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VILLAGE, THE

The Village is a small community that developed on the outskirts of the state capital in rural Oklahoma County after World War II. An urban island surrounded by other cities, including Oklahoma City and Nichols Hills, The Village comprises approximately 2.6 square miles. The surrounding region had been settled after the Land Run of 1889 into the Unassigned Lands of central Oklahoma. From that time until the late 1940s farmers grew wheat and other crops in the area.

In the early twentieth century local farmers traded at the nearest town, Britton, located at a Santa Fe railroad depot seven miles north of Oklahoma City. Platted in 1890, the tiny community lay in Section 30 of Township 13 North, Range 3 West, in Britton Township. An interurban line constructed in 1908 from Oklahoma City to El Reno caused Britton to grow rapidly to 696 people in 1910 and to 2,214 in 1930. Although it reached 2,239 in 1940, it languished after World War II and was annexed by Oklahoma City in 1950.

A mile to the west, as Britton declined, The Village began its history when residential developers discovered the economic potential of the farm land in sections 31 and 32 of Britton Township. The area was considerably northwest of Oklahoma City, immediately west of Britton, and north of the town of Nichols Hills. Houses began to rise in 1949 in section 31 when Clarence E. Duffner platted The Village Addition to Nichols Hills (this area was not included in the original incorporated town of The Village). Floyd Harrison also platted an addition in the area.

Even before they had built very many houses, the developers sensed an annexation threat from Britton and set in motion the incorporation process with the board of county commissioners. The Town of The Village was incorporated in January 1950 to include Casady Heights (first addition), which encompassed 135 acres under development by Floyd and Joe Bob Harrison and Sylvanus Felix, plus The Village Extended Addition and The Village Second Addition, both being built by Duffner. The total incorporated area was about 159.9 acres. The additions lay on opposite sides (east and west) of Pennsylvania Avenue. Of the total seven residents, six voted in favor, none against. Over the years 1950, 1951, and 1952 the Town Board annexed nine more new housing additions, so that by 1953 The Village's estimated population was 8,000. During the next decades other annexations expanded The Village's corporate limits to Hefner Road on the north, Waverly and McKinley on the east, Hefner Parkway on the west, and, roughly, Britton Road, Westminster, and Andover on the south. By 1960, however, Oklahoma City had blocked The Village's further expansion, and afterward the town remained at 2.5 square miles bordered by Oklahoma City on the east, north, and west, and by Oklahoma City and Nichols Hills on the south.

Included within The Village's boundaries is the site of Curtiss-Wright Field, later styled Wiley Post Airpark. This facility provided Oklahoma City's earliest air transportation access, is the state's oldest private airfield, and is noted for having been Wiley Post's base of operations from 1929 through 1934. The airport was opened in 1928 at the corner of Britton Road and May Avenue, outside Oklahoma City's limits. Although the land was annexed to The Village in 1954, the airport functioned until 1955.

The Village grew rapidly in its first decades. City water and sewer services were provided by agreement with Oklahoma City, police and sanitation departments were established in the early 1950s, and a volunteer fire department provided protection. A new city hall was constructed in 1951. In 1959, with the community eligible to become a city of the first class, voters adopted a home rule charter with mayor-council form of government. By 1960, when the federal census tallied a population of 12,118, two schools served the growing residential community. Casady Square, a large shopping center, was constructed at Pennsylvania Avenue and Britton Road. The Village Library, a branch of the Oklahoma County Library System, opened in 1966, and after more than two decades of campaigning by the Friends of the Library, a new building was constructed and opened in April 1990. Otherwise, through the 1970s The Village remained primarily a residential community, with limited, planned commercial development along the major thoroughfares. By the mid-1980s May Avenue had grown into a thriving retail district. Elsewhere, shopping centers emerged to offer a variety of retail establishments. A Wal-Mart store that opened in mid-1991 provided 12 percent of city revenues in the 1990s but closed in 2001. The Village also hosts a Hertz Corporation's (car rental) Reservation Center and the corporate headquarters of Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores. Local amenities at the beginning of the twenty-first century included seven municipal parks and the Northside YMCA. Educational opportunities included several elementary schools within the Oklahoma City School District, Casady School (private, Episcopal), and St. Eugene Catholic School.

In 1960 the first federal census for The Village tallied a population of 12,118. That number grew to 13,695 in 1970 but declined to 11,114 and 10, 353 in 1980 and 1990, respectively. The 2000 census counted 10,157 inhabitants. Most employed residents work in the surrounding metropolitan area.

SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Joe Looney, "Village Grows to 'City' Size," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 16 August 1959. Lillie-Beth Sanger, "The Village Growth Spurt Expected to Slow," Daily Oklahoman, 7 July 1993. Bruce Stone, "A History of The Village: A Work in Progress [manuscript, ca. 2004]," in "The Village," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Dianna Everett

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