Open Design Collective, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority will host an event centering around the revitalization of the historic Brockway Center and Lyons-Luster Mansion from 10 a.m.-noon April 9 and April 23 at Ralph Ellison Library, 2000 NE 23rd Street.
Discussions will be centered on how these spaces can be reactivated for present-day.
Both properties are nestled within the heart of Eastside neighborhoods with streetscapes that have experienced a shift in demographics and surrounding development over the years.
The goal of these discussions will be to create a plan that preserves that deep history and culture, facilitates intergenerational and entrepreneurial discussions and identifies individuals who can operate businesses and programming in these spaces in the future.
Staff from the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be present at some of the sessions to learn more about the community’s connection to these sites as they work to support and bring visibility to endangered, Black cultural assets across the country through the African American Heritage Fund.
“We believe that for community members to have the autonomy to co-lead the planning, preservation and development of their spaces is a basic human right,” said Vanessa Morrison, co-founder and CEO of Open Design. “At a time when communities are facing demands for advancing growth and development, as well as a calling to preserve and protect history, it is critical that we build a solid foundation where these initiatives are co-led by the community.”
Located at 1440 N Everest Ave. and built in 1915, the Brockway Center was the longtime headquarters and community space for the Oklahoma City Federation of Colored Women’s Club for nearly five decades and was deemed a historic site last year after being saved from demolition in 2019.
The Lyons-Luster Mansion at 300 NE 3rd, built in Deep Deuce in 1926 by Black business owner, Sidney D. Lyons, for his family’s residence and hair product business production symbolizes resiliency and entrepreneurial success in a neighborhood where Black residents and culture once thrived. The mansion has been vacant for many years and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
On April 9, NE residents and community members will discuss the String of Pearls concept, which explores how existing Black cultural assets in NE OKC are connected to tell a story of the rich history and contributions of Black residents in our community. The discussion on April 23 will be centered on the neighborhood context of the two sites; the Lyons-Luster Mansion sitting in an urban, mixed-use neighborhood and the Brockway Center located in a single-family neighborhood. During this session attendees will discuss how the two different urban contexts could play a role in how these spaces are reactivated in the future.