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March 26, 1996

Other towns give us examples of what can be done with aging but historically important structures. Renovation and restoration work such as that is going on all around us. As Perry delves deeper into the Main Street program which was initiated here last year, we are finding more specimens of various architectural styles that should be saved if at all possible. The Foucart building on the east side of the square, once the home of the First National Bank, is being restored to the elegance of the pre-statehood era when Joseph Foucart designed it. Now it is the home of the Perry Chamber of Commerce, Perry Development Coalition and Perry Main Street and thus it serves as a hub of community improvement.

A group of senior students in the University of Oklahoma school of architecture recently chose to study downtown Perry as a major part of their graduation program. We should be flattered to have been chosen. The students spent a weekend here touring business buildings around the square with Perry Main Street representatives and selected five well-known two-story buildings for this project. They were most complimentary about the range of styles and quality of workmanship evident in our downtown area. It excited them to think of the possibilities for restoration.

Working in teams of three students each, they spoke with owners of the five buildings to learn about future hopes and aspirations for utilization of the upper and lower levels of the structures. Now they are working on scale drawings to incorporate those plans and soon will offer them without charge to the landlords involved.

Time will tell whether the plans become reality or remain only a dream. That will be up to the property owners. They are under no obligation to take any action, but the students' drawings will show them what can be done with the interiors and exteriors of the buildings. In some cases the owners have in mind residential apartments upstairs but in others the plan is to use the lofts as offices for business and professional purposes.

Buildings chosen by the students, after much anguishing over the possibilities, were the former Elite Hotel on the north side of the square, now owned by Clyde Speer and occupied by Georgia Curtis' Used Furniture Store; the former Christoph & Newton Furniture Store and Undertaking Parlor at the south end of the west side of the square; Fat Tuesday's Restaurant building midway on the west side; Treasure Chest Jewelry Store toward the east end of the south side; and the former Monroe-Lang Hardware Store, most recently occupied by the Inch-By-Inch Salon, midway on the south side. The old Christoph & Newton building and the old Monroe-Lang building are now vacant but are being readied for occupancy.

When the students and their instructor are ready to reveal the finished plans, an announcement will be made and a public meeting may be called here to allow all of us to take a peek at the vision these young people have for the future development of the Perry business community. Who knows what might happen after that? It will be an interesting and exciting time. Watch for the announcement.