Considered a mid-century gem, the old Founder's Bank at NW Expressway and May is coming down today. pic.twitter.com/HzIE7S3PBK
— OKCTalk.com (@OKCTalk) October 8, 2018
Sometimes, you can’t get progress without cracking a few eggs. Seasons change, times change, and so does our physical landscape. Oklahoma City has seen an incredible rebirth over the last decade, and it wouldn’t have happened if people were hung up on keeping everything the same.
Case in point, some dumb old building got torn down unceremoniously on Monday. Of course, Steve Lackmeyer from NewsOK got the story:
Another mid-century landmark, the former Founders Bank, is being destroyed this week as new development continues to encroach on 1960s architecture that once dominated the skyline along Northwest Expressway and May Avenue.
Why, I ask you? Why?! These buildings have character, voices, and they cry to me, brick by brick, as they come crumbling to the ground, taking with them the ghosts of yesteryear, and…
Actually, that’s the inner monologue of Steve as he was writing the story. Here’s the rest…
The football-shaped Founders National Bank building at 5613 N. May, built in 1964, is anchored by two 50-foot exterior arches. It was last home to Bank of America.
Fears have grown about the fate of the structure since Bank of America moved out in 2017 and was listed for sale that October. The structure sits on a block with a large amount of undeveloped property and surface parking.
Preservation Oklahoma placed the bank on its endangered places list earlier this year. The committee that assembled the list noted the former Founders Bank is one of Oklahoma City’s best examples of mid-century modern architecture, and it’s the only known local design of the architect and former Bruce Goff student, Bob Bowlby.
The building’s arches, a landmark on North May Avenue and Northwest Expressway, removed the need for any interior walls inside the bank.
We like old buildings, too, but instead of weeping for another building that had its day, let’s propose some great ways to re-purpose this valuable real estate:
Just a year ago, this pile of rubble was a historic bank. Ya know what is more fun than depositing checks? Depositing a delicious, hand-made burrito into your mouth! Just make sure to bring a little extra cash for that fresh guac.
Mid-century architecture is SO middle-of-last-century. This is burger land, and nothing would please me more than to have the appearance of one of the fastest-growing chains in America. Forget those historic white arches, and the Golden Arches while we’re at it, and sink your teeth into a big juicy hamburger sandwich instead.
When you want the meats, and also maybe diahrrea, there is no better place to turn than Arby’s. Even if the Founders Bank went out of style, potato cakes never will, and now that they own Sonic, Arby’s would be the honorary-local chain to grace this land.
Yes, there is already a Chik-fil-A about a six blocks down the road on 63rd and May, but Oklahoma’s insatiable appetite for the inimitable crispy fried chicken could support two locations. I’ve seen big east coast cities with Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts facing each other on the same corner, and there is no doubt Chik-fil-A could similarly flourish.
When you’re here, you’re family. Wait, that’s not it. Thank god it’s Friday! Damn, that’s that other place. Well, whatever their slogan is, every neighborhood needs a friendly and unique bar and grill, and Applebee’s could give May Avenue and Northwest Expressway that little touch of home that it sorely needs, and could never have gotten had an old bank stayed there.
Long John Silver’s
It’s a common OKC trivia question that Wayne Coyne used to work at a Long John Silver’s on 30th and Classen. Guess what is in that building now? Pho Cuong, one of the best pho restaurants in the whole city. That’s what we call improvement. Fittingly, a very bad building was torn down so we have the hope of a new location in a chain that has been dwindling in the metro. You couldn’t get golden hush puppies at Founders Bank, so this would clearly be a win.
I’ve never been to a Twin Peaks before, so really I’ve got no idea if it’s actually any good. But c’mon, it’s a theme restaurant for David Lynch’s surreal television masterpiece, how cool is that?! It is that kind of celebration of true art and culture that would truly elevate NW OKC.
My conspiracy theory is that Braum’s is the shadow developer behind the demolition of the Founders Bank. Furious that they failed at destroying another mid-century landmark, the Donnay Building, Braum’s went out of their way to find another historic building to replace with one of their delightful hamburger and dairy stores. Now that they found one, we can all rejoice and line up in the drive-through to enjoy their legendary service, persistent quality, and healthy meals.
These are but a few drops in the bucket for potential replacements for the old eyesore on May Avenue. Let us know what you’d like to see in the comments down below!