NORMAN — Brent Swift glances up at the three-story brickwork on the Boyd Street side of the Logan Apartments and notices yet another detail put in there by master masons 84 years ago.
It’s a simple 45 degree angle cut in a row of blonde bricks, below a third-floor keystone. Behind the thick walls, a platoon of construction workers is busy hanging sheetrock, refinishing windows and caulking ceilings.
They are ever mindful of the building’s history. Hundreds of OU students have passed through there since David Logan built it in 1929. The university sold it to Swift in 2012 with a pledge from him to restore the building and reopen it.
“I’m much more comfortable in an old building than a new place. You can build those in your sleep. These things take a whole different process,” says Swift, a one-time television journalist who began rehabbing buildings here nearly two decades ago. “Every night I lay awake and think of things I can do here.”
The University acquired the stately building on the corner of Lahoma and Boyd Streets in 1945. Returning soldiers needed housing. Some were married and dorms didn’t much cater to married students. Annie Logan, David Logan’s mother, managed the building until 1951. The maintnenace and upkeep became too much and OU opted to sell the building.
Swift paid $301,000 for the building. He will spend many multiples of the purchase price turning what once was about 30 units to four, two-bedroom apartments and four, one-bedroom apartments.
He is working with Butzer Gardner Architects in Oklahoma City and the state historic preservation office to get the project listed on a national registry of historic sites. That designation will be a first for Swift who has done dozens of projects in the Norman area.
His target tenant audience when it opens in the summer of 2014 are faculty and staff who want to be within a five-minute walk or a two-minute bike ride to campus. It will be upscale in a way few students can afford.