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Historic Guthrie Virtual Tour

Historic Guthrie Virtual Tour

By Justin Fortney
Guthrie, Oklahoma is full of history. Each episode of this podcast focuses on one of the historic site markers located around the community. Whether walking, driving, or virtually, these episodes combine to give a lovely tour through downtown Guthrie. Learn about architecture, historic characters, and the history of Oklahoma's first capital!
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First Library
Transcription from historical marker: This is the first Carnegie Library in Oklahoma. Frank Frantz, last Territorial Governor and Charles Haskell, First State Governor, were inaugurated on the steps here. The mock wedding of Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Oklahoma Territory was here. The first state flag was made here by 90 Oklahoma women on June 16, 1908. Erected by the Fogarty Jr High Oklahoma History Classes of 1954-1955.
April 20, 2020
Transcription from the historical marker: With the opening of the approximately two million acres of "Oklahoma Country" for homestead settlement at 12 noon, Monday, April 22, 1889, thousands of settlers rushed to claim free land.  Those making claims were required by law to register at one of two U.S. Government Offices, one located at Kingfisher and one at Guthrie. The modest 18x30 feet false-fronted frame building of the U.S. Land office stood alone that day, capping the hill east of the railroad station.  Almost immediately, it was surrounded by hundreds of eager settlers, seeking to register claims.  By nightfall, it stood in a sea of tents that collectively made up Guthrie. The Kansas City Gazette on April 23 reported:  "The crowd around the land office is too great to be numbered.  Those who did not get in to file their claims last night slept where they were in the line to be on hand this morning." The Land Office continued its "land office business" rush for weeks, as the thousands of homesteaders filed claims and counterclaims for free land.  Lines of claimants crowded "Hell's Half Acre" outside the Office. Land Office Register John Dillie of Huntington, Ind., and Receiver Cassius Barnes of Fayetteville, Ark., who became the 5th territorial governor in 1897, worked all day and late into the night on many occasions.  In many cases more than one individual claimed a single piece of land leading to bitter arguments and court disputes that lasted for years afterwards. After a brick U.S. Post Office was built in 1903 on "Hell's Half Acre", the old frame land office was removed.
April 17, 2020
DeFord Building
Transcription from the historical marker: Built in 1890 by Irwin S. DeFord, self-described “money-lender” and capitalist, the DeFord Building is perhaps the gem of Joseph Foucart’s architecture in downtown Guthrie. The sidewall, facing “Government Acre” surrounding the Land Office, is even more distinguished than its front, featuring contrasting-colored arched windows with worked wooden fans above corbelled brick, with a small turret marking the south end. Detailed acanthus leaves decorate capitals of defining pillars. DeFord lived upstairs in the building when completed, and the New York Clothiers (Cohen and Strauss) were on the first floor. By 1892, however, the U.S. Post Office temporarily replaced the clothing store. Offices for lawyers were located on the 2nd floor. The U.S. Courtroom was located in the basement until the Federal Building (Post Office and Courtroom) was completed in 1903. Flora M. Willis purchased the building in 1904. She and her first husband, Joseph Willis ,operated their general store there. Later, the store was used exclusively for furniture, and they added the Willis Building immediately south in 1914. After Willis died, his widow operated the store alone until she married E. W. Knightlinger in 1923, and he joined her in the business. She died in 1955, and Mr. Knightlinger continued operation of the store through 1981. Both the DeFord and the Willis Buildings have been scrupulously maintained by the owners. Mr. Knightlinger (whose picture is shown) deeded the DeFord building as a gift to the Logan County Historical Society on Dec. 7, 1981.
April 17, 2020
Blue Bell Bar
Transcription from historical marker: One of the most popular of the numerous saloons in Guthrie during Territorial times, the Blue Bell was an 1889 enterprise of John Selstrom and Jack Tearney. It boasted Tom Mix as a bartender before he departed for stardom in silent films, and Temple Houston, famed attorney, as a favorite customer. The original frame structure was replaced in 1903 by the present brick edifice, probably Guthrie’s only commercial building with two beveled entryways, front and back. The “C-11” crest over the front doorway is the insignia of Ned Cheadle, local agent and bottler for the Ferd Helm Brewing Co., whose brother company, Freemont Land and Improvement Co., built the structure. Besides the saloon, the building in 1903 housed a restaurant on the Harrison Ave side and a music store on the Sound Second St. side. Its upper floor, officially called a “hall,” consisted of 17 small rooms surrounding a lobby and was probably a bordello. It was connected in early days by an iron sky-walk to the Elks Hotel across the alleyway. After prohibition (concurrent with statehood, 1907) various businesses occupied the lower floor. A bar was re-established when prohibition was repealed in 1959, and it was re-named “Blue Bell” in 1977. Much of the original interior is still in place.
April 17, 2020
International Building
Transcription from the historical marker: Erected in 1890, the International “Block” was named for its builders, the International Loan and Investment Company. H.J. Whitley and George D. Orput, prime movers of the Guthrie Club booster organization, were heads of the company, financed by New York and Pennsylvania investors. The Guthrie Club later became the Chamber of Commerce. Lillie’s Drug Store occupied the first floor of the building when completed, and offices for Oklahoma Territory were on the upper floor. A basement barber shop was opperated by F.E. Knowlton, who developed his famed Danderien Hair Tonic there. Stables for horses of the occupants were an adjunct to the basement. These stables extended out under the sidewalk adjoining the structure, and included stalls with harness racks and other refinements. The building was one of several built in similar pattern throughout the Territory by the company. It gradually lost its glory and was condemned as unsafe in 1963. It was then razed.
April 17, 2020
Same Old Moses Saloon
Transcription from the historical marker: During the 17 Territorial years, open saloons thrived in Guthrie. One of the most popular was the “Same Old Moses” operated by Moses Weinberger, a settler from Wichita, Kansas. Weinberger made the Run selling bananas April 22, 1889, and soon established a fruit stand at 218 West Oklahoma. Thinking liquor more profitable than perishable fruit, he obtained a goverm,ent liquor license and opened one o the first legal saloons and wholesale liquor businesses in the area. Although he moved his saloon several times, he was a popular “mein host,” and his business at 211 West Harrison flourished. Carry Nation, well known prohibitionist leader, was living in the capital city, and repeatedly threatened the local saloon keepers. She reportedly wielded her bar-breaking hatchet against the “Same Old Moses,” and Weinberger, seeing the publicity good for business, responded with a sign: “All nations welcome except carry.” Strict prohibition came with statehood in 1907 and Weinberger, by then located in the basement of the Lyon Building, 102 West Harrison, sold his stock and swung the saloon doors closed for the last time.
April 17, 2020
Victor Building
Transcription from the historical marker: Triumph of its time, the “Victor Block” was built in 1893 as the finest commercial building in Guthrie by Winfield S. Smith, who constructed many of the downtown business structures. Besides Lillie’s Drug Store, the building also held a number of Territorial offices, several saloons, a wholesale liquor business, and a ballroom on its third floor. Its basement connected with other downtown buildings via tunnels. Associated Order of United Workmen Insurance Offices were later in the building, as well as state headquarters of that mutual organization. The basement became a bowling alley in the late 1960s. Restoration began in 1981 as part of the Historic District Preservation Movement. It is considered one of Joseph Foucart’s best designs.
April 17, 2020
Foucart Building
Transcription from the historical marker: Restored in 1980 to its original look, the Foucart Building was built in 1891 by Edward T. Patten to house the Boston Store (dry goods) managed by J.M. Brooks, later builder of Brooks Opera House. George King’s New York Racket Store (notions, general) succeeded the Boston by 1899. (Racket was “society” slang for a fashionable crowded fete.) National Biscuit Co. leased the space for offices in 1911. Later occupants were a repair shop and, in 1920, E. A. Neher’s Paige Automobile Agency. The building was returned to retail merchandising in 1928 when John E. Gaffney moved his furniture store there. Successive owners continued furniture sales until 1974, after which the building became vacant. The building was designed by Joseph Foucart, who had his office in the 3rd floor tower from 1893 to 1897. These were among Foucart’s most productive years as an architect in the growing Territorial capital’s business district. As his office site, and because the native sandstone edifice emphasizes his distinctive style, the structure became known by his name rather than that of the builder. The 1980 façade restoration was he first completed in the Guthrie Historic District Restoration Program, sponsored by the Logan County Historical Society.
April 17, 2020
Guthrie Daily Leader
Transcription from the historical marker: Home of the Guthrie Daily Leader since 1894, the “Waite Block” was built in 1891 by A.H. Waite, manager of the Kansas City Mercantile Co. to house two separate retail establishments. The Leader was founded in 1892 as the Territory’s Democratic newspaper. Brought to prominence by editor Leslie Niblack, it moved by 1894 into the east half of the building with presses on the ground floor and editorial offices above. By 1903, the Leader expanded to use both bays, with a book binding operation on the second floor above the presses and office. After purchasing the assets of the State Capital in 1911, the Leader expanded its circulation. The editorial offices were again on the second floor during the 1920s, moving back to the first floor during the 1930s. In 1933, the interior separating wall was removed in extensive remodeling which included an exterior coat over the original brick and stone construction. Several changes in editors and ownership occurred during this period. Offset printing presses were installed in 1967. In 1976, the structure was completely remodeled inside and out by the present owner, Donald W. Reynolds of Donrey Media Inc. The façade does not follow the original design, but is derivative of Victorian architecture of the period when the Leader’s establishment saw Harrison Avenue bloom as the center of commercial Guthrie. The Leader, with its annual ‘89er Special Editions, has long been in the forefront of Guthrie’s Historic Preservation Movement.
April 17, 2020
Rough Riders
Transcription from the historical marker: Two weeks after was declared on Spain, 85 volunteers, mostly members of the Territorial National Guard, on May 5, 1898 filled the Territory’s quota as Troop A of First United States Volunteer Cavalry, the famed “Rough Riders.” Examined and issued orders from “Camp George W. Steele” in the McKay Building, 103 East Harrison, they were sworn into federal service on the vacant lots across the street. There was much fanfare; the City of Guthrie also presented a horse to Capt. Robert B. Huston, troop commander. They were joined at San Antonio, Texas by units from Arizona and New Mexico Territories for brief training before fighting as dismounted Troop D at the July 1 and 2, 1898 Battle of San Juan Hill under Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, who later visited veterans of the troop in Guthrie. In response to the clamor to serve, formation of the First Territorial Volunteer Infantry allowed more Guardsmen to enlist for the Territorial quota. Guthrie’s group was joined by men from Pawnee to make Company 1. After mustering ceremonies on the vacant lots, the company marched under command of Capt. Harry C. Barnes to the depot to entrain for Fort Reno. They were joined by four other companies from Oklahoma and Indian Territories. Later, units from Arizona and New Mexico joined them for training in Kentucky and Georgia before they were mustered out of service in February 1899.
April 17, 2020
Brooks Opera House
Transcription from historical marker: Built in 1899 as an adjunct to the Royal Hotel, the Brooks was praised in its day as the finest theater in the Southwest. It presented popular entertainments and was also the setting for many dazzling “first nights” for territorial society. Some historic events of its golden years: the opening session of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, and an address by William Jennings Bryan, the Great Populist, in a campaign tour. Lon Chaney, famed motion picture actor, began his career here as a stagehand. Later years saw the Brooks become the Avon motion picture theater before it was razed in 1967.
April 17, 2020
State Seal "Stolen"
(Editor's note: this historical marker is ... well ... let's just say it's based a little more on myth than fact :) Transcription from historical marker:  This building was the state capitol when the state seal was stolen from here and taken to Oklahoma City on the night of June 11, 1910, thus moving the site of the state capitol. The first University of Oklahoma was located here in 1892. It operated as such for two years. Erected by Fogarty Jr. High Oklahoma History Classes 1954-55
April 17, 2020
Original Masonic Temple
Transcription from historical marker: Birthplace of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Oklahoma On October 4, 1899, William L. Eagleton, Grand Master of Masons for Oklahoma Territory, laid a cornerstone at this site for the construction of the first Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Oklahoma. The Temple occupied the south half of this block and boasted a larger auditorium, stage and proscenium than the Brooks Opera House, also located in downtown Guthrie. It was fitted with all the modern improvements, including electric lights. The architect for the building was D.W.F. Turbyfill, Oklahoma City. The Dedication Reunion of the Guthrie Scottish Rite Bodies was held on May 29-31, 1900. A class of 47 candidates emerged as 32 degree Masons, thus launching what would become one of the largest Scottish Rite Masonic organizations in the United States. In 1920, a new edifice was constructed by the Scottish Rite at 900 East Oklahoma Avenue. The first Scottish Rite Temple in Oklahoma was finally razed in 1956.
April 17, 2020
DeSteiguer Building
Transcribed from the historical marker: Two buildings designed to look as one, the De Steiguer building was an ornament of East Guthrie. Built in 1890 by the banking pioneer De Steiguer brothers, Rodolph and Louis. It housed their Bank of Guthrie in the west section, and a tobacco company operated by E.G. and A.J. Millikan (brothers) in the east part. The De Steiguers and later the Millikans lived in apartments above. One of the few historic downtown structures with a façade of Oklahoma’s native red sandstone, the building was a grace note for the street with its double oriels, each flanked by arched windows outlined with two shades of coursed stone. The De Steiguers and their troubled bank soon passed from the scene. The building saw many changes in occupants and numerous tax-title changes in ownership before reaching the tranquility of its present ownership and occupancies.
April 17, 2020
Oklahoma Building
Transcript from the historical marker: After successful settlement of rival claim to the lots by one Xenophon Fitzgerald, the Logan County Investment Co. built this imposing structure in 1901, financed by St. Louis, Missouri investors who foresaw a solid future for the town and territory. Immediately upon completion, its ground floor was occupied by the Logan County Bank. Its upper floor was leased to the Territory for offices of the last Territorial Governors: Jenkins, Grimes, Ferguson, and Frantz. A basement stable for horses and carriages of tenants was provided, forerunner of today’s parking garages.
April 17, 2020
GRAY BROS. BUILDING - 101 W. Oklahoma Ave
Transcript from the historical marker: Wm. H. "Harry" Gray, a naturalized Canadian, homesteaded the lot bearing the west half of this building.  He staked it April 22, 1889 and immediately relocated his grocery and wholesale business from Udall, Kan.  His brother, George, joined him in buying the corner lot, where they built in 1890 the elaborate brick and sandstone structure that commands the intersection. Gray Bros. continued the grocery business, adding queensware and feed in a frame building, razing it, and adding the west half of the present structure in 1903.  It can be distinguished by slightly different spacing of the cornice "torches" and facade treatment. The west half housed Gray Bros. store, followed by  F.E. and J.F. Houghton's  Bank Grocery and subsequent varied retail establishments.  W.H. Gray kept an office on the 2nd floor, managing his extensive holdings. The east half of the building originally housed the Bank of Indian Territory and later the Oklahoma State Bank.  Guthrie's superintendent of schools had offices on the 2nd floor in 1892 and by 1893 the town's first telephone exchange was also there. The property was leased in 1926 Jelsma Abstract Co. A barber shop was located in the basement until the mid-1970's.  The building's Russian-capped oriel, beveled corner, elaborate metal cornices, arched windows, and combined use of native sandstone and dark red brick suggest it was a Joseph Foucart design.
April 17, 2020
SMITH'S 2-STORY PRIVY - 106 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Transcript from historical marker: Winfield S. Smith, Guthrie City Councilman and builder of many early commercial buildings, granted by deed on July 28, 1899 to Nathanial McKay the right to build a two-story, 8 x 10 feet brick privy on his property (Lot 23) with right of access to occupants of that lot as well as those of lots 24 and 25.  McKay, a transplanted easterner  who became a  Guthrie developer, was charged with keeping the privy maintained and in good repair when he purchased the lot and its "Triumph Building.  Tenants of the building were assured of two seats on each floor of the privy. While no photograph of the privy exists, the artist's sketch indicates the type of structure and the covered walk assuring access from the second floor of the building.
April 17, 2020
GUTHRIE NATIONAL BANK - 202 W. Oklahoma Ave.
GUTHRIE NATIONAL BANK 202 W. Oklahoma Ave. Rushed to completion in the summer of 1889, the Guthrie National Bank building was the first brick structure built in what became Oklahoma Territory.  It also proudly claimed many other firsts.  It was located where J.W. McNeal of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, opened the McNeal-Little bank with his partner, A.W. Little, the afternoon of April 22, 1889.  It became, as the Guthrie National  Bank, June 14, 1890 the first national bank chartered in either of the twin territories. As the premier structure in the infant city, the building housed the "grand reception" for the visiting delegation of Congressmen in September, 1889. Once finished, the building was crowded with tenants.  Besides the bank, it housed Beadle's shoe store on the west side, "Oklahoma Farmer" newspaper and the Guthrie  Club, a booster organization, shared the basement.  Territorial Governor Steele in 1890 had an office on the 2nd floor for a few months, until larger quarters were available. After consolidating and acquiring various other Guthrie banks, the parent company crowded out its tenants.  It became known as the First National Bank of Guthrie in 1912.   The present building replaced the first structure in 1923.
April 17, 2020
Noble Avenue Viaduct Bridge
Transcript from historical marker: NOBLE AVENUE VIADUCT BRIDGE TIMELINE Early 1889 - The first crossing of the creek was with a single foot log and an enterprising young man charging a dime to walk across or fall in. Late 1889 - A timber truss bridge was constructed.   Following many flood events, the bridge washed out. 1905 - A Steel truss bridge was constructed.  This bridge was closed to traffic by 1920. 1935 - Preparation for the double-decker bridge begins.  The bridge was completed in late 1936. THE NOBLE AVENUE VIADUCT est. 1936, Guthrie, Oklahoma Unique In Design Homer X. White a bridge engineer with the Oklahoma State Highway Commission, developed the design to address the specific needs of this crossing. Design Purpose: 1. Carry Noble Avenue traffic and pedestrians safely over Cottonwood Creek and the railroad tracks. 2. Maintain vehicle access to the large ice plant and railroad tracks located on the east side of the creek. Bridge Features:  Features are typical of other bridges from that time period and were based on the standardized plans from the Oklahoma Highway Commission. The double deck design and steep vertical geometry is considered entirely unique to this bridge.  There are no other known bridges within Oklahoma to have a similar design. OPENING DAY The bridge was dedicated with a parade and ceremony on March 17, 1937, with a reported 1,500 spectators crossing the bridge.  Invited dignitaries from the state and national level included the Chairman of the State Highway Commission, State  Senators and Representatives, he Guthrie Mayor, and the State WPA Director. "an important milestone in the civic development of the city." - The Guthrie News Leader on the Bridge Dedication Day. The First Bridge The first bridge constructed over the creek was a timber Pratt through truss bridge completed late in 1889.  This bridge was washed away within a few years and it is possible that several other iterations were also constructed and lost over the next 5 -10 years. Cottonwood Creek The creek was an important body of water for the establishment of Guthrie.  The location was prime because of its proximity to rail lines and a water source. The creek provided advantages to the city, however it was also a major source of trouble for the community. Flooding events were common, and continue to present day.  The flooding events not only wreaked havoc and inconvenience upon the townspeople, but they occasionally resulted in loss of life. THE NOBLE AVENUE VIADUCT BRIDGE The concrete double deck bridge was built in 1936.  The initial plan was to use labor and funding from the Public Works  Administration, but it was completed with the Works Progress Administration labor and funding.  At the time of its demolition, it was the only known double deck bridge in Oklahoma. The city of Guthrie and Logan County worked with the Oklahoma State Highway Commission, federal engineers, and the railway engineers to secure funding through the Public Works Administration's Grade Crossing Relief Program to construct a viaduct carrying Noble Avenue over Cottonwood Creek and the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The via duct was a primary travel route over  Cottonwood creek; however flooding events at the creek continued to wreak havoc on the bridge and the route, with road closures occurring several times annually due to water overtopping the bridge. Ultimately, there was no way to save the historically significant bridge while still maintaining a safe passage for travelers over Cottonwood Creek.
April 17, 2020
GUTHRIE CITY HALL - 101 N. 2nd Street
Transcript from historical marker: Guthrie's building spree peaked April 9, 1902, with laying the cornerstone for its commodious City Hall, designed by Joseph Foucart, in his best belfry and turret style.  The building's second floor assembly room was used for the Constitutional Convention, beginning November 1906, as elected delegates hammered out Oklahoma's  State Constitution. Almost as soon as the villages of  Guthrie united into a city, a fitting municipal building for the Territorial Capital was envisioned, and lots were purchased in 1891.  When built, the $25,000 City Hall held all city offices and a jail, as well as the assembly room. The assembly room was freely used for civic purposes:  Inaugural balls for Territorial Governor Frank Frantz and first State Governor Charles N. Haskell: early county fairs; and many public events through the years, including basketball games during the 1920's.  Use was denied Carry A. Nation in 1906, however, on one of her prohibition speaking tours, to her bitter and vocal fury. Somehow, the City Hall lots were not removed from the county's tax rolls, and in November 1912, F. L. Williams paid the $7.45 taxes due and received title to the lots.  He sold them back to the City for $8.00 in December 1915. By a slender margin, bonds were voted to a new City Hall and the old building was razed in July 1955.  Bricks from the old building were used for the entryway paving of the present structure.
April 17, 2020
Bonfils Building - 107 S. 2nd St
Transcription from the historical marker: The 1890 City Directory lists 107 S. 2nd as F. C. Bonfils Real Estate with residence on 2nd floor.  Son of a Missouri Judge and descendant of Napoleon, he was 28 when he joined the Land Run of 1889.  A colorful con man and lottery promoter, he had but one intention --  to make money for Bonfils.  His confidence games forced him to leave town after constructing this first native stone business building in Guthrie.  Among his schemes was selling town lots in Oklahoma City at bargain prices -- but they were in Oklahoma City, Texas, not Oklahoma, as most supposed.  Bonfils was also involved in a "money-making machine" which duped early settlers into believing the machine actually made large bills from small ones. He later went to Denver and was co-founder of the Denver Post newspaper.  He died 1932, a wealthy and nationally influential figure.
April 17, 2020
Transcription from the historical marker: 117 S. 2nd "Oklahoma -- an all black state with a black governor -- was the dream of E. P. McCabe, lawyer, farmer, and Republican activist.  McCabe vigorously promoted black settlement and assumed role as spokesman for black people in Washington with President Benjamin Harrison. As a candidate for Territorial Governor, he was quoted in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat:  "Should I become governor, I promise to rule fairly and fearlessly."  McCabe became Logan County treasurer by appointment of Gov. Steel in 1890.  He served as secretary of the Territorial Legislature in 1890, and was deputy auditor of the Territory from 1897 to 1907. He was chiefly responsible for the founding of Langston and helped in the location and establishment of Langston University."
April 16, 2020
Reeves Brothers Casino
Transcription from the historical marker: "One of the most notorious gambling houses of the Southwest opened in a tent on April 23, 1889. Soon a frame building went up, later replaced by brick. The owners claimed their doors never closed, day or night, for 15 years. When closed by prohibition in 1907, a key could not be found. Inside, a sign proclaimed: 'We the citizens of Guthrie are law-abiding people. But to any one coming here looking for trouble, we always keep it in stock with a written guarantee that we will give you a decent burial. We will wash your face, comb your hair, and polish your boots. Place your sombrero on your grave, and erect a memento as a warning to others saying … ‘he tried and failed.’''
April 16, 2020
Oklahoma Daily State Capital
Transcription of the historical marker: "Built in 1902 by Frank Hilton Greer, this building housed the first newspaper in Oklahoma Territory and the largest printing plant west of the Mississippi. The paper actually began in Kansas before the Run and came to Guthrie with the opening. It soon outgrew its tent. A wooden structure, soon replaced by brick, was erected on this lot. After a fire Easter Sunday, 1902, this building was erected with help of popular subscriptions in the amount of $50,000. Greer developed a politically powerful newspaper with the largest circulation in the Territory aided by installation of the first Linotype in Oklahoma. He embarked upon a campaign of scathing criticism of Gov. Haskell, first state Governor. Haskell, enraged, threatened to “see grass grown in the streets of Guthrie” if Greer were not silenced. Greer would not be budged and, largely through Haskell’s efforts, the 1910 referendum moved the capital to Oklahoma City. As a Bicentennial Project, the building was given in 1975 to the Oklahoma Historical Society for a printing museum. The building is a Joseph Foucart design and is a National Register Site. On February 17, 1972, the Oklahoma Press Association officially endorsed the Printing Museum as a project."
April 16, 2020