Mystery Locale: Can You Identify? -UPDATED

I have been contacted to help identify a location. All the person has is a photo from about  1950 the building reads "Libbey Hall" and "Children's Home".   The children are brother and sister and your help would be appreciated.  Leave a comment if you have information.

 "My brothers and I were in a children's home in Oklahoma between 1949-1952.  Can you confirm if we were at St. Joseph's.  Wesley John Stevens; Sharon Lynn Stevens, Edward Price Stevens.  The two older children would have been there in 1949; the youngest would have joined us in Jan 1952.  Attached is a picture of the two older children on the steps of what I've always believed to be the home.  I have checked with the Baptist's Childrens home and they have no record of us."

We have a message from the woman who had the photos saving she had identified the location. It is the  "Methodist Children's Home" est. in 1927 in Newton, KS.  It associated with two new works which grow out of that early facility. One is Ember Hope and another reader informed us that the Children's Home , in 1960, become Methodist Youthville.

Youthville is a large service helping children and families. Libby Hall (pictured above) was constructed in 1929.


Back To School - Roosevelt School

"Each man must work for himself and unless he so works no outside help can avail him." Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1904, Roughrider Teddy Roosevelt whirled into Oklahoma City stirring people with memories of the rough and ready 'old days'. His stirring and dramatic visit stamped an impression on local leaders who appauded his ideals of vigorous manhood.  His no nonsense attitude, can do spirit and stirring thoughts about the decided politics also had an appeal. Many sided with this former NYC Police Chief, leader of the Rough Riders and soon to be President of the United States.  All in all he was man particularly able to connect with the people who were creating the place called "Oklahoma." His character reflected what many saw as their own recent heritage and what they saw was needed to continue to move forward in positive ways as a new state.

When he died in 1919 there was great mourning and the state rallied to contribute to a great memorial.   Like many places they decided to name a school for the man. So, in 1925 the school opened.

The photo shows one of the engraved inspirational and motivational quotes on the current OKC Schools Administration Building. The building, the old Roosevelt, is located on Klein Street. It was thought by many people queried to date from 1920 but newspaper articles indicate the cornerstone was placed with solemn Masonic ritual (and time out from classes for all city students) in 1924.   It became the administration building in 1955 according to one source and ,by 1956, there was even talk of creating a school museum on one of the floors. Authorities hoped to adopt a "workshop museum" and art center for the district. Superintendent Swanson envisioned a facility patterned after the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  The plan was dependent on the sale of Jefferson School at NW 23 and Western.  Some district offices were housed there and would be transferred to the Administration building and money, space and conflicting programs might hamper the idea.  There already existed an Inverness-Boyd Musuem and Institute of Art (at old Central High School) operated by the schools at 822 N. Harvey.  Big plans but lack of follow through may have been a problem for the district. News article noted a planetarium bought by the school board the year before was still in storage due to there not being a suitable place to place it and it could be located whereever the museum settled.

Only a few of the historic old schools still survive in OKC to record the academic journeys of early citizens. Some are indexed here.    See an earlier article on Eugene Field here. For more on early day schools see this entry.

"Roosevelt will be honored by School.: Oklahoman (Oct. 25, 1926)2.
"School Corners Laid." Oklahoman (June 24, 1924)3.
"School Museum Considered." Oklahoman (June 7, 1956)32.
"School Library will Start Move Today." Oklahoman (Feb.7, 1957)37.
Wood, Don A. "Central Campus Encompasses Seven Buildings by 1950s." Sooner Spirit (vo.24 #2; Summer 2006 )pg. 6.


Overholser Mansion Mystery

In 2011 after a special program of haunted stories at the Overholser Mansion in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with storyteller Marilyn A. Hudson, some guests lingered visiting.  At the bottom of this staircase a visitor snapped a photo to catch the stained glass window and sweep of the stairs.  To her surprise the pillar of light and the faint swish of pale movement was caught. She snapped another photo right after and it was not there.  

She shared the image with me and I have been unable to explain it. I was there, I saw it happen and do not think the woman attempted to hoax in any manner whatsoever (she shared the image with me even!).   This is a staircase and a house with many experiences that suggest the family that had so loved this house may have lingered on.

JS2011/Mystorical 2013


Historic Reports Solve Many Mysteries

In researching early Oklahoma City questions arise and some reports help to clarify many questions.

What and where is "Military Park"?

What are the "Gatewood" and University" Additions?

What is "Mesta Park?"

Some maps are included in this report.

What is the design and plan for the "Asian district"?


MILK BOTTLE BUILDING: Booze, Hats, and Chicken

The "Milk Bottle Building" of Oklahoma City sits along old Route 66 on Classen, just north of NW 23rd. It is another feature along the forgotten loop of the "Mother Road" through Oklahoma City. It is a unique treasure as evidenced by the application for the national registry.

Oklahoman reporter Kent Ruth wrote that the triangular building was built  as a grocery store about 1925.  His source was A.E. Warren and was built by John J. Gordon. His source further claimed it had been a bootleg liquer store in the rowdy 1930's (Ruth, Kent. "Historical crooks, crannies." Oklahoman, Feb. 10, 1974, pg. 160). Ruth later heard from a long time resident who shared the building had been built in 1920-21 for Steffen ice cream. (Ruth, Kent. "Classen history inspires memories", Oklahoman, Aug.10, 1980, pg. 177).

The uniquely shaped structure of the bottle was designed by Arthur D. Nichols in 1932. The Oklahoma A & M engineering alum wass then working for the Boardman Company.  The sketch was transformed by metal worker Rudolph  Stavanuagh and another worker who built the metal frame and applied the sheet metal. Joe Flynm was the one to actually place the bottle in its location. ("Hatter Had Shop Under Milk Bottle," Oklahoman, April 7, 1997, pg. 71).

The Bottle as Business
Mary Ann French said her father ran a hat shop there from 1930 to 1935. Frank Gallatin cleaned and built men's headwear before moving downtown to operate the Empire Hat Co. ("Hatter Had Shop Under Milk Bottle," Oklahoman, April 7, 1997, pg. 71).

Oklahoman columnist Robert E. Lee reported one of his reader had information about it from a decade later. Gayle Pierce said it was a "Flying Chicken" resturant that used the unique concept of delivering fried chicken by motorcycle during 1945-1947.( Lee, Robert E. "Milk Bottle Building Once Houses 'Flying Chicken', Oklahoman, Sept. 15, 1997, pg.70).

In 1951 the unique structure caused a bit of head scratching as authorities comtemplated widening the Classen street but found the building in the path.  Reluctant to destroy the feature a plan to swap the land for other park land and even moving the structure was considered.  The slight jog on Classen is the result. ("Milk Bottle Raises Classen Problem", Oklahoman, Aug. 29, 1951, pg. 6).

For years the log on the bottle promoted a now discontinued company, The Townley Milk Company, and was replaced by Oklahoman based Braums Dairy. 

In 1993 the historic building and its iconic symbol barely missed destruction from fire.  Now housing a deli Hop Ky, operated by Sang Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant.  The area, now in a growing Asian district, was reflected in this new multi-cultural element. The article noted the building had been a grocery, a record store, the Beer Box, a florist, and a take out resturant (Owen, Peggy. "Landmark Milk Bottle Building Survives Fire, Repairs to Start", Oklahoman, April 25, 1993, pg. 11)

(A previous entry looked at some of the other interesting sights along this loop of OKC's Route 66 at http://mystorical.blogspot.com/2013/06/historic-route-66-in-oklahoma-city.html )

ROUTE 66: The Forgotten Loop in OKC

Historic Route 66 - where you can get your 'kicks' according to an old pop song, is commonly known for the major points along its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. Usually those points are known because of that popular song and just as it says, Oklahoma City is very pretty and in the days of the major use of Route  66 (pre Interstate) travelers would have passed by Wesley United Methodist Church.  The light shining through its stained glass windows in the evening just might have been what was in mind when the city was declared to be pretty.  This small loop in and around the area of NW 23rd and Classen Blvd. is a largely overlooked source of history in relation to the "Mother Road." (A previous entry looked at some of the other interesting sights at  http://mystorical.blogspot.com/2013/06/historic-route-66-in-oklahoma-city.html )

Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the home of Mrs. A.H. Tyler, 1220 NW 29th, on November 10, 1910. In the meeting were the first 28 charter members of the nascent church.  The first pastor was the Rev. F.A. Colwell appointed by Bishop Quayle of the Oklahoma Methodist Episcopal Conference.

The first church location was a simple structure with a sawdust covered floor.  The "Tabernacle", as it was then called, was located at 32nd and Military (32′ x 70′ ). The 1910 Journal of Methodist Episcopal Church, newspapers, and other documents indicate the Conference held at Alva, Oklahoma assigned the first pastor.  In October of 1910,  Frank A. Colwell as appointed pastor and  D. G. Murray was District Superintendent of this district.

In 1911, the congregation moved to NW 25th and Classen and in 1928 dedicated the lovely Gothic sanctuary with its large organ and many stained glass windows. A triangle of land in front of the church was deeded and developed by early Oklahoma pioneer business leader, Anton H. Classen and his wife.  In 1939, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal, South and the Methodist Protest Church formed a union to become the Methodist Church.  In 1968, the Methodist Church allied with the Evangelical and United Brethern churches to form the new United Methodist Church.

One time mayor of Oklahoma City, Jack S. Wilkes (April 9, 1963 - May 3, 1964)  had served as President of Oklahoma City University from 1957 to 1963. After that, for a year he served as pastor of Wesley Methodist Church. 

"Wilkes ran for Mayor with the backing of the Association for Responsible Government (ARG), an organization promoting efficiency and integrity in City government.  The election was dominated by concerns about metropolitan planning, Urban Renewal and the retention of the Mayor-Council-Manager form of government....During Mayor Wilkes’ time in office, City government became more centralized and citizens passed a sales tax to buttress the City’s finances.   The City’s Airport Trust received a large grant for improvements at Will Rogers World Airport and over $317 million was committed toward City growth.  The City also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Land Run in 1964.  Mayor Wilkes resigned in May of 1964 to become President of Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana." (City of Oklahoma City)

Today, the church is nestled in an area poised to experience a rennaissance in business, residences, and community.  A newly identified "Asian District" highlights the presence and contributions of Asians in Oklahoma City and the Paseo Art District.  Nearby are several historic residential areas: Edgemere and Crown Heights, Gatewood, Military Park, Mesta Park, Heritage Hills.  

Just a block west of Wesley is Oklahoma City University and the two have enjoyed a close relationship since the school relocated to Oklahoma City in 1919 from Guthrie.  The music department at OCU and the music program at Wesley have enjoined a special relationship as Deans of that department and faculty there have frequently served as Music director for Wesley.  The worship arts of music, choir, organ, drama, and speech have been enriched by this tie and Wesley was often viewed as a 'university church.'

Anyone traveling the old road in the heyday of the route would have passed this church, seen it's windows, and probably heard its organ or choir singing.  Yes, Oklahoma City was indeed very pretty....on Route 66.

Boy Scouts in OKC: Some History

"On my honor I promise that I will do my best..."

In 1909 possibly the first Oklahoma scout troop was formed in Pawhuska. The Oklahoma City Division of the Boy Scouts of America started in early summer of 1910. The first and oldest Troop 1 was at an event at St.John's Methodist Episcopal Church (Oldest Troop Reviews History, Oklahoman, 11 June 1934, pg. 4). In 1912, newspapers meentioned troops in Claremore, Vinita, Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Nowata, Okmulgee, Pawhuska, Guthrie, Wagoner among "many others." ("Boy Scouts Now are at Claremore", Oklahoman, Aug.27, 1912, pg.2).   

Troop growth appears to have plateued until the start of WW1 when a new interest developed. 
Troop #8 met at Wesley Church in 1918 as they launched plans for an agricultural garden ("Boys Want Disc for War Garden Work", Oklahoman, March 15, 1918, pg. 8). By war's end and early 1920's new troops were once more developing.

At one point, the local OKC paper carried a column of BSA news in and around the city and state. In 1920, Oklahoma City scouts Fontaine Freeman and T.T. Johnson Jr. attended a global "Jamboree" in England and France.("City Scouts on Way Home from England", Oklahoman, Aug. 25, 1920, pg.1).

On June 7,1933. Wesley Methodist records indicated Scouting committe leaders of Mr. Mathis, Clyde Reneau, H. J. Scott and L. J. Holt, that 32 boys had reported for Troop 23 meeting at Wesley Methodist Church. 

A directory from this church for the years 1935-1936, indicates the troop committee was comprised of J.A. Slater, Joe Barker, Harold D. Clark, J.D. Adam and E.B. Scott. Scoutmaster was Aiden E. Allen, assistant Scoutmaster was Art Sumstine, Jr. Assistant Bill Hunter, Troop Instructor was Adrian Hunter and Senior Patrol leader was Lawrence Holt. The Patrols and their leaders were the "Panther" and James McNulty; "Lion" with Robert Coffey; "Flying Eagle" under Thornton Chamberlain; "Comanche" under leadership of Marvin Chapman. This information indicates that the BSA were much alive during the depression.

During the 1940's-1980's nearly every school and church sponsored some form of scouts - Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts or both. Along the way girls organized and alternative youth groups formed but the Boy Scouts emerged at a time when many feared young boys would lose the skills that had helped people survive as urban life took over, lose the inner compass ingrained in earlier generations, and lose the sense of honor and ethics gained from personal struggle and achievement. 

Generations of youth gained positive outlets for abounding energy, gained direction in personal discipline and accomplishment, learned new skills, and the value of helping others. For over a century....they have achieved personal merit, aided their communities, and provided youth with skills to be people of integrity and honor.

I Write Like...

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Expanded and Revised Edition

Expanded and Revised Edition
Coming Soon!