admin2021-07-16T18:37:14+00:00July 16th, 2021|
You are cordially invited to help protect, restore, and preserve one of Oklahoma’s most important historic icons, the State Capital Publishing Museum through your attendance and/or sponsorship of A NIGHT FOR THE MUSEUM on October 7, 2021.
This is a come-and-go event which will run from 5:30 – 8 pm at the museum building and will feature at least three prominent Oklahoma leaders and a silent auction. Hor d’oeuvres, beer and wine will be served.
Tickets are $100 per person and must be purchased in advance through the link below or by mailing a check to the post office box listed on our website (please include contact information if mailing check).
(Note: Paper tickets will not be issued. You will check in with reservation name.)
Click here to reserve your event tickets and sponsorships.
While preparing for a Board of Directors meeting one day, I reflected on Simon Sinek’s approach to business – “Start with Why.” I wondered why each of the directors was involved in the organization.
We had been so focused on the overwhelming job of how we would approach the task at hand and what we needed to do — renovating, restoring, renewing, and reopening the museum that I realized I didn’t really know how each person had come to be involved and how they envisioned their individual contributions to the whole. I decided I would spend a few moments of our meeting, asking directors to share why they had become involved and why they continued to be proponents of the organization.
The answers were fascinating. More importantly, heart-felt and in some cases impassioned. One was compelled to preserve the architectural style and structure of the early 1900s. Another wanted to ensure the legacy of the printing and publishing industry. Several were enthralled with the living history so close to home. And all of us agreed that the building is an important location to Oklahoma’s historical beginning.
While our current focus is on reopening the building itself, even more significant is keeping alive the story of birthing Oklahoma from a territory to a state, as the telegraph from President Roosevelt came into the building and subsequently statehood was announced from the second story balcony overlooking main street Guthrie.
Why are we working so hard to ensure this grand old building stands the test of time? Oklahoma has a rich and fascinating history. We are proud of the heritage of our state and want to ensure for generations to come that the state’s beginnings were humble, exciting, and a source of pride.
Won’t you join us?
Cynthia E Rolfe, Ph.D.
Guthrie group wants State Capitol Publishing Company building returned to community as its future is considered
By Laura Eastes
Last month, Guthrie resident Lloyd Lentz peered through a tall, opaque basement window of the 113-year-old State Capitol Publishing Company building.
Troubled by the weeds growing and debris beginning to clog the window well, Lentz admired the large collection of printing machinery, including a Linotype, a typecasting machine used in the publishing industry into the 20th century.
He shared local lore about others who used to peer into the basement through these windows. At the turn of the 20th century, employees of The Daily Oklahoman were rumored to spy and glean the next day’s headlines in The State Capital, published by Frank Greer and the State Capital Publishing Company. The tale highlighted the fierce rivalry between the two newspapers, both reporting news from Indian Territory and Oklahoma, after entering the union.
That story was just one of many anecdotes Lentz recalled during Oklahoma Gazette’s recent visit to Guthrie. Lentz served as curator of The State Capital Publishing Museum when the site opened in 1984.
In the state museum, staff and volunteers recollected the newspaper publishing industry of yesteryear and highlighted a unique Guthrie business for visitors.
Now, Lentz is limited to sharing stories from the outside looking into the historic site, located at the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Second Street in Guthrie. After nearly 30 years, the venue welcomed visitors for the last time in 2012. A broken boiler forced the Oklahoma Historical Society to shut its doors and end a partnership with the Logan County Historical Society, which oversaw the facility’s day-to-day operations.
A new boiler was estimated to cost $120,000, a heavy price tag for a state agency experiencing budget drops in recent years. Members of the local historical society were frustrated, as visitors to Guthrie could only peer through windows to view the national landmark.
Last spring, Oklahoma Historical Society and the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services began accepting proposals for the purchase or lease and redevelopment of the building.
Logan County Historical Society viewed the opportunity as a second chance to breathe new life into the museum. The group was one of four entities to submit a proposal, but unlike the others, the county historical society wanted the building turned over to the community of Guthrie.
“The community rallied to purchase this property to preserve it and develop it as a museum because of its importance,” Lentz said. “Now, with state budgetary cutbacks, we are simply asking the property be returned to us. We can continue the work there.”
In 1973, the State Capital Publishing Museum building was entered into the National Register of Historic Places. A year later, the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce purchased the property for $50,000 from Myrtle A. Jackson, who owned the Cooperative Publishing Company in that location.
Community groups, including Guthrie Rotary Club, Logan County Extension Homemakers and Guthrie Lions Club, and local businesses contributed to the chamber donation drive to purchase the building. Additionally, 32 state newspapers contributed monetarily or with publishing equipment to complete the museum.
On Oct. 16, 1975, the deed changed hands again — to Oklahoma Historical Society for $10. The state agency was to operate the museum, which featured a working vintage press and a large collection of printing equipment.
The museum opened to nearly 2,000 visitors on Nov. 16, 1982, with a special dedication by Gov. George Nigh.
Carol Hirzel remembers the opening-day fanfare, even without looking through the program she saved for decades. As a docent in the 1980s, Hirzel led school groups and out-of-state visitors through the museum. Like Lentz, she supports reverting the building back to the community.
She researched other former state museums, including Kingfisher’s Chisholm Trail Museum, which was donated back to the original donors from Oklahoma Historical Society.
“The state never went back to the donors and asked, ‘Would you operate it?’” said Hirzel, a member of the county historical society board, “the way they treated everyone else; they treated us different. We don’t know why.”
Under the three-year-old Oklahoma State Government Asset Reduction and Cost Savings Program, the State Capital Publishing Museum was identified as underutilized.
Through the program, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) is tasked with liquidating properties that fall within the 5 percent most underutilized state-owned properties. The list is published before the end of the year, and the Guthrie museum was one of 11 properties listed in the 2014 report.
Through a connected law passed in 2013, proceeds from a sale are used for maintenance costs of other state buildings, which can include state Capitol repairs.
According to the report, the list value of the Guthrie museum was $5.6 million, but its estimated value was left blank.
For eight months, OMES collected written proposals for the purchase or lease and redevelopment of the State Capital Publishing building. OMES entered the proposal stage with a goal of preserving the building’s historical significance and stimulating Guthrie’s economic development.
“The State Capital Publishing Company is one of Oklahoma’s most historic buildings and one of Guthrie’s architectural crown jewels,” Melissa Milburn, director of real estate and leasing services at OMES, said in a news release. “When you step into it, it’s like stepping back in time, as much of the building has the original flooring and fixtures. We are hoping this will be a major win for the state, Guthrie, the new occupant and this grand historic building.”
A selection committee will review the four proposals. The committee is comprised of representatives from OMES, University of Oklahoma College of Architecture, Oklahoma Historical Society and the city of Guthrie, said John Estus, OMES public affairs director.
In addition to a proposal received by the county historical society, developers Williamson County Investments Corp. and Bywater Development Group submitted proposals, as did the Lauren R. Ladd Trust of Guthrie.
“They have one or two more meetings,” Estus said of the committee, which meets in private. “They haven’t made a decision yet on which proposal they want to select, if any.”
Proposals are evaluated based on criteria of community benefit, historic preservation and a redeveloper’s qualifications, experience and financial capacity.
Lentz said that only Logan County Historical Society has experience running a museum and a deep connection to the local community. He is counting on the committee to recognize the nonprofit group’s dedication to the historical site and commitment to reopen the museum, telling the story of the first newspaper in Oklahoma.
“It is too important of a building to let it go,” Lentz said. “If it was in the wrong hands, it could be altered from the original purpose and the historical character lost.”
Print Headline: Uncertain future, A Guthrie group wants the State Capitol Publishing Company building returned to the community as a state committee reviews proposals.
by Richard MizePublished: Thu, June 28, 2018 5:00 AM
GUTHRIE — Grease the old presses and dust off the vintage type cases: The future of the history of publishing, Guthrie, and Oklahoma has a new edition.
The Oklahoma Historical Society, a state agency, signed over the deed to its long-troubled State Capital Publishing Co. building to nonprofit Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition Inc. on Wednesday.
A ceremony was held just off the front steps at 301 W Harrison Ave., where news of Oklahoma statehood was first announced on Nov. 16, 1907 — when Guthrie was the territory-turned-state capital — and reenacted at the state centennial in 2007.
The aim is to save, preserve and renovate the 116-year-old, 50,000-square-foot office building and publishing plant, and resume its use as a newspaper and printing museum and education and public event space.
The building, its three stories and basement crammed full of historic presses and other printing equipment, has been closed to the public since 2012 after nearly 40 years as a museum. Repair estimates have been as high as $4 million.
The building, constructed from a design by Belgian architect Joseph Foucart, is an anchor of Guthrie’s National Historic Landmark District.
Preservationists to the rescue
The all-volunteer Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition, led by CEO Lynn Bilodeau, took ownership of the property just less than a year after forming in the wake of a failed attempt by a developer to acquire it as surplus state property, gut it and convert it to apartments.
Every time I walk the perimeter of the building or traverse the floors inside, I find something I had not noticed before. Each time I visit the building on behalf of the organization, my resolve grows stronger. What a grand old lady is the State Capital Publishing building – among its varying names. I had not anticipated joining this organization would be so inspiring!
The Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition, Inc., dba/State Capital Publishing Museum will be three years old next month. Within this short time period, the SCPM (as we affectionately call the organization) has made significant strides towards reopening the building. First, the organization acquired the building from the Oklahoma History Center, pending a minimum financial investment within five years. We are well on our way to achieving that objective. Still, much work is needed to renew the building into tip-top shape and open as a museum.
Are you curious about the building? Do you wonder what will come of it? Do you wish you could catch a glimpse inside? If so, you are in luck! Volunteer opportunities are about to open. Board members and other volunteers will be working on various tasks – some historically significant, some just plain dirty old work, and all with the intention of achieving the mission of restoring, renovating, rebuilding, and reopening to the public.
Be a cog in the ever-turning wheel of progress to honor the past.
Hope to see you soon!
Cynthia E Rolfe, Ph.D.
State budget cuts aren’t leaving much room for the upkeep of historical sites across the state.
Now, a metro group is stepping in to help a historic building in Guthrie.
A piece of Oklahoma history is on its way to a new life thanks to a group called Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition.
The State Capitol Publishing Museum was forced to shut its doors after the boiler quit working, leaving it to collect dust for nearly six years.
Welcome to the State Capital Publishing Museum POV – Musings from the Board of Directors.
As chairman of the Board for the fiscal year 2019 – 2020, I am enthusiastic as we take on the challenge of renovating, restoring, and maintaining the Museum in order to reopen the doors for public enjoyment.
The State Capital Publishing Museum is a significant historic landmark building which will be a destination that offers programming with something for everyone – all ages, all stages. It stands as a beacon to the publishing industry and a tribute to the beginnings of Oklahoma statehood.
Upon completion of the renovation and restoration, the museum will operate as a gathering place that encourages dynamic engagement through hands-on exhibits and community events.
During our FY2020 visioning and planning retreat, the Board of Directors set these goals:Obtain Financial Support
Create a Strong Marketing and Branding Campaign
Restore and Renovate the Building
Develop Programming; and
Provide for Operations and On-Going Maintenance
We invite you to join us in our efforts as we bring this amazing building of Oklahoma historical significance back to life. We need volunteers with multiple skills; advisors who believe in sustaining the history of Oklahoma and/or the publishing industry; and interested citizens who want to be a part of something really big!
Cynthia E Rolfe, Ph.D.
by Richard Mize
Published: Tue, May 22, 2018 5:00 AM
GUTHRIE — Just less than a year after it formed, a Guthrie nonprofit group has an agreement in principle to acquire the State Capital Publishing Co. building from the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition Inc., led by CEO Lynn Bilodeau, plans to take possession of the 50,000-square-foot office building and publishing plant in downtown Guthrie, to save it and put it back to use for the community.
Bilodeau said details remain to be worked out, but that a ceremony is planned for 9:30 a.m. June 27 on the steps of the building at 301 W Harrison Ave.
“I am working on the paperwork right now. Details will be revealed, as we all want the transaction to be transparent,” said Bilodeau, an estate planning attorney who lives next to the building and has an office in Edmond.
It will be an in-kind purchase based on a property appraisal. When a certain level of improvements is made to the building, title will be transferred to the nonprofit, said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the historical society.
Blackburn said the state agency is not washing its hands of the troubled property.
“We’ll still be involved with promoting it and the history of the city of Guthrie,” he said, adding perhaps they would work with school programs and other history education events.
That would be a return to the kinds of public events held at the museum before it fell into disrepair too expensive for the historical society to fix.
The aim for the 116-year-old building is to resume using it, as least partly, as a newspaper and printing museum, but also open for other public use.
The building, its three stories and basement, has been closed to the public since 2012. Repair estimates have been as high as $4 million.
Blackburn noted that the nonprofit will have to develop revenue from the property, to pay for repairing and operating it, maybe by leasing parts of it to comparable organizations or businesses.
“I think this group can do it,” Blackburn said.
He said state Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, “knowing not everyone would be happy with any one solution,” still gladly worked with him and the coalition to find a way to save the building.
The building, constructed in 1902 from a design by Belgian architect Joseph Foucart, is an anchor of Guthrie’s National Historic Landmark District. Blackburn said he hopes to maintain a preservation easement on the facade of the building to keep it historically accurate.
In any case, keeping it from further deteriorating is in line with the mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society — save, preserve, and share — even though it won’t hold title.
“We’ve accomplished our mission by saving it,” he said, and if the nonprofit succeeds, the historic building will again be shared with the public.