Oklahoma’s State-Owned Publishing Museum Goes on Market

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The 50,000-square-foot Oklahoma State Capital Publishing Co. building in Guthrie has been placed on the market.

The Oklahoma Historical Society and state Office of Management and Enterprise Services are accepting proposals for the sale or lease and redevelopment of the state-owned historic newspaper publishing office, The Oklahoman reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/1DL0Ruk ).

State Capitol Publishing Museum

The building, constructed in 1902 from a design by Belgian architect Joseph Foucart, is an anchor of Guthrie’s National Historic Landmark District.

“This was a difficult decision, but the building was falling to a progressive state of decline,” said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Historical Society.

Once the site of several student programs, the building lost much of its usefulness for teaching when state budget reductions in the 1990s cut the site’s staff from two to one. Further cuts led the state to contract daily operation of the museum to theLogan County Historical Society in 2009.

 Such limited use is one reason the building, untended in recent years for lack of funds, needs a new owner, said Kathy Dickson, director of museums and sites for the Historical Society, which acquired the property in 1975 for $10 to make it a publishing museum.

When the boiler failed in 2012, it was the last straw. The cost to repair it was $120,000 — too much, Dickson said, considering an annual budget of just $700,000 for maintenance and repair of 31 museums and historic sites. The building has been closed to the general public since then.

The failed boiler, it turned out, was just the most pressing problem. The building needs an estimated $4 million in repairs, Dickson said, and the Historical Society’s board voted to declare the building as state surplus, which normally would require it to be sold.

But the board also wanted to make sure it returned to use suitable for the historic Guthrie business district. Dickson said it took special legislation to give the Office of Management and Enterprise Services authority to do anything but sell the building. The request for proposals will remain open until Nov. 2.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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