March 30, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office is pleased to announce two new National Register of Historic Places listings in Oklahoma. The National Register of Historic Places is our nation’s official list of properties significant in our past.
Located in Guthrie, the Excelsior Library is significant in the area of Social History, Education and Ethnic Heritage: Black as the historic African American library. It was added to the 1954 bond issue at the urging of the Negro Chamber of Commerce. It was built after the citizens of Guthrie voted to approve the bond issue to build a new African American Library. It was built before a modern library for whites in Guthrie and during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, which some hoped would end segregation of public facilities. Even after separate but equal was outlawed and a new integrated library was built, the Excelsior Library remained vital to the African American community as a community center and symbol of its heritage.
The Lincoln Plaza Historic District, constructed between 1966 and 1974, is significant for its association with Community Planning and Development in Oklahoma City. Lincoln Plaza represents the culmination of Oklahoma City postwar expansion encouraged by civic and political leaders in the 1940s and 1950s. The northeastern part of the city was prepared for expansion by widening Lincoln Boulevard from two lanes to six in 1956 and appropriating funds for significant storm water management improvements in 1961. In the specific area of the future Lincoln Plaza, the development stage was set for a monumental complex that would complement the efforts of downtown renewal and development dreams born of the ambitious annexation efforts of the previous postwar decades. Lincoln Plaza also enjoyed a reputation as a center for political meetings and “horse trading” among state leaders. Although the resultant development never fully achieved the scale of regional activity originally intended as a major convention and office complex, it continues to represent an important trend in civic design and urban planning on a local and regional level. The Lincoln Plaza complex is an enduring legacy of an innovative developer who aspired to create at this suburban location a major new focal point using bold, contemporary architecture.
Listing in the National Register is an honorific designation that provides recognition, limited protection and, in some cases, financial incentives for these important properties. The SHPO identifies, evaluates and nominates properties for this special designation.
The State Historic Preservation Office is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information please visit www.okhistory.org.
Editor’s Note: Photographs to accompany the story can be acquired by contacting the State Historic Preservation Office at 405-521-6249.