MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 4, 2012

9 historic buildings to be subjects of tour

— Saturday’s historic buildings tour looks toward future uses as well as past glory.

Several buildings featured in the fourth annual “This Place Matters” tour are available for tenants or development, said Jonita Mullins, executive director of Downtown Muskogee Inc.

“As an organization, we are focused on encouraging preservation, whether it be a new use for an old building or a continued use,” Mullins said.

The self-guided tour runs from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are available at the Downtown Muskogee Inc. office in the Seibold Building, 216 W. Okmulgee Ave.

The Seibold Building, built in the early 1920s for retail space, is one of the buildings on the tour. It also houses an attorney’s office, space for the Port of Muskogee offices and several available offices, Mullins said.

The tour features several other buildings ready for new uses, she said.

For example, the 101-year-old Manhattan Building, at Fourth Street and Broadway, originally housed the Phoenix Clothing Store. Later, Citizens Bank moved in. Its latest incarnation is as a 42-unit apartment building.

“Two apartments that are occupied will be decorated for the tour,” Mullins said, adding that unoccupied apartments will be also open for viewing.

The eight-story building was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1982.

The now-empty Railway Exchange Building, 201 Court St., also has seen several tenants since it was built before Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

A tour brochure says the building was financed by Charles Haskell before he became Oklahoma’s first governor. It was built to house offices for several railroads before being used as a government building. Connors State College then used the building before moving to Northeastern State University’s Muskogee campus on Shawnee Bypass.

The eight-story building has been vacant since December. People have approached Connors officials about developing the building, but officials will not reach a decision until a college master plan is finished, said Lyndsey Sullivan, CSC’s director of college and community relations.

Two churches also are on the tour. The Gothic-style Grace Episcopal Church , at Sixth and Court streets, dates to 1922. It is undergoing a $2 million renovation.

Mullins said the building for First Indian Baptist Church, 510 S. Ninth St., is not old, but it houses one of Muskogee’s earliest Native American congregations.

“We have a wonderful group of historic structures on the tour,” Mullins said. “These structures are located in Muskogee’s historic districts, which include the Downtown Historic District, the Kendall Place Historical District and the Founders’ Place Historical District.”

 For a guided trolley tour, tickets are $15 and available at Three Rivers Museum, where the trolley will load passengers.

Proceeds from the tour go to Downtown Muskogee’s historic preservation and downtown beautification efforts.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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