Protesters who tried to save an old northeastern Oklahoma building say history is suffering a major blow. For months, a group of history buffs fought America's largest bank, trying to keep them from destroying downtown Muskogee's oldest building.
The protesters tell the News on Six they may have lost the battle, but not the war.
The wrecking ball knocked down a piece of history with every blow to the 90-year-old Flynn-Ames building. "I used to have an office over there in the early 50's," said Dr. Ted Hine. "I knew most of the presidents of the bank since the early 40's, so I hate to see it come down."
The seven Colgan children are home-schooled and came downtown to see the demolition as a field trip. The family studied the building's history. Bobbie Colgan argues the building shouldn't fall. "I think it is a very cool building. I think they should have kept it up," she said. Her sister, Brittany disagreed, saying it's a really nice building but this is progress.
Bank of America, formerly known as NationsBank, owns the building. The bank's leaders plan on turning the corner into a park, a parking lot and renovating the banking center, next door. Pete Carson tried to save the Flynn-Ames for months and calls the restoration progress. "If you look around northeastern Oklahoma, there are not too many early-1900 environments left," he noted.
A bank spokesperson says they originally planned to renovate the Flynn-Ames. Two-and-a-half years ago, they purchased the building from Boatman's Bank. But the bank's planners found it was far too expensive to restore. The spokesperson says they left no stone unturned while trying to come up with an alternative plan.
The bank even offered to give it to the city, but city leaders couldn't find a buyer.
"Many architects looked at the building and said, `You're far better off tearing it down,'"
said Jim Bushnell, Muskogee mayor.
A wrecking company will completely reduce the building into piles of brick and concrete. Folks supporting restoration of historic buildings hope the sight of the large pile that once was the Flynn-Ames will become the ammunition needed to save other buildings in the future.