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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

Saving History - Ponca City Renovating Civic Center

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The current City Hall building first constructed in February of 1916, Mayor W.H. McFadden called for a $20,000 bond election for the purpose of building a convention hall in Ponca City. An additional $25,000 bond issue passed in December of 1916. Layton and Smith (who were the architects for the State Capitol Building) were the architects for the project. O.F. Keck of Ponca City was the contractor. The contract was let for $38,000. The “Civic Center Auditorium” (the center building of City Hall) opened on November 14, 1917 with the touring Broadway musical play “Experience.”

City Hall was originally referred to as the Civic Center or Civic Center Complex. The first order of business for Mayor P.B. Lowrance and Commissioners Wiker and Hall in 1922 was to plan the east and west wings of the auditorium. Layton, Smith, and Forsythe prepared the plans for the additional wings in October of 1922. A bond issue of $75,000 was passed in November of 1922 for the construction of the east and west wings of the Civic Center Complex, housing city offices and the police and fire stations. The Holmboc Company of Oklahoma City was awarded the contract for $135,000. This project was completed in 1924. The first meeting of the Board of Commissioners was held in the Civic Center Complex on March 20, 1924, now referred to as “City Hall.”

In 1992 the Ponca City Fire Marshall declared the Civic Auditorium a fire hazard, and the facility was closed. City departments continued to operate in the east wing, and Fire Station No. 1 was housed in the west wing.

Voters approved a 2-year sales tax to renovate Fire Station No. 1 in 1997. Once completed, voters approved a 3-year sales tax to renovate the remainder of the Complex. The new City Hall complex was completed in 2003 and was designed by Richard Winterrowd and Troy
Lewis of Lewis Associates Architects of Ponca City.

From The Daily Oklahoman Newpaper
SAVING HISTORY Ponca City renovating civic center
Dawn Marks • Published: May 13, 2002

PONCA CITY - Crews are gutting Ponca City's Spanish Colonial-style civic center to make way for modern city offices in a historic setting.

The renovation now has the centerpiece of downtown Ponca City in chaos, but it will preserve the civic center's history, Mayor Tom Leonard said.

The civic center always has been an important part of Ponca City residents' lives, he said. In fact, before construction was finished in 1917, the community gathered at the center and sent its young men off to World War I.

"It has continued to be the center of the community, and this ensures it will last another 100 years," he said.

Richard Winterrowd, project designer with Lewis Associates Architects, said touches such as wrought-iron stairwells and columns, cast-stone accents, and arched doorways and windows will add to the historic feel inside.

"We wanted to stay with the period style," he said. "We wanted to use materials that were accurate to the time."

In its prime, the building was used as an auditorium and theater. Oil man and philanthropist Lew Wentz showed movies to children there for free in the summertime, Leonard said.

Now the sloped floor has been leveled and the high ceiling has allowed workers to add another floor.

The second floor will include a city commission meeting room that will hold 148 people.

The dressing rooms beneath the old stage will become storage for the city's archives.

The front of the building will have a new arched entryway.

City departments will have offices in the east and west wings.

The work began June 25, 2001. The estimated cost is $5.1 million. After the building is complete, employees will move from the east wing so that work there can start.

Before construction on the civic center could begin, however, the city had to build a fire station for $2.7 million so firefighters could move out of the civic center's west wing. The fire station, built in the same style, is connected to the center's south side.

City Manager Gary Martin said administrators considered building a new city hall elsewhere, but residents wanted to keep city offices at the civic center.

"This community wanted to preserve the historic buildings, and they wanted their city offices on this block," Martin said.

To show their support, residents passed two sales taxes to fund the renovation and fire station construction.

All city offices should be back in the civic center by February.

The citizens of Ponca City celebrated the newly restored City Hall on Thursday, September 18, 2003. The grand event included Forrest Mertz turning on the beautiful lighted water fountain he restored and ended with a rooftop fireworks display.