Western KS High School Football Stadium Named to National Historic Register
The Kansas Historical Society announced that the New Deal-era high school stadium in Oakley is among the newest Kansas listings in the National Register of Historic Places. The listings was entered into the National Register on April 9. This brings the total Kansas listings in the National Register to 1,295.
The National Register of Historic Places is the country’s official list of historically significant properties. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
Oakley High School Stadium – 118 W 7th Street, Oakley, Logan County
The construction of Oakley High School Stadium in 1938 was financed through the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) and has hosted football games and track meets since its completion in 1939. Lewis Mershon was the lead builder and used a team of unskilled WPA laborers made up of local farmers who were struggling financially. The limestone and concrete stadium faces a standard 100-yard football field with natural grass surface encircled by a 400-meter track and includes two locker rooms, restrooms, a tornado shelter, and outdoor bleacher seating. It exhibits symmetry, vertical and horizontal lines, and rounded features, all of which gives it a WPA Moderne appearance. The stadium was first used on October 6, 1939 for the first home football game of the season between the Oakley Plainsmen and the Colby Eagles. Although the local newspaper reminded readers that Oakley had defeated Colby “seven times in the last eleven years,” the Plainsmen were “trounced” by the “powerful” Eagles. It was nominated as part of the New Deal-era Resources of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of recreation, government, and architecture.
Eligible properties must be significant for one or more of the four criteria for evaluation. Properties can be eligible if they are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. They can be eligible if they are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past. Distinctive construction can qualify properties for the National Register if they embody the characteristic of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. Lastly, properties may be eligible for the National Register if they have yielded or may be likely to yield information important in prehistory or history. The National Register recognizes properties of local, statewide, and national significance.