Preservation Task Force plans Castle on the Hill memorial

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Preservation Task Force plans Castle on the Hill memorial

A memorial commemorating the iconic Castle on the Hill is planned for the Alva campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University by the Northwestern Historic Preservation Task Force.

The Castle on the Hill was built and dedicated in 1898 as attendance and faculty increased at the newly established Northwestern Territorial Normal School, now Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The building’s turrets, battlements and towers gave it its castle-like character, and it was said to be one of the largest and most beautiful normal school buildings west of the Mississippi River.

The Castle burned March 1, 1935, in an uncontrollable fire, which destroyed the building and its contents: library books, historical documents, treasured pieces of art, band instruments and uniforms, museum relics, government publications, pictures and unique furnishings. However, the Castle remains an important part of the university’s history and a symbol of pride, holding a special place in the heart of many alumni, students, employees and friends.

Today's Jesse Dunn Building, finished in 1937, sits on the land once occupied by the Castle, and the memorial will stand on the north side of Jesse Dunn. The monument will include original bricks from the Castle and an image of the building, as well as information regarding its design, its approval, its cornerstone and its ultimate destruction.

The Northwestern Historic Preservation Task Force is seeking donations from alumni and friends of the university to complete the project. Donors of $500 or more will be recognized by name on the memorial. If funding is secured, the task force expects to host unveiling festivities in 2014.

The group is nearly finished with recognizing the historical significance of a series of campus buildings. A bronze plaque detailing the history of each building can be seen outside the Fine Arts Building, Herod Hall, Jesse Dunn, Shockley Hall, Vinson Hall, Carter Hall, Jesse Dunn Annex, Joe Struckle Education Center, J.W. Martin Library, Health and Sports Science Education Building, Science Building, Percefull Fieldhouse, President’s Home and J.W. Holder Wellness Center and at the former site of the Wyatt Gym and Oklahoma Hall. Interior displays featuring photos and additional information are in the works for many of the structures.
Sponsorships are still needed for South Hall, Ament Hall, Fryer Hall and the Stanley May Industrial Education Building. The cost is $900 for South Hall and $1,200 for each other building’s signage.

For more information or to sponsor a campus landmark, please contact John Barton, task force chair, by phone at 580-327-0406 or email at jl-mabarton@sbcglobal.net.

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