The History of our Congregation
Early Beginnings — 1900 to 1944
In the early 1900′s, a few families in Claremore came together to hold Sunday worship services. The group met in the old Windsor Opera House on the corner of 3rd St and Missouri Avenue, and also in the court house.
This group, in 1909, purchased a lot at First Street and Weenonah. While the building was being erected, services were held under a brush arbor erected on the premises.
According to Pauline Farr, the small rock building had an auditorium, a baptistery with two small classrooms on each side, and another classroom at the back of the building. Margaret Trail recalls that she and her sister, Jewell Cantrell, began their teaching careers in rooms which were about the size of a cloakroom. Pauline also taught in those rooms, but the outstanding feature for Pauline was the restroom that had been installed near the front of the building. Pauline’s children learned to use that facility before entering the auditorium! Margaret remembers the leaky roof. But soon, one learned to dodge the leaks.
Even though the building had a baptistery, Bob Leerskov states that baptisms were done in the Verdigris River west of town. Perhaps the facility was not always operational. Also, some members drove to Tulsa, as he did when he was baptized in 1937 at Tenth and Rockford.
Those early years saw the Tulsa congregations of Tenth and Rockford and Eastside, now known as Crosstown, sending men to help this fledging group. The local members were active in the leadership, doing “whatever they could do” said Bob. “Also, there was one revival per summer and sometimes two.” The first paid preacher was Ernest Brown, in 1939, when there were about 35 members. These are the early beginnings of the Blue Starr Church of Christ in Claremore.
Continual Growth — 1945 to 1965
World War II ended in 1945. Pauline Farr and her husband, along with others, were putting their lives back together. They arrived in Claremore that year and began their support of a “nice congregation” at First and Weenonah. “The building was full,” she said. She remembers well the monthly singings on Sunday afternoons in the area churches. Pauline had been a member of a quartet in Bristow that sang on a regular basis in many of the congregations. During this time Ralph Baird and L.C. LeFan served as elders, according to Erma Smith.
The 1940′s saw some of these families in attendance: The Wagoners, Youngs, Griswolds, Noblets, Williams, Heaters, Tanners, Robertsons, Clucks, Taylors, McFarlands, Farrs, Johnsons, Klecks, Piggs, Trails, Leerskovs, Herb Brown’s (Jean Millikin), Bairds, Alpha Bishop and Ruth Hancock. Other families may have attended, but only these names were made known to this author.
With this active group, there was a need for additional classrooms. In 1955, remodeling began on the rock structure auditorium. A concrete block addition was attached, which added six classrooms and an office. The church met there until 1965, when the membership was about 150.
The decision was made to purchase land in a different location. Seven and one-half acres were found at 319 East Blue Starr Drive. On the last Sunday in February, 1965, the Central Church of Christ had its first meeting at the new location. This building had an auditorium with the seating capacity of 450 people, an office, a fellowship room, and 15 classrooms. The teachers welcomed the additional classrooms.
Construction that followed 1978 — Current:
- In 1978, a 6,510 sq. ft. education building was built south of the original building. This new facility housed 12 classrooms, a benevolent room, three offices, and a fellowship room.
- In the fall of 1986, an addition was made to the back of the old auditorium which increased the seating capacity by 250 seats. The seating area was extended under the balcony, a large foyer, and two more classrooms.
- Construction workers and carpenters were brought back on the premises in 1994 to construct a Family Life Outreach Center. This facility was opened for use with an all-church fellowship on July 3, 1994.