Resources - Arts & Humanities Division
Resources – Because of our work for the City of Lawton in support of its cultural endeavors, we can provide information about resources that you may be in search of or have questions about.
Frequently Asked Questions - Resources
The Lawton townsite, named for Major General Henry Ware Lawton (killed in action during the Philippine-American War), was located on a section of prairie south of Fort Sill, a military post set up as a cavalry fort in 1869. Lots within the 320-acre townsite were sold at public auction. This was a time when the last of the Indian lands in the Oklahoma Territory, the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation, was opened by the federal government for settlement. Rather than land runs used in other parts of the Territory, a lottery was introduced for land distribution in 160-acre plots. A person wanting a claim had to register for the land lottery drawing. William Miller Jenkins served as the Territorial Governor at that time.
On July 10, 1901, registration opened at Fort Sill and at El Reno, Oklahoma. About 29,000 aspiring homesteaders from all over the United States journeyed to the southwest Oklahoma Territory to register at Fort Sill during the 16-day registration period. Another 135,000 persons registered at El Reno. Lottery planners in Washington, D.C. did not foresee the large droves of people wanting land in that part of the country.
The drawing began July 29 at El Reno, and only 6,500 were fortunate enough to be selected for a homestead in each of three districts, one of which was Lawton. The first name drawn for Lawton was James R. Wood of Weatherford, O.T. a hardware clerk and the second name was drawn for Lawton, the first woman to draw a prize, Mattie H. Beal of Wichita, Kan. Successful winners had five days to reconnoiter their respective districts, and chose their plots outside the townsite in the order that their names were drawn. Mattie Beal's home still stands in the south central part of Lawton, on a portion of the 160 acres she selected at 1008 SW 5th St, Lawton, OK . It has been completely restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lawton Heritage Association invites you to learn more about her and visit the Mattie Beal home.
From prairie to townsite, having sprung up almost overnight with little prior planning, Lawton had no form of municipal government at its outset. Townspeople, living in tents for many months, were busy building homes and businesses, and setting up a government was not a high priority. Since Lawton was established as the county seat of Comanche County, it was first ruled, then, by the county government appointed by the governor of the Oklahoma Territory. In late October of 1901, an election was held, and the Lawton city government was formed. The first officers elected were mayor, city clerk, judge, treasurer, city attorney, street commissioner, city marshal, eight city councilmen, a school board treasurer, and eight school board members. This mayor-council system lasted until 1911, when Lawtonians voted in a charter-commission form of government with three commissioners. In 1921, Lawton again switched governments, to one of five commissioners and a city manager. Then a year later, voters repealed the charter and returned to the politically aligned mayor-council form of government. This form lasted for 50 years, when in 1972, voters adopted a charter and the council-manager system, which is still in place today.
Lawton faced many problems during its early years. In the first days, there were an estimated 25,000 people living in tents. There were no streets or sidewalks and no utilities; the few schools were overcrowded, the water supply was inadequate and unclean, and fires were difficult to contain. Hopes of Lawton becoming a thriving metropolis surged, then faded from one disappointment to the next.
Still a territory in 1905, representatives from the Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw nations—known as the Five Civilized Tribes—submitted a constitution for a separate Indian state to be called Sequoyah. Although a large majority of voters supported the petition in the November election, Congress refused to consider the request for statehood. This resulted in passage of the Oklahoma Enabling Act, which President Roosevelt signed June 16, 1906. It empowered the people residing in Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory to elect delegates to a state constitutional convention and subsequently to be admitted to the union as a single state. Citizens then joined to seek admission of a single state to the Union. With Oklahoma statehood in November 1907, Indian Territory was extinguished.On November 16, 1907, Indian and Oklahoma territories were combined to form the state of Oklahoma. Note however, that tribal nations remained intact throughout the United States.
Its 1910 population was under 8,000. The new Lawton High School opened September 12, 1910, it is our present day Lawton City Hall and is on the National Register of Historic Places. For over 100 years the building with its auditorium has been a community center for business, organizations, concerts, lectures as wells as for weddings and baby showers.
Later, numerous mining claims in the nearby Wichita Mountains failed to produce gold ore. A proposed railroad linking Lawton with trade from the east was abandoned when oil was struck west of Ardmore. Oil drillings in the Lawton area proved to be shallow and barely productive. Despite these obstacles, Lawton continued to grow, slowly and steadily at times, and in great spurts at others.
By 1950, population had increased to almost 35,000 and mushroomed to over 80,000 by 1990. Much of its growth came with the establishment of the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill. Throughout the years Lawton and Fort Sill have worked in cooperation to become one of the finest military communities in the country.
Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton, OK How do I research the library and archival collections?
Lawton Public Library, Lawton, OK Family History Center and Genealogy
Fort Sill and the Fire Centers of Excellence, Fort Sill, OK - Fort Sill History
First Americans Museum, Oklahoma Tribal History
The City of Lawton has many different types of venues available from meeting spaces to outdoor lake locations,
- McMahon Memorial Auditorium
- City of Lawton Lakes
- Lawton Public Library Meeting Rooms
- Recreation Centers, Parks and Carnegie Library
Also, the City of Lawton has many venues that are on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
- Lawton City Hall (old Lawton High School), 809 "C" Avenue, Built 1910, NRHP 2/27/97, A,C, 97000197.
- Banquet Hall
- Carnegie Library, 427 SW "B" Avenue, Built 1922, NRHP 8/19/76, A, 76001560.
- Central Fire Station, 623 SW “D” Avenue, NRHP 9/7/16, A,C, 16000618, not available for rental
- Lawton National Guard Armory, 600 NW Cache Road, NRHP 6/5/07, A,C, 07000519, not available for rental
- Arts for All, Inc. 425 SW B Ave, Lawton, OK 73501, (580) 248-5384, Email: email@example.com, Web: http://www.lawtonafa.org
- Business Development Center, Great Plains Technology Center, (Arts Incubator, Commercial Kitchen, Small Manufacturing and more...) 1604 SW Parkridge Blvd, Lawton, OK, (580) 250-5519, Website.
State and Regional
- Oklahoma Arts Council, P.O. Box 52001-2001, Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2001, (405) 521-2931, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.arts.ok.gov Note that select programming is made possible in part by a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council.
Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), 7403 N. Kelley Ave., OKC, OK 73111, (405) 848-8501 or 800-879-6382, www.oeta.tv
Oklahoma Film & Music Office, 900 N. Stiles Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73104, (405) 230-8440 In State, 800-766-3456 Toll-Free, (405) 230-8650 Fax, Website: okfilmmusic.org/
Oklahomans for the Arts, (405) 887-3515, www.oklahomansforthearts.org
Oklahoma Humanities 428 W. California, Ste. 270, Oklahoma City, OK 73102, (405) 235-0280, Fax: (405) 235-0289, www.okhumanities.org
National and Federal
Fort Sill Fires Center of Excellence - sill-www.army.mil
- Fort Sill Leadership - sill-www.army.mil/leaders/
- United States Army Garrison Fort Sill - sill-www.army.mil/usag
- Public Affairs Office - sill-www.army.mil/usag/pao
- Community Relations Branch (580) 442-4500
- PAO Media Relations (580) 442-2384
- Public Affairs Office - sill-www.army.mil/usag/pao
There are various art education opportunities in our community from theatre to singing. For private lessons, use of social media or advertising in the local news paper is a good way to get the word out. In all cases, always check references. Don't hesitate to call our office, (580) 581-3470 or (580) 581-3471 as we may be able to share your search via our Arts Evine.
There are many cultural organizations in the Lawton-Ft.Sill area. Check out the link to area events calendars as sometimes that is also a great way to make new discoveries and find common interests. Below is a partial listing, if you have an organization and would like to be added, call our office at (580) 581-3470 or (580) 581-3471.
Lawton Harmony Chorus, Chapter of the Sweet Adelines
Mexican Folkloric Dancers - Isidra "Chila" Chavez, Director (580) 353-7293
Museum of the Great Plains (volunteer and educational opportunities)
Three Rivers Foundation for the Arts & Sciences (Comanche Springs Observatory)
Most artwork has a signature located at the bottom of artwork. Using a community library’s resources is one way of helping to find out more about an artist through newspaper archives as well as look for a Family History Library.
For more information about Art Therapists in Oklahoma, visit the Art Therapy Association of Oklahoma’s website at www.arttherapyassociationofoklahoma.org or contact them at Art Therapy Association of Oklahoma, P.O. Box 300327, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73140
Sharing from the Oklahoma Museum Association's Website - Organizations and Online Guides
- The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (AIC) has a Cultural Emergency Response Team (CERT) to respond to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. Team members are trained to assess damage and initiate salvage efforts, and are available to provide telephone assistance and to visit the affected site as soon as it is accessible. Contact (202) 661-8068 for 24-hour assistance. (The number also connects to a monitored e-mail address.)
- The Midwest Art Conservation Center's Field Services Department is available 24 hours a day to assist in emergency response and recovery, (612) 870-3128 or email@example.com.
- The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) offers emergency telephone assistance 24 hours a day for institutions and individuals with damaged paper-based collections. Contact (978) 470-1010.
This webinar was presented for May Day 2012 and has valuable information.
Features concise information on air-drying paper, books and photographs and recovery from mold.
Salvage procedures for a wide variety of materials, including textiles, photographs, wooden objects, leather, paintings and paper.
The document addresses cleaning out mud, foundation problems, caring for wet plaster, treatment for saturated wood-framed walls and floors and treatment for historic wallpapers and interior finishes.
Information about which counties are included in designated disaster areas and are therefore eligible for federal disaster assistance.
Outlines the process of applying to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance after major disasters as well as including links to the necessary forms.
Fort Sill National Historic Landmark & Museum - 435 Quanah Rd., Fort Sill, OK, (580) 442-5123
Museum of the Great Plains - 601 NW Ferris Ave., Lawton, OK, (580) 581-3460
Lawton Public Library's Family History Room - 110 SW 4th St., Lawton, OK, (580) 581-3450,
The Family History Room at the Lawton Public Library, 110 S.W. Fourth Street, houses the combined collections of SWOGS, Lawton Chapter of DAR and the Lawton Public Library. Contributions have also been made by the Daughters of 1812, Southwest Oklahoma Historical Society, other heritage groups, authors and patrons. A full-time qualified genealogy librarian and a part-time assistant are provided by LPL. The Family History Room collection consists of over 20,000 books and periodicals; 150,000 microfiche, and 6,000 rolls of microfilm. It includes the International Genealogical Index, federal census schedules for many states, including the 1900 through 1930 Oklahoma, with soundex, local newspapers from 1901, Indian-Pioneer History Collection, Indian records, family histories, vital records, Oklahoma Tract Books with surname index, research reference aids, and much more. The area of emphasis is Oklahoma and the major migration areas from where its people and their ancestors came.
Lawton Family History Center (LDS) - 7002 SW Drakestone Blvd., (580) 585-7071
Southwest Oklahoma Genealogical Society - Call the Lawton Public Library, (580) 581-3450 for meeting date and time
U.S. Army Field Artillery Museum Archives - Corral Rd., Ft. Sill, OK Phone: (580) 442-1819
State of Oklahoma
Oklahoma Historic Society is a great resource - www.okhistory.org
The Oklahoma Historic Society has a State Historic Preservation Office. They have an online publication called, "Oklahoma's National Register Handbook" where you can find historic locations all over the state.
Depending on your child's age, here are a couple of organizations that may be of interest:
- Cameron University's Department of Art, Music, and Theatre - (580) 581-2491
- Lawton Community Theatre - (580) 355-1600
- Wichita Wildlife Photographic Society - (580) 248-2371
- Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (high school students) - (405) 605-7500
The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI) is an intensive 2-week residential school that provides professional training to artistically talented OKLAHOMA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, including graduating seniors, in the visual, literary and performing arts. We offer training in the disciplines of acting, creative writing, ballet, modern dance, orchestra, chorus, drawing and painting, photography, and film and video. OSAI faculty artists include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Academy, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Awards. You’ll join over 250 students from across the state as you study your chosen field and attend or participate in performances, gallery openings, film screenings, poetry readings, and more. Optional activities include nature hikes, karaoke night, movie night, a talent show, and all-camp dances. You’ll make lifelong friends and study with amazing teachers for a summer experience you’ll never forget.
Lake Helen was named after Helen Statler Conn (b: 12/20/1910 - 10/30/2008)
She was serving as secretary to the late Ron Stephens when he was the WPA director, at the time the man-made lake was built and a name search began. It is also recognized by the USGS as a reservior.
Born in Elk City, Oklahoma to Claude and Iva Ellegood. She moved to Lawton, Oklahoma in 1916 where she attended local schools including Cameron College. She became one of the first female pilots in Oklahoma and even flew with Amelia Earhart. During the Great Depression she worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) on local projects including "Lake Helen."
Helen and James J. Statler were married in May of 1937 in El Reno, Oklahoma and moved to Ada. Later they moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada where she worked in and headed many charitable organizations including Easter Seals and the Symphony Guild. After Jim retired in 1967, they returned to Ada, where they were members of First Presbyterian Church. Later, as a widow, she married her lifelong friend Jack T. Conn in 1985 and moved to Oklahoma City.
At his death she moved to Colorado Springs to be closer to her daughter. Helen had a lifelong love of adventure and travel. At the age of 84 she went on a camel safari at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and recently went dog sledding in Alaska. Helen was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was beautiful to the core, an embodiment of all that is good in this world. Her grace was tempered only by her fiery determination to protect and to better those that she cared about, and, she cared about so many. A quintessential matriarch, her love had no bounds. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sister, brothers, nephews, nieces, friends, employees, and sometimes even strangers were among her brood. She was a mother-figure to countless through her life. She was preceded in death by her first husband James J. Statler, her second husband Jack T. Conn, her sister Florence Wade and her brothers Richard and Don Ellegood. She is survived by her daughter Jimmy Sue Guggenhime, her sister Francis Griffin, her granddaughter Kristin Wellens and husband Brian, her grandson David Guggenhime, her great grandchildren Jacob Guggenhime and Garrett Statler Wellens and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. Graveside services will be held 11:00 a.m. Wednesday at Rosedale Cemetery in Ada, Rev. David McCann will officiate. The family says those who wish may make memorials to: Feed the Children, P.O. Box 36, Oklahoma City, OK 73101.Criswell Funeral Home, Ada
Sources: The Lawton Constitution, Feb. 23, 1975 and from News OK website: http://legacy.newsok.com/obituaries/oklahoman/obituary.aspx?n=helen-conn&pid=119765928
The stadium was named after Ron Stephens who was the WPA administrator. The stadium's original name was Roosevelt Stadium.
The decision at the end of 1930 to permanently locate the U.S. Army Field School at Fort Sill ended 20 years of indecision and kicked off a round of construction. Fort Sill commanders played a vital role in the implementation of Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration projects throughout the 1930s. Some of the major projects included work on dams and buildings at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the County Courthouse, Roosevelt Stadium (Now called Ron Stephens Stadium), the road to the summit of Mount Scott, and the Holy City of the Wichitas, among others
Please CLICK HERE for film and video support information from the City of Lawton.