Thousands Sign Petition To Protect Iconic Dome Church In NW OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY - An iconic church in Oklahoma City is at the center of a petition drive. The First Christian Church at NW 36th Street and Walker Ave. is for sale and local preservationists worry a new buyer could tear it down.
“We just want to save this building,” said Lynne Rostochil, who is leading a petition to do that.
For Rostochil, preserving the church's egg-shaped building is personal. Her grandfather R. Duane Conner was the architect.
“For the 1950s, it was definitely something out of outer space, a Jetson's cartoon,” she said. “It's made of thin shelled concrete and they thought it would come down since there are no interior supports so he really put his whole career on the line building this.”
Touted as the “Church of Tomorrow,” the doors opened in 1956, where a large sanctuary provided years of fellowship under the dome.
“It had over 3,000 members at the time, it was kind of one of the first mega churches in the United States, so all of these buildings supported the huge congregation back then,” Rostochil said.
However, that congregation has dwindled to around 50 members today forcing the church to sell.
“Our congregation can't afford to keep this large of a building open, running utilities on this size of a building is really expensive,” said church member Jon Annesley.
Some fear a new buyer, though, could demolish the historic church to make way for new developments.
“As far as I know there are no plans to tear the building down and we don't want to see that happen either,” Annesley said.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, but Rostochil says that isn't enough.
“What we would like to see is this building declared a landmark,” she said.
Through her petition drive, more than 4,000 people agree with her.
“If someone came in and had a demo permit it would have to go through review through the HP (Historic Preservation) Commission first and have public hearings,” she said. “It's not to say it couldn't be torn down, but there would be a layer of review before that could happen.”
As for the church, once the buildings sell, it hopes to rebuild, to fit the smaller congregation.
“Somewhere more centrally located so we can help more of the homeless population,” said Annesley. “I understand that people think the building is important, I agree, I love this building too. It's a great building for acoustics. I would love to see the building saved and repurposed in a positive way for the community.”
The petition and request to give this property landmark status will be presented before the city council on March 12th.
To sign the petition click here: https://www.change.org/p/okie-mod-squad-landmark-the-first-christian-church and to receive updates about the church’s landmark status, click here:https://www.facebook.com/Save-the-Egg-806062096416642/