Edmond Historical Society & Museum: Edmond, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Edmond Historical Society Museum in Edmond, Oklahoma. Let’s get started!

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the Edmond Historical Society Museum in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Armory & Museum History

Armory History

The Edmond Historical Society is housed in the Edmond Armory that was originally built for the 179th Infantry of the 45th Division of the Oklahoma National Guard. The Edmond Armory was designed by Colonel Bryan W. Nolan – an architect with the 45th Infantry. He helped build and design 35 armories in Oklahoma! Nolan had an impressive career. See the following excerpt from the Edmond Historical Society:

“A batallion commander in World War II, Nolen led the 180th Regiment of Thunderbirds into combat during the invasion of Sicily. He later commanded leadership and combat schools in Italy and North Africa. Also instrumental in the organization of the Oklahoma Nation Guard, he had helped the Howitzer Company of the 180th Infantry Regiment as early as 1921. Nolen was highly decorated, attaining the rank of Colonel.”

“Edmond Armory history” – Virtual Exhibit

The Edmond Armory was paid for by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which was founded in May 1935 by the Administration of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). The WPA helped create jobs for thousands of Americans who were looking for work. Many were not employed due to the economic depression of the 1930s.

The building was made of native red sandstone rocks and the blueprint used was the “One Unit Artillery” design. The building was comprised of offices, barracks, arms storage, stage, garage, target range, and a large vaulted ceiling drill hall. The same blueprint plan was used for the armories in Duncan, Sulphur, Haskell, and Claremore.

The Edmond Armory was the headquarters for the 45th Division of the National Guard until 1972 when they built a new facility. The armory was then given back to the city of Edmond. Eventually, the building housed other things like a skating rink, community center, meeting hall, and more. To read more about those venues, please see the “Edmond Armory History” link at the end of this blog post.

A Museum

The building was leased by the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust beginning in 1983. The City Council supported their plan for renovating the space. The Edmond Historical Museum and Edmond Arts and Humanities Council are two examples of groups that rented the space during renovations.

The Edmond Historical Society Museum actually started out as a single room in the Edmond Armory. Eventually, the City of Edmond allowed them to use the entire building. The main gallery of the museum once housed the space used for artillery training. The museum’s offices are located in the old barracks, offices, and storage areas.

The Edmond Armory was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 14, 1991!

Exhibits

The variety of exhibits in this museum was impressive! Each section was unique and I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before. I have included pictures of a handful of the exhibits. You’ll have to pay the museum a visit to see the rest of them! Additionally, the Edmond Historical Society has a few digital exhibits. I am linking one here, “Edmond’s African American History: Land Run to Integration.”

Indigenous History

Edmond sits at a cross-section on the Plains. The Western portion of Edmond has more prairie grasses and open spaces, while the Eastern side of Edmond has more woodland area. This region is known for its mixing of trees and prairie grasses. Several Indigenous peoples have lived on the Plains. The Kaw, Omaha, Quapaw, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, and Osage peoples are just a few examples.

The Land Run – April 22, 1889

The Land Run took place on April 22, 1889 with the opening of the Unassigned Lands in Indian Territory. The Unassigned Lands include present-day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Payne, and Oklahoma county. Benjamin Harrison was the President of the United States who signed the proclamation which opened approximately 2 million acres for Anglo settlers. Each person could stake a claim of 160 acres for a filing fee of $14.00. A town basically formed overnight around the Edmond Station on Sante Fe Railroad line. 100 to 150 people formed the town of Edmond.

FUN FACT! The Land Run is sometimes referred to as Benjamin “Harrison’s Horse Race.”

For more information about the Land Run, see my blog post about the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church opened 2 months after the Land Run. This was the first church built in the Unassigned Lands and they held their first mass on June 24, 1889 with 5 Catholic families in Edmond. The church stood at the corner of Boulevard and First Street.

Inside the Edmond Historical Society Museum stands a replica of the church that is 1/4 size of the original building. It was created as an Edmond Centennial Project (1989) by the Knights of Columbus – a Catholic organization.

Route 66 & Oil History

Route 66 was created in 1926 as one of the first highways in the United States. Arguably, Route 66 is the most universally known highway in the US. Today, Oklahoma has most of the drivable miles on Route 66. The highway also goes through Arizona, California, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas. For more information about some cool places along Route 66 in Oklahoma, please my blog posts about the Arcadia Round Barn and Pops.

FUN FACT! 13.4 miles of Route 66 pass through Edmond, Oklahoma!

Route 66 encouraged people to drive more which led to a boom in the automobile industry. Many gas stations, service stations, hotels, and restaurants began popping up along the highways across the country to serve travelers. CONOCO played a huge role in the oil industry. For more information about the company, please see my blog post about the Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Entertainment History

I’ve recently taken an interest in entertainment history so I thought it was interesting to read the plaques about entertainment in Edmond. I want to look further into both the Gem and Broncho Theaters!

For more information about historic theaters, please see my blog post about the Poncan Theater in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Concluding Thoughts

The Edmond Historical Society was a cool museum to visit. They had a lot of different exhibits which made looking around a lot of fun. The exhibits weren’t necessarily related and I really liked that about this place.

Make sure to check out all of the cool digital resources they have for kids, teachers, and adults have their website! They have a full page of games, videos, and tours that are all virtual! I have linked their website in the sources section at the end of this post. I hope you’ll go check it out!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Visit

431 S Boulevard

Edmond, Oklahoma

TRAVEL TIP: Museum Admission is FREE!

Sources

Edmond Historical Society – Website

Virtual Exhibits by the Edmond Historical Society

“Edmond’s African American History: Land Run to Integration”

“Edmond Armory History”

“Edmond ‘Firsts'”

Edmond History Sources

Stan Hoig, Edmond: The Early Years (1976). [I purchased this book in the gift shop!]

One thought on “Edmond Historical Society & Museum: Edmond, OK

  1. Love your informative posts Katie! If we had been young folks in 1889 we could have had 160 acres of land for $14. Wow. The Catholic Church was interesting and everyone loves the old Route 66. Thanks so much for sharing all your great information 👏🥰

    Like

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