Oklahoma State School for the Deaf

From Asylum Projects
Jump to: navigation, search
Oklahoma State School for the Deaf
Established 1898
Opened 1898
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Sulphur, OK
Alternate Names


In 1898 the Territorial School for the Education of the Deaf was founded in Guthrie Oklahoma. Deaf children who were previously being schooled at Fort Gibson alongside blind students and others were transferred to the new school at Guthrie. Mr and Mrs Eilsworth Long, a well-educated deaf couple, were either the founders or instrumental in founding the school. A few weeks after opening the school however, Mr Long spoke with the Territory officials and found he did not have the means to carry on the school himself and turned the management over to Mr H C Beamer and his wife.

Mr Beamer received a contract from the territorial authorities for $275.00 per school year. This was later changed to monthly allowances of $275.00. Mr Beamer oversaw the erection of buildings to house and launder 60 pupils. Meanwhile in 1902 Mrs Pearl Dunham became principle of the school under Mr Beamers superintendency. She was the daughter of deaf parents and taught sign language. Previous to this Mrs Dunham had been principle at the Kansas State School for the Deaf for a number of years. In 1906 Mr R N Dunham became head of the institution and received so many applications to the school that they built two additional buildings that were ready for use when the school opened in the fall of 1906. This increased the pupil capacity to 90 students, with applications still being turned away. The school during this time has increased to having 9 teachers on staff.

As the territory became a state in 1907 these buildings were left on Mr Dunham's hands as the state moved the school to Sulphur and did not claim the buildings. This left Mr Dunham at a financial loss, as the state typically bought the existing buildings to avoid personal damages but did not in this case. There had also been a department at the territorial school for "deaf Negroes". This department was under the same management as the greater school, but separate quarters and separate instruction/classrooms were used. The "Negro department" continued for one year after the school was moved to Sulphur. In 1909 a single school for deaf, blind, and orphan black children was opened at Taft, OK.

The school at Sulphur opened in the fall of 1908 with some of the same teachers who had taught at the Guthrie school. The first 5 years at Sulphur the superintendent was Mr A A Stewart, who had previously been superintendent at the Kansas State School for the Deaf. The school during 1908 and 1909 operated at full capacity of 200 pupils, in a 3-story building with basement located near the still standing Artesian Hotel. In 1910 the school expanded into what was called the Metropolitan Hotel, using part of the hotel for classrooms, an industrial department, and for teachers' living quarters.

Construction to build a new location for the school seems to have started in 1911 about 1/2 east and south of where the final school now stands, however there was fraud and the buildings were so poorly constructed they fell in during construction. The final abandonment of this site seems to have been also caused by a compliant filed with the State Board of Affairs by a prominent Sulphur citizen.

Building on the present site began in 1912. The administration building, little boys dormitory, and big girls dormitory were the first buildings to be erected on the new site and were occupied by fall 1913. The superintendent and his family had a room of suites in the administration building. Many of the teachers and all the supervisors lived on campus in various buildings. The old power house and laundry buildings were finished in 1913, with an addition of a boiler room in 1930. There was a wood-framed dining hall and kitchen building just east of the administration building which was replaced by a 3-story building in 1916. In the new building the lower level was used for a kitchen, storeroom, bakery, teachers dining hall and cold storage. The second level, or middle level, was used for children and other employee dining hall. The third, top level, was used as a dormitory for large boys. In 1938 additional space was added to this building for the same uses as stated previously. In 1917 a hospital building was built complete with nurses' quarters.

The increase in attendance caused a demand for more dormitory room, so in 1918 a dormitory was built for intermediate girls. In 1925 the superintendent's home was finished. There were 2 buildings built in 1927, the gymnasium and the storeroom. The old vocational building was built in 1920 and used until 1932 when a new vocational building was finished. The new vocational school held a cabinet shop, printing shop, dry cleaning, and tailor shop, sewing rooms, home economics rooms, art rooms, and beauty culture rooms. By 1939 the vocational building was being used as a dormitory for large boys and as a boys' study hall.

"Blattner Hall", a primary building, was built in 1929 with room to accommodate approx. 120 of the youngest pupils. Blattner Hall allows these pupils to have their dormitories, classrooms, dining hall, kitchen, and play rooms all in one building.

The campus was greatly improved during the summer of 1934. The athletic field was leveled, requiring the removal of several large boulders, all the driveways were guttered and paved, and drains were built to carry off drainage water. In 1937 the WPA constructed a 4-ft high fence made of uncoursed natural sandstone that runs throughout the campus. In 1939 the campus boasted 13 fireproof buildings and one storeroom shed. In 1961 major renovation began on all school buildings, with renovations being completed in 1980. In 1999 a new renovation project was begun and completed in 2002.