Building owner asks treasure hunters for help

Monday, July 31st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The owner of the building where blues grea tJimmy Rushing grew up has turned to a group of treasure hunters to help him preserve some of Deep Deuce's history. Deep Deuce was once a bustling black business district and neighborhood. It disintegrated after the initial decline of the inner city and later with the construction of Interstate 235 in the1980s.

Craig Brown is renovating the Haywood Building into a restaurant, apartment and office. His partner, Dallas-based First Worthing, is building 294 new apartments in the area. He envisions a time when people want to live in the area to be close to Bricktown, a thriving entertainment area. Brown decided to work with a group of treasurer hunters after seeing people with metal detectors searching the area without permission. He decided to have someone search before the foundations were poured for the apartments so that the construction sites wouldn't be damaged.

Brown asked the Twin Territories Treasure Hunters Club to spend three days on the property, record what was found and allow Brown to buy items that tell the area's history. Thirty-two members of the club participated in the dig, led by club president Charly Bohuslavicky. They found a Jay Kola bottle, an 1899 Indian head penny, a toy gun, a brass 1904 sidewalk plate, a 1918 Liberty quarter, numerous marbles, a metal corporate seal, awash board and a metallic coupon token issued by Palm Olive Soap. Some of the artifacts date to the Land Run of 1889 when the area was a military camp. The searchers found Army uniform buttons and a brass 20-gauge shotgun shell dating to the 1800s. "It's great to go into an area like this," Bohuslavicky said. "Some of it may look like junk, but it dates back to the early 1900s, every bit of it. For a club, it's quite an honor to get asked to come out here and do this, to preserve some of the history rather than seeing relics covered up and destroyed."

The apartments are the first new residential development in the downtown area in decades. Rushing's father build the two-story structure that Brown is renovating. He first opened it as a confectionery shop and then it was a real estate office. Jimmy Rushing became a jazz vocalist for Count Basie's band and pioneered the blues shout-singing style. Dr. William Haywood purchased the two-story building in the1930s.

Brown says he will display in the Haywood Building many of the artifacts the treasure hunters found. He compared recent discoveries to digging into ancient Rome --"except," Brown said, "it's 1890 to 1960." "There was a whole community here, and we're going to, again, have a community here. It's going to be a little different, but everyone can be a part of it. And it's going to be a part of a city that is moving forward."