In Putnam Heights Neighborhood, Adopt-A-Park Program blends resources with community foundation
Through Oklahoma City’s Adopt-A-Park Program, Putnam Heights Preservation Area, Inc., the neighborhood association for the Putnam Heights Historic Preservation District ambitiously adopted the four acres of public park space that graces this grand old neighborhood.
For the last 21 years Putnam Heights has maintained the wide medians and park space, mowing, controlling weeds, planting trees and flowers, and landscaping entrances to the historic district.
Partners in this effort have been the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the City government.
The Foundation, through the Margaret Annis Boys Fund and the Parks and Public Space Initiative, recently awarded its third grant to Putnam Heights for beautification. The $8,775 grant will be used to fund 17 new trees and 24 crapemyrtles. Brian Dougherty, representing the Foundation, presented the grant at the March Putnam Heights board meeting.
“We are so pleased to have received this grant,” says Lyne Tracy, president of the Putnam Heights board. “Our beautiful medians and common areas are enjoyed by many residents of this area, not just the historic district. Putnam Heights is very walkable, providing a comfortable, safe path to Putnam Heights Elementary School, Memorial Park, and Classen businesses. Dog walkers are seen at all hours. The support of the Community Foundation is so appreciated and crucial to our efforts.”
Tracy continued, “Our other partner is the City of Oklahoma City. Through the City’s program that provides free water for the public spaces, we are able to plant and successfully maintain our trees and flowers. The Adopt-A-Park program allows us to beautify and maintain our great open spaces in a manner the City can’t afford.”
Residents of the Putnam Heights Historic District have contributed around $8,000 per year for its medians and park maintenance. This year, they provided an additional one-to-four cash match for the Foundation grant. Putnam Heights also applies its distributions from the Anderson Family Endowment for Putnam Heights, administered by the Foundation, to the medians and park upkeep. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the endowment, the neighborhood raised funds to win a one-to-three grant from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, adding $15,000 to the endowment principal.
In another partnership with the Foundation, Putnam Heights Preservation Area facilitated the planting of 15 trees at Putnam Heights Elementary School through the Foundation’s Clean and Beautiful Schools program. The tree planting inspired further beautification of the school with the installation of a brick marker with planters, designed by lifetime Putnam Heights resident and Putnam Heights Elementary alum Warren Edwards.
The Oklahoma City Council designated the Putnam Heights Historic District in September 1972. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 1, 1982. Putnam Heights Preservation Area, Inc., was incorporated in 1972 for the purpose of supporting the historic district, located between North Classen Boulevard and Blackwelder/Georgia, from Northwest 35th to Northwest 38th Streets. The neighborhood association fosters several longstanding traditions, including a yearly progressive dinner, holiday celebration, New Year’s Day Black-Eyed Pea reception, Neighbors Night Out, and neighborhood cleanup days.
Israel M. Putnam, the area’s namesake, came to Oklahoma City in 1901 to practice law. In 1902 he established the Putnam Company and began real estate development, including the Putnam Heights addition. In 1906 he built and lived in the home at 1425 N.W. 37th Street, now part of the Putnam Heights Historic District. While serving in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1908, he introduced the resolution to make Oklahoma City the state capital. He also donated the land for what is now Memorial Park, adjacent to Putnam Heights.
“In 1906, Mr. Putnam imagined a new neighborhood with grand homes and great open spaces,” observes Tracy. “We think he would be proud of our stewardship of his dream.”
Founded in 1969, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation works with donors and organizations to create endowments that address needs and opportunities within the community. Grants awarded through the Parks and Public Space Initiative support programs that encourage the use of public parks for recreation, health and wellness activities. For more information about the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, visit www.occf.org.