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Posts tagged ‘National Register of Historic Places Oklahoma’

First Christian Church

When I woke up this morning and checked my phone, I had several texts from friends and family who know I love Oklahoma history. Concerned I read the one from Big K first, “The egg church has been torn down”. I hoped that what he said wasn’t true but a quick look at my Facebook feed confirmed it. The iconic First Christian Church, the “Egg Church”, was a pile of rubble.

The First Christian Chruch was one of the first churches organized in Oklahoma City. Historical records show that their first baptismal was in June 1889. By 1910, the congregation had built a new home for their church at 1104 N Robinson after occupying a few other buildings. This would be their home for many years until the completion of the new sanctuary (this building does still stand and is on the National Register of Historic Places). In 1946, the minister of the church, Bill Alexander, helped the church buy land that had previously been part of the Edgemere Golf Club for a new location. By 1947, an outdoor auditorium had been built. The Sunday evening services were held here, “Edgemere Under the Stars”. On Christmas Day in 1953, the church announced its “Christmas present to Oklahoma City”, a new modern building that was a landmark to all who could see it, the “church of tomorrow”. The church was designed by architects R. Duane Conner and Fred Pojezny. They used concrete to make the large dome by pouring the concrete on steel mesh that was laid on a wooden form. After the concrete cured, the form was removed.

Sunday, December 23rd, 1956, the new church welcomed its first worshipers. It is said that over 2000 people attended that first service in the new sanctuary. The architecture for the time was so spectacular that the church was featured in Life magazine in 1957. This church was a center for the community for many years. It hosted events from weddings to funerals, from school concerts to the Miss Oklahoma Pageant. But most importantly it served as “The Center” during the time shortly after the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. Set up by the church, the medical examiner, and a group of funeral directors, the American Red Cross also set up in the building. It served as a safe haven from the media for those who lost loved ones in the attack. It’s rumored that Oprah Winfrey herself even went to the church to help the victims and their families. For 16 days after the bombing, it was a place of solace for those closely affected. In 2016, the First Christian Chruch put the property up for sale. The size of the congregation had shrunk and the building was becoming expensive to repair. By 2018, the first whispers of demolition started. Many tried to fight back, even trying to get the city council involved. Even though it had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, it was at risk. A couple of other churches stepped forward to buy it but in the long run the property just needed to many repairs.

I never got to go in the building. I only got a few pictures back in 2019, never thought to go back and take more. A sad day for Oklahoma history and for those who love mid-century designs.

Richardson Building

Sad to say but Oklahoma has a problem with tearing down and ignoring history. On Friday July 22, 2022, Union City lost one of the oldest buildings in town- the Richardson Building. I loved driving through Union City just to see this 112-year-old building standing quietly on the corner.

Founded in 1900, Dr. David Richardson bought the bank in 1906. The bank got its new building in 1910 at the northeast corner of Division St and Main St. (now Kate Boevers Ave.). Built across from the school, this building not only housed the bank on the corner but to the east was a hardware store that later became a grocery. The building suffered a fire in the interior in 1928 and was rebuilt. It was used as a bank until 1977 when a new building was constructed on Highway 81. The old building then sat vacant for many years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Properties in 1983.

The town on Union City was founded on April 10, 1894. Dr. David Richardson moved to town not long after to establish his medical practice. He not only was the town doctor, and later banker, but served as postmaster for Union City. He was appointed as State Bank Commissioner by Governor E.W. Marland in 1938 and served 1 year.

As I stated, this building has been abandoned since at least 1977, it was a cool building but also old and falling apart. I had heard rumors on July 22, 2022, that it would be demolished that day, I waited for a few days before I drove to Union City. There was just a dusty concrete pad where the 112-year-old Richardson Building had sat, another historical building gone.

These pics I took in Aug 2016. As time went on, more things were missing such as the arrow sign.

These pics were taken July 2022. You can see the brick footing for the building.

Anadarko Heritage Museum and The National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians

Sometimes when I go out for a drive, I have a destination. Other times I just go driving and stop whenever I see something interesting. A few months ago I got in the car and took off to the southwest. No particular place in mind, but when I came upon Anadarko I drove around and found their historic Rock Island Train Depot and the Anadarko Heritage Museum located within.

This museum has a mix of Native American artifacts along with photos and items from local residents. One room on the east end of the building holds all of the Native American items- moccasins, costumes, headdresses, and lots of items with intricate beadwork. The rest of the building has various other items such as cameras, boots, hats, clothing, tools, and lots of photos from around the area.

The most interesting part of the museum is the building it’s housed in, the Rock Island Depot. Built in 1911 as a passenger station for the CRI&P (Chicago Rock Island & Pacific) railway, it sits just off Main Street between two rail lines- one ran alongside the building to the north and the other still runs along the east side curving to the south. The station was used for passengers for many years until it closed in 1974. The museum was opened in 1979 by the Philomathic Club of Anadarko. This group has been in existence since 1899 and they founded a town museum in 1936. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

We also stopped at the National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians. This is really a nice place to visit if it’s a nice day. The majority of the hall of fame is outside, a nice walk with statues and busts of famous Native Americans. There are descriptions along with each statue to tell of the persons achievements. Inside is a small visitor center with some artwork by different Native artists.

These two locations are a great way to learn more about the history of Anadarko and the Native Americans who live in and around the town.

Address- National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians- 901 E. Central Blvd., Anadarko; Anadarko Heritage Museum- 311 E. Main St., Anadarko

Haunted Fort Washita

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The west and south barracks at Fort Washita, OK, 2015.

Hey, it’s the week of Halloween so let’s have some fun and talk about one of the most haunted places in Oklahoma- Fort Washita.  I had heard the stories for years, ghosts wandering the property, strange experiences, weird feelings.  So back in 2002, we decided to visit (this was before children) and yeah, the place definitely had a creepy vibe.  We never actually saw a ghost or had anything unexplained happen to us, but we both felt like someone was watching us the whole time we were there.  After that visit we have talked about the place just giving us the creeps and that we never wanted to go back.  So like morons, we went back a couple of weeks ago, taking Mae with us this time just to see if a pre-teen girl could get the spirits worked up.

The fort was placed on top of a hill not far from where the Washita River joins the Red River in 1842.  It was built by the military to protect the Chickasaws and Choctaws from other Indian tribes.  The original fort was spread out over an area of seven square miles and contained almost 100 buildings constructed from locally quarried limestone.  By 1861, the fort was abandoned and taken over by confederate troops as a supply post.  Although no battles were ever fought here, near the end of the war the confederates burned the buildings and abandoned the post.  The United States military turned over the property in 1870 to the Chickasaws who then allotted the land to the Colbert family.  The state of Oklahoma took over ownership of the land in 1962, this is when the historical society added the front entrance and started work on the reconstruction of the south barracks.  In 1965 the fort was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The south and west barracks in background with remains of the commissary in front, Fort Washita, OK, 2015.

As I said earlier, my first trip was in 2002, you can walk or drive around the ruins.  The south barracks weren’t open to tour but you could go in the rebuilt chaplains’ quarters and the D.H. Cooper cabin.  On this recent visit we discovered that the rebuilt south barracks had burned down in 2010 but everything else was the same as before.  I didn’t get that same strange feeling I had the first time and neither did my husband, even though he told me later at one point near the old post road he heard “thundering hooves”.  I didn’t hear or see anything and neither did Mae even though she kept her guard up.  I was hoping that at least one ghost would come and scare her.  It’s an interesting place to visit and if you see a ghost or hear something unusual don’t be surprised.  The fort is in far southern Oklahoma near Durant and Tishomingo off state highway 199.

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South barracks at Fort Washita before they burned in 2010, Fort Washita, OK, 2002.

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Map of Fort Washita, 2015.

Olustee Public Library and Park

Olustee library

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.

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Olustee Public Library, Olustee, Oklahoma, 2015.

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Olustee Park, Olustee, Oklahoma, 2015.

Cross S Ranch Headquarters

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Cross S Ranch Headquarters, Museum of the Western Prairie, Altus, OK, 2015.

While I was bored over the summer, I found a listing of all the locations in Oklahoma on the National Register of Historic Places.  I then started getting curious, do some of these places still exist?  So just using Google Maps Satellite Images I would put in the address or coordinates to see if the building was still standing or if something had happened.  The majority of the time everything was the same but there are some places that are gone.  Why are they gone?  What happened to them?  Fire, tornado, moved?  So I have set out to find these historic places and give everyone an update.

One of the first places that caught my interest was the Cross S Ranch Headquarters in Jackson County.  It should have been on a country road West of Elmer and South of Olustee but no matter how many times I looked, I could not find a building on this piece of farm land.   So off to southwestern Oklahoma I went, at the beginning of August in 100 degree heat (I’ve never been accused of being smart).  After a short drive through Elmer, trust me it’s a small town, I ended up close to where the ranch headquarters should be.  I was close because the road didn’t look too good and after the rains they had in May and June, I didn’t know what I would find further out.  But I was on the location of Cross S Ranch.

Cross S Ranch

Actual location of the Cross S Ranch, the headquarters building would have been in this field.  Looking to the west from County Road N199, Olustee, OK, 2015.

The Cross S Ranch was started on this open prairie in what was then Greer County, Texas by the Eddleman Brothers.  L.Z., Ira and Lee Eddleman started grazing cattle in this very area in 1880.  This was in a time that the cattle could roam free without fences or borders.  In what many believe was 1891, the brothers built the two-story headquarters building out of limestone.  It was not only the headquarters for the ranch but a home for L.Z. Eddleman.  Around 1893 the brothers moved out of cattle ranching and solely into the breeding and breaking of horses.  This continued until the 1900’s when the brothers eventually moved away from the Cross S ranch, onto other ranches they owned not only in Oklahoma but around the country.  L.Z. Eddleman did still own the Cross S and used it from time to time at this point, mostly for farming.  The headquarters building was still used as a home until the 1930’s and afterward may still have been used by members of the family for various reasons, such as family reunions.  By the 1970’s the ranch was no longer owned by the Eddleman family and the headquarters had been abandoned.

In 2006 the ranch headquarters was included on the National Register of Historic Places.  But the building was in horrible shape, the roof was falling in, the second story floors had rotted away, and the stone blocks were collapsing.  That is when the Museum of the Western Prairie in Altus moved in, raising money to have the headquarters building moved.  In 2009, they started dismantling the stones and moving everything to Altus, where the building was then reconstructed.  This is why I couldn’t find it, the building had been moved, it is now rebuilt in the courtyard next to the museum.  It is nice the way it’s been refurbished but I think I would have liked to have seen it restored on the prairie where it had been.

If you want to go look for it, you can find it at the Museum for the Western Prairie in Altus, 1100 Memorial Drive.   The original location of the ranch can be found 5 miles south of Olustee west of the intersection of County Roads N199 and E1750.

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Inside the Cross S Ranch Headquarters.  The first floor has been restored, the second floor should be done in a few years.  Museum of the Western Prairie, Altus, OK, 2015.

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Stone marker with the Cross S brand stamped on it.  Museum of the Western Prairie, Altus, OK, 2015.

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