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Greenwood Chamber President lied, violated eight building codes

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
Published: Last Updated on
City puts Black Wall Street building on fire watch after broken alarm
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TULSA, Okla. –After obtaining a report from the Tulsa Fire Department, The Black Wall Street Times has learned that Greenwood Chamber President Dr. Freeman Culver lied when he intially said there were no structural violations of the West Building on Black Wall Street other than a broken fire alarm.

A city-contracted fire security team has been sitting outside a Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Black Wall Street building 24 hours a day after the discovery of a broken fire alarm required Tulsa’s local government to place the building on fire watch. The fire watch has since ended.

According to Greenwood Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Freeman Culver, a lighting strike several days ago caused damage to a panel controlling the fire alarm system for the West Building on Black Wall Street, which houses several businesses. Yet, according to a Tulsa Fire Department inspection report, the violation was due to a low battery and alarm status.

“And so they’re fixing the fire alarm, and while they’re fixing the fire alarm, the city requires a third-party contractor to supervise the property until the damage is fixed,”  Dr. Culver told The Black Wall Street Times Wednesday evening.

Culver said the broken fire alarm was the only issue and that there were no structural violations of the buildings.

Black Wall Street building on fire watch

As of Thursday morning, workers with Commercial Fire Inspections were parked out front of the building and seated at a patio at the building.

When asked why they were there, a worker named Rick confirmed they were there as required by the fire watch designation to oversee the property until the fire alarm is fixed.

“They’re having trouble with the fire alarm system. So, the city makes them be on fire watch, which basically means that they have to walk the building at all times,” Rick told The Black Wall Street Times on Thursday. He clarified that the team must have someone at the building 24 hours a day until the problem is solved.

Meanwhile, The Black Wall Street Times obtained a report from the Fire Department that shows eight violations at Greenwood Chamber building.

A Tulsa Fire Department Inspection Report, dated August 10,  shows the Greenwood Chamber building has failed eight building codes, including: improper bolt locks, improper venting, improper use of space for storage and improper use of plug adapters (both of which are fire hazards), improper use of extension cords, open electrical wiring, inoperable fire alarms and out of date fire extinguishers.

Black Wall Street tenant to sue Greenwood Chamber of Commerce

Meanwhile, at least one tenant continues to be unsatisfied with the Greenwood Chamber’s management of the buildings amid the fire watch designation.

“Two weeks ago, the women’s bathroom in the Speakeasy flooded with feces and maggots,” Williams told The Black Wall Street Times on Thursday.

Weeks before the fire watch issue, The Black Wall Street Times previously interviewed Devin Williams, who runs A New Way Counseling and the D.W. Speakeasy, both housed in the West Building. His Speakeasy has been closed for weeks after claiming the Greenwood Chamber has refused to provide maintenance services to his A/C units.

Black Wall Street business owner to sue Greenwood Chamber Pres.

Left: Devin Williams, owner and founder of DW Speakeasy on Black Wall Street in Historic Greenwood District intends to sue Dr. Freeman Culver III, president of Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. (DW Speakeasy / KTUL)

On Thursday, he gave an update on his plan to file a lawsuit against the Greenwood Chamber and Chamber president Dr. Culver, saying he’s seeking damages of over $1 million. Yet, despite the issues he’s facing and his pending legal battle with the Chamber, Williams said he ultimately wants to remain a tenant on Black Wall Street.

“I want them to fix the buildings, pay damages and I want to continue my legacy on Greenwood,” he added.

Dr. Culver denies structural damage

For his part, Dr. Culver has denied any structural issues with the interior of the buildings.

“Listen, man. There’s no drama when it comes to upkeep of the buildings. We’re the first administration to really focus on maintaining the property. It’s nothing controversial down there,” Dr. Culver said. 

He added that a $400,000 grant the Chamber received last year will go towards emergency brick work on the buildings beginning this fall.

“There’s no types of structural violations. We’ve been doing a lot of work on that building. Got brand new roofs as of August 2021,” Dr. Culver said.

When asked to comment on the newly obtained report showing eight structural violations, Dr. Freeman Culver did not immediately respond for comment. A call to Dr. Culver went straight to voicemail.

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