Kenwood Historic District
The Kenwood Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2015, The Gombach Group.
During the 1893 run, a 160 acre tract northwest of the central town site was claimed by two men Maurice A. Wogan and N. E. Sisson. Originally intended to be another town site, the claim eventually became the first residential addition to Enid. After a battle lasting several years, Sisson gave up his claim though the eastern boundary of the tract became known as Sisson Street. With full claim, Wogan and civil engineer, George Nick, began surveying the land into the Kenwood plat which was filed on April 16, 1894. The area included streets, alleys, a school plot, public grounds, and parks. A diagonal boulevard marked the addition as unique. This street, originally known as Wogan Boulevard, now known as Kenwood Boulevard, bisected the neighborhood from the northwest corner to the southeast corner providing a direct route from the downtown business area to the Santa Fe rail yard.
This proximity to those important points made Kenwood ideal for residential development. Maurice Wogan gained his title to the land under the Homestead Act's "ten dollar act." This provision stated that, if the claimant would donate ten dollars per acre claimed to a school fund, then he or she could forgo the five-year residency requirement. Wogan chose this avenue gaining full title to Kenwood upon payment. This allowed him to sell the entire addition to the Kenwood Land & Development Company in 1895, a mere two years after the run.
The owners of this development company typified the caliber of people Kenwood would attract. Harrison Lee and his son-in-law Judge W. O. Cromwell both arrived just after the run. Coming from Nebraska in 1894, Lee and his wife Mary first lived in a small frame building near the courthouse. They quickly saved enough to purchase Wogan's land which they also planned to develop into a prime residential district. They began by constructing a home of their own at 514 W. Maple (since been demolished). Their daughter Louise, along with her husband, Cromwell, constructed a home next door at 518 W. Maple (demolished). The next step was to bring a church into the neighborhood. The Lees presented their home church, the First Presbyterian Church, with the lot at the corner of Kenwood Boulevard and Randolph upon which the church built its first permanent sanctuary. This began the influx of prominent people in Enid's development to the Kenwood neighborhood.
Cromwell was an attorney who became the last attorney general of Oklahoma Territory. As well as helping to establish Oklahoma as a state, he had also been part of the legal battle with the Rock Island Railroad that had made Enid the official townsite. Upon his death, one Enid paper stated, "He was associated with or acquainted with all the men or women who really founded, built, and developed Enid." Two such women, his mother-in-law, Mary Lee, and his wife, Louise Cromwell, established Enid's first public library which was built with the help of a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation in 1910. The library had grown from the Enid Study Club which Lee had started. The Club had provided the first subscription library. Lee was also the founder of the Fine Arts Club, and she and her daughter were the primary forces behind Enid's growing cultural life.
Under the leadership of these two couples, Kenwood's twenty-five foot lots, priced at just twenty-five dollars a piece, sold quickly to other prominent citizens. The Frantz purchased several lots in the neighborhood. Edmund Frantz and his wife Grace built a home at 408 W. Elm. Frantz, president of Enid Vitrified Brick Company and owner of the Frantz Hotel, and his brothers owned several Enid business including a hardware store. Montgomery Frantz built a R. W. Shaw-designed home at 401 W. Pine. Lulu Frantz Whitson and Maria Frantz resided at 412 W. Elm. Frank C. Frantz had served under Theodore Roosevelt during the Battle of San Juan Hill. He later became Postmaster of Enid, Indian agent to the Osage Nation, and was the last territorial governor from January 6, 1906 until statehood the following year.
Other prominent citizens included A. A. Crowell who had designed Edmund and Grace Frantz' home. He designed his own family's showplace located at 401 W. Elm. Willis B. Johnston and his wife Olive built a home at 418 W. Oak. Johnston owned Johnston Grain Company, one of the town's first grain elevators which remains in operation today. F. H. Letson, vice-president of Enid National Bank, lived at 424 W. Pine while the home at 402 W. Elm housed John and Althea Murphy. Murphy was president of First National Bank which later became Enid State Guaranty. F. B. Hodgden, a travel and livestock agent, located at 324 W. Elm. Louis B. McClellan's home at 318-320 W. Elm later became the Presbyterian Manse. McClellan was the president of Enid Lumber. Fellow hardware man, George Gensman, owner of Gensman Brothers Farm Implement & Hardware Store, lived at 401 W. Oak with his wife Dora Belle. George Southard, president of Independence Gypsum, constructed his home at 518 W. Pine while N. A. McGill and his daughter May lived at 505 W. Elm. May McGill was the principal of the Kenwood School.
Due to residents such as these, Kenwood became the richest addition around the town site of Enid. Realizing this fact, its residents decided to incorporate into a separate town like the adjacent Jonesville plat had done. If they could successfully incorporate then the school fund established by Wogan in order to gain title to his claim would remain exclusively with the Kenwood School. A vote on incorporation was set to take place, but a few days before the election, the city of Enid, not wishing to lose access to the school fund or the wealthy residents, annexed the neighborhood into the growing city limits. As the Enid Eagle stated in 1902, Kenwood had become "one of the richest and most beautiful wards in the city" that was "thickly settled with enterprising people."
In 1917, oil was discovered in the nearby Garber-Covington oil field. This brought a golden era of wealth to the town of Enid during which several of its citizen amassed large fortunes. These newly rich men, thinking themselves on par with European aristocracy, decided to construct their palatial homes farther away from the increasingly busy downtown area. While a few built in Kenwood, the majority sought the newer neighborhoods such as the Waverly district which were farther from the central business district. A few prominent citizens built in Kenwood through the 1920s and into the 1930s, but Kenwood's prominence as a haven for the wealthy and upwardly mobile had begun to wane by 1935.
The name "Kenwood Historic District" is used because it corresponds to the current name of the local historic district that is already in place in this neighborhood. The name is also the same as the original plat name of the neighborhood. Any legal documents regarding this neighborhood still refer to the plat name as Kenwood.
The years 1895-1935 represent the period during which Kenwood reigned as the premier neighborhood for the upwardly mobile of Enid, OK. It also represents the period during which over ninety-five percent of the buildings included in the boundaries were constructed. Any construction that took place after those dates replaced the original buildings which were demolished for different reasons. The date 1895 is significant because this is the year in which the neighborhood was officially platted, the first construction began, and the sale of lots began.
The Kenwood District buildings are excellent examples of the homes constructed by the upwardly mobile residents who fueled the success of Enid as a town and viable economic marketplace.
The Kenwood Historic District provides an invaluable picture of the architectural styles chosen by the wealthy and upper middle class families during the first half of the 1900s. The styles of the late 1890s to the early 1920s show the residents of Enid's desires to connect themselves with the industrial kings of New England and the propriety and respectability of the Victorian English Gentry. The styles of the 1920s show the rise of the conspicuous consumerism that is uniquely American. The country was emerging from the shadow of the First World War, the "war to end all wars," the stock market was high, industrialization booming, and the money flowing. The smaller homes of the 1930s showed the sobering effects of the Great Depression and the desire of the local oil barons to set themselves apart and insulate themselves against the world and the common man.
† Jennifer Jones, Jones' Historic Preservation, Kenwood Historic District, Garfield County, OK, nomination document, 2004, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.