For a little community born in 1926, OpportunityHeights made some important memories in near eighty years.
Did you know: That Johnny Harden of Harden’s Hamburgers and Chicken once lived here? That retired Webster principal; Jerry Billings once performed at the Circle C Roundup rodeo here? That three state-champion wrestlers came from here and an open division state boxing champ?
Monte Hancock wrote a history of OpportunityHeights. “The only building in the community that was identified with the community was OpportunityHeightsBaptistChurch which still stands at West 55th Place and South 45thWest Avenue and is still active,” he wrote. The community reached a peak about 1950, and waned with the construction of the TownwestShopping Center, I-44 and New Sapulpa Road
It was Oct. 12, 1926 when landowners H.C. Stahl and M. A. Younkman filed a plat for OpportunityHeights addition. April 19, 1929, several people filed a disclaimer to correct the original plat that the court accepted. Hancock traced the land back to the granting of the same land to the Creek Tribe Aug. 11, 1852.
On March 5, 1907 Pleasant Porter signed the allotment, of 120.94 acres to the heirs of Nachie Scott, 48. When she died Sept. 29, 1899, the land was left to sons Sunday and Andy Scott. They were the first owners, in today’s sense. The Interurban came through here on its trip between Sapulpa and Tulsa, although passenger traffic stopped in 1933, according to Hal Miller, in an article in the magazine “Trains.”
“Oklahoma Union Railway opened the line between Tulsa and Sapulpa in 1918,” he said. A short street is still called Interurban. Residents generally accept that the OpportunityHeights boundaries include West 51st Street on the North to West 61st Street on the South and South 49th W. Avenue on the west and the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway track on the eastside.
The addition is half way between Red Fork and Oakhurst. The Oak Heights Home Extension Club chose the Heights from here. At its peak, OpportunityHeights had about 1,000 residents, five grocery stores, three service stations and five motels. Three of the grocery stores were combinations with service stations and cabins to rent. The names of the grocery stores were Elias Grocery, the Burgess Grocery, the Cochran Grocery, and the Givens Grocery. Another one was at South 45thWest Avenue and U.S. 66.
Motels included the Lone Star Courts and the Gravitt Motel. About those opening questions: The State Champion wrestlers were Everett Johnson who won state titles at 165 pounds in both 1949 and 1950. Waldo Sharp took state in 1950 at 120 pounds and Claude Rice won state in 1951 at 112 pounds. The Golden Globe boxer standouts included Earl Martin who won two consecutive Open Division State Championships at 135 pounds.
Johnny Harden lived in this neighborhood on West 55th Place when he worked as a fry cook at the Pig-N-Pen Restaurant in Garden City. The Circle C Roundup Club arena was located on Southwest 49thWest Avenue and West 56th Street where TownWestShopping Center is today. “We also had a reporter for a major city newspaper, two professional rodeo trick-riders, an airline pilot, a smoke eater in a national forest, one 30-year Navy veteran, a 36-year Air Force veteran, an assistant golf professional, several businessmen and our share of gangsters and bootleggers,” Hancock wrote.
“Though very few of the old-timers remain, the memories will live on forever,” he said. He attached a picture of the family home that was typical of the structures in OpportunityHeights in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Hancock home address was at 4515 W. 55th Place. The state bought the property and the Hancocks moved in 1950.
Another photo showed the BaptistChurch on April 9, 1950. The children were sitting on the front row and the adults standing. Pastor Rev. H.A. Aday preached that Easter.