COE School History

About Council Oak Elementary School


Council Oak Elementary School began as Lee Elementary School opening for classes in January of 1918.


It is a stylistic example of Classical Revival architecture. Lee 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. It may have been a coincidence that this plan followed the pattern of the town square of old Creek Tulsa.


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” stands at the north entrance to the school. During the 1920s, Central High School played its football games in the stadium and drew crowds of up to 10,000. Central and the University of Tulsa used the stadium until Skelly Stadium was built around 1920. Junior high school students continued to use the stadium until about 1937, when their games were phased out. The stadium’s athletic importance then ended. Lee’s role in the Tulsa Public Schools’ athletic program faded, and 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. The arch at 19th and Cincinnati remains standing as a reminder of past glories. *

Lee School was renamed Council Oak Elementary in 2018.


* © 2011 Tulsa Preservation Commission