The Historic Preservation and Landmark Ordinance written by
Oklahoma City's Historic Preservation Commission was adopted by
the city council 25 years ago today.
The commission was appointed in 1967, and at that time, the
group began writing the ordinance, said Capt. Charles C. Coley,
an original member of the commission who has remained active on
the board since 1967.
Heritage Hills was the first neighborhood to petition for
historical preservation status, he said, and the community
received it in December 1969.
"We had three neighborhood organizations down here (before
Heritage Hills) and we combined them. We would take one step
forward and get pushed back two steps. Business was really
encroaching on the area," Coley said.
"We petitioned the city to consider the historical aspect of
the area. The city put out a brochure in 1967 which supported
it. They realized, or they said that if they didn't do something
about it, it would become an area that would become a blighted
area where we could have lost a lot of the history of the city of
Oklahoma City," Coley said.
"I know on 14th St. we had somewhere from seven to 10 homes
that were rescued from the brink of destruction. Not only that,
the other districts like Crown Heights, Edgemere Park and Putnam
Heights, those neighborhoods saw what was happening down here in
Heritage Hills and petitioned the Historical Preservation
Commission for historical preservation status," Coley said.
"Not just the areas have benefited, but I think the whole city
has benefited," he said.
Purpose of the Historical Preservation and Landmark Ordinance,
as listed in the ordinance, says:
"The City of Oklahoma City hereby declares that the
historical, architectural, cultural and aesthetic features of the
city represent some of the finest and most valuable resources of
the city, and such resources are the embodiment of the heritage
of the people of Oklahoma City. Therefore, it is hereby declared
that the purpose of this ordinance, to be known as the Historical
Preservation and Landmark Ordinance, shall be as follows:
"To promote the creation of historic districts and landmarks for
the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the
public through the preservation, protection and regulation of
buildings, sites, monuments, structures and areas of historic
interest or importance within the city of Oklahoma City;
"To safeguard the heritage of the city by preserving and
regulating historic landmarks and districts which reflect
elements of its cultural, social, political and architectural
"To preserve and enhance the environmental quality of
"To strengthen the city's economic base by the stimulation of
conservation and reuse;
"To establish and preserve property values;
"To foster economic development;
"To ensure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and
development of the municipality;
"To promote the use of historical landmarks and districts for the
culture, prosperity, education and welfare of the people of the
city and visitors to the city;
And "to establish a preservation plan to accomplish the goal of
The commission meets once a month and is comprised of an
attorney, a real estate person, an architect, a member of the
Oklahoma City Planning Commission and six others from different
sections of the city, Coley said. Commissioners are approved by
the Oklahoma City Council.
Homeowners wanting to make changes to the exterior of their
houses must be approved for a Certificate of Appropriateness from
the Historical Preservation Commission.
"This is designed so that you maintain the appearance of the
houses as nearly as possible as they were in the day the houses
were built, and this includes the streets and everything else,"
Coley said. …