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Okmulgee Downtown Historic District
The city of Okmulgee, Oklahoma was founded during Reconstruction after the Civil War. In 1878, the Creek Nation built a wooden council house and the city has been the capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation ever since. Not far from Tulsa, Okmulgee attracted pioneers and later blossomed into a profitable place to be a part of the oil industry during an oil boom in the early 1900s.
The Okmulgee Downtown Historic District covers several blocks, including the black commercial district on 5th & 6th Streets. Over 140 buildings were nominated to be put on the National Register of Historic Places for their architectural appeal and importance to the town's past. Some of the buildings in Okmulgee that are on the register include the Creek National Capitol, the district as a whole, the Okmulgee Armory and several churches.
African Americans had a significant impact in building this historic district. About 1,000 slaves came with the Creek Indians into Indian Territory from Georgia and Alabama during the 1830s. Many of them were adopted into the Creek tribe and were known as "Creek Freedman." After receiving 160 acre allotments in the area from the Dawes Commission, many African Americans decided to stay near Okmulgee. During the time that followed, they built many of the town's buildings and resulting infrastructure.
A few of the businesses constructed and run by African Americans included a hotel, a parlor, the Key Block, the Sneed Buildings, the Glass Building, the Taylor Building, the Harrison Block, the White Building, the Copeland Building and the H&H Building. These structures housed everything from grocery stores and dance halls to restaurants, movie theaters and tire stores. The Masonic Lodge was also known as the only black lodge in Okmulgee for many years. Unfortunately, some of these buildings do not remain today.
Key Block - 200 N Morton (Built in 1902)
Sneed Building - 621 E 6th St (Built in the 1910s)
W.S. Sneed Building - 623 E 6th St (Built in the 1910s)
Glass Building - 419 E 5th (Built in 1913)
Taylor Building - 421 E 5th St (Built in 1915)
Harrison Block - 515-519 E 5th St (Built in 1915)
White Building - 509 E 5th St (Built in 1920)
Copeland Building - 607 E 5th St (Built in 1920)
H&H Building - 501 E 5th St (Built in 1920)
Masonic Lodge - 503 E 5th St (Built in 1928)