By Crestwood neighbor Kimberly McCauley
The Crestwood neighborhood as we know it is the result of one man's vision almost 100 years ago. John J. Harden, one of the richest men in Oklahoma in the 1920s, used his business acumen and relationships with both state and national political figures to grow much of Oklahoma City “from the shadows.”
Harden had Irish roots but was born in New York and fell in love with a woman named Frances Hale of Nebraska. Her father, David Hale, was one of Nebraska’s most influential political and business leaders of the last quarter of the 19th century. After marrying Frances and having their first daughter, they moved to El Reno just a year after statehood.
Harden immediately jumped into investing. He started with $24,000 and developed the Lakeview Second Addition in El Reno and the College Addition in Vinita in northeast Oklahoma. Soon, hard times hit and he had to sell the remaining lots for a mere $300. But that didn’t stop him or slow him down.
He went on to complete subdivisions in Ohio and South Texas. After time developing “out in the country” of Oklahoma City and cemeteries in Ohio, he moved closer to the area we now call home.
In August 1924, Harden and his partner Roscoe Farmer paid $55,000 for a “barren prairie” close to what is currently Northwest 23rd Street and May Avenue. While he was going to call it Jones Park Addition, he ended up calling the new development Crestwood. He planted 800 shade trees and immediately started building houses. His company arranged with the bank to start two to three houses each week for six months. It was the biggest real estate development in 1925.
Harden continued to develop in surrounding states and grew more and more popular throughout the area. In 1925, The Daily Oklahoman asked harden to build its “ideal home” in the Crestwood neighborhood. That home is still located at 2741 NW 17th St. The exposure Harden gained from the “ideal home” boosted his home sales, and he quickly capitalized on the free publicity, not only selling homes, but financing them as well. He formed John J. Harden Inc. to provide financing to people who wanted to purchase a house but couldn’t afford to outright. This gave even more couples the opportunity to become homeowners, and Crestwood was better for it. Harden sold homes just as quickly as he built them.
The homes sold on average for an insanely-low $5,000 (about $70,000 today). They ranged from a five-room bungalow on Northwest 18th Street for $3,895 to a colonial two-story brick-and-frame six-room home for $9,500. Harden was a master marketer and knew how to sell. At one point in 1926, he even gave away a new Ford sedan to lure potential homebuyers. With Harden’s marketing acumen, combined with low prices and high quality, it took less than four years to sell every house in the development. Soon after, Crestwood was one of the most desirable places to live in the growing Oklahoma City metro. With the development’s success, churches and retail started to move in, creating further draw to the area that once was a “barren prairie.”
Harden became the richest man in Oklahoma in 1925. But, with the rising fame, also came opposition. Many saw him as a bully taking over rather than a businessman enriching the area. In 1927, Carl C. Magee, after moving to Oklahoma City from New Mexico and having a short acquaintance with Harden, launched into a personal attack on Harden that in “unequaled in the annals of Oklahoma reporting.”
This attack and volatile public relationship lasted for years. But it didn’t stop Harden. In the bed of controversy, he proposed to the City Council to build a large building along with sheds for fresh produce sellers. June 16, 1928 was the first day of business for the Farmer’s Market. While attacks continued toward Harden, in its first year alone, the Farmer’s Market produced sales of $565,855 (over $8 million today). Stalls continued to be added and in 1931 the sales for the year reached an astronomical $1.2 million (over $19 million today). Fruit producers and farmers came from as far away as Arkansas, Southern Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and Colorado to sell their crops in the Farmer’s Market building that still stands today.
John Harden did so much for Oklahoma City and his impact is still seen in the beautiful buildings that remain. In addition to Crestwood and the Oklahoma City Farmer's Market, he developed the Linwood Place, Linwood Second, Edgemere Park neighborhoods, as well as others.
There is so much more to the story than could be contained in this short article. You can learn more by reading Out from the Shadows: The Life of John J. Harden by Bob Burke, which is the primary source for this article.
Kimberly McCauley is a small business owner living in the Crestwood neighborhood. If you see her, say hi.
We hate to see these neighbors go, but their home at 2805 NW 18th is a great house to have on the market. It is over 1,900 square feet and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms on two floors. The home is one block away from the beautiful 19th Street median and is surrounded by great neighbors.
From the listing:
Classically beautiful Crestwood home packed with amenities. This 1921 beauty has features the modern buyer loves and all the charm of classic twenties construction to boot. Not all 20's homes have an indoor utility/Mudroom with plenty of space for a washer and dryer, plus a pantry for storage. Another wonderful and unexpected feature is the large master bedroom with 2 nice sized closets. Plus this home has two FULL baths, one downstairs and one upstairs! Of course this home has all the classic features one hopes for in Crestwood, hardwood floors, tiled mock fireplace,builtins for books, linens, drawers for storage, a saddleback staircase, builtin china hutch and a porch ready for relaxing. Come and visit this home, with all the character of the past and the conveniences of today!
This two-bedroom home at 2505 NW 22nd has been completely remodeled with an open floor plan and is move-in ready. It is 1,198 square feet and is close to Cleveland Elementary with easy access to NW 23rd Street.
From the listing:
A fabulous home where historical charm meets a new open floor plan. This home has been completely remodeled and is move-in ready. The kitchen features all new cabinets with a farmhouse sink, a large island boasting a stainless gas stove & a beautiful granite countertop, all new fixtures, with stainless steel appliances. All new paint and trim work throughout the home, hardwood floors and carpeted bedrooms. Beadboard ceilings through living areas with a custom sliding barn door. Updated windows throughout allow so much light in while keeping the home energy efficient. Focal point in the living area is the amazing original fireplace. Both bedrooms are oversized and are inviting, homey spaces. There is a large backyard with a partially covered deck great for entertaining! This charming home also has the original single car garage/workshop recently painted to match the home with a new matching roof. Too many more features to mention. Come check it out!!
Meeting started at 7 p.m
Meeting adjourned at 7:56 p.m.
The Crestwood Neighborhood Association is proud to announce that Crestwood-branded sign-toppers have been installed at all peripheral intersections. .The signs cost approximately $30 each (including installation). If you'd like to see these at all interior intersections as well, please consider donating to the CNA. You can do so here. Be sure to put in the memo what the funds are for (e.g. dues; doggie bags; sign-toppers). Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.
The Crestwood Neighborhood Association has replaced two of the three dog waste stations on the 19th Street median. Your dues and donations are what make these stations possible by paying for the hardware and the bags. Neighborhood volunteers empty the waste bins. If you see them doing it, be sure to thank them. If you'd like to help fund the bags, you may do so here. The remaining waste station on the 2700 block of NW 19th St. still needs to be replaced, so any donations are appreciated.
A special thanks goes to Paul at the City of Oklahoma City for installing these for us.
Meeting started at 6:38 p.m.
Updates From Last Meeting
Discussed Replacing Other Doggie Waste Stations
Mugs/Totes for New Members
Micah contacted Don’s Lawns for Median Fertilization
Meeting Concluded at 7:21
The City of Oklahoma City needs the input of each neighborhood for the 2017 Bond Election. Tell the City what is important to you, whether it's street repairs, sidewalks, public transit, better drainage, more recreation options or any of the other options on the survey. Take the survey here.
General news and events for the Crestwood Neighborhood Association
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Our community is over 90 years old, and we are eager to welcome new families into it. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For any questions, email the CNA president or ask your local Realtor. If you're part of the neighborhood already, join us on Nextdoor.