The University Center at Tulsa Authority and Oklahoma State University-Tulsa recognized a significant location in Tulsa history during the Standpipe Hill Historical Marker Dedication Ceremony on Thursday, June 12.
“Standpipe Hill played a role in the tragic unfolding of the Tulsa Race Riot, which had a lasting impact on this area of our city,” said OSU-Tulsa President Howard Barnett. “The ceremony will remember the lasting impact of that event and other historical events that happened at Standpipe Hill and look at the role it continues to play in Tulsa as part of OSU-Tulsa.”
The marker, which is located south of John Hope Franklin Boulevard between Detroit Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, details the history of Standpipe Hill, the role it played during the Tulsa Race Riot, its significance as home to higher education offerings in Tulsa and the hopes for the community’s future development.
“The dedication is a time for our community to come together and remember the tragic history of this area and its influence on Tulsa,” said Glenda Love, chair of the Standpipe Hill Historical Marker Committee and an OSU-Tulsa trustee. “Remembering the past will help us move forward in a spirit of reconciliation to create a more prosperous future for all of Tulsa.”
Historic records detail how Standpipe Hill was a witness to one of the darkest times in the city’s history, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, which resulted in the death of many African-American people and the destruction of much of the Greenwood District.
The historical marker committee included Love, Oklahoma State Senator Jubar Shumate, Oklahoma State Representative Kevin Matthews, Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson, OSU-Tulsa Vice President for Administration and Finance Ron Bussert and Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn. They examined historical documents and researched legends associated with Standpipe Hill to determine what factual information to include on the marker.
“There are many historical events and legendary stories associated with Standpipe Hill,” said Barnett. “While many things are verifiable by historical documents, photos and eyewitness accounts, others remain more difficult to authenticate. Our goal was to create a concise narrative that details what happened here.”
Legendary stories include tales of the Dalton gang using the top of the hill as a vantage point to spot lawmen to see if it was safe to attend church nearby.
The city’s first water tower, which gave the Standpipe Hill its name, was constructed in 1904. The tall, cylindrical unit was demolished in 1924 when a new water storage unit was constructed on Reservoir Hill just a few miles north.
The University Center at Tulsa, a consortium of higher education institutions including OSU, was established on land adjacent to Standpipe Hill in the 1980s. The campus became OSU-Tulsa on Jan. 1, 1999.
The Standpipe Hill Historical Marker was designed by Kinslow, Keith and Todd architecture firm and built by Flintco. The stones used in constructing the pedestal and wall of the marker were preserved from the historic stones that supported the foundation of the hill.