Pottawatomie County Courthouse
Location of Shawnee, Oklahoma
|• Mayor||Wes Mainord|
|• Total||44.7 sq mi (115.7 km2)|
|• Land||42.3 sq mi (109.5 km2)|
|• Water||2.4 sq mi (6.2 km2)|
|Elevation||1,060 ft (323 m)|
|• Density||706/sq mi (272.7/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|ZIP codes||74801, 74802, 74804|
|FIPS code||40-66800 |
|GNIS feature ID||1097964 |
Shawnee is a city in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 29,857 at the 2010 census, a 4.0 percent increase from 28,692 at the 2000 census. The city is part of the Oklahoma City-Shawnee Combined Statistical Area; it is also the county seat of Pottawatomie County and the principal city of the Shawnee Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Located on Interstate 40, Shawnee is about 45 minutes east of the attractions in downtown Oklahoma City. To the east and northeast, the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System offers barge access to the Gulf of Mexico.
The area surrounding Shawnee was settled after the American Civil War by a number of tribes that the federal government had removed to Indian Territory. The Sac and Fox originally were deeded land in the immediate area but were soon followed by the Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Pottawatomi Indians. Members of the tribes continue to reside today in and around Shawnee.
Over the course of the 1870s, Texas cattle drovers pushed their herds across Indian Territory; there were four major trails, with the West Shawnee trail crossing near present-day Kickapoo and Main Streets. With the cattle drives came railroads; as a result, pressure began to build to allow permanent white settlements in a region that previously had been reserved by treaty to Native Americans. The one other event that foreshadowed the coming of white civilization was the establishment in 1871 of the Quaker mission near the current Mission Hill Hospital, where an old building still marks the spot. That first missionary, Joseph Newsom, opened a school in 1872, and by 1876 a post office and trading post had been established a quarter mile west of the mission at what became known as Shawnee Town.
Beginning in April 1889, the United States government succumbed to the pressure that had built to open Native lands to white settlement. Land runs were initiated after tribal property was seized and then allotted individually to tribal members.
After the Land Run of 1891, four settlers (Etta B. Ray, Henry G. Beard, James T. Farrall, and Elijah A. Alley) each staked a quarter section in the proposed city of Brockway. Following an all-night discussion among early settlers who had their own ideas for the town's name, a compromise was reached, and the town was named Shawnee after the American Indian Tribe.
The quarter section of land on which the original city was built, was entered by Henry G. Beard, in 1892. In the early spring of 1885, Mr. Beard entered into an agreement with the promoters of the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad Company, then extending its line from Memphis, Tennessee, to Amarillo, Texas, to build through his farm, and in consideration he gave the railway company one-half his claim of one hundred and sixty acres. The road was accordingly built through his farm, and the City of Shawnee began on July 4, 1895.
For the first few years of the new century, Shawnee was in the midst of a boom that came close to keeping pace with Oklahoma City's. Located in the heart of cotton, potato, and peach country, Shawnee quickly became an agricultural center. By 1902, there were seven cotton gins in the immediate area and two cotton compresses. Between March 1901 and March 1902, 375 railroad cars of cotton product were shipped out of Shawnee, along with 150,000 bales of cotton. Feed stores, wagon yards, an overall factory, and an assortment of other businesses designed to serve the farmer as they brought their crops to market arose in Shawnee.
The population grew from 250 to 2,500 from 1892 to 1896. In 1903-1904 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway extended service to town, after given land inducements from Henry Beard and James Farrall.
Oklahoma Baptist University opened in 1910. Its first building, Shawnee Hall, was a gift from the citizens. St. Gregory's College (now St. Gregory's University) relocated to Shawnee from Sacred Heart in 1915.
The Second World War, and in particular the construction of Tinker Air Force Base east of Oklahoma City, benefited Shawnee's economy. At various times, Tinker has employed as many as 3,000 Shawnee residents. After the war, three major manufacturing concerns were important for Shawnee's economic health. Jonco, Inc., manufactured aviation products and employed nearly 1,000 in 1958. The Sylvania Corporation produced vacuum tubes and electrical parts in its Shawnee plant and employed another 1,000. The Shawnee Milling Company, which had rebuilt after a fire in the 1930s, employed nearly 300 workers.
Fairly stagnant until the 1970s, Shawnee's economic climate improved with the addition of a number of industrial plants north of the city which added approximately 1,000 jobs to the community base.
Downtown Shawnee is an excellent example of many Main Street communities that emerged in the late 19th century as part of the westward movement. Choosing not to organize its activity around a central square, as did many towns in New England, the South, and upper-Midwest, Shawnee represents a distinctly western model of urban development. Depending on railroad lines for its economic health, Shawnee's Main Street became the focal point for commercial, manufacturing, and entertainment activity beginning in 1895, four years after the region was opened for white settlement in a land run. Competing with Oklahoma City in order to be the hub of central Oklahoma, Shawnee developed a fairly broad base of economic activity. As late as 1910, city leaders hoped that one more rail line, a meat packing plant, and the state capital might be just enough to surge ahead of its rival 30 miles to the west. However, Shawnee came in a distant third in the statewide election to determine the capital, and lost both the railway and the meatpacking plant to Oklahoma City. The setbacks perhaps insured, however, that Shawnee would be primarily a small city built around the activity of Main Street.
Shawnee's early economic success was developed around the railroad industry. The Santa Fe Train Depot (still extant), with its unique architecture, serves as a visible reminder of the city's dependence on the train. During the early 20th century, the Rock Island Railroad and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad both had depots in the city. Shawnee's major employer was the Rock Island Railroad, which had located its main southwestern repair shops in the city in 1896; the shops were removed to El Reno in 1937, but two major buildings remain. The Santa Fe Railroad also had repair shops just south of the city; only a large concrete tower remained until 2000 when it was removed.
Serving as the region's agricultural hub during much of the first quarter of the 20th century, Shawnee provided the markets for significant numbers of farmers to sell their crops. Cotton was a major crop and Main Street was often lined with bales; mule sellers, peanut vendors, and peach growers all came to Shawnee. The building which was reputed to be the largest cottonseed oil mill in the Southwest is still extant; this same building later was turned into a peanut factory. Seven cotton gins could be found in the city, including the first electric gin in the state, which is still extant. The Shawnee Flouring Mill has been a major part of the city's economic history and still dominates the skyline of the downtown core. The existing building was rebuilt after a fire in 1934. Near Main Street are a coal gasification plant that dates to 1907 and a grain elevator that dates to the 1920s.
In 1980 Main Street was dominated by small retail establishments of which approximately 80 percent are housed in buildings that were built prior to statehood in 1907. The large majority of these buildings have had their facades significantly altered in order to adjust to the changing tastes in the 20th century. Yet there is one block (between Philadelphia and Union streets) that remains substantially unaltered from the turn of the century. This block serves as a reminder of how life on Main Street functioned prior to statehood; the buildings still house a hardware store, a western wear store, and a furniture store. On another block further west at Broadway and Main stands, in virtually unaltered condition, Shawnee's most famous department store, which was constructed in 1907. The Mammoth (currently Neal's Home Furnishings) continues to remind residents of the high level of retail activity of early Shawnee residents. Before World War II, Main Street had numerous drugstores and soda fountains that served as the social gathering places for young people. Today, the Owl Drug, which is in a building that has been a drugstore since 1895, retains many of the old fixtures and as of 2012[update], appears much as it did during the 19th Century.
The variety of resources on and adjacent to Main Street is reflected in two hotels; the first, the Norwood, was built in 1903 and remained substantially unaltered until it was destroyed. People through the 1930s would take the train to Shawnee, stay in the Norwood, and shop in the stores on Main Street. Unfortunately, the Norwood was struck by a small tornado in 1999 and was subsequently demolished. A small park now occupies where the Norwood once stood on the northwest corner of Broadway and Main.
The second hotel, the Aldridge (currently a retirement center for senior citizens), built in 1928 at the northwest corner of 9th and Bell streets, was a result of the wealth and growth generated by the oil boom of the 1920s, as was the four-story Masonic Temple Office Building, which was constructed in 1929 directly south of the Alridge Hotel. The one other building that was constructed during the height of the oil boom in Shawnee was the State National Bank on Main Street. The bank fell victim to the Depression in the 1930s, but the building currently houses a number of retail businesses and is known as the Mini-Mall.
Main Street has had a number of entertainment facilities. A convention hall attracted well-known celebrities of the 1910s and 1920s, such as Sarah Bernhardt, and an opera house on Market and Main was the site of many memorable events. The best example still extant is the Ritz Theater, which was the oldest continuously operating theater in Oklahoma until the theater's closure in 1989. Another building still extant was the Bison Theater on the southwest corner of Philadelphia and Main streets. Today, the Bison Theater functions as an antique shop and recording studio.
Downtown Shawnee has lost many buildings of historical value, but still retains a significant number of resources that continue to provide a living reminder of how Main Street functioned for many Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Located at 614 E. Main in Shawnee is a unique railroad depot made of limestone blocks two to three-feet deep. With a 60 ft. turret, it takes on the slight appearance of a castle, contrasting with the surrounding architecture. It was built in 1902 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The Pottawatomie County Historical Society began restoration of this depot in 1979, after it had stood vacant for two decades. The building was remodeled into a railroad and countywide museum, which opened on May 30, 1982. It contains numerous historical artifacts from the settlement of Shawnee, and also contains railroad memorabilia, and a gift shop.
Benson Park was located approximately midway between Shawnee and Tecumseh, and served the recreational needs of Shawnee residents for most of 30 years. What made the park unique was the interurban streetcar that ran between the two towns to the park. Opened in 1907, the park had a swimming pool, skating rink, roller coaster, and large picnic areas.
The cities of Shawnee and Tecumseh, a city seven miles south of Shawnee, have been involved in a series of controversial elections to determine which city would be the county seat of Pottawatomie County. In 1909, 8,024 people wanted the government moved to Shawnee and 5,027 wanted it to remain in Tecumseh, but the case was appealed and the higher courts decided bribery had figured in the election. Shawnee had offered use of the currently known as Woodland Park as a court house site.
In 1911, the people of the Pottawatomie County went to the polls and giving Tecumseh the majority by 7,749 to 5,927 until October 1930 when 6,700 signatures were petitioned to ask Governor William J. Holloway for a county seat ballot. A special election was held December 18, when 12,800 voters, a record number, marched to the polls. Shawnee won the necessary two-thirds majority by a 90 vote margin. A recount cut this to 11. Tecumseh charged a $35,000 slush fund, liquor at the polls, voting of college boys, etc. The Supreme Court this time favored Shawnee and for several years county officers transacted business in downtown Shawnee buildings. In 1934, the New Deal helped with money to lend and the present court house was built in Shawnee in Woodland Veteran's Memorial Park. July 6, 1935, Governor E.W. Marland dedicated the new building.
Since Tecumseh was originally the county seat, a brick courthouse was built in 1897. In 1930, when Tecumseh lost the county seat status to Shawnee, The Tecumseh City Hall now stands on that location.
Shawnee is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 44.7 square miles (116 km2).About 42.3 square miles (110 km2) of it is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) of it (5.37%) is water.(35.342474, -96.933775)
As of the census of 2000, there were 28,692 people, 11,311 households, and 7,306 families residing in the city. The population density was 678.9 people per square mile (262.1/km²). There were 12,651 housing units at an average density of 299.3 per square mile (115.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.03% White, 4.06% African American, 12.82% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.72% from other races, and 4.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.72% of the population.
There were 11,311 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. About 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 15.2% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,659, and the median income for a family was $35,690. Males had a median income of $29,792 versus $20,768 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,676. About 13.8% of families and 17.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.1% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.
Shawnee is the home of St. Gregory's University, a Benedictine Catholic institution founded in 1875, and Oklahoma Baptist University, founded in 1910. The city was chosen by the founders of OBU in part because two Baptist Conventions (one in Indian Territory and one in Oklahoma Territory) had earlier merged. So, the city of Shawnee was neutral territory (Shawnee had been neither in Indian Territory nor Oklahoma Territory, but the Potawatomi Nation).
Shawnee Public Schools Shawnee Public Schools operates preschool through twelfth grades.
Dependent School Districts Shawnee also has four dependent school districts
The Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, opened in 1981, now boasts 152,400 square feet (14,160 m2) of exhibit space, a 19,200-square-foot (1,780 m2) indoor arena that seats 1,000, an outdoor arena seating 7,500, and an RV park, all on 72 acres (290,000 m2). Since 1993, the O.E. Center has been the host of the International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR), the "richest youth rodeo in the world," with a total prize payout of over $250,000; over 1,100 young riders register for the event each year.
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the ninth largest Native American tribe in the United States with 26,000 members, is headquartered between Shawnee and Tecumseh. Their Firelake Casino features over 125,000 square feet (11,600 m2) of gaming space and employs 1,800 people.
The Shawnee Regional Airport has a 6,000' asphalt lighted runway with self-services available seven days a week. The airport is bordered by Independence St. to the south, Airport Road to the east, MacArthur St. to the north (with MacArthur St. leading under the runway in a tunnel constructed there), Leo St. in the northwest, and The Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center to the southwest.
There is an asphalt running track which encircles the airport along with a parking area on the west side of N. Airport Drive (N. Pottenger St.).
Shawnee has had an airport, private pilot training and air service since the 1920s. An air field was developed in the far northwest side of town on what had been the city farm where the fire department's horses were kept. May 7, 1919 the city commission discussed constructing an air field, with several locations offered but settled on the old city farm. Business and civic leaders cooperated with aviation companies in the construction of a modern airport. Graham Flying service operated the facility in the beginning then sold it to Curtiss Flying Service. An Aviation Committee of the Chamber of Commerce brought in several air shows including parachute jumps. In 1930 L.E. Regan purchased the Shawnee Municipal Airport and provided flying lessons, passenger trips and an aviation club. Shawnee was one of the hot spots in the state for aviation and was host to a visit from Amelia Earhart in 1931. The city was part of the Oklahoma Short Line Airways Company with air passenger service in and out daily. Then the war changed everything. Civilian fliers were automatically ground in December 1941 until they took an oath of allegiance, were fingerprinted and presented a birth certificate. City fathers went to Washington to offer Shawnee as a site for one of the many military training basis which would be needed as the country headed into World War II. Meanwhile the citizens of Shawnee overwhelmingly passed a bond issue for $200,000 to match the $285,000 allocated by the federal government to build a local base. Meanwhile, the Shawnee Municipal Airport was moved to a site north of town. April 1943 the erection of the Shawnee Navy base was begun and by August the first sailors began arriving. The base was first planned to be an auxiliary extension for the base at Norman but later was named as Shawnee Naval Air Station, a school for navigators. Then abruptly in March 1945 all Navy personnel and equipment was moved to the Clinton OK base. Shawnee's NAS was put in caretaker status and much of the equipment was sold off as surplus, much of it going to the City of Shawnee and it's citizens. The Shawnee Municipal Airport was returned to its original site in 1946 where it remains today.
At the southeastern edge of the airport is a commemorative Japanese International Peace Garden A "Bridge of Understanding" and a gravel area with several Oriental-style stone ornamentation. A plaque at the bridge states: "Shawnee - Nikaho/Bridge of Understanding/is dedicated to the memory of Mayor Pierre Taron/a strong proponent of Sister Cities." There is also a gazebo which is approximately 15 ft. by 18 ft. with a gravel and stone floor. In the center is a wood picnic table with benches for seating on each side. The roof is wood shingled and colorful flowers are planted around the outside of the gazebo. The gazebo is dedicated to the Sister Cities International program between Shawnee, OK and Nikaho, Japan. In 1987, a Japanese manufacturing company, TDK, opened a factory in Shawnee which locally manufactures ferrite magnets for electronic motors. The mayor of Shawnee at that time, Pierre F. Taron, Jr., sought to establish a Sister City relationship between Shawnee, Oklahoma, U.S.A. and Nikaho, Japan.
Each year, citizens of each town visit the other town, to renew ties, exchange gifts, and spend time learning about the other's culture. The delegations stay with local host families.
On August 29, 2011, the City of Shawnee opened a new airport terminal building in front of about 75 guests, including several city leaders, state legislators and other government officials. The terminal, which replaced the much smaller terminal that was built in the 1950s, sports a more modern, two-story design, encompassing approximately 4,000 square feet of space. Governor of Oklahoma Mary Fallin was one of the featured speakers during the official opening. She praised Shawnee officials for their determination in getting the project started, funded and then finally completed, while also noting the efforts of several individuals such as former Shawnee Mayor Chuck Mills. Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission Director Victor Bird also addressed the crowd, stating that the Shawnee Regional Airport should now be able to attract even more business to the area. "This new facility is a far cry from what was here just one year ago. Now you have a terminal to be very proud of, one that can be a shining example to other airports throughout our state system," Bird said. The new terminal has a large lobby, pilot's lounge, a vending machine area, office space, a large conference room space upstairs that doubles as an observation deck to watch aircraft fly in and out of the airport, and other amenities. A $325,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Authority paid for a large sum of the more than $965,000 it took to build the new terminal building. The Aeronautics Commission also provided a $275,000 state grant to help in the construction costs, while the City of Shawnee paid for the remaining amount. From 2008 to 2011, the Shawnee Regional Airport received nearly $8 million in state and federal grants for various runway and taxiway improvements.
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation operates a Cultural Heritage Center which houses tribal rolls, archives, and gift shop. The institution also interprets and presents exhibits of Potawatomi culture.
The Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, located on the campus of St. Gregory's University, is one of the oldest museums in Oklahoma. Its collections include Egyptian, Medieval, Renaissance, Contemporary, and Native American.
The Potawatomie County Historical Society run a historical museum in the Santa Fe Depot downtown.
There are three theatre programs in Shawnee, which each organize a season worth of performance.
The City of Shawnee maintains Shawnee Twin Lakes, which are located the west of the city.
Shawnee has numerous small parks within the city.
Woodland Veteran's Memorial Park - located between Union street on the east, Highland street to the north, and Broadway to the west. The park is two blocks north of Main street. First built in 1905, the park originally featured fountains and sunken gardens. The park was also the site of frequent Chautauqua meetings led by such people as William Jennings Bryan. In 1905, the Carnegie library was built on the southwest corner of the park (currently the District Attorney's office of Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma). There is also a Veteran's memorial in the southeast corner as well that features a helicopter once used during the Korean Conflict. The park also features a large public swimming pool, built in the 1930s, used during the spring and summer months. Currently, there are plans underway to renovate the existing pool, construct a splash pad, and make parking lot improvements to the nearly 75 year old community pool facility. The park also features two tennis courts which are located on the east side of the pool. This park has many old trees, a playground area, and is home to many special events throughout the year. Although there is no pavilion, there is a stage with metal bleachers. There are numerous stone and concrete picnic tables, some of them dating from over eighty years ago, a small sculpture of a bald eagle atop a sphere in the northeast corner of the park facing the intersection of Highland and Union, along with a miniature version of The Statue of Liberty in the northwest corner of the park facing the intersection of Highland and Broadway streets.
Briscoe Boy Scout Park - located at the intersection of Main and Pesotum streets, the park features one basketball court, four tennis courts, and one volleyball court along with a large playground for children.
Red Bud Park - located at the intersection of Beard and Dill streets, this small park was constructed in the 1920s. It features a large drainage ditch, many large trees, some playground equipment, and a wrought-iron entrance sign.
Shawnee is home to four wellness facilities.
Shawnee has a rich sports history that reaches back to before statehood. First reports of a town team was in 1902. Since then there have been organized teams from sandlot to minor league teams. In the early days many businesses such as the Rock Island shops and civic organizations promoted in the Twilight League. In 1929 and '30 Shawnee hosted a minor league farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Robins. They were part of the Western Association and several of the players eventually played in the major leagues.
The Brooklyn Dodgers provided Shawnee with a Class D minor league in the Sooner State League from 1950 to 1957. The Hawks competed against McAlester, Ardmore, Pauls Valley, Lawton, Seminole as well as Sherman and Paris, Texas. The most well-known major leaguer to get his start with the Hawks was Don Demeter, a pitcher from Oklahoma City.
Shawnee also hosted some major leagues at Athletic Field (now called Memorial Park) in the 1930s. In 1937 the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians played a spring practice game. The event was brought on because one of the Giants leading pitchers, Carl Hubbell, was from the nearby community of Meeker. The following year the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox also played a game in Shawnee. Cy Blanton, who lived in Shawnee and had played for the Robins, and Paul and Loyd Waner from nearby McLoud, were also members of the Giants' squad.
At least 33 Major League Baseball players have connections to Shawnee, either by birth, or having played on a local team or lived in town at one time.
Shawnee High School has also had a colorful sports history. Records from as early as 1909 are found for football and baseball. Over the years the football team has won the state title three times, the most recent was in 2003. Several SHS grads have gone on to play NFL football over the years, most notedly Darrien Gordon, a 1989 grad, who played in three Super Bowls, one with the San Diego Chargers and two with the Denver Broncos. Just since the year 2000 SHS has won five state championships, one in girls' basketball, two in boys' cross country, one in boys' track and one in girls' track. The high school provides excellent facilities with Jim Thorpe Stadium, Memorial Park, softball field and the Shawnee Performing Arts Center combo which includes a state-of-the art gym.
Shawnee offers youth sports of any variety either through the YMCA or the Shawnee Sports Association. There are also three golf courses, several tennis courts, two bowling alleys, Lion's Club baseball park and a softball complex at Firelake. Shawnee is hosts the Shawnee Warriors, a semi-pro football team. Shawnee competes in the Oklahoma Metro Football League. Their first season was in 2008, when they competed as the Millers. The franchise went 3-5 and was an OMFL State semi-finalist. They were affiliated with the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz a minor league pro arena team that season.
This is most likely due to the presence of a TDK plant in Shawnee. Every year, junior high school students from Shawnee visit Nikaho during the month of July, and Japanese junior high school students visit Shawnee, in September.
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