African American and Afro-Indigenous people were among the earliest settlers in Indian Territory. In the first half of the 20th century there were more than fifty Black schools located throughout the state; most have already been demolished or lost. Booker T. Washington High School is one of the only three remaining examples and is the only one available for potential acquisition for preservation and interpretation. The building has been vacant and falling into disrepair for more than two decades, yet recent surveys show it to be in reasonably sound condition. It is prone to flooding, which largely accounts for its survival (the property has not been sold, so it remains standing). Increased awareness of this structure, its significance and the history it represents are crucial in telling the complete history of the state of Oklahoma.
Black history is underrepresented in the built landscape of Oklahoma. Buildings prominently associated with this history are less likely to have survived, either through re-development, demolition, or neglect. Architectural surveys have determined eligibility for National Register of Historic Places status. No nomination has yet been made because the building is owned by a private development firm; yet there is openness to preserving the building. Greater awareness of its importance to the community and national significance are needed. It is among the only remaining structures documenting the history of Black Stillwater.
For more information, contact: Preservation Oklahoma, Inc.