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AN has learned that Oklahoma City’s preeminent ovate landmark, the First Christian Church, was demolished this morning. The destruction of the National Registry of Historic places–listed structure follows a lengthy preservation battle that first kicked off in earnest when a new, redevelopment-minded owner was reported to in play to acquire the property in 2019 after the church, its congregation numbers rapidly dwindling, had spent three years languishing on the market. That deal ultimately fell through. As reported by the The Oklahoman, a glimmer of hope emerged that same year when Crossings Church signed a purchase contract to acquire the property; that deal, however, also never came to be after Crossings Church concluded that the cost of renovations exceeded its available budget. First Christian Church has remained in a state of limbo ever since.

Christened in 1956 with a highly idiosyncratic design by local firm Conner & Pojezny, the modernist house of worship—then-minister William Bill Alexander declared it “the church of tomorrow” upon its opening—enjoyed enduring local icon status throughout the decades thanks to the thin-shell concrete dome topping the main sanctuary. The idiosyncratic feature was considered a feat of engineering upon the church’s completion and subsequently garnered more than a few comparisons to a jumbo-sized egg. Located at NW 36th Street and Walker Avenue, First Christian Church also served as a place of spiritual solace and aid for the Oklahoma City community during the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others. As noted by local media outlet Fox 23 News, the church, which was located roughly 4 miles north of the Murrah Federal Building, was transformed into a post-disaster assistance hub known as the Compassion Center immediately following the bombing. For 16 days, the church housed workers from the American Red Cross as well as local first responders, mental health professionals, and media.

In addition to the main sanctuary building locally known as The Egg, there are a trio of additional buildings on the First Christian Church campus, all designed by Conner & Pojezny, including a four-story education building and a small fine arts complex that previously served as home to the Jewel Box Theatre, the city’s oldest, continuously-operating community playhouse.

Per The Oklahoman, today’s early morning church-razing comes as somewhat of a surprise. There had been recent asbestos removal efforts at the church but those weren’t known to be part of a larger demolition plan. The paper’s efforts to reach the congregation’s attorney and the church’s broker for comment went unanswered.

Despite its 2001 listing on the NRHP, First Christian Church was obviously not immune to destruction. Mid-century architecture-focused preservation Group Okie Mod Squad had rallied to have the church be granted with local landmark status, which would offer the building with at least some layers of protection. The nonprofit Preservation Oklahoma also included the imperiled church on its annual Oklahoma’s Most Endangered list in both 2017 and 2019 to raise awareness of its vulnerable status.

With The Egg now cracked and flattened, it’s unclear of what will become of the property, although mixed-use redevelopment is likely.

We’ll update this breaking news story as we learn more details. We’ve also reached out to Preservation Oklahoma for comment and will add its reaction to today’s demolition when we hear back.




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Bạn cần tư vấn thiết kế kiến trúc, nội ngoại thất, thi công các công trình dân sự hay công nghiệp? Hãy liên lạc ngay với Kiến Trúc Sư Phan Phương Thanh theo số điện thoại, hoặc Zalo: 0932463644 - 0935088660 để được hỗ trợ tận tình với những dịch vụ tốt nhất.

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