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  • Cathy O’Connor

More progress on landmarks

The people who inhabited a building, along with the stories of what they accomplished inside that building, are what make a structure truly special over time. Lasting value isn’t found in the bricks, materials and finishes, but in the building’s location in time and place; its history and the purpose it served and continues to serve today. That’s why I’m thrilled about the early plans for the Clara Luper Civil Rights Center presented to the MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board.

Plans include saving the Freedom Center building, built in 1945 and acquired by the Freedom Center Inc. in 1967 under Clara Luper’s leadership. The building became home to the NAACP Youth Council, served as a hub for organizing fair housing marches and civil rights meetings and was known as Luper’s home base for advocacy and activism. The conceptual master plan also includes converting the surrounding property owned by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority at NE 25th Street and Martin Luther King Avenue into a 5-acre campus setting. A new, 10,000-square-foot Smithsonian-caliber museum and a 7,500-square-foot multipurpose education and event center will create a cultural and educational destination that shares the history of civil rights struggles in Oklahoma City with the public.

Another important preservation effort is underway with the Brockway Center built in 1915, headquarters of the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs for almost 50 years. The Brockway Center was acquired last year by the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority and saved from demolition. The Brockway Center, along with another of Oklahoma City’s African American historic sites, the Lyons Mansion, are receiving funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, provided through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The funding will be used for a local planning process that includes a reuse feasibility study and business plan for each property.

Read more at The Journal Record


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