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Kenwood Historic District

of Enid, Oklahoma

Kenwood-Enid Historic District
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About Kenwood-Enid

Oklahoma Historic Background

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the area that is now Oklahoma remained unsettled until the Indian Removal Act of 1830 moved many tribes and nations from their lands in the east to what became known as Indian Territory.

These groups established individual settlements in the eastern areas of the territory while reserving the western portions for traditional hunting practices.

During the Civil War, several of these groups aided or fought with the Confederate States of America. As a result, during the Reconstruction Period, these tribes and nations were formed into official Nations by the federal government who imposed territorial boundaries for each group.

Since the removal process had now turned to the Plains Indians, the federal government also punished these tribes by seizing their western hunting lands in order to resettle the Plains groups.

Only the Cherokee Nation, which was considered the most assimilated and 'civilized' of the groups, was able to keep its western lands which became known as the Cherokee Outlet or the Cherokee Strip.

In the area that later became Enid, five natural springs converged to form a natural watering hole. The Cherokee had decided it was much more lucrative to lease their hunting grounds to various cattlemen.The convergence of these springs made for a perfect town site, therefore, the seat of "O" County was platted around them.

The original town site, which measured one mile wide from east to west and one half mile from north to south, included tracts for schools, office buildings, a park around the springs, as well as homes and businesses.

This led to the great cattle drives of the 1860's and 1870's during which thousands of cattle traveled trails from Texas to the rail yards of Kansas and Missouri where they were shipped back east to places like Chicago.

Perhaps the most famous of these trails, named for the cattleman, Jesse Chisolm, utilized the natural springs of the area now known as Enid.

As the settlement drives continued, the government repossessed the Outlet from the Cherokee Nation. In 1893, the Cherokee Outlet was opened for settlement through the last of Oklahoma's land runs.

Before these runs, the United States government would thoroughly survey all land involved, laying out 160 acre plots and setting out town sites and county boundaries.

Following the September 16, 1893 run, the largest of the land runs, over 100,000 claimants lined up outside the Government Land Office located at the center of town to staks their claims. This wooden frame building was quickly joined by a bevy of tents.

This angered the Rock Island Railroad who had placed their town site just three miles north on land they owned and planned to develop into a town. Despite their efforts, settlement focused around the government site to the south.

As a result, Rock Island formed 'north' Enid as 'south' Enid continued to form around the land office. In retaliation, railroad officials forbade their trains to stop in the southern site. Instead, the train would go straight through to the northern site.

Angry 'south' Enid residents knowing that the railroad was the major component in the success of a town, fought back by sawing the supports of a wooden train bridge bewteen the two sites. A twelve car freight train plunged into the gully below leading to government intervention into the fight.

President Grover Cleveland solved the dispute by signing an act that required all railroad companies to stop in county seats. Since 'south' Enid had been designated as the seat of "O" County, the Rock Island company had no choice but to stop in both places.

The decision caused a further boom in Enid as raw materials and construction supplies were readily available by freight train. Such goods became even more available as the Santa Fe and Frisco lines were now able to join Rock Island in the area. Business owners quickly created a central district of wooden frame buildings around the land office.

Enid's first business was Enid Bottling Works which led to the opening of more businesses as well as the construction of permanent houses and a permanent courthouse. Despite this initial success, a drought slowed development until 1897 brought a bumper crop of wheat, a plant well suited to the land and climate conditions.

The railroad industry and the growing agricultural industry brought increasing wealth and settlement to Enid making it the third largest Oklahoma town by the 1890's. This growing industrial  base brought many large sums of disposable income - income they used to construct permanent homes for their families.

Enid-Kenwood Historic Background

The area now known as Kenwood was claimed in the Cherokee Strip Land run by Maurice Wogan and N.E. Sisson. Sisson later dismissed his claim. Kenwood was platted on April 16, 1894. Wogan improved the land under the "ten dollar act", which allowed improvement of the land for townsite purposes without a five year residency.

In 1895 the land was sold to the Kenwood Land and Development Company, Harrison Lee and W.O. Cromwell, owners. The lots were sold for as low as twenty-five dollars apiece. Kenwood was a very modern neighborhood complete with street car service and an outdoor theatre, The Delmar Gardens.

The Kenwood District includes eleven blocks of residential homes just northwest of the downtown Enid area. A flat neighborhood with wide streets and wide sidewalks, it is highly pedestrian-friendly.

The lots are evenly spaced with generous front lawns that for the most part feature some type of landscaping. The larger homes of the district line the east to west streets, while the smaller, more vernacular styled homes are found on the north to south streets.

The houses are all uniformly spaced with large sidewalks running among the streets. All of the east to west streets are wide enough for two cars to pass with another car parked along the side of the street. This is due to the streetcar system that once ran through the neighborhood.

The largest, wealthiest homes face the wide east-west streets.  All of the lots in the Kenwood Addition are twenty-five feet wide giving the district a very even visual aspect.  The wide sidewalks that run parallel to all of the district's streets tie each individual block into the unified whole.

The majority of the buildings are single family dwellings with a few multiple family apartment buildings and one funeral home. Most of the buildings are wooden frame, wooden sided homes with a few brick residences scattered amongst them.

The Kenwood Distict includes ninety-five buildings, most of which are residential in nature.  Most of the properties were built between 1895 and 1935.  The two most predominant styles in the neighborhood are Prairie School American Foursquares and Craftsman Bungalows. 

These homes feature most of the typical details of their individual schools.  All have porches with composite posts.  Most of the Prarie School homes feature flattened, pagoda-style eaves while all of the Craftsman homes feature exposed beam ends.

Other styles included National Folk homes of the Gable and Front Wing subset, Folk Victorian, Shingle, Tudor Revival, and Neoclassical homes.

Nearly all of the homes in the Kenwood District are minimally, if not completely, unchanged from their original states.  Of the ninety-five total buildings, seventy-four contribute to the district. 

The remaining twenty-one which do not contribute, can be divided into two categories:  those that were constructed after the dates of significance and those that have been remodeled to the point that they have lost their historical fabric.