Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: June 26, 2013
(NOTE: High resolution versions available below)
Historic light fixtures found in attic.
Light globes found in attic.
Light fixtures brought out of attic.
High Resolution Photos:
Light fixtures found in attic
Light globes found in attic
Historical light fixtures being brought
down from attic
Senate Chambers in 1918 with light fixtures
Long-lost pieces discovered at State Capitol
during historical restoration project
Nearly one hundred years after beautifully ornate
light fixtures were installed in the Senate Chamber, 11 of the original
20 fixtures have been discovered in attic space above the sixth
floor of the Capitol. The artifacts were discovered during the ongoing
historic restoration of a large conference room on the fifth floor
that had been divided up into small offices decades ago. In connection
with the project, Senate Information Systems Director John Warren
was moving computer cables above the fifth floor ceiling and happened
to notice an opening to a long-forgotten part of the attic. That
led to the discovery of the fixtures.
Dr. Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma State Historical
Society said a black and white photo of the chamber from 1918 helped
confirm they were the original fixtures, or sconces. He said the
discovery was important for the historic preservation of the State
Capitol, the symbol of unity for Oklahoma.
“When you think about our history, what connects the people
in Cimarron County with the people of McCurtain County? What connects
all of our communities together? The symbol is the State Capitol
itself,” Blackburn said. “We don’t have an Alamo.
We don’t have battlefields. We have the State Capitol.”
The discovery of the sconces comes just one year before the 100th
anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Capitol, which was completed
in 1917. Over the next several decades, numerous changes were made
to the building, with little or no concern about the original architectural
designs. Hallways, conference rooms and other spaces were turned
into offices. Stained glass was hidden by lower ceilings installed
to conceal air conditioning ducts and other modernizations. The
original sconces were eventually replaced with fluorescent lighting.
In the late 1980’s, a major historic restoration project
was undertaken during the administration of then-governor Henry
Bellmon. A mini-grand staircase that had long been covered up and
turned into offices, was uncovered and restored to help commemorate
the centennial of the Land Run of 1889. Four years later Sen. Charles
Ford led a project to restore the Senate Chamber.
“We looked and looked and looked when we restored the chamber
in ’93, looking for these fixtures, or at least one of them,”
said Ford. The search ended in disappointment.
Paul Meyer, managing member of M A+ Architecture, was the Capitol
architect at that time. He called the discovery of the original
Senate Chamber sconces “fantastic.”
“When we restored the Senate Chamber in 1993…we did
not have the budget to replicate these light fixtures even though
we had the original drawings,” Meyer said. “We replicated
as closely as we could, but they weren’t anywhere near as
magnificent as these are.
Trait Thompson serves as Vice Chair of the Capitol Preservation
Commission, which was formed more than 30 years ago with the mission
of overseeing the preservation and restoration of the building.
He said finding the original sconces was one more important step
in restoring the building.
“There is value in honoring the history of the State of Oklahoma,”
Thompson said. “We have this beautiful building here that
was completed in 1917 that really speaks to the spirit of Oklahoma.
Any time you can restore any part of the building to its original
condition, it’s a good thing.”
Blackburn noted other original pieces from the Senate Chamber,
such as the floor lamps, still need to be found. He’s hopeful
other artifacts will be discovered.
“Someone in 20 years may find something else,” Blackburn
said. “Maybe in someone’s attic, maybe in someone’s
garage or basement.”
But for now, he’s excited the sconces have been found. “At
this one moment in time, we can reach out and touch one of the original
pieces of the fabric of the building.”
For more information, contact:
Senate Media: (405) 521-5774