Construction crews demolish a portion of the Stage Center with heavy machinery Tuesday in downtown Oklahoma City. Photos by K.T. King, The Oklahoman KT King – The Oklahoman

After years of debate over the history, importance and fate of Stage Center, the end is set to start Monday as preparatory demolition begins.

Stage Center, originally known as Mummers Theater, was designed by John Johansen, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and a member of the legendary “Harvard Five” (which also included Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes).

The theater opened in 1970 to international acclaim for the design, but inadequate funding for operations and a less than enthusiastic response by locals led to the demise of Mummers just a year after the theater opened. The building has had a series of tenants since, was closed in the late 1990s, and closed again for good after it was flooded in 2010.

Protests by architects and preservationists failed to stop Williams from winning approval from the Downtown Design Review Committee to clear the site and build a 14- to 16-story story tower that will become the new headquarters for OGE Energy Corp. The plan also calls for a garage and Williams is seeking a developer to build a second building of about a dozen stories for either a hotel or housing.

Read entire article here: