Monday, June 6, 2011

Identifying the Offices of B.C. Franklin

In recent days I have been engaged in a conversation about the photograph on the dust jacket of Buck Colbert Franklin’s book, “My Life And An Era.” Over the years I have visited Ardmore, Oklahoma and from my earliest visits I was told the current building that is the Renaissance Center was the building in which housed the law offices of Buck Colbert Franklin.

The cover indicates the building in 1910 that housed B.C. Franklin’s office was located in the Munzesheimer & Daube building. The author provided the address in his book on page 137 as 311 South Main Street and from this information I sought to corroborate the building still exist and is the building I was told was where he and four other black attorneys set up shop.

One of the things I chose to do in an effort to document the history of this building required me to begin utilizing the services of Google view to first see what was at the address 311 South Main today.

From my personal knowledge of Ardmore and Main Street, Main Street is laid out in an East –West direction. The locals refer to the street as East or West Main. It is quite possible that in 1910 Main could have been referred to as North and or South.

When I plugged in the address of 311 East Main Street on Google View, the block that includes the Renaissance Center, which has the look of what could have been the same building and office in 1910.

I began to have some questions if the building I knew as Franklin’s office was in fact, the building on the dust jacket. One of the reasons for my doubts had to do with what appears to be a building next to the Munzesheimer & Daube building on the cover.

In addition, on the dust jacket there isn’t any other building to the right of the offices but today there appears two other buildings. Could one of the three buildings on the panoramic view actually be the Munzesheimer & Daube building? I located another view of the Munzesheimer & Daube building that may be dated prior 1910?

In this view it is clear the Munzesheimer & Daube building sat on the corner and there was a building adjacent to it that had a sloping roof. However the front of the building does have a similarity to the front of the building today.

From looking at the two buildings they are similar but one has adjacent buildings connected to it while the photo of the building indicates the Munzesheimer & Daube building stood on a corner with a side street adjacent next to it.

Of course I couldn’t rest here, the data was inconclusive and in the one hundred years from 1910 to 2010 much I’m sure has changed in Ardmore on Main Street!

With more research I was able to come up with another piece of information that may begin to clarify where the offices of B.C. Franklin actually stood in the form of the Munzesheimer & Daube building. This information comes from an internet site giving more history of the building and identifying who and what Munzesheimer & Daube were.

In this article it explains “the store was located east of where the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks now run.” That description clearly indicates that East Main Street is where the Munzesheimer & Daube existed and that is where the row of buildings are today, east of the railway tracks.

What is problematic about a lot of this is the other photographs including the in this article. However, when you read the article further, a lot of this clears up.

The article goes on to state that “in the early 1900’s” the “enterprise known as the Blue front and moved to this location.” I suspect, the article meant the photo was the new location known as the Blue Front and Munzesheimer & Daube along with Daube’s brother Sam abandoned the east Main Street location prior to B.C. Franklin occupied that site.

As I looked at this photo I thought that it might be possible to locate this building despite the fact it was not the location of Franklin’s office. I should also mention there was another photograph of the Munzesheimer & Daube building that gave a view of Main Street that was interesting.

In this photo it is clear to me the Munzesheimer & Daube store had moved west of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The façade on the building had changed drastically and the caption states the view is “looking West from Whittington Hotel.”

At this point I’m almost certain we have an idea where the law offices of B.C. Colbert were but I need to square the circle and pinpoint where Munzesheimer & Daube moved and is there any evidence of that building still in existence?

Strangely enough I think there may sufficient evidence in the above photo to establish what building was the building in question. In this photo, there are three blocks in question and the building in the third block that appears to be a three story building in my opinion is still standing.

Much has changed and I suspect this is an artist illustration or postcard of Main Street in Ardmore, Oklahoma. By utilizing Google View again, I attempted to recreate that angle and perspective of the illustration to locate the building today.

In this view I believed I located the three storied building in the background that is similar to the illustration.

A closer view brings the landmark building in the background in a clearer light and is approximately in the same location and number of blocks away from what I believe is where the relocated “Blue Enterprise” Munzesheimer & Daube building exist today.

How interesting, a building that is in the approximate same location of the Munzesheimer & Daube building happens to be painted BLUE!

Now I can be totally wrong in my assumptions and conclusions. It is my hope that some of the local resident’s can shed some light on this subject. There is just a bit more information in the article about the Daube’s and Munzesheimer business that an Ardmoreite can help with.

The article indicated the Munzesheimer & Daube store became a fixture in Ardmore and it existed until 1990 when they finally closed their doors as a department store. My question is where did that department store stand and is this the location of the “Blue Enterprise?”

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1 comment:

  1. So I am wondering if the old Franklin building is still standing at all. I think you have the right block, but it is also clear that some buildings no longer stand on the same street.