POSTED ON JULY 10, 2013:
Revitalizing, Rebranding, Reinventing
Firehouse gets new life
Midtown, Downtown, the Blue Dome District, the Pearl District -- just about everywhere you turn in Tulsa, you will see some sort of rebuilding or revitalization. Over the past few years, many of Tulsa's neighborhoods have been transformed into a unique conglomeration of modern and historic. Next on the list of resuscitations is fire station No. 8.
The sale of the historic building began in 2010 and quickly incited controversy regarding the bidding and selection process. The controversy began when some, including those bidding on the project and Mayor Dewey Bartlett, voiced their skepticism regarding City Councilor Maria Barnes' place in the process as well as the fact that it was a closed selection process though it was public property. This criticism lead to delays in choosing a buyer and a revision of the process the Tulsa Development Authority was using, including public meetings and more transparency in the decision-making process.
To most, this fire station would be just another building on a street peppered with apartment buildings and modern architecture on a portion of Trenton Avenue adjacent to Cherry Street, which is slowly trying to climb up out of disrepair and into a bright new future. To James Boswell and David Clark, the station posed a distinctive opportunity to preserve history and create a novel office space. Fire station No. 8 lies in the Midtown area on S. Trenton Avenue and originally opened its doors on August 1, 1925. It was later remodeled in 1967, and in the 1990s, the city used the building for ancillary city offices before eventually closing its doors forever. Since the building was no longer being used, the city decided to put the building up for sale, leading to the eventual purchase by Clark and Boswell.
The new owners of fire station No. 8 put out various inquiries regarding its history. In addition, I have personally put in many inquiries about the historical records of fire station No. 8. I have contacted various entities including the Tulsa Library's research center, City Development, the Tulsa Historical Society and the Tulsa Preservation Commission. To date, no search has turned up more than a picture or two and the basic facts that have been regurgitated in this article. Unfortunately, history in the City of Tulsa has often been destroyed with little regard of the importance it may hold. Sadly, newspapers of the day had plenty to say about "black gold" and the price of cotton but not even a single picture of a ribbon cutting ceremony when the building was opened. Oklahoma has always been the home of progress and exiled peoples, so it's not a surprise that the majority of what has been preserved about history has been done so by private individuals and organizations that had to swoop in and save what they could piecemeal.
In the spirit of the Midtown/Cherry Street revitalization, the building's owners plan to give it new life. When asked why he and Boswell bought the building, Clark said, "We love the idea of the history of the building itself. There's a lot of revitalization in Tulsa and we wanted to be a part of that. We just see the importance in keeping Tulsa going and keeping these old buildings preserved."
The original fire station covered 2,000 square feet, and the renovations will increase the space to 3,500 square feet by adding a second floor. This second floor will be stepped back in order to emphasize the original structure. The first floor will house the architectural firm and reception area, and the second floor will contain the advertising agency with a terrace. The improvements are scheduled for completion in the fall of 2013. The restored building will be the new home of Clark's advertising agency -- Station8 -- Boswell's firm, James P. Boswell, Architect.
Once the building is finished, the owners plan to have an opening event in which they will invite any and all firefighters that once served at this station to see the new building and share in its history. It's Clark's hope that they will bring pictures and other mementos to be placed in the lobby for all to see. There is even the possibility that there will be a small museum in the building if enough material can be gathered to do so.
Fire station No. 8 isn't just a building revitalization, but an entire company rebranding with David Clark Design and Laura Crouch/Writing Services joining forces to become Station8. The two have worked together for 22 years, though they were technically separate entities, and this will be an official union of the two into a full service advertising agency. Station8 will offer services such as advertising, branding, digital and print design, logos, promotions and other marketing services. David Clark has been part of the Tulsa marketing and advertising scene for more than two decades. He has several honors and awards including national, regional, and local Addy Awards, Graphex Awards, DSVC Awards, Art Directors Club of Denver and Rx Club Show. David has also been published in several issues of Graphis, Rockport, and Logo Lounge as well as being published in How Magazine. Laura Crouch has a background in writing and brand development. She has 24 years of experience as a writer, copywriter, and will be co-owner of Station8 Advertising. Laura specializes in branding and marketing communications which includes slogans, brochure and sales materials, tradeshow marketing, packaging and similar advertising communications.
Established in 1996, James P. Boswell, Architect has designed bank facilities, restaurants, and offices to name a few. Specifically, the firm has designed Wolfgang Puck, The Cherry Street Market, and Ninde Funeral Home. The firm offers services such as preliminary design, site analysis, architecture, interior design, landscape design, and construction management.
Currently, fire station No. 1 at 411 South Frankfort Ave. is for sale in the same spirit of renewal and remembrance that has caught on in Tulsa. Tulsa is becoming aware of the importance of history, from the memorialization of the 1921 race riot to the revitalization projects to the Dust Bowl books and TV specials.
Tulsa is home to amazing Art Deco buildings like the Philtower, the Mid-Continent Tower, and Boston Avenue Methodist Church. The movement to preserve Tulsa's history is ongoing and growing in strength. At this moment, there are many small neighborhood projects underway to ensure that all of Tulsa's rich history doesn't turn to dust. As all of these projects come to fruition, Tulsa is becoming a shining gem of old and new that all Tulsans can be proud of.
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