Proposals Being Accepted for the Redevelopment of Guthrie’s Historic State Capital Publishing Company Building
Oklahoma City, Okla. — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) announced this week that proposals are being accepted for the purchase or lease and redevelopment of the historic Oklahoma State Capital Publishing Company Building located at 301 West Harrison in Guthrie.
According to OHS Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn, “The OHS acquired the building in 1975 for $10 with plans to develop the property as a publishing museum. At that time the OHS was able to access federal preservation grant funds to assist with the repair and restoration of the building, but the federal and state funding available were never enough to completely restore and maintain the structure.”
“While we are sad at the closing of a museum, we are excited about the potential business development with the City of Guthrie,” announced Guthrie City Manager Sereniah Breland. “There are many exciting possibilities for the future of the building that can help build and maintain a vital downtown business district,” continued Breland.
The State Capital Publishing Museum opened to the public in 1980 with two staff members. For a few years staff and volunteers managed to keep the presses and linotypes in operation for programs, and several successful student programs were developed including Territorial Times. Under this program a group of high school students produced their own territorial newspaper. Students interviewed costumed interpreters they encountered on the streets of Guthrie to find their stories. They sold advertising, wrote stories, set type and printed their newspaper. Other programs included Book Arts with activities such as paper making and marbling. Unfortunately these museum programs fell victim to budget cuts in the 1990s when it became necessary to reduce the staff to one. Further budget cuts in 2009 led to the decision to contract the daily operation of the museum to the Logan County Historical Society (LCHS). The LCHS struggled to keep operations going until the boiler failed in October 2012. The replacement of the boiler was estimated at $120,000.
“With only $700,000 in state appropriated repair and maintenance funds for 31 museums and historic sites, the OHS board made the decision to declare the building surplus,” stated Blackburn. “This was a difficult decision,” Blackburn continued, “but the building was falling to a progressing state of decline.”
The boiler was the most immediate problem, but in reality the building needed an estimated $4 million in repairs. The staff and board of the OHS determined the best way to save the building from further decline was to return it to active use in the Guthrie business district and negotiations began with OMES to find the best way to ensure the building’s future. Blackburn said, “With the development of the historic Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City as an example, it was determined it would be better to send out a call for development proposals rather than simply offering the building for sale. Under this process the State of Oklahoma and the City of Guthrie have more control over the future of the building.”
The State Capital Publishing Company Building is an anchor for the National Historic Landmark District in Guthrie and is an iconic image for the state. Built in 1902, the building was designed by Belgian architect Joseph Foucart. The 50,000 square foot building was constructed in only six months by newspaper publisher Frank Greer after an Easter Sunday fire destroyed his previous building. In addition to the newspaper, the company did official printing for the territorial government, and sold a complete line of office, school and stationery supplies.
The Request for Proposals will remain open until November 2 when a review committee will begin evaluation of all proposals. The committee consists of representatives from the OHS, OMES, the preservation community, and the City of Guthrie. In part, proposals will be evaluated based upon the criteria of community benefits, qualifications and experience of the redevelopers, financial capacity and historic preservation objectives. The OHS will maintain a preservation easement on the façade of the building to ensure it remains historically accurate.
Two pre-submittal building tours will be held on Tuesday, April 7, from 9 a.m. to noon and Thursday, April 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the site. Prospective redevelopers are invited to inspect the property during the tours prior to developing and submitting a proposal. Proposal packets can be obtained at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.