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Douglass

Built in 1912; Desegregation Began in 1956; Last Classes in 1971; Sold in 1971; Fully Razed by 2012

Bartlesville segregated black students from the rest of the student population until 1956, two years after the landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that ordered the schools across the nation desegregated "with all deliberate speed."

Douglass School began in 1907 with seven students being taught at the old Methodist Church building on Watson Avenue by Rev. George Walls. Miss Luvenia Brown of Emporia State Teachers College joined the faculty in 1910, with classes being taught at Perry's Store at the present-day Douglass site. The school burned around this time, prompting its move to a one-room stucco building at 5th and Virginia in 1912. $5,000 was alloted to enlarge it to serve grades 1-8. The school expanded to four rooms in 1924 for $13,544. A building at Seventh and Oak was then used, with a $29,800 expansion in 1927 which added a domestic science and automobile shop.

Douglass' first high school graduate was Bessie Love in 1927. The entire school's enrollment reached 189 in 1935, and the Douglass P.T.A. was founded in 1938. The Renaissance Club was a major source of support for the school, providing a day nursery and other services. A 1938 bond provided an additional 0.55 acres for $375 and a gymnasium/auditorium and classroom addition costing $28,135. The first lunchroom began in 1940 under the W.P.A. and was later continued by the P.T.A. Vocational education units were added in 1949 for $166,152.

1949 also brought a graduating class of twenty-four, the largest in the school's history. The school gained a cafeteria in 1952, and Phillips Petroleum donated 3.84 acres to the site in 1953 and athletic dressing rooms were added for this field at a cost of $16,135.

Douglass' marching band, the High Steppers, led its annual homecoming parade through downtown Bartlesville. The school's basketball, football, and track teams were the Douglass Dragons, and there was also the Douglassaires Glee Club. The school colors were purple and white, and its song was "The Eyes of Douglass". In addition to vocational programs, the school had speech and debate classes, a student council, and a journalism class. The laboratory science curriculum was limited, however, and Douglass did not offer any foreign language courses.

In 1955 the Douglass Dragons and the Boyd High School of Fredrick were both crowned as OIAA Class B State Co-Champions. The trophy for that honor was donated to the Bartlesville Area History Museum in 2009 by the Douglass Alumni.

Desegregation began in 1956 and the school was reduced to grades 1-8, later to grades 1-6, and eventually K-3. Phillips donated an additional 2.32 acres to the school site in 1959 according to one source; another mentions 6.16 acres being donated in 1963. Part of the original building was demolished in a $94,471 remodeling in 1964. The Head Start Pre-School was at the site from 1964 until 1970. The school was closed in 1971, and the facility sold. The school district retained some of the land under an agreement for the city to maintain it as a city park. The district sought to sell that property in late 2007.

For years the only original part of the building still standing was the gymnasium, shown at right. It housed the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) thrift store, sheltered workshop, and community integrated employment office. In May 2005 ARC changed its name to EmployAbility, and seven years later, in May 2012, the gymnasium was razed during the construction of the new EmployAbility facility.

Since 1976 the former students of Douglass, called the Douglassaires after the old Glee Club, have held an all-school reunion every three years.

Click images to enlarge them.

The Original Building

The Original Building

After Additions

After Additions

1941 Football Team & Queen

1941 Football Team & Queen

Douglass Faculty in 1951

Douglass Faculty in 1951

The High Steppers

The High Steppers

Douglass in 1997; this last portion was demolished in 2012

Douglass in 1997; this last portion was demolished in 2012