Left: The India Temple Building is shown as it appeared in the first half of the 1900s. Right: A concrete facade was placed over the original exterior as part of a renovation about 40 years ago that made the building part of the Kerr-McGee headquarters. – PHOTO PROVIDED BY OKLAHOMA COUNTY ASSESSOR LEONARD SULLIVAN
For those of you not familiar with the India Temple Building, here is a history of the property, along with developments that have transpired the past couple years:
Restorer seeks images, plans of site before Urban RenewalBy Steve Lackmeyer
|Friday, March 10, 2006
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 6B
Photos and plans from a renovation more than 30 years ago are being sought to determine whether a historic downtown building assumed to have been lost forever to Urban Renewal can be brought back as part of an upcoming loft development. To passers-by, the seven-story office building at the corner of Broadway and Robert S. Kerr Ave., long a part of the Kerr-McGee headquarters, looks like just another example of 1960s architecture. But architect Anthony McDermid confirms the concrete facade hides what was once the India Temple, built in 1902.The building’s history includes a four-year stint as a temporary home of the Legislature. McDermid said the concrete facade likely was added when the block was developed into the current Kerr-McGee headquarters.
If the building facade is restored, the property would complete a string of historic buildings visible from Broadway, including the Pioneer Telephone Building, which is home to AT&T, and the Skirvin Hotel, which is undergoing a facade restoration as part of conversion to a Hilton.
“As a developer, it poses challenges,” said McDermid, who is leading the renovation with partners Bert Belanger and Pat Garrett. “But for the city … if there is something that can be salvaged underneath the concrete exterior, something worthwhile under there, it would be wonderful.”
McDermid said the interior of the building is beyond restoration.
“It’s been so extensively changed on the inside, it doesn’t even qualify for the historic register,” McDermid said.
Dave Lopez, president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., said the exterior renovation could qualify for tax credits and financing through the tax increment financing district.
“Clearly, as we’re discovering from the renovation of the Skirvin, authenticity and affection seems to come with older architecture,” Lopez said. “It gives our downtown a sense of permanency and character you just can’t replicate. Not only would it be an asset if they can restore it to its grandeur, but it would give people a chance to engage with our history.”
Details of Braniff’s historic facade finally toldBy Steve Lackmeyer
|Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 4B
I wanted to share Bob Maidt’s story at a triumphant moment. Maidt and his son Bob Maidt Jr. were veterans in the plastering business, and I was first introduced to Bob Maidt Jr. when he helped me understand the pros and cons in the use of EIFS stucco in new construction.In March, I wrote a story about a building on the Kerr-McGee campus that was to be part of a condominium development. At first glance, the building at Broadway and Robert S. Kerr Avenue in Oklahoma City is hardly spectacular. But developer and architect Anthony McDermid was aware that the concrete facade covered up a historic facade that dated back to 1902. The building, far from a forgettable Urban Renewal addition to downtown, is a true gem — and its restoration would give back a bit of history in an area that lost much of its past in the 1960s and 1970s.
But McDermid had no information on how the fake facade was added or whether the original India Temple facade was still intact. Before and after photos were printed with my story, and Bob Maidt Jr. immediately recognized the project as one completed by his ailing father. Maidt Jr. later e-mailed saying he approached his father, who was bed ridden, and memories started to flow.
The elder Maidt, 82, had been released from the hospital a couple of weeks earlier, with doctors telling the family they could do no more to relieve the man’s failing health.
“He did most of the Kerr-McGee work, so I figured it was his job,” Maidt Jr. said. “I went over in the afternoon, after work, and he seemed pretty excited. It perked him right up — put a gleam in his eyes. He said, ‘Oh yeah, I remember doing that.’”
Maidt Sr. not only recalled the job, but also told his son where to find the job files and photos of the new facade’s installation. The original building, he said, wasn’t seriously damaged during the 1960s-era renovation.
For Maidt Jr., the conversation was a chance to relive the days when the pair worked together, running the family business. Their plastering business had been started a century earlier by Maidt Jr.’s grandfather’s uncle, Albert Maidt (who also was one of the founders of Twin Hills Golf and Country Club). The family business had passed from one generation to another until it closed in 1997.
The visit about the Kerr-McGee campus building would be their last. That night, Maidt Sr. died. Ironically, the story that sparked the Maidts’ visit had been written a couple weeks earlier — intended to run at a later date. Had the story been delayed one more day, the information needed to restore the India Temple building to its original facade might have disappeared forever.
I’d hoped to tell the Maidts’ story once McDermid and his partners started on the property’s renovation. Now that renovation, and the future of two other old buildings on the former Kerr-McGee campus, appear to be another unfulfilled downtown dream. A deal between McDermid’s Corporate Redevelopment Group and Kerr-McGee fell apart last week.
As the two sides go to court, hundreds of new residential units are being added to downtown, leaving the prospect of the planned Braniff Towers a question of will, timing and demand.
Meanwhile, if someone does decide to bring the old India Temple building back to life, Maidt Jr. is waiting to share more details about his father’s last discussion about what’s under the concrete facade.
Uncertain future faces Kerr-McGee buildingsBy Steve Lackmeyer
|Sunday, December 23, 2007
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 6C
Three older buildings on the former Kerr-McGee campus face an uncertain future as the block becomes home to its new owner, SandRidge Energy. The buildings could end up being torn down. Tom Ward, chief executive officer of SandRidge, also says he is keeping an open mind on whether the properties can be redeveloped and promises to meet with civic leaders and preservationists before making any final decision.But Ward is clear on one matter: he’s not interested in seeing half of the downtown block looking dark and abandoned as it has the past 20 years.
The buildings consist of the following:
111 Robert S. Kerr Ave. is a seven-story, 38,736-square-foot building built in 1902. The property was a temporary home to the Legislature for four years. The fake concrete siding hides its original India Temple facade.
135 Robert S. Kerr Ave. is an 11-story, 155,911-square-foot building built in 1921 that was once Kerr-McGee’s headquarters.
324 N Robinson Ave. is a 10-story, 75,584-square-foot building built in 1923 that was once home to Braniff Airlines.
Anthony McDermid, who tried to convert the buildings into upscale condominiums, insists at least two of the properties still can be brought back to life.
“They can be saved,” McDermid said. “There is no question that the two buildings on Robinson are structurally sound and eminently restorable … there are creative ways to address the issues.”
The former India Temple building poses the most challenges, but it also has the potential of uncovering an elaborate 1902 facade, the likes of which hasn’t graced downtown Oklahoma City since hundreds of buildings were destroyed by Urban Renewal in the 1970s.
Before his death last year, Bob Maidt, the man who installed the fake concrete facades at the former India Temple in the 1960s, reported the original facade is intact. He left records about the job with his son, Bob Maidt Jr.
“It’s more complicated,” McDermid says of the India Temple building. “It has been subjected to a lot of renovations over the years and structural changes. There were floors added into it. It’s a more challenging building that retains very little of the original building configuration.”
Another set of developers who looked at the buildings in the early 1990s are less optimistic that any of them can be saved.
Mark Ruffin recalls how he, Nicholas Preftakes and Jim Parrack looked at the odds of renovating the buildings and walked away.
“The bones weren’t really that conducive,” Ruffin said. “They had low clearance heights, they had significant asbestos issues. From a functional standpoint, they just weren’t that conducive.”