"Each man must work for himself and unless he so works no outside help can avail him." Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1904, Roughrider Teddy Roosevelt whirled into Oklahoma City stirring people with memories of the rough and ready 'old days'. His stirring and dramatic visit stamped an impression on local leaders who applauded his ideals of vigorous manhood. His no nonsense attitude, can do spirit and stirring thoughts about the decided politics also had an appeal. Many sided with this former NYC Police Chief, leader of the Rough Riders and soon to be President of the United States. All in all he was man particularly able to connect with the people who were creating the place called "Oklahoma." His character reflected what many saw as their own recent heritage and what they saw was needed to continue to move forward in positive ways as a new state.
When he died in 1919 there was great mourning and the state rallied to contribute to a great memorial. Like many places they decided to name a school for the man. So, in 1925 the school opened.
The photo shows one of the engraved inspirational and motivational quotes on the current OKC Schools Administration Building. The building, the old Roosevelt, is located on Klein Street. It was thought by many people queried to date from 1920 but newspaper articles indicate the cornerstone was placed with solemn Masonic ritual (and time out from classes for all city students) in 1924. It became the administration building in 1955 according to one source and ,by 1956, there was even talk of creating a school museum on one of the floors. Authorities hoped to adopt a "workshop museum" and art center for the district. Superintendent Swanson envisioned a facility patterned after the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
The plan was dependent on the sale of Jefferson School at NW 23 and Western.
Some district offices were housed there and would be transferred to the Administration building and money, space and conflicting programs might hamper the idea. There already existed an Inverness-Boyd Musuem and Institute of Art (at old Central High School) operated by the schools at 822 N. Harvey. Big plans but lack of follow through may have been a problem for the district. News article noted a planetarium bought by the school board the year before was still in storage due to there not being a suitable place to place it and it could be located wherever the museum settled.
Only a few of the historic old schools still survive in OKC to record the academic journeys of early citizens. Some are indexed here. See an earlier article on Eugene Field here. For more on early day schools see this entry.
"Roosevelt will be honored by School.: Oklahoman (Oct. 25, 1926)2.
"School Corners Laid." Oklahoman (June 24, 1924)3.
"School Library will Start Move Today." Oklahoman (Feb.7, 1957)37.
Wood, Don A. "Central Campus Encompasses Seven Buildings by 1950s." Sooner Spirit (vo.24 #2; Summer 2006 )pg. 6.
The Cornerstone"No man is happy if he does not work. Of all miserable creatures the idler, in whatever rank of society, is in the long run the most miserable." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 1903 speech to the YMCA in Topeka, Kansas.
The carved engraved stones on this school built as a memorial to the Rough Rider President, retains a silent message about the ethics and values that helped shape American society in Oklahoma City. These ideals were chiseled into the lives of students and community as deeply as into the stone of these markers. The question is what replaced them and were its replacements of sturdy stuff or easily eroded materials that lost their stamina?
"We have in our scheme of government no room for the man who does not wish to pay his way through life by what he does for himself and for the community. If he has leisure which makes it unnecessary for him to devote his time to earning his daily bread, then all the more he is bound to work just as hard in some way that will make the community the better off for his existence. If he fails in that, he fails to justify his existence. Work, the capacity for work, is absolutely necessary; and no man s life is full, no man can be said to live in the true sense of the word, if he does not work. This is necessary, and yet it is not enough.
If a man is utterly selfish, if utterly disregardful of the rights of others, if he has no ideals, if he works simply for the sake of ministering to his own base passions, if he works simply to gratify himself, small is his good in the community. I think even then he is probably better off than if he is an idler, but he is of no real use unless together with the quality which enables him to work he has the quality which enables him to love his fellows, to work with them and for them for the common good of all."