Every great American city has (or had) at least one historic grand downtown hotel. And just as their fortunes rose and fell together in a kind of tandem prosperity, the revival of American downtowns necessitate the revival of their great hotels. And so, when Oklahoma City’s leaders wanted to breathe new life into their downtown district, restoring the Skirvin Hotel was a cornerstone of their plans. Originally built in 1911, just four years after Oklahoma achieved statehood, the Skirvin has been the residence of the citizens’ most cherished memories: weddings, graduations, balls, concerts, visiting presidents and radio broadcasts hosted by the hotel.
The city wanted to recreate the distinguished hotel in a way that would refer to its historic, grand prominence in an authentic, but modern, way. Working closely with Sirvin Partners, Kahler Slater leveraged national and state Historic Preservation Tax Credits to create a 225-room modern hotel with a strong reference to its storied past. The completely restored exterior was returned to its 1929-1930 appearance, but with new roofing and windows and masonry restoration. The top floor ballroom – wrecked by decades of neglect, weather and pigeons – was restored to its original glamour and once again hosts the city’s premier social events. With a determination to save as much of the past as possible, while creating a modern hotel to suit contemporary demands, even the wood from the original registration desk was used to create a new, more functional desk that would be repositioned in its original lobby location. And a local artisan was commissioned to create custom ceramic tiles to match the distinctive designs found in the original coffee shop. The Skirvin is once again considered the premier social destination in downtown Oklahoma City.