If you ever find your self having to go down Oklahoma Highway 6 in the far southwestern part of the state, you will go through the tiny town of Olustee. As you enter the town you will go right past the library and park and except for a small sign you might not know it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
The park itself is interesting enough- a full block with old style playground equipment, you know, the stuff most people my age played on before the safety nazis took over. You have the big old metal slide, teeter-totter, and swings. There is an old Frisco caboose sitting in the northwest corner of the park and a sidewalk trail that leads around the whole park. The park came into existence in 1920 when the New State Womens Club developed the property to help improve the quality of life in Olustee. The Womens Club had been formed in 1907 to help establish a library and park in the small town.
Throughout the 1920’s members of the club took care of the park by planting trees and in 1925 the club turned over ownership of the property to the town of Olustee. Plans were made in 1921 for a small building to be placed in the middle of the park to be used as a library. But the depression slowed the development of that plan. In 1936, two members of the Womens Club met with representatives from the Works Progress Administration to see if they could get help with the library project. It was approved quickly and work started on the building in April 1936 with the stone quarried from a local farm. Since 1907 there had been temporary locations for a library in Olustee and by August 1936 a permanent building was done and filled with books donated not only by the Womens club but other residents of the community. The New State Womens Club maintained not only the library but the park from the opening until the 1990’s. At that point the library closed, with all the books and town records still inside. The library and park were placed on the National Register in March of 2008.
I would love to go in the building, just to see the records and journals left behind. The park is just a normal park. I tried to get Mae to go down the slide, but it was 106 degrees out and she had a dress on, so it wasn’t happening. It’s an interesting stop if you happen to be in that area.
Olustee Public Library, Olustee, Oklahoma, 2015.
Olustee Park, Olustee, Oklahoma, 2015.