OKLAHOMA CITY – Dozens of demonstrators, signs in tow, lined a metro street today outside First Christian Church to make sure that the future of the so-called Egg Church does not include demolition.
The iconic church sits on a 32-acre property that it shares with the Jewel Box Theater, Trinity School, and the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation. The building went up for sale in 2016 and has the attention of a potential buyer.
“A purchaser would buy it, contingent on being able to demolish it; so that’s why we’re here,” said Cayla Lewis, executive director of Preservation Oklahoma.
The rally was made up of the Okie Mod Squad, a group that ventures to save mid-century masterpieces like the church. One of the founding members of the group, Lynne Rostochil, is the granddaughter of one of the church’s designers.
“It’s such a unique and distinctive building,” said Rostochil. “What we’re wanting to do with this rally is encourage city council to declare it a landmark.”
While the church is on the national register of historic places, it’s not designated a landmark which means certain changes would have to be approved by a commission. Those are changes a city leader hopes to spark.
“At the [March 12] city council meeting we’ll move to try and initiate the process to make this a historic landmark and that would send the process to the Historic Preservation Commission,” said Ward 2 City Councilman Ed Shadid. “There are things available through the city that I’m convinced people are not aware can be utilized to fund historic reservation. The problem is, so many times we’ve demolished structures in Oklahoma City and no one committed to building anything. ”
He went on to explain the city does not currently have a historic preservation ordinance.
“[We need to] just have a public process rather than filing a demolition permit, then demolishing a structure minutes later, like we saw at Founders Bank on May Avenue.”
Those present at the rally praise the building’s unique architecture, saying potentially losing it would be a major loss of character for the city.
“If we lose it then we lose that piece of our history, we lose that architectural component,” said Lewis.
The church, built in 1956, was important to the city in its darkest days.
“This building is not only important architecturally but it was also the gathering place for all of the families after the bombing,” explained Rostochil. “It has a real important place in our city’s history.”
Around 5,000 people signed a petition to ‘save the Egg,’ not necessarily to block its sale, but to protect it from demolition.
Save the egg! That’s what we want to communicate,” said Lewis. “We want to keep this in Oklahoma City. We want to keep this architectural gem and we don’t want to see it go away.”