Guthrie old and new

Friday, December 14th 2007, 6:42 pm
By: News 9

Ask any Oklahoma history teacher and they will tell you how important it is to keep our history alive forever. They say the best way to do that is to simply talk about it with others. One group in Guthrie is talking on behalf our state's great history and keeping Oklahoma history alive.

Just about every town has one, a group of guys, sitting, drinking coffee, and solving all of the world's problems. However, on this day, the rest of the world took a backseat as another page of history unfolded in Guthrie.

Each and every morning inside Miss Carolyn's Territorial House on Division Street there's some conversation heating up, guaranteed to give the daily special a run for its money.

With a fresh pot-a-brewing, and after a few Centennial niceties, they went straight for the jugular.

"All we ever heard is Oklahoma City stole the seal," said Ken Branson, a Guthrie resident, referring to the 97-year-old debate on what city should hold the state seal.

But the topic was quickly switched to the present-the people and the buildings. Downtown is where people who come to town spend most of their time. And downtown is where the past and present collide, like Guthrie's Union Depot, built in 1903. 

You'll find the first-ever brick house in the entire Oklahoma territory still standing and lived-in at East Cleveland Avenue and North Ash Street.

At 1st and West Oklahoma Avenues, the spot where Guthrie residents are banking on Guthrie's future, they are still banking on it today.

"I've been sort of nicknamed the godfather of preservation," said Don Odom, a retired Guthrie history teacher.

Outside the huddle at Miss Carolyn's Odom, a legendary Guthrie history teacher, weighed in on Guthrie for us.

"In the late 70s and 80s is when we began to make an impact. People realized what we had here," he said.

But in the decades before, much of Guthrie's beautiful life and architecture was hidden behind aluminum false fronts and coats of paint, Odom said.

"It was typical of the time, to get rid of the old and put up the new shiny buildings to look like a modern city," said Jimmy Clymer, a Guthrie resident. "They tore down more historical buildings in the town than you see standing."

But the locals will always remember the buildings they tore down, too.  The Commercial Bank Building went up before statehood, but came down long before Oklahoma's Centennial. The Mineral Bath House and the original City Hall also gave way to modern-day progress.

"Well, I just assume be here than anywhere. I like it here," Clymer said.

And because of loyalty like Clymer's, this table of tough-talkers knows that Guthrie will always be the envy of small towns everywhere. As for the state seal controversy, by a 50,000 vote majority, people voted to move the State Capitol out of Guthrie.