Q&A - July 7, 2017

One of our objectives with renovating a building in the downtown district is to get students better connected to the town of Okmulgee and more familiar with its rich history. By creating student apartments in the Old Post Office, we hope to provide our students with a unique living and learning experience. So, we have been looking for photographs to display that tell the story of the building.

Q:Did you have any luck finding a historic picture of the old Post Office building?

Yes and no! I have yet to locate any photographic images of the building during the timeframe it was used as a Post Office (1918 – 1932). But while I was recently going through historic images of Okmulgee in the Public Library, I stumbled across a black and white aerial photo with our building clearly in view. It was part of a collection compiled by J. Rodgers Spencer, who gathered and assembled photos from many families around town. Judging from the cars and buildings in the photo, I’m estimating it was taken sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

I presume the photographer was in an airplane flying northeast of downtown. The picture was taken around noontime on a beautiful day with trees in full foliage. The camera lens was facing southwest toward the downtown district. This fascinating snapshot captured an average day in the life of Okmulgee. It shows simple houses with gardens along Delaware Avenue in the foreground and a passenger train on the railroad tracks parallel to Oklahoma Avenue in the distance. The right side of the picture captures houses and a cotton gin with a stable along 3rd Street, and to the south, it shows stately homes and church buildings along 8th Street. But the primary subject of the photo was downtown Okmulgee in all its former glory. The blocks between 4th Street and 8th Street are densely packed with commercial buildings. Vintage cars are along every street. But amid all the familiar historic landmarks, the picture shows entire blocks of buildings that no longer exist, e.g. tall hotels, office buildings, storefronts, warehouses, and tenements that have been lost over time.

You can clearly see the roof and rear wall of the old Okmulgee Post Office and Barksdale Apartments that are currently being renovated by OSUIT. A single story retail structure is connected to the east, where a parking lot now exists. It’s evident from this photo that the historic old Post Office of today is virtually the sole survivor of its neighboring contemporary buildings. Entire blocks of buildings to the south and to the west of the old Post Office are now gone. A large warehouse structure, once a neighbor to the east, has also disappeared.

Our intention is to enlarge this image to create a vinyl wall graphic to cover a 15.9’ x 35’ wall in the main lounge of our building. Here, students will be able to sit and study it for hours.

If you have a vintage photo of the original Okmulgee post office building, I would love to see it. Please contact me at osuit-president@okstate.edu