[Editor's Note:Â The following areÂ reader-submitted responsesÂ to the editorialÂ â€œAcceptable if not Nobleâ€ (AN 03_04.30.2014_SW), which considered the imminent demolition ofÂ John Johansenâ€™sÂ Mummerâ€™s TheaterÂ in Oklahoma City and the renovation ofÂ Ulrich Franzenâ€™s Alley Theatre in Houston. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper.Â ANÂ welcomesÂ reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please emailÂ firstname.lastname@example.org. ]
There were local groups working hardÂ to preserve and repurpose the Mummers Theater and conceptual plans put forth that incorporated the existing theater into a larger cultural and commercial mixed-use complex. My father supported and encouraged these efforts as an important and necessary evolution of this building, and architecture in general, to reinvent itself by adapting and embracing new ideas and technology.
Fans of John Johansen‘s legendary Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City have yet another reason to shake their heads in amazement. Not only is the idiosyncratic modern masterpiece set for a date with the wrecking ball, there is now a proposal for the building that may replace it.
Kestrel Investments has filed an application with the Oklahoma City Planning Department to demolish Mummersâ€”now known as Stage Centerâ€”and put in its place a 14- to 16-story tower that would become the headquarters of OGE Energy Corp. Designed by local architectural practice ADG, the $100 million proposal master plan also includes a second tower of eight-to-12 stories that would be developed separately.
[Editor's Note:Â Tracey Zeeck is an Oklahoma native and resident who has been leading the effort to save and preserveÂ John Johansen's classic Mummers Theater in that city. She responds here to aÂ letter to the editor in the Oklahoma Gazette. ]
In 2012, armed with good intentions and a passionate group of friends and family, Farooq Karim of REES Associates and I decided to respond to an RFP and save John Johansen’s Oklahoma City masterpiece, Stage Center (Mummers Theater) from the wrecking ball. We would turn this vestige of 1970s brutalism into a children’s museum and light up downtown with joyful sounds of creative play. We had two months to create the plan, submit the RFP and raise $30,000,000. We didn’t make it.
Oklahoma City investment company Kestrel Investments has purchased recently deceased architectÂ JohnÂ Johansen‘s Mummers Theater for $4.275 millionÂ and plans to demolish the revolutionary building to construct a 20-plus story mixed use tower in its place. The news came as a blow to local and national preservation groups who worked unsuccessfully to save the groundbreaking architectural workÂ by finding a new tenant and use for the idiosyncratic structure.