Q&A - November 24, 2017

Please don’t miss the big reveal next Tuesday, November 28. The OSU Institute of Technology Grand Old Post Office Student Housing on the corner of 5th and Grand in downtown Okmulgee will be open to the public between 11:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. You’re all welcome to stop in and tour this beautiful, newly renovated facility. Come and see for yourself how this once forgotten set of buildings has been given dignity and relevance once again. Those of us who have been involved with the renovation of this nearly 100 year old property are proud of its amazing transformation, and we think you will be very pleased with our work.

Q: Why is the GOPO so important to Okmulgee?

For decades, residents of Okmulgee have seen the proud symbols of this town’s heritage fall into disrepair—once stately buildings, neglected and deteriorating. Sadly, many structures are now completely gone—having burned down, collapsed, or been dismantled while others are falling apart, hopelessly beyond repair. Okmulgee had far too many symbols of despair—too many reminders of ruin and loss. What this town needed was a symbol of hope—a sign of rebirth and new beginnings. For many, this is what OSUIT’s Grand Old Post Office Student Housing renovation project represents.

As symbols go, it’s a pretty good one. If this structure that was in such terrible disrepair could be brought back to prominence and grandeur, then there is certainly hope for many other historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee that are in far better condition. If this once abandoned building could be filled with activity and life once again, then it’s possible for Okmulgee itself to gain a fresh start and enjoy a new beginning. Resurrected from our town’s past, the GOPO reveals a bright future for the relationship between OSUIT and Okmulgee.

A major branch of the Oklahoma State University System has existed on the outskirts of town for more than 70 years—within the city limits but somewhat detached from the community. There has unfortunately been little interaction between townspeople and college students over the years. With the opening of university-owned student housing in downtown Okmulgee, the old separations will be gone. College students will be a part of this community like never before. Becoming a bona fide college town, with all the promise and prosperity this entails, is within Okmulgee’s grasp. Soon, we will see private investors converting even more buildings in downtown Okmulgee into apartments suitable for more young professionals and college students. Okmulgee will be slowly transformed one building at a time. With new residential spaces being filled, commerce will return. With more commerce, the local economy will grow. Real change is happening. Okmulgee is rising and the GOPO is a symbol of this positive transformation. The Grand Old Post Office makes an important statement, “OSUIT has not given up on Okmulgee, and we refuse to let Okmulgee give up on itself.”

With every new development, Okmulgee is discovering new possibilities. We are truly experiencing history in the making. Please continue to share your thoughts for future additions of this commentary at osuit-president@okstate.edu