Chapel Creek

Chapel built for Masonic home is the symbol for Chapel Creek Winery at the site of historic Darlington Indian agency.
BY DAVID ZIZZO Modified: June 17, 2010 at 10:58 am •  Published: June 8, 2010


photo - Built in 1913 the former chapel, orpahnage, drug rehab center and State of Oklahoma sign shop is now the home of Chapel Creek Winery on Thursday, May 20, 2010, in El Reno, Okla. The winery is part of the Redlands Community College wine making program.   Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman  ORG XMIT: KOD
Built in 1913 the former chapel, orpahnage, drug rehab center and State of Oklahoma sign shop is now the home of Chapel Creek Winery on Thursday, May 20, 2010, in El Reno, Okla. The winery is part of the Redlands Community College wine making program. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
Th
e agency developed into a "full-fledged town,” according to one account, with a sawmill, school, brickyard, various shops and two hotels. In 1869, Brinton Darlington, a Quaker, left his home in Iowa and traveled without the recommended military escort to this outpost in Indian Territory to become superintendent of the agency that would bear his name. Three years later, the man whose Indian name meant "wooden teeth” died.

"By all accounts he was well-liked by the Native Americans,” Snyder said.

In 1876, when relations with the tribes soured, Fort Reno was built a few hundred yards south of the Darlington Agency on the other side of the North Canadian River to maintain peace.

The tribes eventually moved to nearby Concho, and in 1909, the U.S. government sold the Darlington Agency property to the Masons. In 1922, the Masons moved their home for orphans and elderly Masons to Guthrie, and the Darlington settlement became property of the state of Oklahoma.

After the drug treatment center's brief stint, the state Wildlife Conservation Department took control of the property, using one building there as a quail hatchery.

Today, the Redlands Darlington campus is the site of a vineyard and wine research lab, goat dairy, goat meat lab and other facilities.

The old dormitory, too expensive to renovate, has an uncertain future. "They have declared it a historical site so we can't remove it,” Snyder said.

For the chapel, though, there could be an even more diverse future. The plan is to renovate the chapel and connect it to an annex, if backers can find the funds, of course.

"They want to turn it into a convention center,” Snyder said.

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