OKLAHOMA CITY – A piece of real estate in Oklahoma City has buyers dreaming, but a local congregation is now worried about their future.
“I got word about this yesterday afternoon. The words are ‘I’m swooning,’ because it’s a rare, rare, rare opportunity,” said Anne Wilson, a realtor.
The property near N.W. 36th and Walker is where the Jewel Box Theater, Trinity School and the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation reside.
The 32-acre property also includes the First Christian Church, which is a landmark 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.
While it is a buyer’s dream, the situation is causing concern in the congregation.
Rostochil’s grandfather was one of the architects for the church, which was built in 1956.
Since then, it’s been home to many historical moments in Oklahoma City.
“It was also the gathering place for all of the families after the Murrah bombing, really helped the community heal after that,” Rostochil said.
Recently, the congregation made a difficult decision to put the massive property up for sale.
Reverend John Malget told NewsChannel 4:
“First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma City is one of 149 congregations in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Oklahoma. This congregation organized and held its first service in 1889 near what is now the intersection of Main and Broadway. The first permanent home of the church was at the corner of NW 3rd and Harvey, where the Federal Reserve bank now stands. It was dedicated in 1894. In 1903 they moved to the southeast corner of NW 3rd and Robinson where they worshiped until 1956 when the beautiful, new, iconic sanctuary, education building and music building were completed at NW 36th and Walker. In 1961, the Youth Center was completed. This 31.8 acre campus has been a vibrant place of activity and worship for the last 60 years, and even served as the blessed site of grief and recovery after the Murrah bombing in 1995.
Part of First Christian Church’s current ministry outreach is a bicycle ministry which helps provide transportation for many in the OKC area and have given away over 2,200 rebuilt bicycles. They also celebrate the Jewel Box Theatre’s ministry live theatre to the community.
Earlier this month, the congregation made a difficult decision and unanimously voted to sell the entire property which now has a “for sale” sign on it. While they are once again in the process of dreaming and planning for a new sacred place for worship that better fits their needs, the pastor, Rev. John Malget says, “It is their hope that whoever purchases the property will love and care for it as much as we have. Please hold us in your prayers as we continue to discern God’s call for our ministry.”
The listing for the property isn’t sitting well with Rostochil.
“The thing that alarmed me the most is that it said development potential, so I was kind of concerned about that,” she said.
She said she is worried it will fall prey to those who don’t appreciate its history.
Even those hoping to have a stake in the $8.2 million property know its emotional worth.
“It has been a bustling spot, so we can expect a lot of heart ties to this,” Wilson said.