The long-closed Page-Woodson School, also known as the former home of Douglass High School, has yet another name attached to it as plans shift from making it a branch of Langston University to multifamily housing.
The high school at 600 N High closed in 1994, but with the surrounding John F. Kennedy neighborhood reviving, various developers have shown an interest in acquiring the landmark for redevelopment.
The Oklahoma City School Board entertained bids earlier this week, debating whether to sell the school as part of a package of surplus properties sought by an investment group, or to sell it to the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, which bid $100,000 with a chance for the school system to receive additional proceeds from any successful redevelopment.
The school board instead chose to enter into a $925,000 sale contract with Ron Bradshaw, who has developed several housing projects in Deep Deuce. Terms of the deal include Bradshaw bidding to acquire surrounding land owned by Urban Renewal, and subjecting his development to the agency for design and project review.
Cathy O'Connor, Urban Renewal director, said Wednesday she saw Bradshaw's development as a promising project and will work with him on his plans.
“We're very early on in this,” Bradshaw said. “We put a bid in because we feel there is a lack of housing in the nearby Health Science area, and it's a wonderful building. It's been vacant for a lot of years, and it has a lot of meaning to the community.”
Page-Woodson School's history dates to the early 1900s, when the building, designed by legendary architect Andrew Solomon Layton, opened as Lowell School. It was 1934 when the former all-white Lowell School was expanded and transformed into a home for the all-black Douglass High School.
The building was monumental in size and appearance, equipped with an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, auditorium and stage. And unlike previous homes for Douglass High School, the building was in the middle of the black community, not hidden among industrial properties. The school's instructors included the legendary Zelia Breaux, daughter of the first president of Langston University, whose students included jazz great Charlie Christian. Douglass students included Ralph Ellison, author of the National Book Award winner “Invisible Man.” Douglass moved to yet another home in 1954, and the building at 600 N High began to fade away before closing in 1993.