Brockway Center Gets Historic Designation

The Brockway Center, landmark location in northeast Oklahoma City, has received a coveted national historic designation, The Black Chronicle has learned.

The center, a meeting place of substantial historic significance, will be placed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Earlier this week, ceremonies were held at the center at which City Councilwoman Nikki Nice (Ward 7) was presented a certificate denoting the designation by Lynda Ozan of the Oklahoma Historic Preservation Office.

Catherine Montgomery (the author of the preservation application), Cathy O’Connor (executive director of the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority) and Gina Sophola (a preservation and urban planning professional) attended the event.

A demolition intervention success story, the 1915 Brockway Center was the headquarters of the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs for almost 50 years.

The buildings are vacant, in need of restoration and the site is one of only a few historically significant  Black  landmarks still standing in Oklahoma City’s urban core.

The Brockway Center was acquired two years ago and saved from demolition by the Oklahoma City Redevelopment Authority.

“Citizens and preservationists organized to oppose the demolition of this important Oklahoma City structure,” said Councilwoman Nice.

“The others who stood next to me to accept this certificate spent hours meeting with the zoning commission, talking to public officials and property owners and working out a solution to preserve this landmark.”

“Placing the center on the National Register for Historic Places protects this important structure,” she continued, “and exemplifies the spirit of Oklahoma City – people who embrace the past, have a passion to honor the history and people who came before us, while also exemplifying a modern spirit that embraces diversity, community and new ideas.”

The Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Club was started in 1911.

The club used the Brockway Community Center as its headquarters to provide services to young Black women and children, improve the quality of life in local neighborhoods, and advocate for racial equality.

“This historic designation is also an opportunity to draw attention to what this place can become for the future of Oklahoma City,” said Mrs. O’Connor.

“In May, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority opened a request for proposals for planning services.

“We are seeking a consulting team to gather community input, and explore innovative concepts for the redevelopment and reuse of this significant African-American landmark.

“This stands in stark contrast to the period in the 1960’s through the 1980’s when our city routinely tore down significant Black properties.”

“We no longer cover up that part of our history.  Instead,” Mrs. O’Connor stated.  “We stand together in action to preserve history, ensure equitable development in every part of our city and look for ways to have more open, inclusive conversations about what we want and need in Oklahoma City.”

The local planning process is made possible with funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, provided through the African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

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