Save the Founders National Bank Building!

by Lynne Rostochil


founders bank bob bowlby shulman

Photo by Julius Shulman

Rumors have been swirling for the last few years that the Founders National Bank building, which is now a Bank of America branch, is endangered.  We’ve been keeping a close eye on things and feel that now is the time to make everyone aware that the threat to this MCM icon is very real.

Designed by OKC native and Bruce Goff student, Bob Bowlby, the bank opened to great fanfare in 1964 and was even photographed by the legendary architectural photographer, Julius Shulman (see photo above).  Along with the Gold Dome and the First Christian Church, the Founders National Bank building has become one of OKC’s most beloved buildings and remains quite an impressive piece of architectural eye candy even after an unfortunate remodel about 20 years ago.

This iconic building sits on two acres of undeveloped land and we’ve heard from some very credible sources that the owners have plans for the property — yet another shopping center — that don’t include the bank.  No plans have been submitted to the city yet but that will likely happen soon.  So, to get ahead of the game and spread the word about the developing situation, we put together a petition for people to sign and comment on why they think the building is important to OKC’s architectural landscape.

Also, Bob Bowlby has been very kind and offers this statement about the bank:

My design and the subsequent building of the Founders National Bank building of 1964 is, I think, a one of a kind and interesting example of the contemporary Oklahoma architectural scene in its mid-century period and as such should be kept if at all possible as part of the architectural heritage of Oklahoma City. Surely, an effort could be made made by the new owners to find some new and suitable usage of the building.

— Bob Bowlby

We will update this blog post as things evolve with the situation, so please stay tuned.

Please go here to sign the petition.

Also, we dedicated a Mod Blog post to Bob Bowlby‘s career in 2015.  It includes quite a bit of history about the beautiful Founders National Bank building, too.

And if anyone is interested in contacting the owners, here’s the information I have for that:

Founders OKC Joint Venture c/o Harry Merson
601 N. Lamar Blvd., #301
Austin, TX 78703


1/18/2016:  You can find the KFOR story about the situation here.

1/19/2016:  We were also invited to participate in a Cityworks podcast about the building and preservation.  Go here to listen to our segment, which begins at 16:10.

1/21/2016:  The building was featured in today’s Oklahoman.  Go here to read the article.