Many of Oklahoma's towns were beneficiaries of the Carnegie Foundation, which built free libraries in the poorer communities. Many of these rose in the 1920s and 1930s, and are listed on historic registers, national, state and county. The example in Noble County (from 1909) is no different from the architectural style of such libraries throughout the American landscape, but for its commonness it yet remains, like the train depot and the national bank aforesaid, as something to scratch off from the checklist of requisites for rural towns.
Built in 1902 and now housing the Perry Chamber of Commerce, the First National Bank (formerly the Noble County Bank) was designed by prominent territorial architect Joseph Foucart, a Belgian-born builder responsible for many of the buildings in Guthrie, Oklahoma. While the bank stood in its fiduciary capacity for fifty years, lawyers' and doctors' offices generally occupied the upper floors and a German-language newspaper (the Oklahoma Neuigkieten, or Piece of News) was printed from the basement to serve a large European electorate in the county. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Listed as many are on the National Register of Historic Places, the Noble County courthouse brings a large and stately edifice in 20th-Century Revival to a large and almost forested town square. If such architecture is not to your liking, there are several trees on the grounds offering private walks, and a prominent statue in bronze of a homesteader and his wife (the equine team is missing but assumed) whipping their way out to their new stomping grounds in the Cherokee Strip.
This Perry page of mine is fast beginning a cookie-cutter commonplace for Oklahoma towns. As a matter of fact, the town website features most of the photos contained on this page! The national bank, the courthouse and the Carnegie library have since been checked off, so now we must turn to the old depot, the first and last artery for communication out of town (just as the courthouse is the first hive of in-town business). This red-brick structure is the offspring of a pattern that appears in hundreds of towns throughout America, and some (though not Perry's) are listed on the National Register.
The local newspaper began production almost immediately after the Cherokee Strip opened to white settlement, as the power brokers and newsmongers sought to establish control of the new county. The building depicted dates from 1894, though the newspaper has long since folded or been subsumed by another publication. Today, Perry gets its news from the Daily Journal. The building itself is typical of Perry builders.
By far the most prominent building in Perry (after the courthouse) is the St Rose of Lima Catholic Church, a tremendous red-brick building whose tall spire can be seen all the way from the distant lanes of I-35. Situated amid a very modest neighborhood, this elegant and detailed structure with its stained-glass windows is the only church featured by photograph on the town website, a strong endorsement for a church that would beautify any rural or urban landscape. Mass is held on Saturdays at 5:30 pm and Sundays 10:30 am.
Located in an unpretentious storefront on the town square is the studio of Jim Franklin, a friendly and very talented sculptor whose works are spread across this country. As my wife and I were strolling along the sidewalk one evening, he gave a wave of his arm and beconded us to come on in. He then showed us the projects he was working on and we had a very interesting visit with Jim.
You can visit his website at www.oksculpt.com
Perry's town square is larger than most. Not only does it have the county courthouse, it also has the library, a bandshell, and there is still room for green space and flowers. very nice.
The courthouse had a brush with history; The Oklahoma City bomber was stopped on a highway near Perry and brought to this courthouse while the investigation was carried on.
The town square also has the Kumback Cafe (see restaurants).
CLICK THE PHOTO TO SEE MORE OF THE TOWN SQUARE.
CHECK OUT THE large mural/map of Oklahoma painted on the side of a downtown building. It was recently restored and looks very sharp.
HERE ARE FOUR PHOTOS of sights we saw on the town square during our most recent visit on July 20, 2008.