Gaylord Noftsger was born in 1897 in Lamoni, IA, and graduated from OU in 1919. His Oklahoma architectural license number was 6, making him one of the first licensed architects in the Sooner State. He practiced on his own all through the ’20s and ’30s, designing such stylish Art Decos buildings as the Ft. Worth Public Market and the Warehouse Market Building in Tulsa, both of which are on the National Register. In 1941, he teamed up with Oklahoma native and OSU graduate William “Martin” Lawrence (b. 1899), who had just spent six years working as a senior architect for the Federal Housing Administration. Together, the two continued designing in the traditional vein, but they also embraced the less ornamental approach to design embodied by Streamline Moderne and mid-century modern styles. Martin’s son, Robert (b. 1930) joined the firm as a draftsman after he graduated from OSU in 1953 and received the AIA Medal as Outstanding Architectural Graduate. In 1963, he was made a full partner in the firm.
The firm was responsible for designing some of the most impressive buildings throughout Oklahoma until it dissolved after Noftsger’s death in 1979 then Martin Lawrence’s three years later. Robert then formed his own firm, Robert M. Lawrence & Associates, and continued practicing into the 1990s. He died in 2011.
According to Robert’s obituary, ‘in 1981 he became the first Oklahoma architect elected president of the American Institute of Architects culminating nine years of service on the AIA Board. In 1983 Bob was appointed by the AIA to a four-year term on the National Architectural Accrediting Board serving as President in 1986-87. From 1985-92 he was a member of the Oklahoma State University School of Architecture Advisory Committee serving as president from 1989-92. He was inducted into the Oklahoma State University College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Hall of Fame in 1992.”
Noftsger & Lawrence, 1941-1960
Noftsger, Lawrence, Lawrence & Flesher, 1961-?
Union Bus Station, OKC
Lawyers Title Building, OKC
Automobile Building, OKC
Parkside Osteopathic Clinic, Edmond
Oklahoma Farm Bureau Building, OKC
Lawton Sr. High School, Lawton
Lake View Country Club, OKC
John Marshall High School, OKC
Kingfisher County Courthouse, Kingfisher
UCO Library, Edmond
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(photos from the OPUBCO collection at the Oklahoma History Center)