Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SandRidge — Holder of a Legacy

Robert S. Kerr & Dean A. McGee
Receive Bolos in New Mexico, circa 1950s

As much as all in Oklahoma City appreciate that SandRidge purchased from Anadarko Petroleum the former Kerr-McGee properties and moved its operations downtown, historically speaking, all Oklahoma Citians, including SandRidge, would be remiss if they failed to recall the enormous contributions that the original owner (in relatively modern times) made to the properties presently involved in the SandRidge Commons proposal. That "original owner's" contributions and the members of its organization were enormously powerful in the forming the fabric of today's downtown and are also a large part of this city's historic legacy.

That "original owner" (in the relative modern era) of the SandRidge Commons properties was the Kerr-McGee Corporation. Its namesake principals became legendary figures both nationally and locally. One, Robert S. Kerr, became one of the most powerful United States Senators in the 20th century, and another, Dean A. McGee, became one of the most beneficent corporate and individual benefactors this city has come to know. Individually and collectively, they are an enormous part of this city's history, and are also an enormous part of the legacy that SandRidge Energy holds in its hands.

SandRidge, a relatively new company, is wanting to make its own Oklahoma City contribution as well and for that earnest desire it is wholly deserving of our praise and thanks. By the same token, it does not want to be identified by the former property owner, Kerr-McGee — it wants, and deserves, its own separate identification, and that is wholly fair and reasonable.

Query: Might SandRidge, in a modified proposal, be able to preserve the historic legacy of Kerr McGee and its principals and, at the same time, stake its own claim to be the proud heir of that legacy?

Until a couple of days ago, I'd quite forgotten that I received the following e-mail almost three years ago (I'll keep the sender's name private unless and until he consents otherwise):
June 12, 2007
You won't believe what I came across at work, lot's of photo's, historical photo's of Kerr McGee/Anderson Kerr, KerrMac, etc. The Oklahoma History Museum was called, and never returned the call, or so I was told. So they loaded a huge cart full and chunked them into the dumpster, where I also chunked myself and took them all home. You need to look at them, when we both have some free time, let's get together, eat, or get something to drink and go thru them. I have separated all the Winnewood photo's and I am taking them down to their History museum. I haven't counted them, but I think about 1000 photo's and most are 8x10's, and a lot of photo's of the Kerr Mac building being built in 1962, the corner of Robinson and RS Kerr SE corner where the Journal Record temped in after the bombing.
I quickly responded, to the effect, "Sure, let's do it," but after that nothing further occurred. Not until I received the following May 6, 2010, e-mail, three years later:
May 6, 2010
Doug this is David *****. I've chatted with you in the past and I worked for Kerr McGee for 12 years. I have about two thousand photo's from the K/M archives that belong to me now. I'll send you a link to my photobucket so you can look at some that I have. Let me know if you want to scan my photo's and put up on your site. The link: click here.
I again quickly replied that I wanted to get together but, again, I've not yet received a reply (but am still hopeful that I will). But some of the low-resolution pics in his Photobucket folder appear below. Those photos show the tip of the iceberg that may well result from the photographs taken from Kerr-McGee's trash bins when it closed its doors a few years ago.

India Temple circa 1959-1960 — Great Western Insurance Co.

The following murals show images in the "KerMac" building (I'm not sure which part) which depict Kerr-McGee's oil and gas history. They may have been the result of the company's 1964 mural design competition, I don't know. Presumably, they are still "see-able" if one would be allowed permission by SandRidge to tour the various parts of the KerMac premises.

Some parts of the e-mail sender's messages incorrectly identified the "KerMac" building with the original or modified "Petroleum" building — but those photos are nonetheless helpful in portraying the city's history in this area ...
Late 1950s, before original
Petroleum Building's Expansion
Petroleum Building
Becomes Midland Center
(now Dowell Center)

Here are a few I located at the Oklahoma Historical Society's archives:

Dean A. McGee & Robert S. Kerr
As Younger Men

Postcard: "Howdy From Oklahoma"

Planned Kerr McGee Center
September 18, 1984

I'll add more to this article which focuses on Kerr McGee and its Oklahoma City downtown legacy if and when I obtain more historical photos.

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Unknown said...

Quite a treasure trove!

Doug Dawg said...

It surely looks that way ... I hope that I get to have a much better look than what's in the photobucket folder.