Heritage Hills Historic District
The Heritage Hills Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
Heritage Hills is the name of the first district within the State of Oklahoma to be designated by local ordinance as an area of historical significance. The ordinance establishing the Historical Preservation Commission was adopted by the City Council of Oklahoma City in February, 1969. Heritage Hills was placed under the protection of this ordinance in July, 1969. Since this designation, renovation and restoration activities in the area have increased markedly.
Heritage Hills is the common name for portions of six residential additions immediately north of the Central Business District. The plats of these six additions (Classen Highland Parked Addition, West Highland Parked Addition, Colcord Heights Addition, Winan's Highland Terrace Addition, Winan's Second Addition and Harndale Addition) were recorded between 1900 and 1910. Most were recorded as strictly residential additions and all had minimum restrictions on the costs of construction, setbacks (ranging from 25 to 30 feet) from the streets and limited construction to one residence per lot. Some specified that homes constructed must have a north-south orientation.
During the period shortly after the turn of the century when Oklahoma City was a small prairie town of some 25,000 inhabitants, many of the leaders and future leaders of Oklahoma City chose this area to build their homes and to raise their families. The building and development of this area continued until about 1930. An early roster of the residents of this area contained the names of the city's leading bankers, merchants, builders, doctors, lawyers and civic leaders.
The Heritage Hills Historic District is located atop the first range of hills which gently rise from the North Canadian River valley. An irregular grid system of streets has been superimposed with Classen Drive, located in the west leg of this ell-shaped district, being the only diagonal street. Harvey Avenue and Walker Avenue are one-way with traffic moving north and Hudson Avenue and Dewey Avenue are one-way south. North Robinson Avenue is a boulevard street from 16th Street north and lies along the eastern edge of the district. Classen Drive, located in the Harndale Addition, splits to form Alice Harn Park. Harndale was also platted to include boulevards on 14th Street and 15th Street between Classen Boulevard and Shartel Avenue.
In addition to these parks and boulevards, other major landscape features are readily identifiable. Rows of tall elm and other trees line many streets. The Heritage Hills Historic District is one of only a few neighborhoods in Oklahoma City which has sidewalks. The district is marked by distinctive street signs that are emblazoned with the seal of Historic Preservation, Inc., the private, non-profit preservation association organized by the homeowners of Heritage Hills.
The Heritage Hills Historic District consists entirely of residential properties. This district differs slightly from that designated by the local ordinance in that two vacant lots which have been paved for parking in the southeast corner of the district have been deleted. There are 362 residences in the Heritage Hills Historic District, 97 percent of which were constructed by 1930. Although there is one vacant lot and several residences constructed after World War II, there are no major visual intrusions into the district. Most construction dating after 1930 has been in the southern part of the district and has been with brick, the major building material in that area. Due to the lower minimum construction costs in the northern additions, more frame construction occurred. However, one can observe structures of frame, brick or stucco throughout the Heritage Hills Historic District, which provides a strong visual continuity.
Numerous distinct architectural influences appear in the Heritage Hills Historic District including: Chateauesque, Jacobethan, vernacular Prairie, Bungalow, Second Renaissance Revival, Neo-Classical Revival, Mission, Georgian Revival, Spanish Revival and Dutch Colonial Revival.
All or portions of six plats are represented in the Heritage Hills Historical and Architectural District. The first plat registered with the Oklahoma County Clerk was Classen's Highland Parked Addition in September, 1900. Among those filing the plat was Charles F. Colcord, an early political leader and businessman of Oklahoma City. Colcord built a large brick house just south of the district which was demolished in the early 1960's for a commercial structure. Colcord was also responsible for the construction of the Colcord Building (National Register, 1976). Charles F., 2nd and Harriet Colcord also platted Colcord Heights Addition, one square block, in 1903.
The plat for Classen's West Highland Addition was filed in March, 1903. This plat specified 30-foot setbacks from front lot lines, north-south orientation for all properties constructed in the addition, only one residence per lot, and a minimum construction cost of $2,000. Portions of these two plats form the corner of the ell-shaped Heritage Hills Historic District.
The two northern plats are for Winan's Highland Terrace Addition (filed in August, 1907 and added to in 1910) and Winan's Second Addition (filed in March, 1909). Both plats required 25-foot setbacks from the street and allowed only residences to be constructed. Minimum construction costs ranged from $2,000 to $3,500, depending upon the lot location, in Winan's Highland Terrace and from $1,000 to $1,500 in the Second Addition. As a result of these lower construction costs, more frame structures were constructed in Winan's Second Addition.
The Harndale Addition lies at the west end of the Heritage Hills Historic District.
Classen Drive is a wide diagonal avenue which bisects the addition. The avenue splits to form the hour-glass shaped park named for Alice Harn, one of the platters. In addition, boulevards were designated in the plat for 14th and 15th Streets, the latter being named Florence Park. These boulevards lie between Classen Boulevard and Shartel Avenue. All three park areas were donated in the plat to the City of Oklahoma City with the requirement that the city be responsible for maintenance. Alice and William F. Harn, who filed the plat, planned a quality residential area. Minimum costs for homes constructed on Classen Drive were $10,000. Those facing on Florence Park had a minimum cost of $6,000 with other lots requiring a minimum investment of $2,500.
Most of the early construction in the Heritage Hills Historic District was concentrated in Classen Highland Parked Addition and West Highland Addition. These Additions were almost completely developed by 1920. Most construction in the Winan's Additions occurred from 1910 to 1930. Construction in Harndale Addition occurred almost entirely in the 1920's, with a few houses constructed in the 1930's.
The Heritage Hills Historical and Architectural District has possibly the finest and most architecturally diverse group of buildings of any neighborhood area in Oklahoma City. Lincoln Terrace (see Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District, National Register, 1977) has a strong history related to the development of the State Capitol, while Heritage Hills was the residential area associated with the early leaders of Oklahoma City in business, industry and finance. This growth was initially spurred by real estate and financial speculation and was secured with the 1928 discovery of oil within the city. Heritage Hills was the testing ground for the developing architecture of the city. Initially caught up in the revival styles of the Renaissance, Georgian, Jacobethan and Spanish periods movement was also strong toward new styles as reflected in the Bungalows and vernacular Prairie style houses which dot the district. There is a strong diversity of architecture, not only from block to block, but within blocks as well. Houses in the south are grander in scale and decoration and on larger parcels for the most part. This is reflective of the minimum construction requirements of the plats in those areas. Houses in the north are primarily frame construction and generally on a single lot.
There is, however, a strong unity of scale throughout the Heritage Hills Historic District. Almost without exception, properties are two stories in height. Setbacks are uniform within each block and range from 25 to 30 feet. Landscape features such as trees, sidewalks and boulevards add to this visual unity. This is particularly significant in view of the rapid growth of Oklahoma City since World War II. Newer neighborhoods do not have established trees and very few have sidewalks. An ongoing battle with Dutch Elm disease continues and those blocks which have lost many trees do not convey the same feeling. Replantings have occurred in those areas under the leadership of Historic Preservation, Inc., a private non-profit organization of homeowners living in the Heritage Hills Historic District. The cohesiveness of this area was recognized in 1969 when Heritage Hills became the first residential district designated under an Oklahoma City Preservation Ordinance. This was also the first locally designated district in the State of Oklahoma. Restoration activities have been brisk in the district since that designation. Special street markers bearing the seal of Historic Preservation, Inc. have been erected marking all streets within the district.
Architectural styles such as those represented in the Heritage Hills Historic District occur in other neighborhoods immediately to the north and west. However, the occurrence of vacant lots, duplexes and multi-family structures and uses give these areas a substantially different character from the single family, cohesive setting of Heritage Hills. Activity in the Heritage Hills Historic District has spurred activities in these adjacent neighborhoods, with substantial housing rehabilitation efforts presently underway in many adjoining blocks. To the south, commercial encroachment along 13th Street has more closely aligned these areas with the central commercial area and most residential character is gone.
The existence of architectural influences in a stylistic sense clearly defines the time frame of the Heritage Hills Historic District's development. Among the earliest of the revival styles to appear was the Georgian Revival. Early examples are the 1904 Trueblood House (321 Northwest 14th Street) and the 1903 Sohlberg House (411 Northwest 14th Street). The Trueblood House is a simple, frame example and represents a typical Plains adaptation of the style. More refined examples exist in the 1923 Easley House (300 Northwest 15th Street) in brick and the fine Clayton House (425 Northwest 16th Street) completed in 1913. Georgian Revival continued in popularity in Oklahoma City until World War II.
The English influence is not limited to Georgian, however. Several fine examples of Jacobethan influence exist, particularly the Thurmond House (440 Northwest 15th Street) and the Robinson House (300 Northwest 16th Street) completed in 1925. The Luke-Robberson House at 440 Northwest 16th Street is less clearly defined, combining Jacobethan and Tudor influences. As discussed above, the Gross House (500 Northwest 14th Street) is reflective of what Whiffen labels as Jeffersonian Classicism. Closely related but more clearly Neo-Classical is the Johnson House, 439 Northwest 15th Street. The Gross House was completed in 1906, three years prior to the Johnson House.
Another reflection of the interest in American colonial revival styles is the sampling of Dutch Colonial Revival houses in the Heritage Hills Historic District. While not a dominant contributor, there are several examples, the best of which is the Ames House at 408 Northwest 19th Street.
The other major colonial style is the Mission Style. Mission influences are visible throughout the Heritage Hills Historic District and range from the large-scale Alonzo Key House (1414 North Hudson Avenue) completed in 1910 to the later and more simplified Staler House (1608 Classen Drive). The Kee House (500 Northwest 15th Street) was completed in 1909 and is an interesting combination of Mission with Baroque decorations to the openings.
The Spanish influence is also visible in houses more strongly connected with the Second Renaissance Revival. While simple in form, the Patterson House (436 Northwest 16th Street), which was completed in 1928, is a representative example. Of particular interest is its entrance and its decoration.
The more traditional Mediterranean mode of the Second Renaissance Revival rivals the Mission for the greatest influence within the district, both in number and in quality. Several fine examples exist including the Stewart House (721 Northwest 15th Street), which was completed in 1909, the Vose-Ramsey House (400 Northwest 16th Street) and the Hales Mansion (1521 North Hudson Avenue) designed by the architectural firm of Hawk and Paar and completed in 1918. A less formal but highly creative example is the Barnett House (319 Northwest 18th Street). The horseshoe-arched entrance and the sculptured brackets supporting the second-story balconies are particularly delightful.
As already outlined in discussing the Tudor and Jacobethan influences, the picturesque styles are not without representation. Some, such as the Gloyd-Hayes House (327 Northwest 14th Street), draw freely from a number of design sources.
The expansive eaves, bracketing and the stone course at the second floor are reminiscent of Wright and some of the California Bungalow architects who were emerging at the time of its design in 1913. More clearly related to the vernacular Prairie style, which appears so often in Oklahoma and Texas, is the Gaylord House (200 Northwest 19th Street), which was completed in 1918. Small land parcels such as the one on which this house is constructed, do not lend themselves well to full-blown Prairie houses, but influences such as the wide eaves and the window courses are clearly identifiable.
The Bungalow is the third innovative style which is represented in the Heritage Hills Historic District. Most are vernacular adaptations of the California style and some are what is termed "Airplane Bungalow," that is, they are two-story rather than one with the second floor having numerous windows to allow for good cross-ventilation in the sleeping rooms contained therein. A fine example is the Welch House (201 Northwest 21st Street), which was completed in 1919.
Perhaps the most picturesque house in the Heritage Hills Historic District is the Overholser Mansion (405 Northwest 15th Street). This fine Chateauesque residence, along with its carriage house, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only example of the style in the Heritage Hills Historic District and one of few known examples in the entire state.
Although the early development of state politics is more closely linked with the Capitol-Lincoln Terrace Historic District, Heritage Hills Historic District can also claim significant contributors to politics on the national, state and local levels. One of Oklahoma's most noted political leaders was Robert S. Kerr. In 1946, he purchased the house at 327 Northwest 18th Street (Bass-Kerr House). In 1940 he began his political career as Democratic National Committeeman from Oklahoma. Two years later, he was elected Governor of Oklahoma. In 1944, Kerr was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. In 1948, he was elected to the United States Senate, a position he held until his death in 1963. In 1952, Kerr entered several Presidential primaries. An attorney and oilman in his early career, Kerr actively developed and supported legislation for soil and water conservation. He is a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
Another prominent resident of the Heritage Hills Historic District associated with government was Samuel W. Hayes (327 Northwest 14th Street, Gloyd-Hayes House). Hayes was a member of the Oklahoma State Constitutional Convention and chaired the Legal Advisory Committee of that body. He served as a Justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court from 1907 until his resignation in 1914 to run for the United States Senate. He also served as Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee in 1930.
Frank Buttram was primarily known for his oil activities, but he also served as Chairman of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1930. Buttram was Chairman of the Federal Reserve Branch Bank in Oklahoma City and chaired the "Committee of 100" in the 1920's. The Committee promoted and successfully convinced the city to adopt a council-manager form of government, which it retains to the present. Buttram lived at 601 Northwest 14th Street (601 Northwest 14th Street, Gerson-Buttram House).
Others active in government include: William Lockart Clayton (425 Northwest 16th Street), who served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce in 1942; George D. Key (326 Northwest 19th Street), a candidate for Oklahoma Attorney General in 1910 and Democratic State Central Committee Chairman in 1926; Charles R. Nesbitt (1703 North Hudson Avenue, Huckins-Nesbitt House) who served as Oklahoma Attorney General, 1963-1967, and one term on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission; C.E. Trosper (431 Northwest 17th Street, Caldwell-Trosper House), member of the Oklahoma Legislature; Dennis T. Flynn (515 Northwest 15th Street), who served as Territorial Representative to the United States Congress from Oklahoma; and J.C. Walton (431 Northwest 17th Street, Caldwell-Walton-Trosper House), who was the first Governor of Oklahoma to be impeached (1923).
Oklahoma City has traditionally been the banking and financial center of Oklahoma. Frank Pearson Johnson (439 Northwest 15th Street) came to Oklahoma City in 1895. He established the Oklahoma Saving Bank in 1901, which merged two years later with American National Bank. He was cashier at American National Bank until 1906, when he became President. He held this position until 1927 when American merged with the First National Bank and Trust Company. He later served as President of First National Bank and Trust Company, American First Trust Company, Hightower Building Company and Union Mortgage Company.
A close associate of Johnson, Wilbur Hightower, owned two properties in the Heritage Hills Historic District, 409 Northwest 21st Street and 810 Northwest 15th Street. Hightower served as Vice President of American National Bank and later, as both Vice President and President of the First National Bank and Trust Company. Hightower also served as President of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce in 1941 and 1942.
Other prominent financial leaders include: C.A. Vose (326 Northwest 16th Street, Brown-Vose House), longtime bank officer and presently  Chairman of the Board of the First National Bank and Trust Company; Richard A. Vose (436 Northwest 14th Street), President of the First National Bank and Trust Company; and Walter D. Caldwell (431 Northwest 17th Street, Caldwell-Trosper House).
Oklahoma City is the second largest city for land area (650 square miles) in the United States. There has always been an aggressive development attitude in the city. Many of the early leaders lived in the Heritage Hills district or were actively involved in its development.
Perhaps the best noted is G.A. Nichols, who constructed the house at 1815 North Hudson Avenue for his personal residence. Nichols was trained as a dentist and practiced this profession in Oklahoma City from 1904 to 1908, when he began devoting his full-time efforts to his real estate and development business, G.A. Nichols, Inc. In addition to active development in the Winans and Harndale Additions in the district, Nichols was also involved in real estate ventures in Central Park, University Place, Miller Park, Gatewood, Lincoln Terrace (National Register District), Nicoma Park and Nichols Hills.
Another well-known developer associated with the Heritage Hills Historic District is John Winans, who, with his wife, platted the Winans Additions previously discussed above. Winans worked in the U.S. Land Office in Oklahoma. In 1907, Winans constructed the house at 300 Northwest 17th Street for their son.
A third prominent developer was William Taylor Hales, who was also a successful businessman and financier. Hales was President of Harbour-Longmire Furniture Company, Hales Building and Investment Company, Linwood Place Development Company and Greater City Corporation. In addition, he served as an officer for Local Building and Loan Association, First National Bank and Trust Company and American First Trust Company. In 1918, he achieved his goal of building the largest house in Oklahoma City with the completion of his residence at 1521 North Hudson Avenue.
There are numerous commercial and industrial leaders who have resided in the Heritage Hills Historic District. Among the earliest was George C. Sohlberg, who constructed the house at 411 Northwest 14th Street in 1903. Sohlberg established the Acme Milling Company in 1904, the first large-scale milling operation in Oklahoma City. In that same year, Sohlberg was named President of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. During the first 54 years of the Chamber, someone associated with the district served as President for 21 of these years.
Other significant commercial and industrial leaders include: Richard Wilkerson Robberson (440 Northwest 16th Street, Luke-Robberson House), founder of Robberson Steel Company; Joseph Huckins (1703 North Hudson Avenue, Huckins-Nesbitt House), owner of the Huckins Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City; John A. Brown (301 Northwest 18th Street), founder of John A. Brown Department Stores; Fred Jones (436 Northwest 19th Street), operator of a Ford automobile dealership and an automobile parts manufacturing plant; Henry Overholser (405 Northwest 15th Street); and J.F. Harbour (319 Northwest 19th Street, Finerty-Harbour House), owner of Harbour-Longmire Furniture Company.
No discussion of the significance of the Heritage Hills Historic District would be complete without mentioning those involved in the oil business. No less than 45 individuals who have resided in the district have had a substantial involvement in the oil industry. The discovery of oil in 1928 secured the economy of the city and lessened the impact of the Depression years.
Robert S. Kerr has already been identified as a political leader. Kerr-McGee Corporation, which he founded, is one of Oklahoma's largest petroleum and energy companies. Frank Buttram, also discussed in the political section above, was President of Buttram Petroleum Company, which had interests in both Oklahoma and Texas. Others significantly involved include: Lev H. Pritchard (415 Northwest 20th Street, Brown-Pritchard House), Anderson-Pritchard Oil Company; Harry W. Schafer (911 Northwest 15th Street) and Charles B. Ames, Chairman of the Board of Texaco.
An early leader in the communications industry was John Martin Noble (501 Northwest 15th Street), a founder of Pioneer Telephone Company. Noble later served as Vice President and General Manager of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.
Two significant educators were residents of the Heritage Hills district, Emma Estill Harbour, wife of J.F. Harbour (319 Northwest 19th Street, Finerty-Harbour House), was Professor of History and Social Sciences and Department Chairman at Central State Teachers College in Edmond, Oklahoma. Mrs. Harbour was Vice President of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Association of University Women and served on the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Historical Society. She was the first Chairman of the Women's Organization of the Democratic Party in Oklahoma and was Secretary of the 1924 Democratic National Convention.
Dr. Charles Evans (426 Northwest 17th Street) served as President of Central State Teachers College from 1911 to 1916 and as President of Kendall College. 1916-1917. Dr. Evans was appointed Superintendent of Oklahoma City Federal Relief work in 1932 and became State Director of Federal Emergency Relief Education in 1933. Dr. Evans was the author of six books on history and education.
Synonymous with any discussion of the press in Oklahoma is Edward King Gaylord (200 Northwest 19th Street). E.K. Gaylord came to Oklahoma City from Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1903, he became the General Manager of the Daily Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Times and the Oklahoma Farmer Stockman. In 1918, he became President of the Oklahoma Publishing Company, the state's largest publishing firm. Closely associated with Gaylord was Walter Munford Harrison (423 Northwest 19th Street), who became Gaylord's Managing Editor in 1916. A respected newspaperman. Harrison served as President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1928.
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† Tim Turner, Central Oklahoma Preservation Alliance, Heritage Hills Historic and Architectural District, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Washington, D.C.