Oklahoma City is rich in history if you know where to look. Most people will immediately point you in the way of the famous National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, or the National Stockyard Exchange for an authentic cowboy experience. Well, those are excellent choices all on their own, but we want to show you the historic side of OKC that is lesser known, yet equally important.
These are our favorite historical places in Oklahoma City, and we hope that you’ll have as good a time visiting and learning from them as we did writing this blog!
An exquisite structure intimately connected to the history of Oklahoma City itself, the Overholser Mansion was built in 1903 by Henry Overholser, called the “Father of Oklahoma City”, and is considered the first of its type to be constructed in the region. Serving as the family’s home for decades, the mansion and everything in it was sold to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1972 as per the wishes of Mrs. Anna Overholser, the matriarch of the family. Visitors can now explore the house and learn about the Overholser family, their life, and OKC’s history in the 20th century, aided by knowledgeable guides and explore the beautifully kept gardens and surrounding grounds. Tours are given every day from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
One of the most iconic buildings in the OKC skyline, the First National Center is an Art Deco skyscraper in the heart of downtown, and while the interiors have been under continuous renovation efforts after being in decay for years (they probably never hired a good maid), the outside still retains that beautiful style of old. Formerly known as the First National Bank Building, it featured polished aluminum, glass, granite, and different types of marble collected from around the world in its design. A former feature of the building was a massive rotating beacon known as the Aviation Tower, which was visible from 75 miles away in any direction, but this distinctive piece was taken down after WWII when visual navigation for aircraft fell into disuse, and all that is left is a low-power red light. Go see for yourself before more of it is renovated.
One of the most devastating acts of domestic terrorism in America took place right here in Oklahoma City, but the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum stands as a testament of the strength of our citizens in the face of such terrible adversity, and as a symbol of our desire for a world free of any violence. Visiting this site is a very emotional experience for anyone, and the museum makes an outstanding job of explaining the events of that day in a tasteful manner. There are many artistic pieces made in honor of the victims; perhaps the most moving of them all is the one that occurred organically on the fence outside the main ground, where people have collected photos and objects in their memory. A must see for everyone visiting OKC.
This one is special because you don’t usually get the chance to visit a historic site in the making, right? This ongoing project is a collection of more than 47 black bronze statues commemorating the first land run in Oklahoma, which took place on April 22, 1889, where over 50’000 people rushed madly into the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma to claim a piece of free land from the two million acres available. It was chaotic, to say the least; many did not make it out alive amidst the mad horses and crowds, lots of fighting ensued, and some people had already snuck across the border to claim the best plots. The area covered by the statues is a 365-feet tract of land, so visiting the site mean you’ll have a nice stroll while admiring each piece.
Constructed from 1914 to 1917, this enormous Greco-Roman-style building of over 600 rooms, sits on top of 100 acres of land and is the only state capitol in America located next to active oilfields. Some of the features include murals, stained glass, beautifully landscaped grounds, and many rotating art exhibits, although the distinctive dome was finished in 2002. One of the best parts about visiting the State Capitol is that you can have self-guided tours so you can go about it at your own pace, appreciating exhibits like the Oklahoma Veterans Memorial or “The Big Guy” statue for as long as you want. If you want someone else to give you the details, however, volunteer-guided tours are conducted Monday to Friday, but you need a group of 10 people at least to get them going.