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Claremore Boathouse

Location Class:
Built: 1938 | Abandoned: ~1960s
Status: Private Property
Photojournalist: Emily Cowan
In April 1938 it was requested by Bert Sprangel, the light and water superintendent of Claremore Lake to have a boathouse built. Plans for an $8,000 rock building were sent to Washington for approval from President Roosevelt and passed. Only $5, 969 would be provided by the WPA while the other $2,175 in materials would be provided by the city of Claremore. Construction on the boathouse didn’t start until March 1939 under the supervision of A.G. Poppino, superintendent of construction. Built of sturdy and thick native stones with a steel roof it remains almost identical to when it was brand new.
Little history was given in local newspapers about the boathouse but a few times it came under trouble by local criminals. In 1957 two incidents occurred, one in May stating that Claremore Lake workers found that the front of the boathouse had been striped with cream-colored paint during the night and two cases of soda were taken. Another incident a few months later in August a break-in was discovered but nothing was reported missing.
What makes this building even more interesting is the story untold. Alleged the boathouse was used as a jail, when and why haven’t been answered. While no records of this could be found on our end, John Dudley and Chester Baldwin both retired local policemen, said they knew the cell was at the lake. They both concluded the “cell” in the boathouse was never used during their careers and hadn’t heard of it being used by officers before them. Former Claremore Mayor and Police Chief Mickey Perry said the same thing. According to hear-say the “cell” in the boathouse was rarely used and policemen would only transport “troublesome” prisoners there if they had been causing disruptions upon arrest or while in custody.

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Boathouse Jail



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Emily Cowan

Emily was brought into the Abandoned OK Team in December of 2019. “I’m not gonna lie I fangirled a bit. My first published post I was ecstatic, I felt like I finally had the right audience for my work. The opportunities that came with it made me love the website even more. I remember my first interview with a couple at Waukomis Christian Church. They had bought and restored the 1897 church and insisted on keeping the original sanctuary despite being advised on moving it. We talked with them for at least a good 40 minutes about the church, the abandoned Waukomis Middle School beside it, and the towns other disappearing buildings. They even rang the bell for us that has sat in the bell-tower for the last 120 something years ago. We could tell they were just as passionate about preserving Oklahoma’s dwindling history as we were. When interviewing people and hearing the first-hand stories and recollections of a place and seeing how a person connects to a building, it forms a connection between not only you and that person but yourself and that building.”

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