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Tearin’ down the house?


CFN staff is officially confused.

Gazette staff June 29th, 2011

Architecture enthusiasts were up in arms last week about the fate of the historic Bavinger House located east of Norman.

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That’s because reports of gunfire, helicopters and a collapsed roof surfaced regarding the storied spiral-shaped house.

The fate of the home designed by Bruce Goff, the eccentric former chairman of the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture, was as clear as the muddy shores of Lake Thunderbird. Renowned as one of Goff’s most famous buildings, the house was constructed on a secluded piece of land near E. Alameda Street with the help of architecture students from 1950 to 1955 for OU art professor Eugene Bavinger and his wife, Nancy.

Eugene Bavinger died in 1997, and the couple’s surviving son, Bob Bavinger, has taken responsibility of the house. Nancy died in 2007.

The shot heard round the architecture world began on June 20, when the son told The Norman Transcript the home listed on the National Register of Historic Places had been torn down.

“It was the only solution that we had,” Bavinger reportedly said. “We got backed into a corner.”

Bavinger said he decided to “remove the target” after OU undermined fundraising efforts to restore the property. Obstructed by black plastic hanging on a fence and a pesky “no trespassing” sign, the local paper could not independently confirm the destruction.

Then some other shots were heard … literally. Intrepid News 9 reporter Gan Matthews claims his Bavinger hunt with a cameraman was greeted with gunfire at the property June 21, according to News9.com.

Capt. Tom Easley of the Norman Police Department told Chicken-Fried News the news crew was filming from private property. Authorities arrived with four units, a supervisor and animal welfare officers.

“I kind of scratched my head on that one,” said Easley, who learned that a “beware of dog” sign hung from the fence.

Armed with PAs and sirens, Norman’s finest unsuccessfully attempted to contact the residents and didn’t have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with anything, Easley said.

“No one saw a gun pointed, no one was injured,” he said.

Was the historic home demolished?

“I don’t believe so,” said Easley, describing the house as “dilapidated” and the surroundings as overgrown.

“(Officers) knocked on the doors. I think if the house had been destroyed, there would be no doors to knock on. … It’s not torn down yet; I’m not saying it won’t be. It’s private property — you can do anything you want with it, right?” On June 22, the website thebavingerhouse.org posted the following clues: “Closed due to storm damage. Due to severe storm damage we will not be able to re-open.”

That same day, News9.com reported that the famous spiral roof had partially collapsed, thanks to a trusty helicopter flyover.

The Bavingers are used to curious visitors to the house. As many as hundreds a day arrived following its completion in 1955. The family obliged by offering tours for $1.

“When and if the day comes that the Bavingers can enjoy their house to themselves as the retreat they had planned, it seems probable they will be overcome with loneliness,” The Oklahoman predicted in 1955.

 
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