Bavinger House is History

The Bavinger House, one of the most famous structures in Oklahoma, is being sold- piece by piece

After months of concerned speculation, crazy rumors, and crossed fingers that all couldn’t be as bad as it seemed, it appears that, sadly, the worst fears are true.

The Bavinger House is history.

Bruce Goff’s most spectacular architectural creation was severely damaged last spring, whether due to storms or to the owner following through on a threat to demolish Oklahoma’s most significant piece of residential architecture remains unclear.  Whatever the cause, the owner, Bob Bavinger, has consistently refused to let anyone onto the property to inspect the damage.  With no access, there has been no opportunity to work with Bavinger to perhaps find a way to save the spiral-shaped structure that, since its completion in 1955, has been featured in countless books and periodicals for its outstanding and thoroughly original design.

Instead, the now-ironically-named Bavinger House Conservancy has, for the first time since the home was damaged, updated the Bavinger House website offering “an opportunity for everyone to own a piece of history.”  A piece of the Bavinger House, that is.  Yes, just in time for the holidays, you can “cherish actual pieces from the historic house” and buy an aqua glass cullet or maybe a rock or piece of pipe that once held up the AIA 25-Year-Award winner and pass it on to that loved one in your life who has everything.

What an inglorious and even shameful end for a house that Bavinger’s parents, Eugene and Nancy, and dozens of OU students lovingly built over four long years using recycled WWII leftovers, locally-quarried rock, and bright green-blue glass rocks.  All of that love and effort and originality being sold off piece by piece with the money going to a Conservancy that no longer has a purpose … personally, I think I’ll pass.

4 Comments
  1. Indeed, it is shameful. The value of the house is in its architecture, not its parts. I’d be surprised if he gets more than a few hundred dollars for the glass cullet and rose rock. Gene and Nancy would have been devastated – and disgusted by the crassness of this “offer” and the callous disregard for their work. I think I’ll pass on this “opportunity” too.

  2. Indeed it is shameful that so many people jump on-board the hate wagon without any knowledge of the true facts. This quote says it best: Jeff has excerpted the most critical part of the This Land Press article. If we can learn anything from the Bavinger house destruction it is how poorly this situation was handled by those – “in the know.”

    The President of Friends of Kebyar, Nelson Brackin, was warned time and again about the mental attitude of the Bavinger Family as pertains to the University of Oklahoma. He did little or nothing in his position as the
    representative of the major Goff organization.

    The University and Friends of Kebyar were asked on numerous occassions to help the Bavingers, raise money to preserve the house. Neither organization wanted to work with Bob Bavinger, even to the degree of trying to coax him into a more workable foundation to share responsibility and ownership. Bob Bavinger took the attitude, correctly or not, that these organizations were working against or in competition with his established Bavinger House Conservancy.

    In fact, true or not, Bob Bavinger sincerely believed the University was even responsible for his mother’s death – which he stated often. He did not TRUST the OU administration.

    The University of Oklahoma bolstred this mistrust by attempting to fund raise in secret to make an offer to the Bavinger Family. Senior members of the OU Faculty, as well as others – “in the know,” seemingly did absolutely nothing to warn those more recent Faculty members interested in obtaining the house, about what a sensative situation existed between OU and the Bavingers. Eventually word got back to the Bavingers, that OU was making some plans to obtain the house – pretty much reinforcing the Bavinger family mistrust of OU.

    The result was that in a mistaken act of desperation, Bob tore the house down. Had OU or FOK tried to work with the Bavingers, the destruction of the house, would likely have not happened.

    It is fairly obvious that there is plenty of blame to go around. But unfortunately none of this will bring back the Bavinger house.

  3. Pingback: Bruce Goff’s Hopewell Baptist Church « Allez, Allie!

  4. Mr. Bob Bavinger was/is mentally ill. He was paranoid and obsessed with keeping the home to himself. He didn’t want to preserve it or protect it. He wanted to use it as leverage before destroying it. I helped him clean and repair the house right before he did this. Many a time did I hear; “I will bulldoze it”. He makes me sick.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *