It’s a mod, mod, mod, mod city

Mid-century modern is an architectural, interior, product and graphic design that generally describes mid-20th-century developments, oftentimes with a very “futuristic” (by mid-century standards, of course) look to it that wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of The Jetsons.

You’ll know it when you see it—and you probably do every day.

With so many of these artistically historic buildings being lost to time thanks to urban progress, the squad has made it its mission to recognize these structures and their importance to our cultural heritage and spread the word on the value of their

preservation. Believing that Oklahoma City is a treasure trove of widely unrecognized mid-century modern architecture, the squad have taken their message to the streets and are converting more and more people into fans of this grossly misunderstood and sometimes maligned architectural art form.

Here at okcBIZ, we asked a few of the original members how and why they got involved with the squad and some of their favorite examples of mid-century architecture in Oklahoma City.


Matt Goad 

Creative director, Funnel Design Group/ lead singer, The Feel Spectres

“The
Okie Mod Squad started off as a drinking thing. We’d get together at
each other’s mid-century modern houses and just have drinks on a weekend
night to see the houses. We had 20 members originally, and now we have
340. We get emails from people around the country saying, ‘I didn’t know
Oklahoma was this cool!’ It’s just a really rich era of architecture
and design that most people, by and large, think is ugly and needs to be
torn down. That’s why so many have been torn down in the past few
years. So our whole thing is to preserve these structures so that in 15,
20 years, people will actually consider them significant, because that
is what is going to happen.

“I
really like the church of tomorrow (First Christian Church) at Walker
and 36th. It was really groundbreaking in its use of materials; they
used a freeform concrete construction that’s really remarkable. The
whole layout is very sprawling and totally futuristic. There was nothing
shying away from the vision of the future. The details, the use of
aluminum and flag stone … one of the significant factors of the era was
to not shy away from materials, to show off what they are. Like
fiberglass in a chair. Honest use of materials. And you really see all
of that in the Church of Tomorrow. I actually started going to church
there — and I don’t even go to church — but I started going there just
for the architecture.”

Dawn Harth

 Creative director, Ackerman McQueen

“It
kind of started when … we all had mid-century homes and wanted to
visit each other’s homes because there were so many places in the area
that we were all curious about. And then it grew, and now it’s a much
bigger thing. As it grew though, it became more about encouraging the
preservation of this architecture in our community and our city and
helping people understand the importance of it.

“It’s
going to sound cliché, but the First Christian Church on N.W. 36th is
amazing. I went by there recently, and they were doing some work on the
outside, and it’s really looking good. That’s one that ever since I was a
kid, I was just fascinated with. It’s stood the test of time. It’s
timeless and classic and is just one of those icons of Oklahoma City
that, if you grew up here, you know what it is and it’s kind of special
to you. There are so many things that are going in the opposite
direction in construction and the way cities are built now that to have a
group that cherishes and works to maintain what has been and will
continue to be beautiful mid-century architecture. It’s a real passion.”


Terri Sadler 

Office manager/ marketing director, Fitzsimmons Architects

“When
we first started the Okie Mod Squad, we were just interested in
anything mid-century: design, art, architecture, fashion, whatever. We
still are, but our focus has changed to just architecture right now.
Really only because when we launched the website last year, it was kind
of what we decided to focus on because it was really what we knew about.
And now we’re working on a book as a companion piece. Now we’re just
kind of figuring out who’s going to do what, what photographs we’re
gonna use, what photographs we can use … it’ll be like a coffee table
book with a statewide focus. It’s a goal, and we’re really excited about
it.

“I guess probably
my favorite building in Oklahoma City is the State Capitol Bank (now
Arvest Bank) over on N.E. 39th and Lincoln. It’s out-of-this-worldly; it
looks like an UFO. I used to live near it and drove by it every day. I
was bummed when they put the drive-through on it, but I’m glad they at
least preserved the northern end of it. It’s also got a crazy round
elevator in it, and it’s awesome.”

Robyn Arn

Office manager, Bill Gumerson & Associates

“I
am not a founding member, but I am, at this point, one of the main
people. I helped create the website, and I’m working on the upcoming
book that we’re putting together. I came in about a year after they got
together, but for many, many years, I have been a mid-century modern
fan. I’ve been in love with the design for years.

“My
favorite in Oklahoma City is the Gold Dome, which is also known as the
Citizen’s Bank. I was a member of the grassroots group that picketed to
try to save it. I love that it shows a period where we really wanted to
show off to the rest of the country that we are progressive and that we
have vision. They were using architects that were taking a chance and
weren’t just doing the ‘safe’ thing. We’re losing these buildings all
across the country, and I think it’s important that we preserve these
structures for the future to enjoy and be inspired by. I can’t imagine
asking anyone to be inspired by a Walmart or a Walgreens.”

Lynne Rostochil

Co-owner, American Leak Detection

“I
wasn’t one of the very first founding members, but I came on pretty
quickly. I was there for some of the very first meetings. I think it
started off as a dinner thing where people would go hang out at each
other’s houses and look at the cool stuff, and it kind of exploded from
there. My grandfather was an architect. He designed the First Christian
Church in Oklahoma City, so I guess it was in my blood. I’ve always been
interested in modern architecture, so with this group, I feel like I’ve
met a bunch of kindred spirits. Everyone has the same passion and likes
to share knowledge and trivia, so it’s been really exciting to be a
part of this group.

“Out
of family interests, I have to say that I love the First Christian
Church, but if I take that out of play, I really love St. Patrick
Catholic Church [2121 N. Portland]. It’s really kind of a hidden gem.
That building from the outside doesn’t look like much, but you walk in
and it is just heaven. It’s such a great structure, and the whole story
behind how it got built is an incredible story. Everything about that
building is a marvel to me. There’s so much great architecture here in
Oklahoma City. That’s kind of the neat thing about this city. I’ve been
to other places, and you might see a smattering of mid-century
architecture, but not on this scale. It’s just everywhere you look in
Oklahoma City. People just get so conditioned living here that they just
don’t see it anymore.”

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