Friday, July 31, 2009

OKC History On-Line Resources

This page lists quality websites that I know to contain good and interesting Oklahoma City history information other than my own, and others will be added as they become known to me. A permanent graphic link to this page appears in the left panel for quick access. A changing featured website is highlighted at the end — right now, it's

Steve Lackmeyer & Jack Moneys'

Authors of
OKC: 2nd Time Around    Bricktown
MLS Oklahoma Images

Maintained by Larry (Buddy) Johnson
Author of Historic Photos of Oklahoma City
Also: Folklore Collection    Info Magazine
OK History Center Research

Popular subgroups are below
Clickable OKC Map    Star Archives

MLS Logon Page

Use your MLS card to log on & search Oklahoman's archives & more
Need Help?    Sanborn Maps Help
OHS Encyclopedia

Mini-articles on OK history by OHS personnel

A quirky, sometimes spooky, but always charming look at things abandoned in Oklahoma
The Archvist

A fun look through the Oklahoman's archives by Mary Phillips

Featured Website: is to abandoned properties what storm chasers are to tornadoes. These guys hunt down boarded up buildings, somehow get inside and put together videos in a way that is distinctly "AbandonedOK," a little jerky now and then for effect with unusual music playing as they take you into rooms, stairways, anywhere they can poke their cameras into.

The one above is of the old Christian Science Church at the northwest corner of NW 11th & Robinson where (as I understand it) Perle Mesta attended when she was in town. About it, they write,
Located in Oklahoma City’s “church row,” the Center for Design Arts began it’s life as the First Church of Christ Scientists. It was constructed in phases between 1914 and 1918.It has been abandoned for close to two decades. The building itself is constructed in a Classical Revival design featuring four greek columns facing Robinson, with anthemions on each corner of the facade. The lobby is 1,000 square feet and features all original mahogany paneling and wood work. The flooring is laid in mosaic tiling in a cris-crossed design featuring a Greek key design, also known as a swastika, which before Nazi Germany utilized it was a symbol of luck and good fortune not only to Greco romans but also to native Americans. Reached my a marble staircase, the main sanctuary is 5,000 square feet. It contains balconies, large windows that look over the downtown skyline. The central feature is an incredible stained glass dome. Below the sanctuary is a 4,000 square foot gathering space with a small raised area.

Following the Murrah bombing in 1995 most of the buildings in the immediate area were damaged, but were repaired. This building however was not. It suffered the loss of most of its original stained glass windows. The upper balconies of the sanctuary were removed due to structural issues.

Several attempts have been made to renovate the building by groups of local architects to no avail. The funds could never be fully raised and finally it was sold to a group from California with the hope to renovate the structure. Now it is for sale again. Who knows what will happen to this building of faded grandeur. Due to local covenants it cannot be razed for the next 35 years.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reinhart Legacy Part IV — Theresa's Scrapbook

This is the last of a 4-part series on the Reinhart Family's legacy to Oklahoma City. Part 1 was introductory; Part 2 largely focused on commercial properties; Part 3 focused on churches built by Reinhart & Donovan; and this one presents a more personal look, largely focusing on the content of Theresa Reinhart's teenage Scrapbook put together between 1913 and 1915 when she was 15-17 years of age. Beyond that, it shows the second family home and tells a bit more about Theresa and her family beyond the time of her teenage scrapbook.

I've put the scrapbook cover in a gold frame because it is a rare and golden source of information when it comes to seeing Oklahoma City through the eyes of a teenager, albeit a teenager whose family was well-to-do, growing up in Oklahoma City.

Through her eyes, my hope is to send you back in time to 1913 and see the Oklahoma City that she saw through her eyes so long ago. So, close your eyes and tell yourself that you're taking a trip back in time. Hey, I said, "Close your eyes!" Good. Open your eyes now and let's begin.

Introduction   First Family Home   Personal Scrapbook Stuff
Movies & Plays   Romance Cards   The Next House
Theresa As An Adult

INTRODUCTION. Theresa was much-youngest sister (by 17 years) of Martin John Reinhart, the "Master Builder" described in Part 2 who built so many buildings in Oklahoma City ranging from downtown structures to churches several of which buildings are listed in the National Registry of Historical Buildings. In this, it is recalled from Part 1 that Martin and his family were the first to come to Oklahoma City in 1907 or 1908 and that he was an adult before he arrived and began his business interests here. In 1910, Martin's parents, John and Amelia, and Martin's younger sibling, including Theresa when she was 12 years old, moved to Oklahoma City. So, there were two Reinhart households at the outset — son Martin's family who moved here first, and father John Reinhart's family (other than Martin) who moved here second.

Childhood Home. Theresa lived with her parents at 1100 NW 13th Street — today's location for that is just a bit west of Classen Boulevard (Classen Boulevard did not then exist at that location). Don't bother to drive to look — I've done that and today it is a vacant lot. But in Theresa's teenage years, it looked like this:

At all times when Theresa's scrapbook was put together, the above was her home. One of the two people on the wrap-around 2nd floor porch may be Theresa, but I don't know. Now, nearly 100 years later, she shows you the Oklahoma City that she knew.

As with most scrapbooks, hers is not assembled in any sort of logical order. Stuff is inserted whenever she had a mind to do so. But, in the presentation here, I've split and organized the content up into three groups — personal, movies/theater, and romance.

PERSONAL. The scrapbook contains an assortment of party notes and family and/or friend photos, mostly unidentified. Let's start with this one, her 15th birthday party, followed by a Halloween party later in the month.

The January 25, 1914, photo below was taken at a picnic, quite likely near the North Canadian River, perhaps in Wheeler Park. Norman Thompson wasn't sure, but the girl in the middle with the long buttoned dress may be Theresa — or, perhaps more likely, she may have been the photographer.

Click on the image below for a larger view.

This page contains a pair of photos with no identification. The photo of the small boy near the sidewalk would have been typical, though, to show the young growing trees which would become large and plentiful like we know today. I'm guessing that the second photo was taken at Belle Isle Park. Click on the images below for larger views.

This pair of photos shows teenagers somewhere in the town.

This one is from a photo negative laying loose in the album. I've done my best to convert it and perhaps some of the family members who are following this series will be able to make someone out. Judging by the size of the trees, the photo was probably taken before the family moved to Oklahoma City. Might one of the ladies, the older or the younger, be Amelia, mother and grandmother in various degrees of all the rest?

The following "In Such A Moment" item contained no notes of why it was in the scrapbook, but I'll include it because it was there. It was obviously important in some way to Theresa. The photographer is shown as being from Carroll, Iowa. Since the family moved here from Iowa, the young lady is likely a close member of the family, mother or grandmother, but that's just a guess.

As is evident from the album cover, Theresa attended school at St. Joseph's School downtown. Her brother, Martin the contractor, built the two-story and basement parish house for the cathedral church in 1912. The following May 31, 1915, recital program shows Theresa, pianist, as the event's last item.

This "personal" section concludes with scans of the fronts and backs of three religious/devotional cards which were laying loosely in the book. Recall that this family was devoutly Catholic, having originally come to America to escape religious persecution in Germany.

MOVIES & PLAYS. Whether a reader will care about the above "personal" stuff or not, all readers will enjoy and have Theresa to thank for including in her scrapbook programs of fourteen of the movies and plays that she attended during 1914 and 1915, shown here for the first time on the internet.

Before showing the programs, a few comments are in order about the Oklahoma City entertainment offerings during this time, 1914-1915. Several theaters existed, most notably the Overholser, Empress, Folly, Majestic, Olympic (renamed the Strand), Colcord Airdome, Lyric, Garden Airdome, and Metropolitan.

Three of those theaters on Grand (Sheridan) Avenue are seen below. The photos show how Grand Avenue looked in Theresa's teenage years. Still standing today is the Colcord Building in the background but the elegant Baum and all other buildings shown were destroyed during the 1970s-1980s Urban Renewal or earlier.

Click on the images below for larger views

Judging by the programs in Theresa's scrapbook, those theaters were not her favorites. Overwhelmingly, the programs are from the Empress Theater at 111-113 W. Main. I don't have a 1914-1915 image of the Empress, but the 1923 image below from Vanished Splendor II should be close to the mark.

OK, OK. Let's go to the movies! Imagine, if you will, this fictitious conversation between 15-year old Theresa and her parents John & Amelia on March 29, 1914:
Theresa: Dearest father and mother, what would you think about getting out and going to the movies this evening?

John: That might be edifying. Do you have anything in mind, child?
Theresa: My friends have told me that Good Little Devil playing at the Empress is very good.

John & Amelia (in unison): What?

John: Child, no such thing as a "good" devil exists be he large or small.

Theresa: My friends tell me that what you said is exactly the point of the movie, dearest father, and Mary Pickford is in it. But if you think that we shouldn't ...

John: (interrupting)... Oh. Well, then. Let's get cracking.

Amelia: Theresa, do you know where my new hat with all the feathers is? I can't seem to lay my hands on it.

Theresa: Why, yes, mother dear, I have it right here.

In the following images, click on anything
other than newspaper ads for a larger view.

March 29, 1914, at the Empress: Good Little Devil

May 19,1914, at the Empress: The Brute

November 1914, probably at the Empress: Such A Little Queen
For some reason, the Empress did not advertise in the Oklahoman during this time, so I'm guessing about the date and theater.

November 26, 1914, probably at the Empress: Wildflower

December 9, 1914, the Overholser: The Beauty Shop (a play)

December 29, 1914, probably at the Empress: Aristocracy
Note that Marguerite Skirvin, daughter of Bill Skirvin of the Skirvin Hotel, co-starred in this movie. Also, note that on occasion part of the program was marked through, as shown below. I've worked with the graphic so that you can see what bleeds through in this case.

December 1914, probably at the Empress: Behind The Scenes

March 1915, at the Empress: The Warrens Of Virginia

April 1915, probably at the Empress: The Crucible
This program was glued down on both pages so the other side could not be scanned.

April 4, 1915, at the Empress: A Gentleman Of Leisure

May 1, 1915, at the Overholser: Officer 666

June 3, 1915, at the Empress: Help Wanted

June 13, 1915, at the Empress: Fanchon, The Cricket

July 1, 1915, at the Empress: The Wild Goose Chase

You may have noticed in some of Theresa's handwritten notes that she noted other movies, as well. Whether all movies and plays in this time gave programs like the above, I don't know. But we can easily tell that she enjoyed a good movie or play, as do we all.

ROMANCE CARDS. As a 15 year old teenage girl, you can see by some of her movie choices that romance was frequently the theme. Her scrapbook also contained six postcard size cards which I'm calling "Romance Cards."

They were very heavy stock, probably 3 or 4 times the weight of a normal postcard. I tried locating the "Brett" which appears on most cards but I could find nothing on the internet. All cards bear a 1912 copyright notice. Click on any card for a larger view.

Her Brother's Friend
Her First Ball
The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth
The Peace Offering
The End of the Joy Ride
The Solitaire
Theresa would come to marry six years later, as shown below. Given that her husband, Tom, and she were the same age, it is doubtful that she would marry her brother's best friend, but I'm sure that for her it was close enough. This concludes the presentation of Theresa Reinhart's scrapbook and I hope that you've been able to see through her eyes a bit of what she saw and did and felt as the booklet was put together between 1913 and 1915. If its contents serve as a measure of who she was, she was devoted to family, religious, fun-loving, and full of romance.

THE NEXT HOUSE. In 1918 (or perhaps later — I've not resolved the point in time with certainty; the 1918 date derives from this article in the Oklahoma County Bar Association's Briefcase but I have some doubt about the date's accuracy), John and Amelia, Theresa's parents, moved from their first home at 1100 W. 13th to fancier quarters at 515 W. (now NW) 13th, and Theresa would have then been 19 or 20 years old. That home was built in 1911 by Mose and Minnie Herskowitz. Below is a photograph supplied by Norman Thompson which, though undated, may well show Theresa around the time of the home move.

A friend of mine, Elaine Schuster and her then partner, purchased the property in 1982 from the estate of Mary Reinhart, one of Theresa's older sisters. In October 2007, she kindly allowed me to take pictures inside the home. Today, we are accustomed to seeing vintage photographs in a sepia tone, so I'm showing the home's images in both sepia and natural color for "feel" — but remember that, through Theresa's eyes, she would have seen the full color and not the sepia views. Click on any photo for a larger image.

THERESA AS AN ADULT. It should be recalled that in this day, and probably lasting into the 1930s and 1940s, girl-children were often not encouraged by their parents to pursue post-high school education. It was different with Theresa. In 1920, she became the first woman to receive an engineering degree at the University of Oklahoma.

The above 1920 Oklahoman article shows her home at 1100 W. 13th and if that is correct the family's move to 515 W. 13th may not yet have occurred.

Norman Thompson furnished the following photo which anticipated Theresa's marriage to Raymond Dolan in 1921.

I understand from Norman that upon graduation that Theresa worked in the family business, Reinhart & Donovan, for a number of years.

Theresa and Raymond came to live at 708 N.W. 40th in Crown Heights, shown here. Raymond's father, Tom, founded the Tom Dolan Heating Company in early statehood. Around 1951, it came to be located at 1601 W. Main. Both Raymond and Theresa were associated with that business, also.
During the years, the Reinhart family remained close, as it does to this day. Norman furnished a few photos showing family members, below.

Theresa center-bottom; Martin, seated at left

Outside the Dolan Home; Martin at right

Norman Thompson Jr. & Theresa in 1954

Theresa died at age 81 on December 22, 1979, followed by her husband, Raymond, age 85, on November 30, 1983. I've combined the Oklahoman's obituary notices into a single file below:

Other than to edit what has already been said, this ends my account of the Reinhart Legacy in and to Oklahoma City. Doubtless more could be said, but it's perhaps best to close this by including here the comments left by family members in the series of Reinhart articles and let them have their say.

Anonymous: The information you have given is excellent. I will add it to the history of the Reinhart family that came from Europe. The original family is from Kickapoo (Peoria), Illinois. The family chart is as follows: Peoria, 1870 census (Kickapoo); Reinhart Barbara 34 Bavaria; Reinhart Martin 37; France

Kids: Reinhart John 11 M W Illinois; Reinhart Josephine 9 F W Illinois; Reinhart Theresa 7 F W Illinois; Reinhart Anthony 5 F W Illinois; Reinhart Martin 3 M W Illinois; Reinhart Frank 3 M W Illinois
Joe Emrick: Love the Reinhart Legacy 1 & 2.Your historical data will keep me occupied for years. I wanted to email you because I married M.J.'s youngest daughter, Helen, 65 years ago (still together and in love), worked for R&D '46 to '70, general manager '52 to '70.
John Engel: Thank you for your time and effort. Very interesting information. I am M.J's Great Grandson. His Daughter Mary Amelia is my Grandmother. She just had her 90th Birthday in May, and she is doing fine in Ada. I am currently in Iraq as I am an Officer in the Army, but I do check my email often. Thanks
Barbara Engel: I am Barbara Engel, daughter of Mary Amelia Reinhart Engel, who was M. J. Reinhart's daugher. She died February of this year at the age of 90. She had the same sharp mind her father had, and kept it until she died. She was a graduate of Oklahoma University, and at one time aspired to become an engineer and would have been a good one. Her father said he would train her, but she married instead, and applied her intelligence to raising 11 children and working in the family business which was farming and real estate. I talked often to her about her father and her years of growing up in OKC, and can clarify a few things for you. My great grandfather John Martin Reinhart did help to back my grandfather's company. He sold his hardware store in Iowa, and came to OKC with about $100,000, a large sum of money for that time. His partner, Mr. Donavan was not active in the business for long because he had a serious stoke at an early age, perhaps in his forties, which left him disabled. I remember my grandfather as a cultured man who loved to listen to classical music and collect art. I own a baby grand piano from 1936 which he bought for the children to practice on. He also like to fish, and I know he made some trips to the Texas coast to go deep sea fishing, but I think he mostly worked. He did not like to drive, and had a driver most of the time. My mother was comfortable with cars, and began driving at age 10, running errands for her parents, and often driving them around. One of the cars they owned was a huge car with bulletproof glass that "Machine Gun" Kelly's lawyer received in part payment for his defense. It would go very fast, but my mother said she always drove it very slow. Ironically, my grandfather eventually gave it to a group of nuns to drive.

She said her father, though short (maybe 5' 4") was very athletic and a champion bicyclist as a young man, and designed a track on his father's farmland in Iowa. He could pick corn very fast because he was just the right height to pick the ears of corn. He contracted to pick a field of corn with a farmer and finished it in such record time the man did not wish to pay him as much as he agreed, but finally did.

My mother said that my grandfather survived the depression by turning over the entire check he received from a few oil wells he owned. He took it to the bank, and they never foreclosed on his properties. As his situation improved, he took over notes the bank held on other properties, thus increasing his holdings. He always lived modestly, and my mother said the depression left a lasting impression on him.

These are just a few remembrances I have of my grandfather; not important really, but they just make him more real and human. Thank you for all the research you did on him. I really had no idea he built so many significant buildings. Your blog is very interesting. I am now a Texan at [e-mail address omitted].

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