A City Inside The City Of Norman

Thursday, March 31st 2011, 2:09 pm
By: News 9

Gan Matthews, News 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Norman has been around since the Land Run of 1889, and its history contains lots of interesting chapters and little footnotes. One of them concerns a little city that grew up next to -- actually, inside -- the city limits of Norman.

Hall Park is another Norman residential area now. But it was once the country's first all-electric city.

It was the dream of its founder, Ike Hall. He turned pasture land into a community for families. He also wanted to create an incorporated city that used no gas, only electricity.

"Well, in the first place, there was no gas this far east unless you used propane. And he considered that dangerous," said Hall's daughter, June McLaughlin. And electricity was cleaner than gas."

For McLaughlin and her sister, Ginger Hall, growing up in Hall Park was a welcome change from the urban life they had known. In Hall Park, they found a new freedom.

"You could run around. You could go fishing. We rode horses. You could ride your bicycle up and down the street. Kids could run loose," Hall said.

When, in March 1962, the time came to dedicate Oklahoma's first all-electric city, Ike Hall brought in the host of TV's General Electric Theater, Ronald Reagan. Yes, that Ronald Reagan.

"He was someone my father adored. We would watch him on T.V. and of course he always did the advertisement for General Electric," said Hall.

From a handful of houses and a few families, Hall Park grew and expanded. Eventually there were almost 400 homes and more than 1,000 people. They lived in a community praised for its common back yards, green spaces, and walking trails.

Ike Hall--a maverick in many ways--had seen his dream come true.

"He looked like Ashley Wilkes, but he was really Rhett Butler," said McLaughlin.

In tribute to her father, June McLaughlin had Hall Park's water tower moved to her front yard.

Ronald Reagan was the honorary Mayor of Hall Park throughout its existence. In 1986, then-President Reagan returned to visit Hall Park during a campaign swing.

The last Mayor of Hall Park said when it was annexed by Norman in 2003, it pushed Norman's population past the 100,000 mark.