," she said, "and see if they have a copy." She did. Friend #1 did not have it. Friend #2 said that she'd look. After several days passed by without a reply from Friend #2, I gave it up and put Bunky out of my head. We then left for a very nice spring break trip (courtesy my son and his fiance) to the Broken Bow area in far southeast Oklahoma — and a great and refreshing trip it was.

Returning home, after lugging into the house all of the trip stuff, a natural part of business was to check our mail while we were away. That evening, Mary Jo said, "Close your eyes." I did. Opening them, I saw that she was holding with two outstretched hands a copy of Bunky's The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City. A piece of her mail was from Friend #2! Hoo-ahh!

Friend #2 is Mary Ellen Meridith and to her I am greatly indebted, as are you also, if you want to have or to read a digital copy of Bunky's original literature. It is presented below.

Skip Introduction & Go To Bunky's Book

INTRODUCTION

About The Author. "Bunky" (without further description in the booklet) was the author of the 1890 publication. His real name was Irving Geffs. Luther B. Hill's 1908 A History of the State of Oklahoma, Vol. I (1908), pages 218-219, says this about the author of First Eight Months of Oklahoma City:
This unique little book, printed at Oklahoma City in 1890, containing 110 pages in pamphlet form, was written by "Bunky," and aside from this name the historian gave no hint of his own individuality. His real name was Irving Geffs. Some time before the incidents which he describes he had taken too much liquor, and on recovering his senses found that he was a regularly enlisted soldier of the United States army, a position for which he had no special liking, but it was several years before he was able to get out. He was with the infantry that camped at Oklahoma City the day before the opening, and on leaving the army remained in the city for some time. He was a left-handed scribe, a clever writer, and was in the employ of some of the first newspapers of the city, especially with Frank McMaster.
McMaster was publisher of early-day newspaper, The Oklahoma Gazette, and was publisher of Bunky's booklet.

Other than the above, Irving Geffs aka Bunky appears to have dropped out of sight and out of mind. I've located nothing else which gives a description of the author or of his life or death after publication of his singular work.

Later Publications. The booklet was republished on two occasions other than the 1988 version contained in this article. It was first republished in 1939 by the Trave-Taylor Company, and then in 1989 by HISTREE in a rendition by Larry S. Watson. Both of these versions are available to be purchased on the internet and a pair of such ads appear below (the ads are not linked to purchasing locations but you can Google for them).

Ad for the 1939 Publication
Ad for the 1989 Publication

Women's Posse Publication. A third republication of Bunky's work, presented here, was produced in 1988 by the Women's Posse component of the local Westerner's organization.

When that was done, my wife and her two friends were members of the Women's Posse and copies had been distributed for them to sell. Mary Jo couldn't find hers nor could Friend #1. But Mary Ellen found hers and presented a copy as a gift. I again extend my thanks and appreciation to Mary Ellen Meredith of Oklahoma City for the copy of this booklet which wound up in my grubby OKC history hands!

The Westerner's Women's Posse 1988 republication appears to have been handled differently than the others. Instead of fixing typos and/or other improvements, this republication included any warts that were present in the original. It was an exact copy of the original and that's what makes it historically special. An April 16, 1989, Oklahoman article said,
All that is known about Bunky is he one night overindulged in drink and woke to discover himself enlisted in the U.S. Army. Before he was able to disengage himself from the military, he wound up shipped to Indian Territory, stationed with the infantry in charge of peacekeeping at Oklahoma Station during and after the Run. Bunky remained in Oklahoma City after his discharge and recorded his observations for local newspapers. In 1890, he wrote a 110 page pamphlet called "The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City" published by McMaster Printing Co. Only three copies of the original book remained in 1989 when it was reprinted — typos and all — by the Oklahoma Women's Posse of the Westerners.
In a companion April 16, 1989, article, the Oklahoman said,
Bunky waxes poetic on the romantic new territory; comments on the personalities of the growing town, reports on scandals and successes and ... in the telling, furnishes an invaluable record of the first days of the city.
BUNKY'S BOOK

Skip the discussion below and immediately open . . .
The 75.3 MB PDF version       The HTML Version

Bunky's account of the 1st eight months of Oklahoma City begins on Sunday, April 21, 1889, the day before the Land Run. It ends sometime in December 1889 or January 1890 with a description of the Oklahoma City Ditch and Water Power Company and the 6-mile canal which actually didn't start construction until December 1889 or January 1890. To read Bunky's description, one would suppose that the canal had already been completed and was already a great, marvelous, and functioning thing!
The most gigantic undertaking in Oklahoma Territory or in the entire southwest was the Oklahoma City water power canal. * * * To this canal Oklahoma City is indebted for a great many things. It has made her the metropolis and commercial center of the Territory and in the future will be her beacon light.
In fact, the canal had its debut later in 1890. Reports vary as to the opening date. Angelo Scott's 1939 book, The Story of Oklahoma City, places the date "in the spring" of 1890, but a March 21, 1909, Daily Oklahoman ad by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company places the opening date on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1890.

Whichever date may be true, when described by Bunky, the canal had not yet opened since it failed the day following its opening when the canal waters sunk into the sand, as described in this article. Bunky's description, written as fact, was obviously inaccurate speculation.

A reader of Bunky's book should read it with eyes wide open and use his/her capacities for critical analysis to separate historical fact from remarks written by Bunky when he was wearing his rose colored glasses. The book is a fun read ... all but one section which, as previously alluded to, stands as a testament to the racial bigotry which would remain the fact for many decades in our city's history which were yet to be lived.

The full scanned Women's Posse book is available to you here in two forms ... PDF and HTML. There are differences.

PDF VERSION. To skip the discussion/explanation below, click here to open (or right-click to save to your computer ... see below) the 75.3 MB PDF version of Bunky's book. If you are wanting to print a copy of the book, the PDF version is definitely what you'd want to use.

      Right-click Options. Depending on your web browser software, a similar but different pop-up menu will appear when right-clicking on the above link. This describes what you should do if you want to save the file to your computer so that you can read Bunky anytime you want, whether connected to the web or not. Depending on your web browser software, right-clicking gives the following options:


If you're a Firefox user, select "Save Link As ..." as shown at the above left. If you're an IE Explorer user, select "Save Target As ... ." They both do the same thing. After selecting, you will be prompted by your software to save the file to a location you select on your computer. It doesn't matter where. The file name is "bunky.pdf" although you can save it to a different name if you want.

      About the PDF File. Opening the PDF file, page 1 looks like the image below:


You will also observe "bookmarks" at the left which you can open and close as you want, and they help navigate through the book ... click on the image below to see it better ...



OPEN THE 75.3 MB PDF VERSION

HTML VERSION. If you're not wanting to save and/or print the large PDF file and/or have a slow browser connection and/or just want to browse more quickly though the book, you might prefer this option. To skip the discussion/explanation below, click here to open the HTML version which will open in a separate window or tab, depending on your web browser software.

      About the HTML Files. Unlike the PDF version which contains a single file, the HTML version contains 113 HTML pages which are linked together. The pages are an index (home) page which contains quick links and a description of the book, together with linked pages for each page in the book. Navigation links are present on each page.

The Home/Index page is shown below (click on the image for a full-screen view):


The Home/Index page also includes "Quick Links" to rapidly move to particular pages in the book. Hover your mouse over a page number for a brief description of a page's content, as shown below.


      Page Backgrounds. Each page of the book is presented on 1 of 9 background images, like the page shown below (click on it for a larger view).


Although not part of Bunky's book, I thought it appropriate to add background photographs taken by That Man Stone during the period of time covered in Bunky's work. Each background image is actually a pair of Stone's images combined to form a single file and on each HTML page you can open the background image to have a closer look if you want.

Those background images are also shown below ... click on any image below for a 1024 px wide view.


OPEN THE HTML VERSION

So there you have it. The 1st 8 months of Oklahoma City, April 22, 1889, through December 1889 -- January 1890, according to Irving Geffs.

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