The Norman Transcript
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.
“The idea that we can do something for the university and restore something at the same time is pretty cool,” Swift said.
David Logan was a 1916 OU graduate who teamed up with an architect friend Thomas L. Sorey, who was also an OU faculty member, to construct the building. Swift has researched the building and is most fascinated that it was built after the stock market crash and was completed in five months. Logan was a geologist and worked for the Marland Oil Company.
“I read somewhere that they employed 73 men a day,” he said. “I think Logan was extremely wealthy at the time.”
The building had hardwood floors, racks for bicycles, individual milk delivery boxes built into the walls. Light fixtures and the wooden windows will all be saved. Parking was limited since few students had cars.
The building always had some needy students who lived there rent free. Logan transferred ownership to the University Scholarship Corporation, formed in 1932 to manage the building.
Across the street is the original St. Thomas More University Chapel and Newman Hall where hundreds of students lived. Historic buildings are all around Swift’s latest project.
“I’m influenced much more now by preservation than I was even 10 years ago,” said Swift. “Condition wise, this was in pretty good shape.”
He tells friends of his project and has to nearly draw them a map.
“This place doesn’t present itself as a 16,000 square foot building. It’s pretty amazing.”
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