Finley Building. The Finley Building was built by Dr. G.E. Finley at 128 N.E. 2nd Street in 1952, as shown in the Sanborn Map at the right. If the notations on the map are correct, Dr. Finley's offices and clinic were located in the first floor and apartments were located on the second.

It shares a couple of general similarities with the Eastside YMCA built on N.E. 4th Street in that they are both fairly contemporary buildings built at about the same time and both were not, strictly speaking, located in what is most often thought of as the historic Deep Deuce area but were on the border.

That was particularly true for Dr. Finley's choice of location -- Walnut was the earlier-day line west of which blacks were not permitted to go when it came to chosing a residence or place of business.

But, this article is more about Dr. Finley than it is about his not-too-historical building. Photos of the building are at the end of this article.

Reading through the Oklahoman's articles associated with Dr. Gravelly Eugene Finley leaves but one possible conclusion: Dr. Finley was exceptionally revered and adored by the members of the black community and he came to be similarly regarded, and honored, by the white community, as well. Of the notable black physicians described in this vintage collection, only Dr. Finley spans the time of Deep Deuce gone by and Oklahoma City today. After living a long full life, he died on May 30, 2008, at the age of one hundred years.
Sanborn 1922 Map, Updated in 1955
Click for larger

  • Birth: March 20, 1908, in Batesville, Arkansas

  • High School: Little Rock - his father sent him there because it was the only place around that accepted blacks in high school (glad it was Gibbs H.S.and not Central). Today's distance between Batesville and Little Rock is 95.5 miles, according to Google Maps:

  • Before Medical Degree: Wilberforce (Ohio) and Ohio State

  • Medical School Graduate: Meharry Medical School, Nashville, 1935

  • In Love: While at Meharry, he meets Saretta Slaughter, daughter of Dr. W.H. Slaughter; in 1935 they marry in Oklahoma City

  • Move To Oklahoma City: Wife's daddy retires in 1937; wife's family ties prompt move to Oklahoma City; medical practice is established at 320 or 324 E. 2nd in 1937
I'll let the Oklahoman article below do most of my talking about Dr. Finley. I'll just do a few high points at the left about how the good doctor wound up living in Oklahoma City and practicing medicine in Deep Deuce.

June 3, 2008

Yeah, I know that the article says his 1st office was at 324 E. 2nd, and maybe it was. But that's also the address of the Black Dispatch at the time -- maybe he leased space from Roscoe Dunjee. But, I'm putting my 2 on 320 E. 2nd since the Sanborn Map below shows a "Colored Clinic" at that very particular address. The large red building names are mine, not Sanborn's.

The picture at the right shows the elegant couple in front of Saretta's daddy's stately mansion at 3101 N.E 50th on or after 1937 (when the house was built). Credit the photo to William D. Welge, Oklahoma City Revisited (Arcadia Publishing 2007).
At least two additonal Oklahoman articles amplify what I've said above about Dr. Finley. They are lengthy and I'll not insert them here -- but they are available here for anyone who wants a good melancholy read: In the latter article, he protested his entitlement to have the bridge named after him."I didn't think I deserved that. That's for great people," he said.

But, he also said that he hoped that he'd be alive to see the new bridge's opening. Despite Oklahoma City machinations that sometime seem to take an unbearably long time to endure, from the beginning of the legal hassle associated with a decision to replace instead of demolish the bridge beginning around 1999 and ending in 2001, construction of the new bridge was finally finished in 2006.

He was there when that happened on July 21, 2006. Mayor Mick Cornett and then-council member Willa Johnson enbraced the guest of honor while he watched vintage cars drive across the bridge. Many other white and black people were on hand were on hand to witness the event. Two years later at the age of 100, he was dead.
I took the following photographs on April 14, 2009. The first shows the front of the building which faces north. The second looks along the east side of the building along Walnut as it approaches and enters the G.E. Finley Bridge.

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