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Midtown man


Bradley Wynn’s latest book explores the rich history of OKC’s first suburban district.

Louis Fowler March 12th, 2014

Bradley Wynn, a sheriff’s deputy by day and author by night, recently published his second book in a series about the history of Oklahoma City’s unique districts. After the success of his book about Film Row for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, he wrote Oklahoma City’s Midtown. Both books lean heavily on a photo-based format with in-depth descriptions of each picture.

Wynn has an insatiable interest in the history of his city and described himself as an urban archeologist who unearths lost histories and relevant stories about areas of downtown and buildings both standing and gone.

He said the research portion of the Midtown book excited him and finding new facts and stories made him “want to shout from the rooftops and let people know this is an amazing city.”

By the early 1900s, prominent citizens began to eye the area north of downtown to establish the city’s first suburb.

“Midtown was the next hot spot,” Wynn said. “It was a direct result of OKC’s growth; it started with what we call ‘urban sprawl,’ which was a term that Anton Classen used. He and John W. Shartel wanted the people of Oklahoma City to go beyond the boundaries of the downtown core, which was all OKC at the time; everything else was farms.”

The founding fathers laid the interurban tracks and got people to emerge beyond their comfortable boundaries. Midtown was that first destination.

“It’s an amazing, layered, rich history,” he said.

Throughout the course of his research, Wynn employed the same investigative instincts that he uses while upholding the law as an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s deputy. The most important, he said, was looking at both sides in an investigation in an effort to uncover the real history of the Midtown area.

That led to some very startling revelations and findings, from the restored Victorian territorial homes along NW Seventh Street to even darker stories like that of a clandestine abortionist in the 1940s who was eventually raided by the authorities. Not more than a year later, the house was purchased by a couple Wynn believed were unaware of the home’s past and, ironically, transformed it into a home daycare that was in business for more than 50 years.

He said there was not enough room to include all of the interesting and fascinating stories in the 128-page book. It does include a treasure trove of historic photos of the people who lived and worked in Midtown and the buildings in which they lived, worked and worshipped.

But as the Midtown tome hits local booksellers’ shelves, Wynn isn’t taking any time to rest on his laurels. He is currently working on books about the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the Capitol Hill neighborhood and Oklahoma’s drive-ins and theaters.

“Too often, as history has shown us, we kind of mow over what once was just so we can create the newest and greatest in brass and glass or whatever they want it to be,” Wynn said.

“It’s important to have that culture and that identity,” he said. “It makes people stand a little taller and say, ‘We did this, we came through this and this is the result.’”

 
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