‘We feel like urban hipsters’: Living in the old downtown OKC Library

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Earlier in their professional lives, Art and Sandy Cotton might have explored this part of the old downtown library looking for books on design and architecture instead of actually living here.

"We really think we're like urban hipsters," chuckles Sandy. "We don't know if we are or not."

Straight from the pages of a magazine and from the stacks of the old downtown Oklahoma City book lender, this space is truly high 'Cotton' now.

Art and Sandy lived in Blanchard for a long time but moved to the Carnegie Centre almost three years ago, and soon realized how much they liked living downtown.

"We have a great time," says Art Cotton. "We're never going back to the suburbs."

You can credit one of the Cotton's neighbors, Judy Hatfield, for figuring out what to do with the old library building which was empty for several years after the new library was finished.

"It absolutely fits my vision," smiles Hatfield.

Her original idea included lots of glass and balconies, but that was before the economic downturn.

Judy says, "Then 2008 happened and I had to put the brakes on."

When the dust settled, she went back to the drawing board and the history books.

This address at McGee and Robinson was the very site of the original Carnegie Library built in 1907.

The modern building that replaced it was historic too so she went with it.

Hatfield explains, "That gave me a whole new vision and trajectory on what could be done."

In 2014, she opened the Carnegie Centre with 19 loft apartments, one of them her own.

She filled the ground floors with trendy businesses like this spa, a vegetarian lunch counter, an architecture firm, even UCO college classes downstairs.

"It just fits beautifully," she says.

You can still find some books to borrow here and there but Judy helped write another chapter to the old library's history, one that's hard to put down.

The Carnegie Centre is one of 9 different Oklahoma City properties on the Downtown Home Tour which takes place Sunday, March 4 from Noon to 4pm.

Click here for more information about the free tour.

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