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History of Arcadia, Oklahoma

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E Arcadia OK History

Arcadia was established soon after the 1889 Land Run and drew both white and African American cotton farmers, who named the land after the Greek town of Arcadia. A post office was established in 1890. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad constructed a line in 1902-3 from Bartlesville to Oklahoma City, passing immediately south of Arcadia.
History of the Arcadia Round Barn

Sitting atop a low terrace overlooking the Deep Fork River, the Round Barn in Arcadia has been a center of community activity and curiosity for over a century. William Harrison “Big Bill” Odor arrived in Oklahoma County in 1892, and shortly after, in 1898, oxen cleared the ground for construction of his barn. He built a barn 60 feet in diameter and 43 feet high with a local red Permian rock foundation. Local burr oak timbers were soaked in water until soft and then banded into the mold to create the rafters. Mr. Odor apparently designed the barn himself, though no one knows how he chose the round design.

After its construction was completed in 1898, the barn housed hay, grain, and livestock, but almost from the start, it served as a community center. During the barn’s construction, three young workers, realizing what a fine place it would be for dances, persuaded Mr. Odor to let them pay the difference between planed rough flooring and hardwood, which was more suitable for dancing. From time to time for the next 25 years, barn dances drew crowds and musicians to Arcadia from a wide area. Mr. Odor compared the barn’s acoustics with those of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, and it became a popular rallying point while Arcadia flourished.

With the U.S. Highway 66 alignment through Arcadia in 1928, travelers along the Mother Road were only a stone’s throw from the architectural curiosity. The barn quickly became a Route 66 landmark.

Although the barn decayed and was only partially standing by the late 1970s, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Restoration efforts began when the Arcadia Historical Society acquired the property in 1988. A committed group of volunteers repaired the collapsed roof and restored the barn using many of the original construction methods. In 1992, the barn opened to the public, and in that same year, the Society received a National Preservation Honor Award for its efforts. By 2005, the barn again needed repairs, which dedicated volunteers completed with funding assistance from the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Today, the barn remains open as an important community resource and popular resting stop for Route 66 travelers.

Arcadia History

A once-thriving agricultural center, Arcadia was established in northern Oklahoma County soon after the 1889 Land Run into the Unassigned Lands. Situated approximately seventeen miles northwest of Oklahoma City, Arcadia developed in southwestern Deep Fork Township, where the fertile land around the Deep Fork River and its tributaries attracted cotton farmers, both white and African American. Early settlers apparently chose the name to reflect the area's quiet, peaceful nature, Arcadia being a region of Greece famed as a rural paradise. A postal designation made in early August 1890 named Sarah J. Newkirk as postmaster. In 1902 1903 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad constructed a line from Bartlesville to Oklahoma City, passing immediately south of Arcadia through William H. Odor's property. Rail access quickly transformed the new town into an important regional market, and the Arcadia Townsite Company, established by Odor and others, developed two plats in 1903.

In 1904 the Arcadia Star claimed a population of 800 for the town, but in 1900 the U.S. Census had recorded only 706 in all of Deep Fork Township and in 1907 recorded 994. While Arcadia remained predominantly white, census manuscripts reveal that Deep Fork Township's population remained approximately 50 percent African American for decades. Businesses that thrived in the early years included A. H. Crabb's Pioneer Mercantile and cotton gin, B. F. Ogle's Up-to-Date Grocery, Odor and McMinimy Hardware, Sweat's Restaurant, and F. C. Dowell's Arcadia Hotel. By 1910 residents supported three churches and two schools, one for whites and a "separate school" for blacks.

By the 1920s Arcadia had telephone service, two banks, seven general stores, and two cotton gins, as well as other enterprises necessary to a farming center. When U.S. Highway 66 was constructed from Wellston and Luther and immediately south of Arcadia into Edmond, the historic "Mother Road" brought extra income to the town's businesses. Part of the roadbed was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 (NR 99001424). In June 1924 a disastrous fire destroyed much of the business district, but one building that survived, Tuton's Drugstore, is listed in the National Register (NR 80003278).

The Great Depression and World War II affected Arcadians just as they did the inhabitants of other towns, and people moved away to larger urban areas in search of work. Attempts to incorporate in the 1930s and in 1980 failed, but after avoiding annexation by Edmond in 1984-85, incorporation came in 1987. Since 1968 Arcadia students have attended Oklahoma City public schools. The 1990 census recorded 320 residents within the town limits.

In the last decades of the twentieth century local residents and the Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society saved one of the state's remaining round barns. Originally built by William H. Odor in 1898, the Arcadia Round Barn was restored through the efforts of Luke Robison of Midwest City and is listed in the National Register (NR 77001094). In 2000 the population within Arcadia's 1.53 square miles stood at 279, of whom 55.6 percent were African American, 32.6 percent white, 11.1 percent American Indian, and 4.3 percent mixed race. Residents generally commute to jobs in the Oklahoma City area.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Arcadia," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Bob L. Blackburn, Heart of the Promised Land, Oklahoma County: An Illustrated History (Woodland Hills, Calif.: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1982). Profiles of America, Vol. 2 (2d ed.; Millerton, N.Y.: Grey House Publishing, 2003). Mike McCarville, "Arcadia's History Eventful," Oklahoma City Times, 22 August 1963. Bobby Ross, Jr., "Arcadia: Its Roots Run Deep," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 19 November 1993.

History of the Round Barn

"The Arcadia Round Barn really is quite the sight to see. Located on Route 66 in the heart of Arcadia, The Round Barn is one of America's unique landmarks. It was originally designed and built in 1898 by William H. Odor. To implement his idea, Mr. Odor built a sawmill and cut native bur oak trees into lumber. The boards were then soaked while still green and placed in special jigs he created to bend them into the curved shapes needed to form the sides and roof rafters. After being told it couldn't be done by some of his neighbors, Mr. Odor stubbornly proved them all wrong and created what many considered to be an architectural wonder. While it was planned to be a barn for livestock and hay storage, his workers convinced Mr. Odor to upgrade the upstairs flooring so that it could be used for dances. It ended up as a community gathering place along with being a regular barn sheltering cattle, oxen and mules and storing hay. Will and Myra Odor then donated a portion of their land in March of 1903, and Benjamin & Sarah Newkirk added more in April, 1903 to form the town of Arcadia and encourage the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad to lay track through the town. Arcadia became an agricultural hub supplying cotton, produce and livestock to the surrounding larger urban areas. In the late 1920's Route 66 was authorized by congress and a section was built through Arcadia. It ran right next to the round barn and it became a famous landmark for folks traveling through Oklahoma. Over time The Round Barn became the most photographed landmark on Route 66. The barn changed owners over the years and several modifications changed its structural integrity. Combined with neglected upkeep and repairs, this caused the barn to slowly deteriorate. Traffic slowly declined down Old Route 66 and the town of Arcadia along with the barn followed the decline. After suffering through those decades of neglect, in 1988, the barn's immense 60' diameter roof finally collapsed. The estimated cost of repair, was a staggering $165,000 dollars. Luther "Luke" Robison (a retired building contractor) had long admired The Round Barn. Knowing it would be no small feat, he decided that it should be saved from utter ruin. He and a group of retirees self named "The Over the Hill Gang" volunteered their time, money and skill to the task. Together, they were able to restore the barn over a period of four years for only $65,000 dollars! By recruiting lots of volunteers, selling inscribed commemorative bricks, setting up a roadside donation box and accepting donations of equipment and labor, the enormous undertaking was accomplished, It was for this reason that in 1992, The National Preservation Honor Award was presented to Mr. Robison and Arcadia's Historical Society Members for their "Outstanding Craftsmanship and Perseverance" in the restoration of the historic 1898 Arcadia Round Barn. The National Preservation Honor Award recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate exceptional accomplishment in the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of America's architectural and cultural heritage.As the only truly "round" barn (most are actually hexagonal or octagonal), the Barn is 60' in diameter, 45' in height and is two stories high. The upstairs loft has a wooden floor and an architecturally impressive ceiling. The structure was designed with the notion that being round would help it withstand Oklahoma's tornadic conditions. Who knows if it is scientifically accurate, but the barn is still standing after more than 100+ years!!"

History of Oklahoma County

Oklahoma County was originally called County Two and was one of seven counties established by the Organic Act of 1890.

County business initially took place in a building at the intersection of California Avenue and Robinson Street until the construction of the first Oklahoma County Courthouse at 520 West Main Street in the 1900s. In 1937, the county government was moved to a building at 321 Park Avenue, which now serves only as the county courthouse.

Oklahoma County marked its beginnings right along with the Oklahoma Territory. It was one of the first seven counties in Oklahoma, organized under the Organic Act passed by Congress on May 2, 1890. It was designated County Number 2 until voters renamed it Oklahoma County.

Located in the State's geographic center, Oklahoma County has a population of more than 650,000 residents located in an area of 720 square miles. County leaders show their commitment to excellence in local government through strong leadership, high standards of professionalism, public accountability, and active citizen participation.

In the early days of Oklahoma County, all County business was transacted in a building located at California and Robinson Streets, now no longer in existence.

On November 4, 1904, Oklahoma County began the construction of the first Oklahoma County Courthouse at 520 West Main Street with a bond issue of $100,000. The building was used as the courthouse until 1937 when county government moved to the building at 321 Park Avenue, which currently serves as the main courthouse. In those days, however, the building housed all county offices and the courts.

The Courthouse building was erected during the depression by a $600,000 bond issue approved by the people of Oklahoma County as well as a $540,000 contribution from the Federal Government through the Public Works Administration.

Meanwhile, the original courthouse on Main Street was sold on November 28, 1949, for $327,997 to four local philanthropists - C. R. Anthony, L. A. Macklanburg, Harvey P. Earnest, and B. D. Eddie - who submitted the highest bid to take the empty structure off the hands of the County government.

By 1965, the Courthouse on Park Avenue was bulging with offices, court rooms, and was totally inadequate to properly serve the taxpayers of Oklahoma County. Departments were overcrowded, and some departments and courts were housed in rented space outside the Courthouse. A $6 million bond issue was approved by voters in 1965 to construct a County Office Building at 320 Robert S. Kerr Avenue and linked to the existing Courthouse by crosswalks. The six-story building opened in 1967.

Situated in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, the main county complex includes the Courthouse, County Office Building, Investors Capital Building, and Metro Parking Garage located at the corner of Park Avenue and Robert S. Kerr Avenue. The new jail at 201 N. Shartel Ave., the Human Services Center at 7401 N.E. 23rd, the Juvenile Justice Center at 5905 N. Classen Blvd., and field offices for each of the Commissioners. Oklahoma County government is multi-million dollar business with more than 1,500 employees.

Prior to 1986, the administration of juvenile justice was conducted in offices in the County Office Building, in the courthouse, and in offices outside the County Complex. With changes in state law and a need to consolidate its services, Oklahoma County built the Juvenile Center, which started operation on October 1, 1986. It houses the County Juvenile Bureau, the Juvenile Division of the District Court, and the juvenile detention facility.

For years, the Oklahoma County jail was contained in the top three floors of the Courthouse. By the mid-1980's, however, server overcrowding required a new facility. In 1986, County Commissioners began the process to build a new County Jail. Oklahoma County voters on October 13, 1987, approved a one-year, one-cent sales tax to raise $43 million for construction. The new jail opened in November, 1991, and includes 1,200 cells and the Sheriff's Department.

The Investors Capital Building, which is adjacent to the County Office Building, was sought by a County trust and deeded to County government. Several County offices are housed in the building as well as private offices which lease space from the County.