The Edmond Sun

February 10, 2014

Genesis taking place in Oklahoma’s main street communities

William F. O'Brien
Special to The Sun

TAHLEQUAH — Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst had a monastery in Spain disassembled and shipped to the United States in the early years of the 20th century.

Hearst’s most recent biographer wrote that the publisher intended to erect the monastery on the grounds of his castle in San Simeon, but due to the drop in newspaper sales during the depression he was unable to do so.

A somewhat similar undertaking recently took place in the Oklahoma community of Tahlequah, where a soda fountain purchased from a Dallas antique store was dissembled and installed in the Cook’s Companion and More retail store located there. The interior of that establishment has been nominated by the Tahlequah Main Street Association for consideration as the “Best Interior Design Project” for the awards that will be dispensed May 6 by the Main Street  Division of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The other nominees for that category as well as the other categories, that include “Best Window Display,” “Best Façade Rehabilitation,” and “Best Public Improvement Project” among others, demonstrate the innovation and rebirth that are ongoing in the main street communities in Oklahoma.

The Altus Main Street entry submitted for the “Best Window Display” award are the Christmas images that filled many of the windows of the Altus Town Square during the holiday season that brought people to the area.

Ardmore Main Street Association has nominated Romo’s Mexican Restaurant for “Best Façade Rehabilitation” and the documentation that accompanied that nomination details how the façade of the eatery now features windows that had been covered by aluminum siding for decades. Romo’s is a thriving establishment where cheerful waiters carry large plates that often include flaming fajitas to waiting tables that are reminiscent of the flaming Banana’s Foster that were served for decades at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

 Ada Main Street Association has nominated for “Best Public Improvement Project” the downtown locale that is known as “the arts district of Ada” that includes a plaza and conference center that is affiliated with East Central University. More than 100 events have been held in the Ada Arts District in the past year and several new businesses have been started there as well.

Mark Twain wrote of Chicago in the late 1800s — “It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago. She outgrows her prophecies faster than she can make them. She is never the same Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.”

A comparable observation could be made about Oklahoma’s main street communities where visitors encounter buildings that had been moribund when they saw them previously, but now gleam with a renewed purpose after having been renovated.  

William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.