Photo Journal by Richard Neal Carter
Guthrie, Oklahoma is the site of one of the largest collections of late Nineteenth and early Twentieth-Century architecture in the U.S. with over 2000 buildings covering 1400 acres.
Old photos document the Land Run of 1889 and the tent city that went up a few hours later.
Guthrie's Main Street today.
It’s high noon in Oklahoma Territory on April 22, 1889. Emotions are taut as over 10,000 people wait to ride out and stake a claim somewhere on 2-million acres -- property the U.S. government is giving away in an effort to settle one of the country's last frontiers. As cannons explode, the wild race begins. Horsemen, wagoneers, and even bicyclists jockey for position to grab the best homestead sites.
Six hours later, a tiny postoffice and railroad station have been transformed into a massive tent city named Guthrie. Within another few months, handsome brick buildings line Main Street and the “Queen of the Prairie” has become the territorial capital of Oklahoma.
But the Queen was outmaneuvered by another upstart town. Oklahoma City contracted with railroads and meat packers to emerge as a major hub. And when the territory received statehood, in 1907, Oklahoma City was awarded the new capital. Guthrie, no longer a center of commerce, lost importance and was all but forgotten.
Today, however, in a bit of historical irony, Guthrie’s fall from prominence actually saved one of the largest collections of late Nineteenth and early Twentieth-Century architecture in the United States. While many cities have destroyed their earliest buildings for larger, modern structures, Guthrie is completely intact. With over 2000 buildings covering 1400 acres, the city is now a National Historic Landmark and tourist destination, once again gracefully ruling the prairie. Richard Neal Carter shares a recent visit and photographs of this American treasure.
Behind the team of Clydesdale horses is one of the world's largest Masonic Centers: The Great Temple of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Tours are available.
The State Capitol Company building was designed by Joseph Foucart in 1902 and housed the first newspaper in Oklahoma Territory. The building is now a museum, displaying old printing presses.
The Pollard Theater began life as both a furniture store and funeral parlor, since cabinet makers could easily make chairs and coffins. In 1919 the space was converted into a vaudeville theater then later a movie house. Now the theater presents live productions year round.
Guthrie's restored railway station, which now serves as a restaurant, existed before the Land Run in 1889.
The Territorial Museum showcases the history of Gurthrie.
One of Guthrie's many beautifully maintained Victorian homes.
The Redstone Country Inn uses an old pub bar as a front desk. Unfortunately, as Richard Neal Carter discoverers, the tap is just for show.
Richard Neal Carter and his wife Kathleen enjoy southern-style barbecue at Stables Cafe. The collection of old signs keeps customers entertained while they wait for their food.
Richard Neal Carter with one of his antique cars.
Richard Neal Carter is a retired Technical Educator/Administrator with a graduate degree in Education from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. He and his wife Kathleen live in Shawnee, Oklahoma and enjoy historical museums, theater, art, antiques and traveling.