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GUES visits The State Capital Publishing Museum

Guthrie NewsLeader

By News Staff on Wednesday, May 11, 2022


Guthrie Upper Elementary School’s, Ms. Vangie Goddard’s 5th & 6th grade Gifted and Talented class toured the State Capital Publishing Museum today. Lynn Bilodeau gave them a tour of the basement, 1st and 2nd floor. While on the 2nd floor the students got a chance to stand on the balcony where Oklahoma Statehood was announced November 16th, 1907. Once they finished the tour Clarissa Stockwell talked about the importance of communication, how the Morse Code and the telegraph machine played an important part in the newspaper industry, Oklahoma Statehood and how communication evolved over the centuries.

After the demonstration they discussed the importance of saving the building. The students expressed that they would love to return to learn more about printing, book making and how to preserve the building.

2022-05-12T21:22:21+00:00May 12th, 2022|

Stop the presses! – THE OKLAHOMAN

Stop the presses! Museum starts 110-year-old press! You’re invited to Guthrie to see it in action

Richard Mize

CT Sept 25, 2021

Start the presses!

publishing museum guthrieThe State Capital Publishing Museum in Guthrie got one of its vintage presses going. It’s an exciting development for fans of vintage printing, Oklahoma territorial history buffs, and ink-stained wretches everywhere.

You can see it in action — and hold a vintage print job in your hand — Oct. 7 at the first (coronavirus-delayed) fundraiser for restoring the nearly 120-year-old, 50,000-square-foot office building and publishing plant at 301 W Harrison Ave.

Organizers used the press to print party favors for the come-and-go affair, featuring a silent auction and entertainment, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

“That is an old Chandler & Price press that we know was in the building as early as 1911. It may be original to the building, but we don’t know for certain,” said Lynn Bilodeau, volunteer CEO of the nonprofit Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition.

The building was the home of the turn-of-the-20th-century State Capital newspaper and was a museum for years until it fell into disrepair and had to close. The coalition acquired it from the Oklahoma Historical Society in 2018.

“Not only is this building the tangible representation of Oklahoma’s early history, it also represents a time when our forebears built for beauty and for the ages,” said Trait Thompson, executive director of the historical society. “Nobody builds like this anymore because it is too expensive and time consuming. This building is worth preserving because once it’s gone, we will never see anything like it again.”

The building was constructed in 1902 from a design by Belgian architect Joseph Foucart, the first professional architect in Oklahoma Territory. It is an anchor of Guthrie’s National Historic Landmark District.

The building “is more than bricks and mortar,” said Bob Blackburn, former director of the historical society. “It’s an example of important pre-statehood architecture, and the site where so much Oklahoma Territory history was documented.”

It will take millions of dollars to rehab the museum, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was the largest printing operation west of the Mississippi in its time. It’s well worth restoring and preserving.

2021-09-29T15:49:45+00:00September 29th, 2021|

A NIGHT FOR THE MUSEUM on October 7, 2021

Event Announcement

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.

2021-07-16T16:36:54+00:00July 13th, 2021|

Why Support the State Capital Publishing Museum?

​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.

2021-06-14T14:50:45+00:00June 14th, 2020|

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.”

Community project
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.”

New process
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.

2021-07-14T15:01:52+00:00July 9th, 2018|

New Owner for Guthrie’s Historic State Capital Publishing Building – News OK

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.

2021-07-14T14:50:20+00:00June 28th, 2018|

Point Of View

Ready? Action!

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.

​Interested in learning more?  Sign up for our mailing list.  Apply for a volunteer position.  Check out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and our website for updates.

​Be a cog in the ever-turning wheel of progress to honor the past.

Hope to see you soon!

Cynthia E Rolfe, Ph.D.

2021-07-16T20:26:04+00:00June 14th, 2018|

NEWS 9 – Historic Guthrie Landmark Gets New Lease On Life

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.

2021-07-14T14:57:25+00:00June 8th, 2018|
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