COE School History
Council Oak Elementary (COE) School sits along the western edge of the Maple Ridge Neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a part of the neighborhood, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As Tulsa grew rapidly in the early 1900s, plans for Maple Ridge Neighborhood - the city’s first subdivision - were made. The need for schools was increasing rapidly with the city’s growth; in 1917, Tulsans passed school bonds that built eleven new schools - one of them being the present day COE School. Originally named Lee Elementary, the school opened for classes in January of 1918.
COE School and other schools built at the same time were constructed on the “unit plan” to provide a flexible design that could be adapted to the city’s unpredictable growth. As the population increased, additional units could be built around a central quadrangle used as a playground. This plan is said to have originated in Tulsa.
The school building is a stylistic example of Classical Revival architecture. A four-room apartment located on the roof housed the school’s janitor and his family. Students used a hallway separated from the outside by low railings. Students were exposed to the weather when changing classes until this hallway was enclosed in the 1940s.
A large arch bearing the words “Lee Stadium” stood at the north entrance to the school, welcoming fans of Central High School and the University of Tulsa into the school’s stadium. During the 1920s, both high school and college teams played football games in the stadium and drew crowds of up to 10,000. When TU’s Skelly Stadium was built, the stadium’s athletic importance began to fade and eventually, the school’s role in the Tulsa Public Schools’ athletic program ended. The stadium was demolished, having become dangerous and too costly to repair. However, remains of showers, locker rooms, and tunnels leading to the field can still be found in the basement of the school. The arch at 19th and Cincinnati remains standing as a reminder of past glories.*
* © 2011 Tulsa Preservation Commission