Saturday, August 8, 2009

Will Rogers High School, 1938

3909 East 5th Place
(photo courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

This school was designed by Leon B. Senter and Joseph R. Koberling, Jr. Typical of PWA period Art Deco, this school was featured in a Time magazine article "outlining the high school pattern of the future" in which it was called "a model progressive high school" in "one of the most progressive school systems in the study."

The elaborate buff brick school features two large towers at the front corners of a large main block of classrooms. The towers are supported by stepped pilasters with ornate details in terra cotta "capitals". Panels above the double doors feature Will Roger’s life in two phases. One depicts his cowboy days with a horse, roped steer, and the prairie, and the other his movie days with a reel camera, airplane, and polo rider. The school has an auditorium designed to serve 1,500 students. (Excepted from Tulsa Preservation Commission)

But a school is more than just a building. It is the students and staff that make up the story and history of a school such as Rogers. The first official school year for Rogers was 1938-1939 during which time they had an estimated 1200 students.

Located in one of the most beautiful buildings in the City of Tulsa, Will Rogers High School opened in 1939 with a student body of 1,501, a staff of 44 teachers and three office personnel. Students were warned to avoid bad cattle grazing in the campus area while traipsing the footpath from 11th Street. (Excerpted from Will Rogers Alumni website)

The carved stone grey stone and Terra Cotta ornamentation is very striking.

If you do not know who Will Rogers was, you should. He is probably the most famous and well thought of person ever to have been born in the state of Oklahoma. His story is well worth reading in this article in Wikipedia. Oklahoma's favorite son WILL ROGERS.

Will Rogers Field House


  1. Roses are Red Violets are Blue This site is really cool.

  2. I wonder who the sculptor of the Rogers bas relief was?