OKLAHOMA CITY – A few Oklahoma City council members may have come up with a solution for the future of a local landmark.
In 2016, a 32-acre property went up for sale near N.W. 36th and Walker in Oklahoma City. The property includes the First Christian Church, which is known for its shape and history.
“This building is definitely one of the architectural icons of Oklahoma City. It gives us the distinctive architectural look that we have,” said Lynn Rostochil.
The congregation made the difficult decision to put the massive property up for sale in 2016, and many said they hoped that a buyer would love the place as much as they did.
The Okie Mod Squad created a petition to ask the city council to declare the First Christian Church a landmark. If the church is declared a landmark, they say any demolition permit would have to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission before any work could begin.
In March, former city councilman Ed Shadid pushed for a landmark status on the so called “egg church.” He said it has historic significance after being used as a gathering place for Oklahoma City bombing victims.
A month later, the Historic Preservation Commission started the process of making it a designated landmark.
However, the city council said it would consider an item to withdraw the application designating the church as a historic landmark.
“It’s basically to rescind action that the Historic Preservation Commission voted on a few weeks ago,” said City Councilman David Greenwell, Ward 5.
Greenwell believes making the church a landmark violates property owners’ rights.
“How can a government impose its will on a religious organization and even have the ability of what type of, for example, stained glass they have?” he said.
“I think it sends a very dangerous precedent of the city council circumventing the authority of the HP Commission and really any other commission. It dilutes their power,” Rostochil said.
Crossings Community Church is looking at the possibility of buying the property as a satellite location. They said they’re excited about the possibility of reaching into another community.
On Tuesday, two council members worked with leaders of First Christian Church and Crossings Community Church to draft an agreement. The agreement states that neither church will demolish the buildings as long as they own them.
The agreement also states that if Crossings ever decides to sell the property, the city will have the first right of refusal.
At the same time, the council decided to negate the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision.