Q&A - February 3, 2017

At the heart of Okmulgee Rising is the beautiful collection of historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee. These graceful and stately sentinels of our past have quietly stood watch over our town for generations and are now ushering in a renewed sense of hope for our beleaguered community. They remind us of this town’s prosperous history, and as these buildings are being rediscovered, they are telling us that our best days are still ahead.

I have had the personal privilege of touring many of these extraordinary structures and the honor of becoming caretaker to a couple of them. Please allow me to share another update on the renovation efforts on the Old Post Office Complex on the corner of 5th and Grand.

Q:Is the old post office still on schedule?

Absolutely! Oakridge Builders is doing a remarkable job of orchestrating the trades in and out of this busy construction site. Since renovation started last October, there have been anywhere from 35 to 50 workers a day on the jobsite at the Old Post Office Complex in downtown Okmulgee. Now that demolition is completed and framing/rough in work is in full swing, the number of workers onsite has increased to 70 to 80 a day. They are reroofing the building, framing interior walls, running electrical and low voltage wiring, plumbing kitchens and bathrooms, building stairs, installing ductwork for mechanicals, and a myriad of other tasks. The combined efforts of all the subcontractors is keeping this project on schedule, and we are still looking at a January 2018 opening date.

Of interest is some of the work happening on the back side of the building. A large section of brick is being removed to create an opening that will receive a two-story glass curtain wall that will dominate the north end of the east interior corridor. This dramatic, sunbathed corridor will be two stories high and will also feature a skylight overhead and a bridge where a second level corridor intersects it. As work progresses on this east corridor, we are beginning to see the grand scale of the building design take shape. I have little doubt that this incredible public space will become one of the most popular hangouts for students in the whole building.

You may also remember that I mentioned in an earlier article, the east half of this building complex experienced quite a bit of water damage over the years. But with the roof replacement, the primary source of water infiltration has been identified and resolved. An eighteen-foot-wide section of wooden roof joists, running nearly the entire length of the building, was severely warped. The dip in the 100 year old rafters caused a low spot in the roof deck and allowed pooling of water. But now, the failed joists and damaged decking have all been replaced and rain water now runs off of the new roof membrane properly—a big relief.

I am so appreciative of all the local interest expressed in the renovation of the Old Post Office in downtown Okmulgee. Please continue to forward your questions about this project to osuit-president@okstate.edu.