In 1909, Eugene Field Elementary School, located at 1515 N. Klein in Oklahoma City was “awaiting opening”. According to local newspapers of the day, the school named for loved poet Eugene Field, waited with a building packed with equipment ready to educate city children. In those years after statehood, the capitol city was booming as people arrived from around the globe to join those building Oklahoma City. In September of 1910, the new Eugene Field was listed as one of the schools gripping for the onslaught of some 16,000 boys and girls heading back to the classroom.
In 1983 the principal of the old square two story red brick building was Audrey Baker. Jean Thompson was the librarian in charge of Eugene Field and ten other school libraries. A clerk oversaw the day-to-day operations of the school library and provided resources to students, parents, and teachers. In those days, the library was in a dark corner of the basement level of the school. There were no windows and the restrooms across the hall made it noisy at times. Some of the teachers from that time were Mrs. Juniper, Miss Abboussi and Mrs. Owens. When the school board was deciding if they should just tear down the old building and close it, several parents spoke out on behalf of the school at board meetings and the school was saved. Plans were for it to be torn down and a new structure built but it would continue as Eugene Field Elementary.
The last day of school in May of 1983, called “Field Day”, was bittersweet as a school year was celebrated and farewells were planned. There was a small parade led by the school Boy Scouts and their den mothers. History was both made and discovered that day, as students and faculty learned from various alums, that Hollywood actor Dale Robertson had once attended Eugene Field. The music teacher was delighted to learn that Eugene Field was, according to others, the first OKC School with a band.
In the best tradition of such events, a time capsule was buried when the new school was built to be opened in December of 2035. It contained letters, pictures, and other artifacts put there by the children and people involved with the school up to the rebuilding.
Where do you put a school and library without a building? In the newspaper a year later, a photo of Principal Audrey Baker showed her in the library of the temporary location at the old Mayfair school at NW 59th and Independence. After a delay of more than a year, the school was finally completed. Staff and volunteers repacked the library and moved it back to Eugene Field Elementary. The new library in the award winning building was in the heart of the school. The perfect place for any library to be found.