The second entry associated with Goff is the Hopewell Baptist Church in Edmond. Drafted by Bruce Goff during his tenure as Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma (between 1947 and 1955) and completed in 1951, the Hopewell Baptist Church is a wonderful example of Goff’s engagement with architectural bricolage – a French term for the employment of ready-made odds and ends for purposes other than their original intent. Goff utilized various materials for construction of the church including scrap metal, pieces of oil drilling pipe, and locally harvested field stone. Decorative elements included a chandelier crafted from an aluminum cake pan. Additionally, the conical, tepee-style design of the church paid homage to the Native American heritage of the area. Hopewell Baptist Church is also notable for its erection not by professional builders but volunteers from the congregation itself, led by Chairman of the Board of Deacons, J.R. “Ike” Thomas, foreman of a local oil-drilling company. The eclectic church was featured in a 1955 TIME magazine article and named “Rural Church of the Year” by the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention in 1959.
Since the 1980s, Hopewell has seen a steady decline. The congregation was forced to abandon the building as a meetinghouse in 1989 due to severe leaking and other maintenance issues, and to move into a neighboring structure. The state of Oklahoma condemned the building shortly thereafter for the presence of asbestos insulation, installed in the 1970s. This condemnation actually may have saved the building, as the cost of abatement prevented the congregation from following through on a plan to demolish the church.
Today, the asbestos is gone. A significant amount of research has been done on what is needed for the rehabilitation of the church, with much assistance from Elliott and Associates Architects, but the congregation and recently-established Hopewell Heritage Foundation face a long battle. Significant fundraising will be needed to see this iconic building returned to its original condition, and restored as an inspirational centerpiece for the community.
Hopewell Baptist Church Edmond, Oklahoma County
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