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Built in 1904; Classes Began in 1905; Closed in 1974; Sold in 1978; Demolished in 1979

A two-room wood schoolhouse was built at Sixth Street and Cherokee Avenue prior to 1904 when Bartlesville's leading citizens took donations to build it from native lumber from Jim Stokes' mill west of Dewey. The largest donations came from William Johnstone, George B. Keeler, Jake Bartles, and Arthur Armstrong. All grades attended Garfield School with a tuition of one doller per month for white students while the Cherokee government paid teacher salaries for Indian children.

A brick school building was begun in 1904 at the location (611 S. Cherokee) and completed in 1905. The $17,230 facility housed all grade levels. On May 5, 1907, two young ladies, Eva Mae Kreep and Lillian Emma Evans, became the first graduating seniors from Garfield. Classes steadily grew from 469 to 800 students. High school classes moved out of the Garfield facility after the spring of 1910 when the original Bartlesville High School was completed.

The most famous student to come from Garfield School was J. Paul Getty, who attended Garfield as a young teenager during its first year or two of operation. His father, George Getty, was in Bartlesville during the early Osage oil boom. During his two-year stay in Bartlesville, J. Paul Getty sold newspapers as well as attending school. He then moved with his father to California, but returned to Tulsa to work his father's business, and made his first million in a little over a year, before age 20. His oil business would lead to him being named the world's richest man by the late 1950s.

A $64,000 addition to Garfield was constructed in 1929, adding seven classrooms and an assembly hall. The bell tower was eventually removed and a flat roof installed. 

Decreased enrollments caused the school to close in June 1974. It was sold to the City of Bartlesville and was leased for a time by the First Baptist Church, becoming home to Operation Eagle in 1978. It was razed in 1979 to make way for the Bartlesville Community Center. The light-colored stone from above the school's doorway (visible in photo), inscribed "19 · Garfield School · 04", was placed at the northeast corner of Dewey Avenue and Adams Boulevard to commemorate Bartlesville's first permanent school building. Mosey over there the next time you park at the Community Center or the public library. 

Click images to enlarge them.

Garfield 2-room schoolhouse
Garfield prior to 1905

Postcard of Garfield before 1929 renovationsGarfield prior to 1929
Garfield's early days

Garfield after 1929
Later additions and renovations removed the bell tower and installed a flat roof
Aerial photo by John Allen