First Christian Church opposes preservation action by Oklahoma City commission
First Christian Church, through its attorney, is asking the Oklahoma City Council to withdraw or reject a Historic Preservation Commission decision that could lead to designating the church as a historic landmark.
Hundreds of signatures have been gathered by residents of neighborhoods near the white-domed church, at NW 36 and Walker, expressing their desire to protect the building from demolition.
In a letter addressed to the mayor and council members, attorney David Box says the HP Commission's April 3 vote "constitutes an arbitrary, unreasonable and improper abuse" of the commission's authority.
The Historic Preservation Commission and the city council both have met in executive session in the past month to discuss "potential litigation" regarding the church.
The 32-acre church property occupies part of a former golf course.
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It includes the domed sanctuary building and, connected to the sanctuary, an education building and theater.
The commission directed city staff to compile a report of church's eligibility for designation as a historic landmark, a move that would preserve the buildings and limit owners’ options for renovations.
The immediate effect of the April 3 vote was to block demolition of the buildings for up to 180 days.
The property is adjacent to the Interstate 235 interchange at NW 36 Street, making it an attractive prospect for redevelopment.
At the April 3 meeting, Box asked the commission to drop the matter for a month “to allow us to work out a deal with the city council.”
The church's distinctive domed main building dates from 1956 and is described as an “excellent example” of neo-Expressionist design in American architecture’s Modern Movement.