Robberson Steel

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City/Town: Oklahoma City
Location Class: Industrial
Year Built: 1909
Year Abandoned: 1988
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Cody CooperJustin Tyler Moore

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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Deanna
Deanna
1 year ago

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 . 🙂

Draftsman
Draftsman
2 years ago

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.

Virginia
Virginia
5 years ago

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 »

SS Pipe Fitings
5 years ago

Notably correct perspective there.

Forged Fittings
5 years ago

Nice collection of pics. A good way to compile it.

Peter Doyle
Peter Doyle
6 years ago

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.

fran
7 years ago

Man looks a pretty scary place, give me a haunted house any day.

Ron H
Ron H
7 years ago

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!!

Jeremiah
Jeremiah
8 years ago

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 »

Bill Webster
Bill Webster
8 years ago

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.

West
West
9 years ago

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.

Mary
Mary
Reply to  West
8 years ago

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.
Mary

Joe
Joe
Reply to  Mary
1 month ago

No UNION what can you expect

Mike
Mike
9 years ago

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.

Toni
Toni
9 years ago

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.

Mike Land
Mike Land
9 years ago

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 »

Steve
Steve
9 years ago

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.

Thanks

AbandonedOK
9 years ago

Thanks for the kudos and comments Stoney! Glad to see you're enjoying the site!

A Member of the Robb
A Member of the Robb
10 years ago

Just a note of thanks for posting these pics. While I was not really around the business, it's fun to show my kids.

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

Well,
Isnt it a shame , this is what unions are doing to this country. The chinese have taken over and are enjoying a robust economy. Whilst we suck air.We as americans are business morons. We want everything cheap.Here is part of the results.
Congrats! everything is cheap and no one has a job to buy stuff cuz all the jobz are gone to China.

CPT
CPT
10 years ago

This is a very interesting place to visit. It was a little bit eerie at night. With the wind blowing the loose metal up against the rafters, making all kinds of noise, it was a little scary. Not to mention the many locations where there could be some homeless. Overall it was a very interesting expedition into the past of Oklahoma.

Kristi Bradley
11 years ago

This was quite a trip down memory lane. My husband and I both worked there until the end. He was the 2nd to last person there before they closed the doors.

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