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History

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Come explore a history like nowhere else on earth! Guthrie, Oklahoma! Born of the Land Run in 1889, this dusty prairie stop along the AT&SF Railroad became a city of over 10,000 people in a single day. On April 22, 1889 the Unassigned Lands in the center of Indian Territory were opened to settlement. As the location for one of the two U.S. Land Offices, Guthrie quickly grew as the center of government and commerce. Wooden buildings replaced tents and temporary shelters by the end of May and within four months, the city directory listed six banks, 16 barbers, 16 blacksmiths, 17 carpenters, two cigar manufacturers, seven hardware stores, 15 hotels, 19 pharmacists, 22 lumber dealers, five photographers, 39 doctors, 40 restaurants, nine churches, five newspapers, a telegraph office, an electric plant and 81 lawyers. One year later, with the passage of the Organic Act of 1890, the area became Oklahoma Territory with Guthrie as its capital, and the city began being built to Victorian elegance, which still stands today. With Oklahoma statehood in 1907, Guthrie became the first state capital and continued to thrive as the center of culture, education, government and business.

After statehood, the political atmosphere in Guthrie became heated. In 1910, then Governor Haskell called for a statewide election to find a permanent state capital site. Oklahoma City won handily, 96,261 to Guthrie’s 31,301. As Oklahoma’s seat of government moved to its new home so did much of Guthrie’s sustaining business and industry.

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Remaining business, industry and agriculture sustained our small town as “modernization” covered beautiful buildings and destroyed some irreplaceable relics through much of the 20th century. Long before it became fashionable, Guthrie came alive with historic restoration through the work of concerned citizens and preservationists in the late 1980s. Today we stand as a National Historic Landmark with a historic district that contains 2,165 buildings in nearly 1,400 acres of downtown and residential Guthrie. As restoration projects continue, most of the buildings within the historic district have been reclaimed and have found a new life as retail space, apartments and offices. We are very proud of what we once were and even more proud of what we’ve become and what we are preserving for our future generations.

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