|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • School|
|Year Built: • 1911|
|Year Abandoned: • 1994|
|Status: • Restored|
|Photojournalist: • Cody Cooper • Justin Tyler Moore|
Originally built as the Lowell School, and renamed Douglas High School around 1935, this magnificent structure served the once segregated black students of the east side of Oklahoma City until de-segregation began around 1969. After this, the new Douglas High School was built and its students moved a few blocks east to its current location. Re-branded as Page Woodson, it became a fifth year center. A bridge between elementary school and middle school. Which was a rather unsuccessful idea of the OKC school board administration.
There have been many ideas as to what to do with this massive structure. Mainly an African American cultural center. It would have utilized all aspects of the current facility. Like the swimming pool, auditorium, shop spaces etc. Yet nothing has ever come to fruition. This is truly one of the most architecturally significant schools left in Oklahoma City. It stands among survivors like Taft, North East High School, Classen School for Advanced Studies, and Capitol Hill. So frequently our city leaders will raise a structure (much like the second Douglas High School which was replaced with a gleaming memorial to MAPS for kids, in the face of a suffering neighborhood) without considering the historic cost a building such as this plays into our city’s history.
Finally closing its doors for good in 1994, it has stood as a testament to the burden such a building has on a city. A dilemma is posed. To remove a part of history that represents so much to a community that has been oppressed so frequently or to save it, at a cost that is truly great. No one can predict what will happen to this fabled house of learning. One thing is for certain though, it’s memories will survive in the hearts and minds of those persecuted merely for the color of their skin.