Q&A - November 10, 2017

Q: When can I take a tour of the Grand Old Post Office?

The wait is almost over! Okmulgee’s original post office building will soon reopen as a student housing complex for 75 OSUIT students and one live-in manager. But before they occupy the building in January, we are scheduling a public open house on Tuesday, November 28. Tours of the completely renovated facility will be offered all afternoon and into the evening. Come out and see for yourself all the work we’ve done over the last year.

Enter through the masonry arch, and see the beautifully rebuilt main entrance with elegant new doors, original moldings, and authentically reconstructed stairs and mosaic tile floors. Look to your left and gaze into the manager’s office and apartment. Walk past the main stairs and find a vintage set of brass front mail boxes, many of which were original to the building, being used once again as wall-mounted mailboxes for apartment residents. Look up and see the 37’ high ceiling of the west light well with 100-year old steel beams intersecting the wide corridor.

Loop through the hallway to the left and walk into any apartment. You’ll find all first floor units on the west end of the complex are lofts with kitchens and living spaces on the lower level and bedrooms above. Examine the reclaimed floor joists now being used as stair treads.

Follow the long north hallway, noticing the new concrete floors that gently transition from the higher west elevation of the building to the lower elevation on the east. When you come to the east light well, check out the spectacular two-story, north-facing wall of windows. Inspect the unique floorplans of any apartments you encounter. First floor flats all have an industrial decor with high ceilings, industrial lighting, sealed concrete floors, and exposed bricks and ductwork.

At the south end of the light well, you’ll see the laundry room. Continue to your right and enter the comfortable surroundings of the commons lounge. Hanging from the ceiling, you’ll observe an old rooftop skylight now preserved as an artistic light fixture. A group kitchen is straight ahead of you with all the modern amenities for students and their guests to enjoy on special occasions. Up the ramp, you’ll find the spacious main commons overlooking an outdoor patio. Pause long enough to admire the wall-sized vintage photo of downtown Okmulgee and try to locate this building. Notice the elevator entrance and beautiful donor wall with another skylight displayed overhead. On the west wall, you’ll see an enormous barn door that was original to the building. Pass through this opening, and you’re back in the main entrance.

Climb the stairs and you’ll feel like you’ve walked back in time 100 years. Second floor corridors reveal surfaces that have been carefully preserved in place. You’ll see undisturbed plaster walls, original moldings and hardware, as well as period doors and lighting. Wander through the upstairs apartments. These units have a period design aesthetic with all the modern appointments. Many have incredible views of downtown Okmulgee and the surrounding neighborhoods. Walk the halls and discover the aerial bridge over the east light well—there’s no more impressive vista in the whole building.

Come see it all for yourself. Then write me at osuit-president@okstate.edu and tell me what you think.