The pyramid house was built in 1976, for Gary and Debra Noble, on 33 acres outside of Coyle. The home took 17 months to complete, since everything had to be cut at an angle. The foundation was built in a cross shape to get the peak of the pyramid to come to a point. Every room in the house was built with three or five sides. The house included a sun deck on three sides.
We are getting great feedback from our new WPA Tour series. I am writing this post to share a little of the behind the scenes process of the creation of these tours. One of my main goals with the creation of the LCHS website was to create a place where we could share self-guided tours, virtual exhibits, and great conversation. I am very proud of our new site, and I am excited about the future potential. Last year we started an annual Picnic in Parks series to highlight the great history of the county’s historic parks, while sharing picnic dinner with good company. This year, my husband Mark and I spent many Saturdays reading newspapers on microfilm in an effort to uncover the true stories of Highland Hall and our current swimming pool. Without firm construction dates we went through many reels of microfilm before finding anything on either of these sites. Along the way we started collecting images of WPA news articles, with the vague thought of doing some type of program. My initial research led me to believe that Highland Hall could have been constructed in 1935, but in fact the building was not completed until 1940. The New Deal efforts encompassed this entire time period, so by the time I was ready to share the park’s history we had also collected enough information to tell a different story of the WPA and the New Deal in Logan County. Along with the newspaper articles, I was able to gather more information and some great historic photographs by looking through the Oklahoma State Preservation Offices online historic property survey records, the Gateway to Oklahoma photo archives and the Living New Deal website. Next, Mark and I hit the road to confirm details, design the tour routes, and to take more photographs. Combined, all of the information became the basis of our new tour guides. Fortunately, our new Weebly website makes it easy to layout the guides, add maps, and even lets me add slideshows of multiple images and Youtube videos. Personally, I learned that the New Deal’s impact and remaining trail is much greater than I ever imaged. I think that Logan County’s history has focused on the land run and the territorial period of the county for far too long. There are many other stories to share which highlight different chapters of the county’s history. My hope is that our WPA tours are just the first in a series of new tours and programs about the county’s history beyond statehood. Please check out our tours and give me your feedback. We need your support in order to continue to grow and expand.
When we think about the Works Progress Administration, most picture the armories, schools, and bridges which remain. But the New Deal created hope across the country for many hit hard by the Great Depression. In 1935, the WPA alone employed over 1,200 people in Logan County. Men got jobs paving roads, improving the water filtration system, and building public buildings throughout the county. Women got jobs in sewing rooms and some were even employed as book binders at the Carnegie Library. In 1935, the Civil Conservation Corps set up Camp Winters west of Guthrie. 200 young men lived at the camp while doing soil conservation work. The National Youth Administration provided part time jobs for teenagers with projects like park improvements. A new stadium for Guthrie had failed to pass a bond election, but WPA funds helped create the Jelsma Stadium we have today. WPA projects popped up across the county with schools being built in Crescent, Guthrie, Langston, Lovell, Meridian, Mulhall and Roxanna. The Crescent City Hall was built as a WPA project and the farm to market roads were paved from Meridian and Pleasant Valley.
As times changed, many of these projects have become obsolete, but remnants remain throughout the county. In order to highlight all that the New Deal brought to Logan County, the LCHS is excited to launch our new self-guided tour of WPA sites and history in Logan County. We are working hard to finalize the tour and make it available on our website. I encourage you to take the time to check out these sites, before it’s too late.
So last week I attended the State Historic Preservation review committee meeting where they were reviewing my National Register Nomination for the Excelsior Library. Good news is that the nomination was well received and it is now being sent for final review by the nation review committee. As we were talking about the library, the conversation turned to other African American libraries in Oklahoma. The only purpose-built African American library still standing in Oklahoma that I could confirm is in Guthrie. One of the committee members brought up Boley, Oklahoma, an all-black town which still has a library. But the question remains was the library building built as a library or is there another building standing that was? This question led to my researching Boley, which led to Youtube videos, which led to a map showing all-black communities in Oklahoma. Langston is in Logan County, but there was another star on the map, another all-black town in Logan County?
Turns out the town was named Iconium. It was located 3 miles northeast of Meridian in South Cimarron Township. There is little information remaining about Iconium, originally named Main, after the town’s developer George W. Main. The town’s name was later changed to Iconium, after Iconium, Iowa the home town of the town site’s owner. The town provided a post office and a railway stop along the Frisco service, which ran between Guthrie and Chandler. After trying to research the town with few results, I am left wondering why the town is included on some lists of all-black towns in Oklahoma. My research makes me doubt that Iconium was established as an all-black town, even though there was a large African American population in the area. George W. Main, the town developer, was listed as white in the census records and the Mount Hope-Iconium School, which closed in 1947, was listed as a white school, with the Fairview School serving blacks. Census records from 1900-1920 show the township as having about an even mix of whites and blacks, with Berry and Excelsior Schools also serving African Americans in the area. So why does Iconium sometimes appears on the list of all-black towns in Oklahoma? Is it because of the large number of African Americans in the area? Information I am unable to find? Do you know anything about the town’s history?
The Patti Lynn Grill (Flo’s Diner) was once destined for the scrap pile, but today looks like it once appeared in the 1950s, thanks to the efforts of Jerry Jones. The Patti Lynn sat at 113 N. Wentz in Guthrie from 1952 –1978. It was originally owned by Charles Jones, who named the diner after his daughter. It was a place where people young and old enjoyed a meal at the counter or grabbed a quick doughnut.
This diner car is a Valentine Diner. The Valentine Diners were produced in Wichita, Kansas beginning in the 1930s, but really boomed in popularity after World War II. Valentine diners can be identified by their signature wall safes and serial plates. The diners were shipped across the country and were popular because they could be operated by one or two people. In many ways they were a form of early food trucks. The dinners could be moved, there was limited seating, and much of the business was to-go.
Today there are still a number of these diner cars in Oklahoma, but few in the country still serve as diners today. Jerry’s dinner is almost complete and will be placed on a cement foundation on his property. He plans to use it for family functions and birthday parties. Jerry would love to find any photos of the diner while it was in use. He is also interested in memories associated with the Patti Lynn.
If you grew up during the 1940s you may remember the Marshall Marching Band Competitions. Marshall sits in the northwest corner of the county, surrounded by miles of farm fields. The once vibrant farming center has become faded with time, but memories remain. By the 1930s, Marshall’s school band was known for winning competitions. In 1938 their success coupled with the town extra wide streets lead to Marshall becoming the home of the “Small Town Band Festival”. The competition was limited to high schools with less than 300 students. Bands would gather as crowds lined Main Street. By 1951, sixty-five schools from across the state came to Marshall to compete. In 1952, the competition had to be cancelled due to a state competition date conflict. This was fatal blow for Marshall, ending of the Marching Band Competition for which the town had become famous.
Every museum begins with a dream, someone's vision of what could be, what should be saved, and what stories need to be told. Dr. James “Jim” Frederick Lovell was one such man. Born in 1934 on the family farm near Lovell, Oklahoma. He attended Marshall High School and Oklahoma State University. Jim went on to obtain his PhD in Plant Ecology and spent his professional life serving the academic field in a variety of positions. He retired from his role as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Interim President of Northeastern Oklahoma State College in Miami, Oklahoma in 1988, returning to his wife’s hometown of Weatherford, Oklahoma.
While Jim had always been a collector, it was not until after his retirement that Jim became very involved in preserving the history of Oklahoma. Jim was an instrumental leader in the building of the Pioneer Monument that was dedicated to the first settlers of his hometown of Lovell. Jim also proposed the creation of the Frontier Country Museum in Crescent, Oklahoma, approaching the community with an idea, many historical objects, and much of the initial funding to build his dream. After the Frontier Country Museum was up and running Jim played an instrumental role in the creation of the Heartland Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma where he lived. Jim remained an active member of both communities until the onset of Alzheimer's. He passed away on February 25, 2015.
While Jim has passed away, his dreams live on through these museums. The Frontier Country Museum continues to be run by a dedicated group of volunteers. They offer changing art exhibits in their gallery space, school programs for children in their one-room school house, and a good trip down memory lane with their permanent exhibits. The Heartland Museum features exhibits from the 1800s through the 1950s, even offering a look into an authentic Weatherford Route 66 diner.
This post is written in dedication to the efforts of Jim Lovell and the legacy he helped to create. He will be missed.
What are some of your favorite childhood memories? For my friend, Bonnie Winslow, Camp Cimarron holds a special place in her heart. This 4th of July, she invited me along as she went back to visit the camp. If you grew up in this area, you too may have spent time at Camp Cimarron, which is just east of Coyle along the Cimarron River. The camp operated by the Camp Fire Girls, now known as Campfire USA, sadly closed in 2007 after seventy years of operation. The camp was recently divided in two sections and sold to private individuals. One of the new owners, Mark, was gracious enough to let us look around.
While much of the camp that Bonnie remembered remained, parts had been added in more recent years, and some older parts had fallen into severe disrepair. Those of you that remember the camp will be happy to know that the new owner intends to keep parts of the camp and has even already taken his boy scout troop camping there.
Bonnie was a counselor in training at the camp in 1968 and 1969 and councilor in 1970. She hadn’t been back since, having spent much of her adult life working for the National Park Service in the southwest. It didn’t take long for her memories to start to fall into place as we walked around the camp.
First, we found the old camp lodge, which is still in good condition. Next, we wandered around the cabin areas, found the wigwams and then the water tower with many names still just as legible as the day they were added. We quickly found the names of the councilors that Bonnie worked with and then after some looking we found her own faded name on the tower. Some parts of the camp look just as they did at the end of the last season, seemingly unaware that there would not be a next summer. Mattresses and brooms remained in the cabins, the stables still had horse tack hanging by the stalls, and papers and badges remained in the office cabin. The wagon trains and caboose have seen better years but the tent cabins nearby have been used by a boyscout troop this past year. While time changes all things, memories remain and new memories continue to be made. I want to thank Bonnie for allowing me to come with on this journey.
If you would like to share your memories of Camp Cimarron, a Facebook page has been set up for the camp.
Have you ever really looked at the detail on top of the commercial buildings in historic downtowns? Most of us, including myself until four years ago, haven’t. For seven years I was the Curator of the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas. Cowtown was not your typical museum, instead of a central building with exhibit cases we had 70 wooden structures with period exhibits. For years I kept looking at a number of unusual metal machines in the back of the Depot building. They were labeled tin machines, except they didn’t look like typical tin shop machines. Eventually curiosity got the best of me and I starting trying to research the machines. At first my research led nowhere, as I looked up tin machines and contacted museums with tin shop exhibits. No one could say with any certainly what we had. Eventually I discovered a similar picture in an historic catalog, in the sheet metal section. From there I started researching the sheet metal industry and machinery ,which led to my discovery of the Cornice Works Industry.
Once I had a name and purpose I became more determined to understand. What exactly did these machines do? How did they work? I learned that metal cornices became popular between 1880-1910 because they were cheaper than stone decoration, came in many styles, were easy to ship and install, and could be painted to look like more expensive stone. However, the Cornice Works industry was short lived and sometimes existed as sub-industries of larger sheet metal manufacturing businesses, making it difficult to research. I also discovered that the machines in front of me came from Buckley Industries which evolved from the Eagle Cornice Works Shop founded in 1885, in Wichita, KS. The company, specialized in galvanized window cornices, window caps, dormer windows, tin, iron, and slate roofing. Their cornices were shipped to towns in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas.
About this point I starting wondering how many metal cornices still exist? In Wichita, most of the downtown buildings have stone details, but the metal detail produced by the Eagle Cornice Works remained on the Sedgwick County Court House, Friends University, and Wichita State University. So my patient and equally curious husband, Mark and I started driving. It turns out that many smaller towns still have many of their original metal cornices intact. So far we have photographed cornices in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Some of the cornices are plain while others are very ornamental. Some have been freshly painted, some are in disrepair, while others are gone entirely leaving an empty slightly sloped brick edge where a cornice was once attached.
Historic photographs often show the cornices in their original glory, but what can be done today if a piece is missing? At some point I stumbled upon a modern online cornice catalog for the W. F. Norman Company in Nevada, Missouri. They are still in business today using the original cornice machinery from the 1890s. They have kept every mold of every cornice they have ever produced making them the source for replacement cornice parts. They even do tours of the facility by appointment, so of course Mark and I went on another road trip. We could have stayed all day, watching the processes in action. Many of the employees have been there forever and are still learning. They do punched metal, metal rolling and cutting, and metal spinning. They will make custom replacement parts through trial and error till the result is perfect.
After all of this there is still a machine that remains unidentified. Maybe it’s missing a piece, maybe one day it will identified; maybe it won’t. I opened the Eagle Cornice Works exhibit at Cowtown in Spring of 2012. The same year Mark got a new position as Director of the Museum Studies Program at UCO. When we selected a new community to move to, the cornices helped lead the way to Guthrie.