Did You Know…
This Week in Sapulpa History – The Castle of Sapulpa
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
A castle is typically defined as “a large building, usually of the medieval period, fortified against attack with thick walls, towers, and occasionally moats.” Over the centuries, to the modern world, castles have become ruins, often seen as other worldly structures. Some castles have become transformed into model households for nobles, lords, and wealthy citizens. Castles have also become an attraction destination, AirB&Bs, prisons, schools, sanctuaries, and concert venues.
The City of Sapulpa did not construct a medieval, fortified, moated castle. It built a school: Washington School, nicknamed “The Castle.”
This week in Sapulpa history, the very first image of the new school was published.
Around 1903, built on the northside of East Lee Ave, between Walnut St and Maple St, a building was erected on the lot. The school building was three stories, square in shape except for the large grand entrance. The yard had been graded, the chimneys were built higher than the main structure, and it was “one of the best equipped schools in the Territory.”
“The spacious auditorium in the third story [had] been converted into a large study hall, and two convenient recitation rooms by running heat partitions across the north and south wings.” It was said that “since the flues have taken on more brick, and are higher, heating and ventilating apparatus work nicely to keep the eleven rooms, halls, and stairways at a comfortable temperature.”
In its first year of operation, 546 pupils were enrolled. First Primary, taught by Miss May Pickett, had 92 students. Second Primary, taught by Mrs. E.P. Hopkins, had 72. Second Grade, taught by Miss Stella Houser, with her 69 students. Third Grade by Miss Hilda Hurd had 62 students, while Fourth Grade Miss Leota Wetzell had 85. Fifth Grade, Sixth Grade, and Seventh Grade of Miss Grace Weeks, Miss Myrtle Childress, and Miss Florence Rundell, had the lowest number of students in their classes of 50, 30, and 32.
Superintendent L.E. Brous, Principal J.C. Miller, and Assistant Principal Crete Pickett were not only administration members, they were teachers, as well. Brous, Miller, and Pickett taught together in Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Grade of a total of 54 students. The third floor was only occupied by the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Grades.
Students also devoted their time outside the classroom. “The young people of our school lack no means of entertainment and exercise. Football is the sport for the boys, while the girls have recently added basketball to their other amusements.”
By 1908, “all pupils living east of the alley between Oak and Elm Streets will go to the Castle. Second and Third Grade pupils living west of the above named alley and north of Thompson Ave will go to the building on Dewey Ave, [Dewey College]. All other grade pupils will go to the Jefferson School and high school pupils will go to the Castle.”
The school was the location for many voters in the precinct ward 1. Precinct ward 2 voters visited the old school house location. Precinct ward 3 voters went to the Jefferson School, while precinct ward 4 voted at H.H. Adam’s barn. Precinct ward 5 arrived at the Euchee School, and precinct ward 6 voted at Dingman’s office*.
*Note: The location of the old school house was not provided. Jefferson School was located on W Cleveland, between Mound and Cedar. H.H. Adam’s residence was listed at 408 S Walnut; his company, an abstract co., was located at the rear of 101 N Main. Euchee School was located at the end of E Dewey. Although, it did not specify which Dingman, it’s assumed to have been Ross Dingman, a real estate agency’s office at “North Heights” - referred to 1908’s city directory; it said his home was at 502 N Main, and his office at 102 N Main.
Teachers, or teacher candidates, also had their Teacher’s Examination within the Castle. “An examination at the Washington School building for the purpose of examining all applications for positions in the Sapulpa Public Schools. All persons holding life certificates, state certificates, normal diplomas, or first grade certificates issued in 1905 or later will not be required to take this examination, unless they so desire.”
Over the next couple of years, the Castle became the landmark for the township of Sapulpa. East Dewey and Hobson, along with Main St had many distinct buildings in the downtown district. The Courthouse, then named Lucille Opera House, was on top of the hill of North Mound and West Dewey. Dewey College had their structure built on the lot where the modern Courthouse is today; other schools, such as Jefferson and Euchee Boarding School were on the “end of town.” Many panorama images of Sapulpa, often taken from Sugar Loaf Hill on Lee and Mound, show the Opera House on the west end of the image, St. James Hotel, Berry Building (then called Sapulpa Hotel, later called Loraine Hotel) in the center of the image, and on the east end of the image shows the Castle.
There is a remarkable amount of buildings in Sapulpa history that were burnt down, torn down, or destroyed by a tornado. Sadly, in 1911, just a few years after being built, the Castle suffered damages from a hefty fire. The third floor went up in flames, crumbled to ash, and the first and second floor had heavy damages*.
*Note: The fire took place on April 12, 1911; causes for the fire were unknown.
The school would reopen after restoring the first floor and most of the second floor. It was never the same seemingly fortified towering castle it once was. The Castle would be demolished around 1936 to make way for a new school building. The new school would be named Washington School at the same location. Today, the building is the Sapulpa School District Administration Center.
The information found on this page has been researched through Sapulpa (and area) newspapers, Sapulpa Historical Society archives, books, and photographs, Sapulpa yearbooks, city directories, and other local authors. Any other sources will be labeled and named as the research continues. Any mistakes will be noted and adjusted as needed.