Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District
The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
This preservation district, the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District, embraces 153 residences built almost exclusively in the 1920s and 1930s in architectural styles ranging from Spanish to some of the best examples of Tudor and Georgian Colonial in the city. All structures are brick but the Governor's Mansion, which is of stone. Most are on medium-sized lots and well, if not elaborately, landscaped.
The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District is rich in the handcrafted workmanship popular in the early decades of the 20th century. This includes superior brickwork, cut stone, intricate wrought ironwork, and fine glass and woodwork. Except for a few cases of neglect, all of the houses have been maintained in sound, near-original condition. All are in their original locations.
The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District represents architecturally a unified, original, and well-preserved visual reminder of the free-wheeling lifestyles and tastes of the enterprising young pioneers who settled and built Oklahoma City.
In fact as well as in popular fancy, Oklahoma and oil are one...a new state and a new industry grown up together. And the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic Preservation District — a compact collection of 153 fine residences standing virtually within the shadow of the state capitol itself — is an eminently fitting symbol of this unique relationship.
Oklahoma became the 46th state of the Union in 1907. Three years later, in 1910, the capital was moved to Oklahoma City from Guthrie and plans were soon under way to provide a suitable Capitol. That massive classic structure was completed in 1917...with Oklahoma City itself lying a mile to the south, connected by a dirt road leading across an unbroken pastureland.
Into the breech moved John J. Culbertson, who had donated part of the land on which the Capitol was built. Within a year he had opened up to home builders a section southeast of the Capitol that was to become Lincoln Terrace. Before 1918 had ended the first two homes had been constructed. Some 75 were built in the 1920s. Most of the others in the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District were erected in the 1930s.
Initial impetus for development came, of course, from the political sector. But oil was a strong contributing factor. In 1920 Oklahoma ranked first in oil production in the United States. Lincoln Terrace soon became the place to live for political leaders, newly rich oilmen, and other notables — real and would-be — in the young state. When the ITIO-Foster No. 1 blew in on Dec. 4, 1928 — some five miles to the south — Oklahoma City changed from capital city of an oil producing state to an oil capital in its own right. The Oklahoma City Field — with single wells capable of producing up to 60,000 barrels a day — was one of the nation's significant discoveries. Before long the procession of drilling rigs marched north and west to engulf the city's east side and the Capitol complex itself. When the city council refused to include state-owned land within authorized drilling zones, then Governor E.W. Marland, himself an oilman, placed the area under martial law and issued drilling permits in defiance of the city government. Oil derricks, tanks, and miscellaneous drilling equipment soon dotted the state property...including one rig in the garden of the Governor's Mansion.
This frenzied activity left an indelible stamp on the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace district. Not only was the Lincoln Boulevard esplanade along the west edge of the district an actual working oil field (it contains several producing wells to this day), but the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District itself soon acquired a disproportionate number of homeowners who were petroleum industry leaders. A recently  compiled list shows at least 32 important Oklahoma oilmen who had or still have homes in Lincoln Terrace. Included are three former state governors: Roy J. Turner, Johnston Murray, and Robert S. Kerr. Other prominent figures to live in the area include General W.S. Key, commander of the 45th Infantry Division in World War II; Orel Busby, justice of the State Supreme Court; George Shirk, former Oklahoma City Mayor and long-time president of the Oklahoma Historical Society; Moss Patterson, aviation pioneer; Bishop Thomas Casady, early-day Episcopalian leader; and Leslie Fain, for whose wife globe-circling aviator Wiley Post named his "Winnie Mae" airplane.
The significance of the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District today lies not only in the importance of those state figures who developed it. The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District also represents an era. "This was the heyday of the 'Roaring Twenties' and the oil boom in Oklahoma and many of the residences reflect the taste of the period," according to historian Kenny A. Franks. Newly rich oilmen and political leaders flocked to the area, he says, "and their lifestyles were indicative of the entrepreneur era in American history. It was a short-lived period of financial wheeling and dealing during the oil boom in which millionaires were made overnight. However, it came to a sudden halt for many during the depression of the 1930s. Nonetheless, the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historical Preservation Area remains as a prime example of the great influx of wealth brought about by the growth of the oil industry in the new state. Very few residential sections still exist to reflect this era as well as the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace area."
A secondary factor in preserving the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District is the continuing influence of the city's growing medical complex immediately to the south. University Hospital, teaching facility of the University of Oklahoma Medical School, was dedicated in 1919. From the first many of the state's best known physicians were residents of the historic district. As the complex grew into the present Health Sciences Center, more doctors, medical personnel, and Center agencies have moved into the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District's fine houses, 19 of which are now owned by the University of Oklahoma.
The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District includes a variety of architectural styles. But it remains, to quote Franks again, "a prime example of the great influx of wealth brought about by the growth of the oil industry in the new state." And it is primarily the reason that it is significant for National Register status.
Franks, Kenny A., "An Historical Evaluation of the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historical Preservation Area," Oklahoma City, July 1974.
† Kent Ruth, Oklahoma Historical Society, Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, nomination document, 1976, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.