Lincoln Terrace East Historic District
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is comprised of buildings, mostly homes, built primarily in Period Revival styles such as Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Prairie School, Mission Revival, and Italian Renaissance Revival styles. The vast majority of buildings are single story, domestic buildings that have brick or mixed-masonry walls, prominent chimneys, engaged porches, and multiple gables. While many of the buildings look similar, it is clear upon inspection that no two are alike. They differ considerably in detail (i.e. brick color, level of ornamentation, orientation, gable and/or chimney placement). The buildings are similar in design and feel to those in the National Register listed Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District, but much smaller in scale. Like the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District to the west, Lincoln Terrace East has remained relatively undisturbed, and retained the character, setting, and feeling that it originally embodied when initially developed.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District encompasses much of the original Lincoln Terrace addition with sections of the State Capitol Addition, Howe's Addition, and the 2nd State Capitol Addition. The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District forms the west boundary of the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District. The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District features primarily two-story houses contemporaneous with those in Lincoln Terrace East Historic District. The east boundary is Kelley Avenue, where street patterns change slightly, creating a distinctive boundary. The northern boundary is formed by the property lines of those houses on NE 21st Street; north of these houses are the Governor's mansion and commercial lots. The southern boundary is irregular, following the existing housing stock where not intruded upon by the Medical Center campus. The streetscapes are sparsely vegetated, emphasizing the visual cohesion of the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District.
The layout of the neighborhood diverges from the traditional grid pattern of surrounding areas. Most notable is the manner in which Culbertson Drive curves and angles from the southwest to the northeast through the district. East/west streets also feature gentle curves that, while not dramatic, help soften the linear aspect of the uniform size and setbacks of the building stock. McMecham Parkway extends into the south side of the district; it is a split street with small parks and green spaces located in the median. The streets in Lincoln Terrace East Historic District are concrete with curbs and marked with curb cuts for driveways.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District retains a high degree of historic integrity, with only 3.5 % of the resources considered noncontributing. Intrusions are located primarily on the southern edge of the district and reflect the growing importance of the Medical Center campus. For the most part, intrusions include newer apartment buildings or houses that do not reflect the period of significance.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is significant as a reflection of the residential development of Oklahoma City during the period from 1925 to 1942 (temporal cohesion). This is communicated through the spatial layout of the neighborhoods and the character of the middle class homes that dominate it (visual cohesion). The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is a distinctive entity marked by street patterns, setbacks, house sizes and a unity of design. There are 312 resources in the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District, of which 300 contribute to the historic integrity of the district.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent example of a neighborhood with planned architectural cohesion. The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District, of which the vast majority of the buildings retain historic integrity, is significant as a reflection of the types and styles of residential development in Oklahoma City during the period from 1925 to 1942. This is communicated through the spatial layout of the neighborhoods and the character of the masonry middle class homes that dominate it. Eclectic period revival style houses dominate the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District, drawing mainly from the English Cottage subtype of the Tudor Revival, but also drawing in elements of Renaissance Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and French influences. The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is rich in the handcrafted workmanship (including cut stone, intricate brick detail, and wrought iron work) popular in the early decades of the 20th century. Over 95% of the resources within the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District contribute to its historic character; the few non-contributing resources are primarily later infill construction, built after World War II. The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District retains a high degree of integrity of setting, location, design, materials, feeling, association, and workmanship.
Prior to 1889, the area that became Oklahoma City was comprised of a virtually undisturbed blue-stem prairie and cross timber environment located on gently rolling hills that gradually merged with the true Great Plains prairie lands to the west. Today, the physical boundaries of Oklahoma City encompass approximately 625 square miles of land. Its metropolitan population is in excess of one million, comprising roughly one-third of the entire population of the state of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma City sprang to life on April 23, 1889, when the Unassigned Lands were opened to white settlement. The Unassigned lands were lands ceded by the Creek and Seminole tribes after the Civil War as part of the peace settlement. Composed of all or parts of present-day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties, the Unassigned lands were just that — unassigned to any of the Plains Indian tribes that were settled in western Oklahoma in the period after the Civil War. The availability of the land for white settlement is what prompted the Boomer movement, organized parties of squatters demanding access to the empty land. Army troops from Fort Reno forcibly evicted the Boomers on numerous occasions.
Apparently, the illegal "squatter" approach of the Boomers and increasing legal pressures to open the Unassigned Lands succeeded, and on March 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation that opened the lands to settlement. The Unassigned Lands were to be opened to settlement on April 23, 1889. Land claims would be made by "run," the first person to a spot could claim his or her quarter section. Homesteaders, speculators, and investors by the thousands were drawn to this impending spectacle. By the evening of April 22, 1889, it is estimated that over 50,000 people were lined up on the boundaries of the Unassigned Lands, ready to race by any conveyance to stake their claim. Some folks, whether legally or illegally, slipped in and claimed land prior to the official opening. These individuals were referred to as Sooners and have become an integral part of Oklahoma historical lore. Within days after the area was opened up to the public, nearly 10,000 people had staked out claims for either quarter sections or town lots near the Oklahoma Station, forming the nucleus for what was to become Oklahoma City. Claim jumping was common, as were boundary quarrels that led to considerable physical and legal conflicts.
Congress had made no provisions for a city government, so leaders were selected from the general population in an effort to restore order. A provisional government was quickly appointed and elections were held on May 1, 1889 to select permanent officials. A month after the 1889 Land Run, the Commercial Club was formed, which was later renamed the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. The first multi-story masonry building (located on Broadway halfway between 1st and Main) was dedicated on July 4, 1890. The Chamber encouraged the large railroad companies to route their lines through Oklahoma City, and the new town began to develop and experience economic prosperity as more of the railroad lines began routing their passenger and freight trains through the new town. By 1900, the population of Oklahoma City had doubled, and it continued growing at a very rapid rate up through the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Statehood came for Oklahoma on November 17, 1907 when Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were symbolically joined in marriage in Guthrie. Guthrie, the Territorial Capital, retained the honor as the capital of the new state. However, this would not last long. There had been efforts dating back to the territorial period to have Oklahoma City designated the capital. There were other communities that wanted the capitol moved to their locales. Kingfisher (during the territorial period) and Shawnee (after statehood) competed with Oklahoma City for the honor. After over twenty years of effort, in 1910, a petition to move the state capitol from Guthrie to Oklahoma City was circulated. With enough signatures, a bill was passed to put the petition to a statewide vote and in the subsequent election Oklahoma City defeated Guthrie and Shawnee to become the state capital. The land for the new capitol building was donated by J.J. Culbertson and William Harn, owners of the quarter sections that abutted where Lincoln Boulevard now runs. The permanent state capitol building, located at Lincoln Boulevard and 23rd Street, was dedicated in 1917. Harn and Culbertson were partners in a number of development projects. Culbertson's quarter section was developed as housing; much of Harn's property remained a farm.
The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce gradually attracted various industries to the area. Between 1908 and 1910, 575 acres were purchased via subscription fund to build a stockyards southwest of today's downtown. A number of packing plants were erected that became known as Packing Town, now referred to as Stockyards City. New investments in utilities and other major construction projects resulted from this injection of cash and confidence. New downtown buildings in 1910-11 included the Oklahoman Building and the Skirvin Hotel. The next few years of growth led to severe water shortages until Oklahoma City entrepreneur Ed Overholser built the artificial reservoir that still exists west of the city.
The first university founded in the city was Epworth University. In 1904 the school occupied a large brick building at what is now Northwest 18th Street and Douglas Avenue, with 35 classrooms, administrative offices, laboratories, and an auditorium. The university also established a medical school associated with Roister Hospital at Northeast 4th Street and Stiles Avenue. In 1917, as the Capitol Building neared completion, the legislature decided to divert money from the building project to the establishment of another medical school. The Capitol remained dome-less and a medical school was established at Phillips and 13th Street. Well known physicians from around the country were recruited to the facility. As the facility grew, many of the physicians and medical school staff settled nearby (in newly platted areas which collectively are now known as the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace and Lincoln Terrace East districts) as residential development area began to expand further to the east from Lincoln Boulevard. Eventually, both medical schools combined and became part of the University of Oklahoma complex that includes University, Crippled Children's, Veterans, and Presbyterian Hospitals.
Oklahoma City continued to grow as private water and utility companies were founded and developed, and by 1903, the rough edges of the city had been smoothed over and it began to take on a more refined air. Oklahoma City soon became the largest city in the state as manufacturing, more railroads and a new wave of entrepreneurial businessmen developed solid urban development plans. The first streetcar system was begun by a group headed by Oklahoma City businessmen Anton Classen and John Shartel. Once in place, the citizens of Oklahoma City had convenient access to more outlying areas such as the Delmar Gardens district (conceived and promoted by William Harn), near the corner of Western and Reno, and Northeastern Park, now Lincoln Park. Paved roads, sewers and gas mains were planned and constructed, further adding to the urban refinement of the city.
The most historically visible economic windfall appeared on December 4, 1928 when oil was discovered near the corner of SE 59th Street and Bryant Avenue. In the 27 days before the great gusher could be capped, it spewed 110,496 barrels of oil. The Oklahoma City Field had been discovered, making Oklahoma City the country's newest boomtown. Early downtown Oklahoma City businesses were built by newly rich oilmen such as Frank Harrah, W.O. Church, and J.B. Wheeler. Upon review of building permits, it is clear that the growth of the city was based on other economic factors. After all, many of the homes in Lincoln Terrace East Historic District (and other areas) were built before the oil was ever discovered. In fact, a 1931 report by the city manager stated that although the city had prospered from oil and gas development, the source of wealth should be considered transient. Oklahoma City's economy was more solidly and traditionally based its status as a retail, wholesale, and production center for the rich agricultural district that surrounded it.
The Capitol-Lincoln Terrace area of the city continued to develop as the relatively wealthy leaders of the petroleum, banking, and agricultural industry began to buy lots and build residences west of the oil fields that comprised the eastern borders of the city. The homes that were built in the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District strongly reflect the adventurous architectural style and spirit of the era, and convey a sense of the economic prosperity and architectural whims of the nouveau-riche. As the rich oil deposits that lay under the city were exploited further, many residential and agricultural landowners literally became millionaires overnight. Large residences reflecting an amalgamation of current styles, as well as the richly appointed traditional Mission and Tudor revival styles, were built by these new millionaires in the 1920s and early 1930s in the western part of the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District. The eastern reaches of Lincoln Terrace contained smaller homes and some multi-family residences that housed middle class families.
Many of Oklahoma City's neighborhoods have coherent visual and temporal unity. This is due to the fact that many neighborhoods, like Lincoln Terrace, were constructed in a short time by one or two developers. Bold developers such as G.A. "Doc" Nichols and John J. Harden formed multifaceted companies that developed vast subdivisions. All work, architecture, surveying, paving, construction, lot and home sales, and property management were done by men employed by the companies. Moreover, raw materials such as lumber often came from enterprises owned by the developers. The developers had their enterprise so refined that they would buy up blocks of lots and then start construction of numerous (up to ten) homes at once. As soon as a home was completed, construction would begin on another. Lots that the developers chose not to build on were sold to other developers. Nichols developed much of the western end of the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace district in the mid-1920s. All work was done by his crews; lumber came from his company and the homes were sold by salesmen employed by him.
A 1931 report on Oklahoma City describes homes in the city as appearing to "have been built all at once and only a few minutes ago." The statement is telling. Building and development was harried in the last years of the 1920s and on into the 1930s. Building permit records show values of residential permits rising almost every year in the 1920s and reaching a crescendo in 1929 (at $10,936,265). Much of this would be expected in a growing city. Oklahoma City was, however, far out-pacing other cities in the South and West, even those with much larger populations. This phenomenal growth was related, most significantly, to two factors. First the economy was booming. Second, astute entrepreneurs were able to effectively capitalize on the city's growth.
As the United States became involved in World War I, Oklahoma City industries grew to support the war effort, with new beef processing plants, flour mills, and cotton ginning plants that employed thousands of people as the city boomed from 1915 to the mid 1920s. Following the end of World War I, the prosperity that was brought by the growth of war-related industry began to feel the effects of the Depression and the Dust Bowl. However, while many smaller cities in Oklahoma shrank and some rural towns were affected disastrously, Oklahoma City continued to grow. This was surreptitiously perpetuated by the industry surrounding the oil fields.
New roads and new highways fueled urban sprawl, and the Oklahoma City area continued to spread north and east from the downtown area, which remained a primary industrial hub and transportation center for the region. As industry continued to grow, "Automobile Alley" was built up in the area along Broadway, and it grew to hold over 50 auto dealerships at its height in the 1920s and '30s. Agricultural production provided the capital for the development of many banks, as well as the Cotton-Exchange, the largest textile distribution facility in the region. Federal relief assistance funds were used to match local funds for the construction of the Municipal Auditorium, the Oklahoma County Courthouse, Police Headquarters and City Hall, which were all completed in 1937.
No doubt, the effects of the Great Depression began to slow the aggressive economic growth of the city and its surrounding vicinity in the 1930s. The effect, however, was tempered by the city's diverse economy. Housing production slowed in the mid 1930s, but never ground to a halt. Entire neighborhoods were constructed during the 1930s, including the National Register listed Crown Heights Historic District, whose buildings resemble those in Lincoln Terrace East Historic District stylistically.
Oklahoma City continued a steady growth after World War II, experiencing the same outward-growth, or sprawl pattern as many cities. Older neighborhoods fell out of favor, especially those close to downtown.
During the 1960s, the Urban Renewal Authority purchased and cleared large tracts of city land, and older commercial and residential areas were torn down and rebuilt in order to renew and upgrade downtown Oklahoma City. The Medical Center between NE 8th and 13th Streets was built at this time, and the Myriad Convention Center and Oklahoma City Theater Center were built. Major construction projects of the 1970s and '80s included American First Tower at Main and Robinson, First Oklahoma Tower, and Leadership Square. The freeways built near downtown since the 1950s have kept downtown Oklahoma City accessible to all parts of the metropolitan area.
Through all of the changes that the city has undergone, from the agrarian, to the petroleum, to the more industrial current economy, the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District reflects the continuum of residential development of Oklahoma City. The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District remains an excellent example of popular domestic architecture in Oklahoma City during the late 1920s.
Architectural Significance of Lincoln Terrace East Historic District
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is a distinct, cohesive collection of eclectic period revival houses constructed primarily between 1925 and 1942. The bulk of properties were completed in the years 1927-1930, but later infill reflects the design ethic of that period. By 1942, construction in the period revivals had ended.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District contains 312 resources, of which 300 are contributing to the historic character of the district. The majority of the properties are single story, single-family houses, with a smaller percentage of duplex houses. Concentrated on East Drive and the 700 block of Culbertson Drive are larger apartments and commercial buildings. The 600 blocks of 14th, 15th, and 16th streets feature primarily two-story houses.
The predominant architectural style in the neighborhood is a variation of the Tudor Revival, often referred to as the English Cottage. Characterized by steeply pitched roofs of mixed type (hip and gable, or hip with intersecting gables), prominent chimneys, arched doors and windows, and variegated masonry, the English Cottage is a diminutive version of the larger, more formal Tudor Revival. The majority of the resources in the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District are therefore classified as Tudor Revivals. Interspersed among these cottages are good examples of other period revival houses, including Spanish Colonial Revival, Spanish Mission Revival, and Colonial Revival. A number of houses located in the 600 blocks of 14th, 15th, and 16th streets reflect the Prairie School, a design philosophy that was popular contemporaneously with the European-influenced revival styles. In Lincoln Terrace East, these houses utilized the same materials as the revival houses and blend in seamlessly.
The size of the houses in Lincoln Terrace East Historic District reflects the targeted audience of the builders. While the larger houses in the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District were occupied by persons in the upper-strata of the economic scale, the more modest houses to the east were marketed at the large middle class of Oklahoma City. The 1930 census lists a variety of occupations including salesman, saleslady, barber, accountant, manager, x-ray technician, registrar, auditor, office manager, proprietor, contractor, engineer, graphic designer, oil broker, surgeon, attorney, paper printer, domestic, teacher, merchant, dentist, physician, oil well driller, mechanic, and others. It does not appear that residents were employed in any particular industry (i.e. oil), though there were a number of mechanics and salesmen associated with the nearby car dealerships and a few doctors associated with the medical school and hospitals that bound the southern edge of the district. While the district was occupationally varied, this was not the case racially. As would be expected in 1930 Oklahoma City, all the residents in Lincoln Terrace East were white and most were born in the United States (though there were some European and Russian immigrants). Deed restrictions prohibited persons of African descent from owning or living in the homes. The homes in the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District clearly reflect its middle class nature and belie its connection with the more affluent neighborhood to its west.
The Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is the eastern extension of the National Register of Historic Places listed Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District. Development in the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District began in earnest in the mid-1920s and continued at varying rates until the United States entered World War II. The homes in the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District are smaller than those beyond its western boundary, but they are located on similar gently curving streets and have much of the same architectural detail of the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District. Local craftsmen employed by John J. Harden, Inc., G.A. Nichols, Inc., and others produced imaginative designs using brick, stucco, stone, and wood. No two homes are alike, yet they do have similarities that unify the district. Some of these general characteristics include steeply pitched roofs, multiple gables, herringbone brickwork patterns, and enclosed porches with arched entryways. Many homes have elaborately detailed front facing chimneys with chimney pots. Architecturally, most of the residences are considered to be Tudor Revival style. Other styles are rare, but include Prairie School, Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, and Italian Renaissance.
Lincoln Terrace East Historic District has a distinct, cohesive appearance. To the south is the medical center complex. To the west are the larger homes of the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District. North of the district, across NE 23rd Street, a smaller neighborhood of similar houses was razed in 1999 to make way for the new Oklahoma History Center. To the east, across Kelley Avenue, the neighborhood begins to lose the visual cohesion that marks Lincoln Terrace East. Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is comparable in terms of visual and stylistic cohesion to one other Oklahoma City neighborhood. The Crestwood neighborhood, located approximately four miles west of Lincoln Terrace East, features similar house designs and sizes. It is located between NW 23rd, NW 16th, Villa Avenue and May Avenue. Not surprisingly, Crestwood was platted and developed by one of the primary developers of Lincoln Terrace East, J.J. Harden. Crestwood features primarily single family, single-story dwellings, along with numerous duplexes. Its houses are on the same scale as Lincoln Terrace East, but there are a greater percentage of noncontributing buildings in Crestwood. Crestwood has been identified as being eligible for the National Register by both the SHPO and the City of Oklahoma City. Other neighborhoods that exhibit houses of a similar architectural style and period of construction include the Crown Heights Historic District and the Shepherd Historic District. Both of these districts feature homes that are of a slightly larger scale than those in Lincoln Terrace East Historic District.
Lincoln Terrace East Historic District consists of 312 resources, of which 300 (96.1%) are contributing to the character of the district. The period of significance for the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is 1925-1942, a period which encompasses the bulk of construction in the area. Of the twelve noncontributing resources, seven would be considered contributing had the period of significance been carried up to 1954, the current 50-year cutoff for the National Register. However, the significance of the Lincoln Terrace East Historic District lies in its initial layout and planned development, which was virtually complete by 1942.
Architecturally, Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is cohesive visually and temporally. Eighty-two percent of the resources in the district can be classified as Tudor Revival in style, with Prairie School, Spanish Colonial/Mission Revival, and Colonial Revival each comprising four percent. The balance of properties fall into an "other" category that included Renaissance Revival, Modern movement, and unclassified intrusions. These stylistic trends are reflective of the taste in design during the period 1920-1940. Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is reflective of the popularity of these styles. The high percentage of eclectic period revival buildings and the unusually high degree of historic integrity sets Lincoln Terrace East Historic District apart from contemporaneous neighborhoods. Lincoln Terrace East Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its distinct collection of eclectic period revival buildings and its distinct spatial arrangement.
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† Chris Baker, Engineering Environmental Management, Inc. and Jim Gabbert, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, Lincoln Terrace East Historic District, Oklahoma County, OK, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.