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Sand Springs history dating back to Charles Page

Posted at 6:31 PM, Jun 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-15 19:31:38-04

Charles Page was a struggling entrepreneur, he was a police chief, Pinkerton detective, lumberjack and railroad clerk.

His hotel in Washington State failed, he panned for gold in Canada.

It wasn't until he made it to Oklahoma and sunk an oil well that his life became one of fabulous wealth.

Which he turned around and spent on orphans, widows, and building the town that would support them all.

On the highest rise of Sand Springs downtown triangle, fronted by his statue, glows the white stuccoed tribute to Charles Page that was commissioned by his wife, Lucille, three years after his death in 1926.

In the teeth of the Great Depression, here opened an Art Deco masterpiece in memory of the man who built a remarkable industrial complex alongside a sandy spring that sprung from the ground along the Arkansas River west of Tulsa.

A library was how Lucille Page wanted her husband remembered.

"It's just beautiful, it's like being in an artifact all day," Museum Director Ginger Murphy said. "I know it's like a secret treasure because I can't tell you how many times I've driven through Sand Springs not knowing the story."

Charles Page tried his hand at a lot of things.

He failed and lost fortunes.

Until he got to Oklahoma and struck oil.

But instead of building a mansion and stuffing it with treasures, he built an orphanage, because he was an orphan, too.

And then he built a home for widowed mothers because his mother was a widow.

And to support both of those endeavors, he built a town.

A blue-collar behemoth that at its peak was known as "The Industrial Giant of the Southwest."
With Page as its sole benefactor.

"And everyone is so loyal to Charles Page and you know, he's such an endearing man," Murphy said. "I've never seen such a city that's so proud and loyal and happy."

Charles Page built a railroad and a trolley line to Tulsa.

There was a Kerr Glass Plant.

And the largest woolen mill west of the Mississippi.

Commander Mills turned out 185 miles of bed linens every week for sale in the country's finest stores.

Page built a steel mill and a generating station that provided the town's electricity and laid the pipes for fresh water from Shell Lake.

There were a poultry farm and an amusement park and the region's first zoo.

And though he himself belonged to no denomination, he gave churches free land on which to build theirs

And from this little desk, Page ran a bank and his oil company and scores of other businesses to support the orphans and widows.

Until pneumonia took him in 1926 when he was 66 years old.

"And the beauty, you don't see the beauty anymore," Murphy said. "Everything is hand done and there's so much workmanship and artistry in something like this."

In 2003, the library became the town's historical museum.

Lucille Page spent a $100,000 to hire Otis Floyd Johnson of Chicago's Lorado Taft

Studio to wrap her husband's memorial in St. Genevieve Italian marble on the walls and pink Tennessee marble on the staircases.

The hand-painted capitals and moldings are in silver, blue and gold.

And then the building was draped in solid brass.

The massive front doors, the interior handrailings.

The one-of-a-kind light fixtures and chandeliers, made at the town's Empire Chandelier Company.
Sand Springs had a chandelier company.

And the window frames are brass, as well.

Including the large one in front, called the memorial window, which Lucile Page stipulated should never be covered with a drape so that everyone could look across the street and see her husband's statue.

Gazing out from atop the rise, to the legacy he left, alongside the sandy spring.

The Charles Page Foundation still supports the Sand Springs Children's Home and the Charles Page Family Village for single mothers.

The Page Memorial Library building is open every day except Sunday and Monday.

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