Pawhuska's Triangle Building targeted for demolition

Tuesday, January 20th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) _ A triangle-shaped building born during Pawhuska's boom 91 years ago is being targeted for demolition.

Pigeons have taken over the three upper floors of the Triangle Building, windows keep popping out and shattering on sidewalks below and the two bottom floors no longer attract tenants.

The Pawhuska City Council was to consider declaring the abandoned building a public nuisance at its meeting Tuesday night.

Joe Ben Mashunkashey called for the building's demise a few months ago, saying it is a liability to the northern Oklahoma city and Preserve Pawhuska, a downtown preservation group on which he serves.

Demolition would cost about $100,000 compared with estimated restoration costs of $4.4 million, the group said.

``We've done our homework,'' Mashunkashey said. ``This building has served its purpose. Sometimes you have to cut the dead wood off to save the tree.''

The building, which tapers from 62 feet at its widest to 16 feet, was used by lawyers and investors in the booming cattle and oil days. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

An anonymous donor gave Preserve Pawhuska the building a year ago after buying it for $40,000. The group thought then the building could be saved and renovated for a new buyer.

But estimates to replace the rotting windows, redo brick mortar, rewire and replumb the structure were cost-prohibitive, said another group member, Elizabeth Hembree.

One Preserve Pawhuska member, Nancy Woodyard, plans to ask the council to delay action on the building. She says at least four potential buyers have expressed an interest in it in the past month.

``One of the claims to fame Pawhuska has is our buildings, and we're losing them one by one. It would be a shame to lose another,'' Woodyard said.

Mashunkashey envisions a more fitting entry to Pawhuska's downtown and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve 15 miles up the road.

He envisions a public plaza on the corner now occupied by the building. He also has bought several buildings nearby and said he hopes to save or replace them with more tourist-friendly venues.

Pawhuska is about 60 miles northeast of Tulsa.