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