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tanglewood school

Tanglewood School

Location Class:
Built: 1927 | Abandoned: 1968
Status: For SalePrivate Property
Photojournalist: David LindeEmily Cowan

Nestled behind a private tree line in Sand Springs, Oklahoma is a historic school with a plethora of development opportunities. Sitting on 3.5 acres is the Tanglewood School awaiting its new life, someone to come with a vision. For well over 20 years the school and gymnasium have served its current owner as a warehouse and manufacturing shop, commercially zoned. But with the property up for sale this opportunity to own a historic school is once in a lifetime. Whether kept as a shop, rezoned for a private residence, an Airbnb property or a different vision saving the structures from becoming a thing of the past is a duty each of us should feel the weight of.

Constructed in 1927 this quaint little schoolhouse still carries most of its original features, the carved stone above the door, the original wood floors, ornate wooden doors with privacy glass and tin ceilings. It replaced the first Tanglewood School a small white frame structure with a belfry built in 1908. Walking into the structure was shocking, for two years I had pondered about the building and its current use and finally, I would get to see for myself. It was in amazing condition compared to what I’m used to. The owners had put a metal roof on the building which did an impeccable job over the last few decades preserving the wood from the elements and leaving the structure stable.

Looking at the Tanglewood School and surrounding property you can see just how it got its name as vines act as accessories to the deep red brick and limestone. Serving the growing Tanglewood community that surrounded the land and continues to carry the namesake even today, it had all the characteristics of a small rural school. It was 1-8th grade with students transferring to an accredited high school closer to town after. The first record of the school on archived online newspapers is in the Sand Springs Leader on January 21, 1930, detailing that the school had been dismissed for several days due to sickness and bad weather that had caused attendance to be low.

That spring the school would host primary teachers of the teachers association from the all over the southwest of the county. Miss Vera Jones was the county superintendent at the time and lead the meeting. Miss Ramsey represented Tanglewood giving a demonstrative reading lesson with third grade students, the fourth and fifth-graders presented a language lesson. Mrs. Cliff Allen was the other teacher of Tanglewood. When you walk in the front entrance you enter a small entryway with one large room on your right and another on your left. Each teacher would have taught multiple grades in one of the rooms.

Every Wednesday Tanglewood students would come together for a general assembly. A leader was chosen and sometimes a play put on for entertainment. In addition a religious service was given. Just three years after its opening the enrollment was already over 80 students, nearing 90. Making the pie suppers and ice cream socials a huge party amongst families and the community. Even holidays were celebrated here with gatherings including Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Teachers Mrs. Ramsey and Mrs. Allen would hold an annual cleaning day calling on students, parents and citizens of the Tanglewood community to meet at the schoolhouse and help clean the schoolhouse inside and out so that it could continue to be an educational facility they could be proud of. Throughout the years Tanglewood was known for its stellar basketball and baseball teams. While lost to the vines now, there was a baseball field on the property and the massive gym allowed for students to fill the stands and cheer on their teams.

In 1939 was an event at the school put on by the Tanglewood PTA. The event was for businessmen and families to attend the event with a penny supper and entertainment. Sponsored by the PTA the purpose was to raise money for the lunch fund. “This is a good chance for the merchants and businessmen of Sand Springs to show the rural people of our trade area that we appreciate their goodwill,” Curtis S. Greer said. It would kick off a tour of “goodwill visits” on outlying communities with Shell Creek being next on the list.

Tanglewood SchoolMrs. Bonnie Dunn served as the principal in the early 1940s. She would award the graduates in May that consisted of Margaret Yates, Margaret Jackson, Sylvia Imogene McNair, Clarice Louise Coates, Betty Gayle Wilson, Noble Lonnie Woodrow, Buster Sutherland, Mable May Blevins, Lahoma Gene Blackwell, Charlotte Louise Berger and Ivan Yates.

In 1949 the school made headlines with a scandal, two teachers tangled in trouble. In January Teacher Mrs. May Eakin and Principal Mrs. Esther Disbrow began a disagreement over the time set for recess and a fight ensued. The teacher left the school to heal while the principal recovered from her injuries. By April, Eddie Higgins, chief examiner for the state board of education, was still investigating the incident and recommended that both teachers be dismissed. A board meeting was called with school officials, Eddie Higgins, and County Superintendent Leslie Guy Ferguson to discuss the matter. With no immediate replacements for either position, it was decided that Principal Disbrow would stay and Teacher Eakin who had been on leave for a few months with a substitute filling her position was given a chance to return by Monday or be replaced permanently.

tanglewood school
Tanglewood Class July 1954. Provided by Shelia Treat. ” Back TopLeft: Roger Gilbert and Principal Claude Treat. Next Row Left to Right: Roger Jelinek, Dennis Whitley, Roger Burchfield, Brad Miller, Melvin Broughton Next Row Left to Right: John Bishop, Libby Sutterfield?, Larry Buie, Next Row Left to Right: Teri Morris, Jeanice Woodrow or Donna Holcomb, Nancy Bishop
Next Row Left to Right: Lucy Marshall, Gail Miller, Donna Holcomb?, Becky Sutterfield? Front Row Left to Right: Billy Sutherland, Dewayne McCaleb, Donnie Anderson. Sherry Treat head in front.

In lighter news, the school made headlines again in 1958-59 while conducting an experiment for the Oklahoma State Health Department. Lennie Gilbert and Douglas Bruner conducted a nutritional study on two white rates Frisky and Pesky. Each rat was fed a diet of crackers, candy and Pepsi Cola for a total of two weeks. The following two weeks they were given a balanced diet, for a rat that is. The rats went from around 130 grams to 215 on a balanced diet then dropped to 160 grams on junk food.

Tanglewood SchoolThat year was Principal Grady Stephens who also taught grades 5-8, Mrs. O.R. Day taught 1-4th grades. Mrs. Emma Hilton was the full-time cook for the cafeteria and drove the school bus. An addition of one classroom, a kitchen and a cafeteria was made for the school. The year 1961 brought great improvements to the Tanglewood School. They had experienced an enrollment jump from 41 to 61 which was attributed to the influx of new families coming in from workers constructing the Keystone Dam. John Anderson donated two plots of land budding up to the school property allowing for the construction of a baseball diamond and a bigger playground. These features have since been removed or overgrown with vegetation. Anderson’s grandson was enrolled at the school which might explain his generosity. And they also got $23,000 from residents of the district to construct the large gymnasium out back fitted with basketball courts, a stage, and dressing rooms and doubled as an auditorium as well.

But unfortunately, all of these improvements did not make Tanglewood invincible to negative change. Like most smaller rural schools in the 1960s with the change of funding and regulations within the federal and state governments left many unable to sustain themselves and forced to close. Tanglewood was no exception with an enrollment much smaller than the nearby in-town school, thus its closure came in 1968. Sand Springs School absorbed the population of students, bussing them to and from the small community.
But just because there was a great loss of the educational program didn’t mean the building became vacant immediately after. For decades the buildings have been repurposed as TDH Manufacturing. Serving owner “Big John” well over the years to house his business and collection of many different knick-knacks and antiques as he gets older it has become too much to keep up with. Leading to the listing of the property in hopes of finding a new owner to love the property for another 50 years. In addition, he wants to sell the contents of the buildings and on the land so if anyone sees any items in the gallery they would like to purchase contact us to facilitate a purchase!
To inquire about purchasing/touring the property or purchasing any of the items pictured please reach out to us by email at board@abandonedatlas.com






















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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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