Bringing back the State Capital: Guthrians gather to save one of the historic district’s most recognizable buildings

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GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA -- Dust and dried ink, squeaky doors and long silenced machines.

To walk through the old State Capital Publishing Building is to walk through the history of the printed word in the 20th Century.

Lynn Bilodeau lives next door now.

He and his wife came to Guthrie too late to see it as the printing plant it once was, or the printing museum that closed here in 2012 when the gas boiler finally gave up the ghost.

"Even when it was operating as a museum it was still too hot in the summer," says Bilodeau.

But he and a few other concerned citizens seem to have arrived just in time to save this structure from being subdivided into senior apartments, which was in the works last year.

Lynn says, "plans came up for the building but nothing we thought was appropriate."

Bilodeau helped form a non-profit organization calling itself the Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition in hopes of finding the money to re-open this museum, maybe carve out a spot for the Chamber of Commerce to meet, and even to fire up some of the these old linotype machines to print again.

Lynn states he'd like to, "Have our letterhead printed on those machines out of this building."

Nathan Turner cut his teeth as a historian studying this iconic structure built in 1902.

It was the largest publishing concern west of the Mississippi around the time of statehood in 1907.

The grand lobby, the huge filing system of fonts and letter sizes, original furnishings, original machines, they're still in here, and Turner would like to see them stay.

"Absolutely," he states. "I'm hopeful that something can be done with the building. It's an iconic building for Guthrie."

In November of 1907 the telegram declaring Oklahoma a state came through this office.

The first announcement came from this balcony window to a crowd below.

The ink isn't yet dry on the future of this iconic building, but it looks more promising now that Guthrians are guarding its future.

The Guthrie Tomorrow Coalition is currently negotiating with the Oklahoma History Center to take full ownership of the building.

The Coalition is also planning to raise somewhere between $2 million and $4 million to re-open it for public use.

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