Western Oklahoma State School for White Children

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Western Oklahoma State Home
Opened 1917
Closed 1944
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Helena, OK
Peak Patient Population approx. 400
Alternate Names
  • Western State Home for Orphans
  • Western Oklahoma Orphanage


Western Oklahoma State School for Orphans was opened in Helena, OK on November 1, 1917. Opened after the State School at Pryor, this was Oklahoma's second official state orphanage. Enrollment 1919 was recorded as 164 children.

In 1937, the Oklahoma State Planning Board published an excerpt from a study of the home finding that children were fed meals costing 3.5 cents. The Orphanage was closed by the state in 1944.

From 1945 to 1948 and from 1956 through mid-1982 the State Training School for Boys operated on the property.

The property was reassigned to the Department of Corrections on May 24, 1982 and opened as The James Crabtree Correctional Center (a state penitentiary for men) with 1000 beds.

A reunion of "graduates" was held in about 1974. Then the organizers decided it should become an annual event, so they organized annual reunions for 21 years; second weekend in June, usually at Great Salt Plains State Park, not far from Helena. In 1997 they relocated the reunion to Piney Cove on Lake Eufaula. At the time in 1997, the President of the group of alumni was George and Martha Penkins.