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Sunshine Laundry Cleaners

City/Town:
Location Class:
Built: 1928 | Abandoned: 1986
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (June 14, 2016)
Status: Restored (2017)
Photojournalist: Billy DixonMichael Schwarz

Dating back to 1928 when it was constructed this building has been home to a laundry company. Starting out with National Sunshine Laundry Co., they were known around Oklahoma City as one of the best and most affordable laundromats. Manager V. I. Scharlack advertised themselves as having low prices without sacrificing quality. Housewives in the 1930s could have their clothes washed for the low price of 2 cents per pound. Everyone else got their clothes gently swished in individual bags through soft suds and returned them just damp enough for easy ironing for 4 cents per pound. Customers could pick up their receiver and dial 3-7494 also and have a delivery man come pick up their wash for them. One customer was quoted saying “If I had only let Sunshine Laundry take this hard work off my hands a long time ago. I don’t see how they can do it for so small a charge.” 

In January of 1938, a laundry workers union was threatening local laundromats in Oklahoma City, one of those being Sunshine Laundry. The union formed by A.K. Webb presented a contract to the management on behalf of its workers. When said workers showed up for their shifts on the following Monday they found themselves locked out and given notices of indefinite suspensions. But Mr. Scharlach, Vice President of Sunshine Laundry, said the employees were given notices because of a shutdown to install boiler equipment and that arrangements had been made with Nuway Laundry to employ them until Sunshine was back open. But Webb said management failed to keep their word about discussing the union’s demands. A strike broke out and seven employees were charged with assault and battery.

Sunshine Laundry & Cleaners’ once fast-paced business slowed tremendously with the rise of household washing machines in the 1950s. By 1986 they were no longer able to hold on and the laundromat that had served residents in Oklahoma City for over fifty years was closed. The building became vacant and quickly became a place frequented by transients. On July 6, 1989, after three years of vacancy the building caught fire and was reported to have caused minimal damage after the OKCFD put out the blaze quickly. The fire was suspected to be arson with the fire being contained to a northwest room next to old storage bins filled with rags and clothes. Over the course of the next twenty years, the roof would collapse and trees would start reclaiming the land.

Restoration

In 2015 the abandoned building would be given a second chance at life. New owners Ben Sellers, Jonathan Dodson, and David Wanzer purchased the building for $725,000 with visions of a brewery and tap room and offices. They took extra steps to add it to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, a testimony to the buildings long and rich history. Everyone was arguably most excited to see the iconic neon sign light up again that has loomed over Classen Boulevard for decades. The developer of the project was Pivot Project partnering with Gardner Architects and Lingo Construction. After all was said and done the total redevelopment cost was around $3.93 million. Opening as Stonecloud Brewing in the summer of 2017, it has become a hub of enjoyable leisures for Oklahoma City residents.

Micro-documentary:

Prairie Nation Creative produced a short video about the history and restoration of this cornerstone:

Gallery Below




 

[accordions] [accordion title=”Bibliography”load=”hide”]

“15 Aug 1930, 14 – Oklahoma City Star at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/593860061/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“16 Oct 2015, 23 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/452616888/?terms=sunshine%20cleaners&match=1.

“2 Dec 1953, 4 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/449675191/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“24 Nov 1953, 16 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/449667060/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“26 Jan 1938, 1 – The Oklahoma News at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/594605567/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“27 Jan 1938, 1 – The State Democrat at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/594425423/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“4 Jul 1930, 6 – Oklahoma City Star at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/594634512/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“6 May 1934, 17 – The Oklahoma News at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/594904110/?terms=sunshine%20laundry&match=1.

“7 Jul 1989, 67 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/451550457/?terms=sunshine%20cleaners&match=1.

“Image 34 of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.” The Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/resource/g4024om.g4024om_g07202194801/?sp=34&r=0.752,0.367,0.306,0.236,0.

“Our Story.” Stonecloud Brewing Company, stonecloudbrewing.com/our-story/.

“Sunshine Laundry.” Pivot Project, pivotproject.com/project/sunshine-laundry/.

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Emily Cowan

Emily was brought into the Abandoned OK Team in December of 2019. “I’m not gonna lie I fangirled a bit. My first published post I was ecstatic, I felt like I finally had the right audience for my work. The opportunities that came with it made me love the website even more. I remember my first interview with a couple at Waukomis Christian Church. They had bought and restored the 1897 church and insisted on keeping the original sanctuary despite being advised on moving it. We talked with them for at least a good 40 minutes about the church, the abandoned Waukomis Middle School beside it, and the towns other disappearing buildings. They even rang the bell for us that has sat in the bell-tower for the last 120 something years ago. We could tell they were just as passionate about preserving Oklahoma’s dwindling history as we were. When interviewing people and hearing the first-hand stories and recollections of a place and seeing how a person connects to a building, it forms a connection between not only you and that person but yourself and that building.”

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