Back to Life

 

Written by Mindy Wood in the January 2011 Issue

The Small Group Architects, a firm that specializes in historic preservation, is bringing a century old building back to life. Located at 108 South Broadway, it was built in 1906 and holds a few secrets inside its long history in downtown Edmond.

The firm’s founder and director, Thomas Small eyed the building less than a block away from his former location in downtown Edmond. “We were tenets at the time and had pretty well maximized that space. We have a growing staff and really needed more room so we decided to consider owning. This building was for sale and it seemed to fit us pretty well,” said Small.

Whitney Williams, marketing and business developer for The Small Group Architects believes the purchase made sense because the renovation is a true act of integrity. “It was important to maintain our location for our employees who work here and live close to Edmond,” said Williams. “We wanted to be good neighbors and keep the spirit of downtown Edmond by maintaining century old architecture.”

Several businesses have occupied the building over the years prior to The Small Group Architects’ renovation efforts. The building first functioned as a hardware store on the first floor and a funeral parlor on the second. Most recently, it had become a restaurant on the first floor, and studio apartment on the top floor. “It was pretty raw,” said Small when he surveyed the building for the first time.

“We did discover where there had been a wood stove and a fire at one time,” he recalls. “We discovered charred materials on the roof structure where apparently it got out of control for a little while before it was put out.”

Restoration will continue on the first floor to accommodate a larger conference room, waiting area and additional professional staff. Small also plans to restore the exterior soon after the first floor project is completed. He was pleased to see it in such good condition. “The lime green stucco was probably added in the sixties but when I pealed some of it back, I found it preserved the original masonry pretty well,” he said.

“The exterior walls are a foot and a half thick rubble stone, built up from loose stones from the ground to the top of the second floor. They kind of hold themselves up,” laughed Small. “They’ve lasted 100 years and we decided they’d probably last another century.”

The Small Group Architects’ plan to restore the exterior to its original appearance, as pictured in photos from 1906. “The existing windows are not historic, replaced probably two decades ago, and we’re planning to install replica wood windows,” Small explained. “We have photos of the way the old building used to look and we’re going to restore it back to that look as best we can.”

The firm’s other historic renovation projects include the Journal Record building, The Edmond Sun, the Chickasaw White House, the Seay Mansion and the Oklahoma Territorial Schoolhouse. They were awarded the Oklahoma City Historic Preservation’s “Citation of Merit” in 2007 and Small continues to serve on the preservation commission.

Although they have won awards, and completed many historic renovations throughout Oklahoma City, it’s clear this project in Downtown Edmond comes from the heart, for it will serve as their homebase of operations for many years to come.

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