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Bye Bye Cotter

James Cotter and his horse, or rather the sculpture of the pair erected years ago in front the renamed BancFirst Tower, were removed from the property over the weekend, ending the last visible trace of the late Texan and former owner of the 36-story tower.

Cotter, who named all of his sons after himself, bought the former Liberty Tower in 2004, renamed it Cotter Ranch Tower and branded it with his ranch logo. He required security personnel to wear western apparel, including cowboy hats.

He adorned the lobby with portraits of his favorite political figures and one of the woman who managed the tower. And while the lobby was refreshed, the rest of the building was left to fall into disrepair.

Occupancy plummeted. 

Cotter did not play well with locals. He refused approaches to include the Underground level of the tower in a revamp of the overall tunnel system. He let the outdoor plaza crumble. But he did spend money on a life-size bronze sculpture of himself and the horse.

Cotter's estate was a mess when he died two years ago. Ultimately his empire ended up in receivership. And over the summer, Oklahoma City was liberated from the Cotter family when the tower sold to BancFirst for $21 million.

BancFirst is drawing up plans for an extensive redevelopment of the tower in advance of it becoming the bank's new headquarters. The Cotter name disappeared as soon as the sale closed. The branding marks and the western wear disappeared as well.

The sculpture took longer than expected as the family declined to take it back. BancFirst then arranged to donate it to the Chisolm Trail park in Yukon. All that remains back at BancFirst Tower is the base of sculpture - it too will soon disappear.

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›