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Construction at Will Rogers World Airport by Manhattan Construction Company at Oklahoma City, 1966

In 1896 Laurence H. Rooney of Muskogee, Oklahoma, established a construction company that holds the distinction of being the first corporation registered in Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma was a territory at the time, Rooney traveled to New York City to get his corporate charter. When the clerk began to fill out the charter form, he asked for the company name. Rooney, who had not decided on a name, told him to call it Manhattan because that was where they were at the time of the signing of the document. Rooney's firm built Oklahoma's original capitol building at Guthrie in 1907, constructed the new Capitol building when the state capital relocated to Oklahoma City in 1919, and headed the team that added the Capitol's dome in 2002. Manhattan continued its growth and in 1942 opened a branch office in Houston, Texas, to supervise part of the more than $1 billion in military construction contracts that the company secured during World War II. In Oklahoma the company constructed Camp Gruber and the Tulsa Bomber Plant in the early 1940s. Since then, the Muskogee firm has opened branch offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Texas, Washington, D.C., Tampa, Florida, Richmond, Virginia, and Mexico City, Mexico. Through the years the enterprise has built many Oklahoma courthouses, banks, hospitals, churches, college campus buildings, and various business facilities. At the turn of the twenty-first century Manhattan was the largest construction company in Oklahoma and continued to be owned by the Rooney family.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 20 March 1960. Odie B. Faulk, C. W. West, and Juanita Freeman, Muskogee City and County (Muskogee, Okla.: The Five Civilized Tribes Museum, 1982). C. W. West, Muskogee: From Statehood to Pearl Harbor (Muskogee, Okla.: Muscogee Publishing Co., 1976).

Bobby D. Weaver

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