|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • Industrial|
|Built: • 1909 | Abandoned: • 1988|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • AbandonedOK Team|
In 1909 John Bernard Klein founded the J. B. Klein Iron and Foundry Company in Oklahoma City. The company advertised foundry work of all types, including ornamental iron, brass work, wire, stairs, railings, fire escapes, and construction products. By the time Klein died in 1925, the company had begun to specialize in steel works for bridges, buildings, and roads. A significant number of Oklahoma’s early bridges were constructed by Klein’s company. After 1925 this work was continued by the firm’s general manager, Richard W. Robberson, who eventually bought the company. During World War II, J. B. Klein Iron and Foundry Company received a $1.2 million federal contract to furnish steel for the industrial buildings to be constructed at the Midwest City Douglas Aircraft Company plant. In 1942 the firm’s name was changed to Robberson Steel and Bridge Company. Originally located at 1535 Northwest Fifth Street, the establishment was later moved to 1401 Northwest Third Street and eventually to 1000 1024 Northwest Second Street. The company continued to operate as a steel fabrication firm until it was dissolved on December 15, 1988, after a lengthy bankruptcy process. In 1988 Robberson Steel employed approximately one hundred fifty individuals.
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Was this steel plant on the Rock Island tracks? If so, I have some memories!
I am shocked to see these pictures, I have been wondering what happened to the building. My dad Keith Barnum worked there as a controller, Many memories of going with him to work
My Dad ( Harold Walden) work there for many years. He started as a grinder and work his way up to in Management. As a kid we would take him lunch, we would set where we could watch the big overhead crane run back and forth. My dad just passed away in July 2020. He always had stories about Robberson Steel. We going on vacation he would show us the bridges that had come from his work, also building that they had worked on. There are two bridges just north of Ardmore the are tringle shaped those were some he… Read more »
Ex employee of the Robertsonwho chanced the entire production line to bring the at the time allowed diagonal measuring of 3/16 inch to 0 (ZERO) by elimination of the construction bolts Replacing it to tag welds and hereby Improving the production by at least 25% also here by avoiding all those costly returns this was In 1957 the at the time man in charge was a Irishman who had full face in me because of high entrepreneurial background as a millwright he stood 100% behind me He was the only one thanked me for it with a handshake The reason… Read more »
I ran around that shop on Saturdays when my Dad worked on weekends. Remember his office was a shed inside the building. John Fletcher was dads name. His Good friend at the Larry OzMent would always be in there on them days with his coffee cup in his right hand and cigerette in the left. seemed almost like a routine for them days. I’d walk around for a while just sayin hello to the guys i knew. Everybody called me gopher (or Go For). I know 2003 was a long time ago, but if anybody reading attended dads funeral. I… Read more »
My Dad (Charles Teel) worked for Robberson Steel for many , many years. I have fond memories of a tiny store there at the plant where Daddy would take we kids to purchase candy/gum (juicy fruit specifically) and how we girls would be so excited if Dad accidentally ended up bringing home a “chalk stick” in his pocket. We’d write on the sidewalk with it! Thanks for the pictures . 🙂
I had the privilege of working at Robberson Steel and Bridge Company 1983 to 1985 as a draftsman. From that experience, I chose to pursue Civil Engineering. Those were great days of hand drafting and blue print machines. While working there I drew some structural members for the Fountain Plaza building in Dallas.
A correction and addition to the historical narrative: Jacob Bernard Klein founded the J. B. Klein Iron & Foundry Co. (his son, my late father, was named John Bernard Klein). The company did the work on most of the local buildings erected from 1910 on, and as mentioned above also designed ornamental iron work (the iron gates and sconces at what was then in 1910 Oklahoma High School, now the OCU School of Law in the 800 block of North Robinson Street in Oklahoma City, are still in place). Jacob Klein's sudden death at the age of 45 (injuries sustained… Read more »
Notably correct perspective there.
Nice collection of pics. A good way to compile it.
For what the reason was, its sad that a company with that much history is gone! W&W Steel is prime example of a good family with good values that take of their people as well as their future.
Man looks a pretty scary place, give me a haunted house any day.
I worked there in the mid to late 70's and learned a lot about welding in the ornamental shop made a lot of friends plant wide there too that will last a life time!!
There are many reasons that can be said for the closing of this plant but my understanding is that most of it had to do with Mr. Robberson's passing. I understand that his family was not interested in running the business and thus allowed it to be sold. It appeared to all who worked there that the subsequent buyers seemed to liquidate any assets and suck money out of the plant before claiming bankruptcy. This of course included retirement funds and other "assets". It is true, Mr. Robberson never allowed a union to take place in this plant. Those that… Read more »
The original location was 1000 1024 Northwest Second Street the establishment was later moved to 1401 Northwest Third Street. The original location 1000 1024 Northwest Second Street in now the home of Rent -It Company. The name JB Klein Iron is still visible on the West side of the building.
Those are some really good pictures. I worked there for many years as well as my husband who work there for 14 years or more. We met there and have been married ever sincel. Lots of good memories and great people. It was a shame that it closed. I promise you it has nothing to do with the Union. That was one thing the owner DID NOT Even agree with. My husband was there until the doors closed. It is a shame to see what once was a beatuiful place be so destroyed. Thanks for the memories.
West…. I know you posted this a while ago, but my dad was at Robberson Steel for 35 years and was also there when the doors closed and they found out they had nothing, no retirement, no insurance, nothing… very sad day.
No UNION what can you expect
I dont know if anyone noticed or not but look in picture #436 and if you look at the window it looks like someone is standing there.
I spent some of my teenage years around this neighborhood and i always loved walking by this place. Most people in the neighborhood said it was haunted and would never go in there with me. I love the pictures and this website, ive always wanted to go into alot of the abandoned buildings downtown and think about how they were in their heyday.
Right out of high school I went to O.U. But I needed money to pay what grants wouldn't cover. So I needed a night job and I went to work for American Security at 1800 W. Main (the old KTOK building, now burned down). My first assignment was The Skirvin in the conventions and parking garage. They moved me around and I climbed the ladder all the way to patrolman. Roberson Steel was one of our accounts. I think I still have a key somewhere that opened up the front electric operated door. I would first go in and turn… Read more »
I worked there in the 80's. It was kind of scary when it was open. As to Tim's comment: This was not caused by unions. There never was a union @ Robberson when I worked there. Why is it when businesses go under it is the unions fault? The cause was (according to managment) lack of sales and the fact that during the oil boom, the salesmen that worked there sat on their butts for 18 months and when the oil field steel contacts were up the had no business.