We’ve got some hot incoming news about a historic building being torn down. No, it’s not the Nipple Church, which seems like it will live to titillate residents for longer. Nor is it the beloved favorite Buy 4 Less on 23rd, which will start a new life as a sick gym for our friends in Crestwood to get ripped at.
We’re talking about one of Oklahoma City’s most treasured landmarks: the old jail. We all love to drive by and look in reverence and amazement at the beauty and power of it. Or, if you’re like me, forgot that it even existed. Of course, Steve Lackmeyer was on the beat for this story in The Oklahoman:
The Oklahoma City Council is being asked to decide whether the old police headquarters and city jail is too historic to tear down or too dilapidated to save.
The police headquarters and jail, built in 1935, were part of a larger “Civic Center” redevelopment of a rail yard that was removed a few years earlier as city leaders sought to address trains that were stopping and blocking traffic between north and south sides of downtown.
The building at 200 N Shartel Ave. was built along with the Civic Center Music Hall, City Hall and the County Court with funding provided through a bond issue and matching federal grant. The police department moved to a newer building in 1968 while the jail remained open until 1997.
Normally, I’m on team ‘Save All The Old Buildings,’ but it’s a jail and it’s been empty for years and I could not care less about the historical significance of a place used to lock up drug offenders for decades.
But if we’re going to keep it, there’s gotta be a plan. That is why today we’re presenting a few proposals on better uses for the old city jail…
1. New OG&E Headquarters
After they purchased the weird old Stage Center and tore it down to build fancy new headquarters, OG&E just decided ‘Nah we’re good’ and scrapped their plans, meaning they tore down an internationally recognized historic building for no reason. As their punishment, the company should be required to serve a minimum sentence of 12 years using the busted old jail for their corporate HQ. It would be a great deterrent to future offenders.
2. Old Timey Jail Theme Park
Does the Cowboy Hall of Fame still have that section that’s like a weird, cartoony replica of an old western jail with like a town drunk or a bandit locked up? It’s literally the only thing I can remember about that museum from the one time I went as a kid. Obviously, it made a huge impression on me and I’d like to see a jail-sized old west jail theme park with all the cells full of animatronic rascals and nogoodniks.
3. Jail 2: Superjail
The newer jail has sucked since day one and is already crumbling and flooding and there’s people locked up there who don’t belong even though it’s way too crowded. Why not utilize the even worse old jail for overflow? It can be like regular jail but only worse for rapists or whatever. (This is an awful idea that I hate that someone in the city might read and start scratching their chin thinking about how it sounds great, so please do not make a worse jail).
4. Year-Round Haunted House
This is clearly the best idea and I don’t really need to explain to you how cool it would be to have a 6-floor spooky attraction in downtown OKC. Just don’t make it one of those Christian Hell Houses and we’re all good.
OKC is soon to have 3 food halls after having none a year ago, so why the hell not build another? For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s basically if a mall food court was its own freestanding building, and they are all legally mandated to have names like ‘The Local Social Banquet Room Collective’ so that way they sound boring and we confuse them all with each other until they go out of business in a few years when the trend is over. You could build the world’s largest food hall here, sounds like a real opportunity!