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Page Woodson

City/Town:
Location Class:
Built: 1910 | Abandoned: 1994
Historic Designation: African American Heritage Site
Status: Restored (2017)
Photojournalist: AbandonedOK TeamMichael Schwarz

1910 Lowell Elementary

Lowell School

Originally built as the Lowell School in 1910, this date was engraved above the west entrance. It quickly grew in enrollment Students were held to a standard of morality and hygiene and teachers cared about keeping students on track. Some teachers even taking polls of which students brushed their teeth and telling them if they didn’t they would lose their social class cast. The Oklahoma City Times 01 Nov 1922, reported “When a boy plays truant, he usually gets into trouble and the police officers get him. He goes up before the judge and then reform school. It was such a case as this last year in Lowell School, that took Mrs. Anna Burks Love, principal, down to the courthouse to beg clemency of the judge. The lad was paroled to Mrs. Love.” Holmboe Construction was given a contract for an addition to Lowell School, work commenced on July 17, 1919, and the crew was given 120 days to complete it.

1933 Douglass High School

“The Pirates of Penzance,” by Gilbert & Sullivan, Operetta performed by Douglas High School students, Oklahoma City, OK, directed by Mrs. Zelia N. Breaux. Photo by G.E. Ginter, Oklahoma City, OK, c.1937.

Another addition of twenty-nine rooms, a pool, a gymnasium, auditorium and a stage was added onto Lowell as “Douglass High School” at a price of $195,000. A two-sided cornerstone was laid for the new building reading;

Let there be light
Laid by
The Most Worshipful
St. John Grand Lodge
of the State of Oklahoma


Inman E. Page
Principal of the Separate Schools
Advisory Committee
to the Board of Education
George R. Ragland Chairman
W.L. Vaughn / E.W. Perry
J.J. Dawson / L.C. Cleaves
J.J. Josephs / E. W. Caruthers
E.R. Richards / J.D. Nelson
A.D. 1933 / W.L. Haywood

Douglass High School Drum Corps, directed by Mrs. Zelia N. Breaux, Oklahoma City, OK. L to R: Front: 1-2. UNIDENTIFIED, 3. June Bennett, 4. UNIDENTIFIED, 5. Vivian Moon, 2nd Step: 3. Murdire Morrow, 6. Barbara, 3rd Row: 2. Thelma Jones, Back Row: 3. Burleigh, c.1946. Photo by Pendley, Oklahoma City, OK.

The name was officially changed to just Douglass High School, a separate school for the community of Oklahoma City. Unlike any other separate school in the area, the Douglass High School Trojans were the most elite programs, best facility, and most reputable students and staff. Monumental in size and pride the school stood out in the Black community rather than be hidden amongst industrial buildings like previous schools that bore the same name. The school is significant today as it is the oldest school still in existence in Oklahoma City, used for the purpose of segregating African American students from white students. In 1955, Douglass High School was renamed to F.D. Moon Middle School after its principal and it wasn’t long before it was renamed again in 1960 as Woodson School whose mascot was a wildcat. A tragedy occurred in the swimming pool in April of 1966 when a student tragically drowned. He was rushed to an ambulance by firemen and attendants.

1975 Page Woodson Fifth-Year Center

Woodson Wildcats play soccer during PE class ca. April 28, 1978

In 1975, the school was renamed Page Woodson not very different from its last name and operated as a  fifth-year center. Fifth-year centers were experimented with in Oklahoma City and most failed due to dispersion of population and desegregation, there weren’t enough students to fill the giant schools Columbus Elementary is another example of this. One year before closing the school implemented an acceleration center for students that were in danger of having to repeat the year. But the fact that it was a fifth-year center proved to be the reason for Page Woodson’s closing in 1994. The community refused to give up on the more than a century old school, even though fires had been set throughout the years of its abandonment. In 2015, two fires were intentionally set and thankfully firefighters were able to arrive on the scene early enough to put it out without significant damage.

But because of the fires and amount of decay from years of abandonment, renovation costs were estimated to be around $5 million, something the community wouldn’t be able to raise by themselves. With the help of Jason Bradshaw who bought the school and of Gina Sofola, liaison for the project development was underway to make it affordable housing. 

Page Woodson / Douglass High School – Restored! – Micro-Doc

– Produced by Michael Schwarz (Prairie Nation Creative, LLC)

https://www.pagewoodsonokc.com/

 




Bibliography

“1 Nov 1922, 6 – The Oklahoma City Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/612428181/?terms=Lowell%2Bschool.

“12 Jul 1919, Page 1 – The Oklahoma City Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/174847427/?terms=lowell%2Bschool%2Baddition.

“14 Mar 1999, 498 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/454391528/?terms=page%2Bwoodson%2Bschool.

“19 Jul 1993, 64 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/453603392/?terms=page%2Bwoodson%2Bschool.

“21 Sep 1933, 1 – The Oklahoma News at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/594902459/?terms=lowell%2Bschool%2Baddition.

“30 Jun 1910, 8 – The Daily Oklahoman at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/441316053/?terms=Lowell%2Bschool.

“[Photograph 2012.201.B0975.0202].” The Gateway to Oklahoma History, 28 Apr. 1978, gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc1292847/?q=page%20woodson.

“History.” Affordable Modern Apartments | Page Woodson Apartments, www.pagewoodsonokc.com/history.

 

 

 

Michael Schwarz

Starting from a young age, I’ve always loved exploring. I can remember venturing off and scoping out the houses being built in the developing neighborhood right behind my house. As I got older, I found myself appreciating the work and love that went into architecture and just being excited to pass by the beautifully designed places in downtown.

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