In 1887 the Southern Kansas Railway opened a depot called Deer Creek in the unassigned lands of the Indian Territory. It was just a dusty prairie stop but the name was soon changed to Guthrie after a John Guthrie from Topeka in Kansas. In 1889 Guthrie was chosen as the site of a Federal Land Office where claims claims could be filed during the Land Run. Those who wanted to claim a parcel of land had to wait outside the unassigned lands until a cannon was fired at noon on April 22, 1889. At noon the population of Guthrie was virtually zero, by the evening it was a tent city of at least 10,000 people. Guthrie quickly grew into one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi. In 1890 Oklahoma became a US Territory and Guthrie was selected as its Territorial Capital. In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt declared Oklahoma a state and with Guthrie as its capital. However, the writing was already on the wall for Guthrie as Oklahoma City just 55 km (34 miles) south had been growing much faster primarily because it was a major railroad hub. On June 11, 1910 Oklahoma City was selected as the new capital by a majority vote. The state government moved out and Guthrie, with its elegant Victorian buildings, stagnated.
Carnegie Library (Territorial Museum)
Andrew Carnegie was a wealthy steel manufacturer who donated over $56 million to build 2,811 libraries worldwide. The Carnegie Libarary in Guthrie was built in 1902 when the city was the territorial capital. The two storey building with domed rotunda was designed by local architect J H Bennett. The building served as the city library until 1972 by which time it had become too outdated for a modern library. Plans were prepared to knock it down and build a new library on the site. However, local philanthropist Fred Pfeiffer offered to build a new museum next door if the Carnegie building was saved. The conjoined old and new buildings are now known as the Oklahoma Territorial Museum. The museum covers the creation of the Unassigned Lands, the Land Run of 1889, the territorial era and statehood.
View down Oklahoma Avenue from Division Street
After the capital moved to Oklahoma City, few new buildings were erected in Guthrie. The centre of the city has remained stuck in a Victorian time warp to this day. This view shows the unbroken run of historic buildings down Oklahoma Avenue.If the traffic light, street light and cars were removed it would be difficult to identify which century this photograph was taken. Guthrie is the largest contiguous urban historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
Oklahoma Daily 'State Capital'
In 1889 Franklin Hilton Greer founded the State Capital weekly newspaper in Winfield, Kansas. The 1889 Land Rush persuaded Greer that he should move the newspaper to Guthrie where it became a daily paper. It was the first newspaper published in what is now Oklahoma. In 1900 the newspaper moved from its temporary location to a building a building at Second and Harrison Streets, but in 1902 the building burned down. The building in the picture was constructed on the same site to provide a new home for the newspaper and to house other printing and bookbinding work. In 1911 the State Capital newspaper was sold to its main rival, who promptly stopped publishing it. The State Capital building continued to be used for a printing and bookbinding business, which became the Co-Operative Publishing Company. The building was sold to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1975 and they turned it into a printing museum which opened in 1982. Unfortunately budget constraints and problems with the fabric of the building resulted in the closure of the museum and the future of the building is unclear..
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The Pollard Theatre building dates back to 1901, but it did not start life as a theatre. It started life as the Patterson Furniture Store and as a Funeral Parlor. This was a common and convenient co-location because the cabinet makers also made coffins. In 1919 George Pollard purchased the building and converted it into the Pollard Theater featuring live live vaudeville acts and silent movies. When talkies arrived, vaudeville was seen as old hat so in 1929 the theater was converted into a cinema and renamed the Melba. After it closed in 1984 it was bought by Guthrie Arts & Humanities Council who restored it for live theater and renamed it the Pollard Theatre. It is the home of the Pollard Theatre Company who typically present six major plays or musicals each year.
De Steiguer Building
The De Steiguer Building is actually two buildings of the same design. It was built in 1890 by brothers Rodolph and Louis De Steiguer to house their Bank of Guthrie in the western section. The eastern section was occupied a tobacco company operated by the Millikan brothers. The De Steiguers initially lived in the apartment above but their bank was short lived and later the Millikans moved into the apartment. The building has passed through many hands since the days of the De Steiguers and the Millikans. The Victorian Romanesque style De Steiguer Building is one of the few historic structures in downtown Guthrie with a facade of Oklahoma's native red sandstone.
Old Santa Fe Depot
The original Deer Creek depot that opened in 1887 was a small red frame building. Since the railroad was then the fastest connection to the outside world, it was a popular means of participating in the 1889 Land Run. On April 22, 1889 twenty trains each carrying 1,200 to 1,500 passengers travelled along the single track line to the tiny depot at Guthrie. After the Land Run the old depot building was much too small for a city of over 10,000 people, so this two storey depot building was completed in 1903 to replace it.