The Joseph P. Foucart Building - 1902
Home of the Perry Chamber of Commerce
300 Sixth Street
The Foucart Building was originally built to house the Noble Country Bank, established March, 1899, forerunner of the Berry First National Bank. Congressman Dennis Flynn and J. Jenson hired Joseph P. Foucart to design this unique example of electric American architecture.
Foucart immigrated to the United States in 1888 and came to Guthrie two months after the land run of Aprill 22, 1889 when he was 51 years old. He remained in the territory only ten years, but left his mark in Guthrie, Perry, Stillwater and Alva.
"Born at Arlon, Belgium, Joseph P. Foucart studied civil engineering and architecture at the famous school of Ghent, graduating in 1865. He supervised the construction of the Castle of Roussle in Viere, Belgium. He entered the service of the private architect of the king of Belgium and supervised the construction of the King's Winter Garden, the Grand Central Hotel in Brussels, the Courthouse of Charteroi and several other important buildings in the national capital. Foucart also worked as the chief draftsman for the plans of the Paris City Hall. He arrived in Oklahoma in 1889 and between that year and 1903 constructed buildings of unprecedented beauty in the middle of the shantytowns and tent-cities which had sprung on the territorial landscapes months after the "run". During this time, he built the McKennon Opera Building, the site of the first territorial house and senate meetings and the home of Oklahoma's first daily newspaper. The Guthrie City Hall, the Victor Building, the Jelsma Abstract Company Building and the Destegieur Building were also built by Foucart, as well as the Williams Hall building at Oklahoma State University and the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Administration Building at Alva.
Using materials that were both native to the state and imported due to the extension of the railroad, Foucart designed buildings of red brick, sandstone, and limestone to create a solid, rugged style that was extremely suitable for the newly developed western territory. Because of his location in the Capitol City of Guthrie, it is possible that the style that was frequently used from 1889 until statehood in 1907, and is commonly reffered to in Oklahoma as "Territorial Architecture", was greatly influenced by Foucart. Characteristic of this style is the local quarry-cut limestone and sandstone and the locally produced red brick combined with pre-made architectural items, such as wooden windows and doors, pressed tin in a variety of forms, and other ornaments which were brought in by train from Kansas City and beyond. Typical Victorian, the architect used an electric combination of Classical and picturesque elements from both the Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles of architecture.
While the occupied the main floor, the basement was the office and print shop for the "Oklahoma Nevigkeiten", a German language newspaper published between 1906 and 1925 and edited by Gus Pietrusky. The local telephone and telegraph exchange was located in the back of the building and a music studio was in the upper rooms at the corner of the square, the building became the principle office of the First Union Life Insurance Company and was extensively remodeled to its original in 1957-1958 by Robert Morgan. When the insurance company ceased business in 1975, the building was bought by Norman Boone, Perry Real Estate Broker and in 1977 a dentist's office was established on the first floor by Dr. F.J. Marburger.
In 1994, the Perry Development Coalition purchased the Foucart Building for $50,000.00 and began the process of renovation. The electrical wiring was discovered to be the old knob and tube, and the tile and wood floor on the main floor was covered with a layer of concrete to level the floor, then carpeting was laid over all. The basement door was bricked over and a marble threshhold late in front of the vault was discovered. The majority of the restoration was done by voluteer labor and donations by local citizens organized by Dave Muir, Jr. interim director of the Perry Development Coalition. The ceiling is original as is the front door latch. The 1900 bar is from Old Joe's Smoke House and was refinished by "trader Dave". It was used in the Centennial Ball which was held at the Armory in March of 1994 as part of the Centennial Celebrations. At the time of writing, the building is the home of the Perry Chamber of Commerce on the main floor, the Perry Development Coalition is in the basement and Jennifer Ruth's Dance Studio on the second floor.
The Foucart Building is a fine example of the restoration and preservation of a part of our American Heritage by people who are dedicated and who take time to make a difference. The Perry Development Coalition has effectively renovated the building to make present day needs, while maintaining the charm and authenticity of the past.
By: Elizabeth McMorris-Applegate, 1995
Granddaughter of Regina and Henry Loeffelholz
Perry residents since 1929
Picture by Sheila Habben