In 1951, celebrated architect Bruce Goff, with the help of a volunteer labor force, completed Hopewell Baptist Church in Edmond.
The church, like many of Goff’s structures, was imaginative and unique, taking advantage of local materials ” really local materials. Located on an old oil field, the site used pipes and other drilling pieces to complete the 12-sided, conical church.
“The thing that makes Hopewell so great is just the inventiveness of the structure,” said Rand Elliott, lead designer with Elliott + Associates Architects, which was commissioned to create a conceptual restoration design and helped form the nonprofit Hopewell Heritage Foundation. “The fact that that was a very active oil field patch in our history and there were folks in the community that had those skills and there were those materials around, they basically just made use of those materials that were available.”
The church drew visitors from around the world and was featured in Time magazine, but maintenance costs and needed repairs forced the congregation to abandon the iconic structure in 1989. Today, it sits empty and in need of serious renovations.
Hopewell, along with 10 other sites or categories, has been listed on the annual Most Endangered Historic Places list by Preservation Oklahoma.
Since 1993, Preservation Oklahoma, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, has presented a yearly list of places across the state that may have fallen through the cracks.
“The purpose of the list is to bring attention and awareness to both specific historic sites that are needing that attention and needing someone to get that little boost to preserve the site and to just call attention to preservation at large,” said Katie McLaughlin Friddle, executive director of Preservation Oklahoma.
The list is usually a mix of individual sites and broad categories, like this year’s inclusion of barns.
“The list is pretty broad,” Friddle said, “but they obviously have to be historic.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean the site has to adhere to National Register of Historic Places standards, which states that sites need to be at least 50 years old. Notable exceptions, like the Gold Dome, have made the list in the past.
“We look for sites that don’t already have a support system of some kind,” Friddle said. A spot on the list doesn’t guarantee funding, she said, but instead “brings attention from across the state and locally.”
That attention went a long way toward preserving sites like the Sieber and the Gold Dome in Oklahoma City. In Alva, a neglected house that earned a spot last year is being restored. Friddle said a man bought the Nickel-McClure mansion after it appeared on the list and worked to restore it. The home made this year’s list of saved sites.
“The list provides that extra momentum and that extra legitimacy to say, ‘Look, this really is important, and that building down the street that you walk by every day and never took a second look has value,'” Friddle said.
That extra attention is just what Elliott said is needed at Hopewell.
“The church has been very helpful,” he said, but “it’s just a situation where funding is difficult.”
Through the Hopewell Heritage Foundation, there is already a vision in place for restoration; now, it’s just money that is needed.
“We’re looking for funding in an effort to try to restore this or put it back to its original condition,” Elliott said. “It really is a very important piece of the history of the state of Oklahoma as it relates to our architectural heritage. Those kinds of projects are very important that we maintain. They are a reflection of our culture and our values.”
Besides Hopewell, the 11 spots on the 2010 Endangered Historic Places list include a high school, a residence, a theater, archaeological sites and spots along Route 66. They range in uses and architecture styles, but Friddle said all have a tie to the history of Oklahoma.
“Something that we see as we look at the list over all these years is how diverse the history of the state is and how diverse the architecture of the state is, and different groups and different identities and different cultures in the history of Oklahoma,” she said. “These buildings provide physical evidence of that and a reminder to future generations of that.” “Jenny Coon Peterson
Preservation Oklahoma’s annual Most Endangered Historic Places list cites 11 buildings across the state in need of attention
Douglass High School, Oklahoma City: Douglass was the city’s first school established for African-Americans, but has stood vacant for more than 15 years.
Fairview No. 67 School, Roosevelt; Hoyt School, Hoyt: These two schools were once centers of their communities, but have since fallen into disrepair. Fairview was built in 1903, and Hoyt was a four-room schoolhouse built in the 1930s.
Route 66 sites, statewide: Across the state, once-iconic sites along the famed Mother Road have suffered from years of neglect.
Tulsa Club Building, Tulsa: This Art Deco building was a social spot for the Tulsa elite, holding a lounge, restaurant, library and ballroom. It was recently foreclosed upon by the City of Tulsa.
Tulsa Civic Center Plaza, Tulsa: The mid-century modern style of this building landed it on a German publication lauding it as one of the top architectural achievements of the 20th century when it was built in 1955.
Quanah Parker Star House, Cache: This home was built for Comanche warrior Quanah Parker around 1890. Today, it is in need of repairs to make it structurally sound.
Hopewell Baptist Church, Edmond: This church was completed in 1951 using an all-volunteer crew and imaginative materials (like an oil field drill pipe). It was featured in Time in the 1950s.
Stuart Hotel, Stuart: The Stuart Hotel was a social center for the small town after completion in 1903, but faltered during the Great Depression.
Ranger Theater, Alva: This theater was built in 1937 and still retains many original features, like the ticket booth, tile work and top-floor apartment.
Archaeological sites, statewide: The list is particularly interested in Paleo-Indian sites that represent early cultures that lived on the land 14,000- 9,000 years ago.
Barns, statewide: Barns range in styles and uses ” from meager Land Run sites to major ranching properties ” but all tell a specific story about the state. “Jenny Coon Peterson