Slaughter Building. I've not been able to fix a construction date, but Dr. Wyatt H. Slaughter built the Slaughter Building at least during 1921 since the Dunbar Library opened in there in December 1921. (Note: William D. Welge at page 54 of his Oklahoma City Rediscovered gives the doctor's name as Wyatt A. Slaughter, but that is incorrect.)

Located at the northwest corner of NE 2nd and Stiles, this "mixed use" building housed various endeavors during its lifetime, a drug store and soda fountain in the 1st floor, professional offices (lawyers, dentists, doctors (including its owner) in the 2nd, sometimes the 1st black library, the Dunbar, in the 2nd, and, in the top floor, a place for music, dancing, conventions and other uses, which was called, "Slaughter's Hall." As you can observe from the map, the components of the building had different street addresses -- 327-329 on N.E. 2nd Street and 303 through 309 on N. Stiles Avenue. In his One O'Clock Jump, the Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma Blue Devils (Beacon Press 2006), Professor Douglas Henry Daniels reports that a roof garden existed above the 3rd floor hall, good for evening events on hot summer nights.

Although many nostagia articles focus on the 3rd floor's Slaughter's Hall and the great Deep Deuce jazz musicians sending their music into the air of night or the soda fountain in the Randolph Drug Store, the building was immeasurably more important than entertainment or a good chocolate soda, important though such things were. More comprehensively, of all of the venerable Deep Deuce buildings gone by, the Slaughter Building's main distinction was that it was the hub of social, medical, political, convention, and other types of activity it was the center of the community.
1922 Sanborn Map

Daniels gives an account of Dr. Slaughter:
Dr. W.H. Slaughter was just such a community-oriented Oklahoman. Born in Alabama around 1873, he came West and married a grandchild of Mrs.[Thomas] Foster, and he and Edna raised two children, Wyatt Jr. and Saretta, both of whom were active in community affairs in the capital city. * * * Dr. Dlaughter was elected Convention Manager of the Oklahoma City Negro Business League in 1927; he also served as treasurer of the Stonewall Finance Company and, in addition, of the Avery Chapel A.M.E. church and the local medical society. The doctor was chairman of the board of Great Western Hospital [ed. note, the renamed Utopia Hospital which he probably co-founded with Dr. W.L. Haywood] which served the black community. Moreover, he was praised as "owning valuable rural property in addition to his urban properties."
The praise just mentioned came from a January 4, 1923, Black Dispatch article, "Slaughter Building in Oklahoma City." Dr. Slaughter's daughter, Saretta, married Dr. G.E. Finley in 1935.
Slaughter's professional and business interests apparently served him well financially. Around or at the time of his retirement, he built himself a mansion at 3101 N.E. 50th Street (roughly, east of I-35, Remmington Park, and the Oklahoma City Zoo) which today is the Redstone Inn Bed and Breakfast. The Oklahoma County Assessor's records for this property reflect that it was built in 1937 and contains 4,402 square feet and the land probably included lots of acreage for his horses he is seen on one of them below in a photo at his mansion with credit to William D. Welge, Oklahoma City Rediscovered (Arcadia Publishing 2007). A County Assessor's photo is shown at the right. Click on either image for a larger view.
In describing Card #215 in Vanished Splendor II by Jim Edwards and Hal Ottaway (Abalache Bookshop Publishing 1983), those authors state that Dr. Slaughter came to Oklahoma City around 1903. Their early-day daytime postcard (probably taken in the early 1920s) of the building is shown below:

It was from and around this building, during the time that Ralph Waldo Ellison worked as a soda-jerk in Randolph Drug, that he would later wistfully recollect that ... NO, WAIT! ... we need to set the mood ... gimmie time to fiddle with some graphics on the building to try and set, as well as I can, the night-time tone ...
It was from and around THIS building, late at night, during the time that Ralph Waldo Ellison worked as a soda-jerk in Randolph Drug, that many of his late-in-life memories sprang. From interviews of Ellison and Jimmy Stewart, John Perry of the Oklahoman penned an exquisite pair of articles in 1993, the 1st being his magnificent January 8, 1993, "Deep Second Still Lives In Dreams", excerpts from which are shown below.
"My early emotions found existence in Oklahoma City," Ellison had told me by telephone from his eighth-floor Manhattan apartment that overlooks the Hudson River ...

"In houses and in drugstores and barbershops and downtown, all of the scenes, the sights, the localities that are meaningful to me are in that city; my father's buried there, and of course all the people who were heroes to me as a kid, my role models."

Stewart is one of Ellison's connections to Oklahoma City. The two men met in the third grade and renewed their acquaintance in 1953 when Stewart was elected to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's national board. During quarterly trips to New York, Stewart brought Ellison news and barbecue from Oklahoma City. "Most of the time we would reminisce, talk about people and things that happened back when," Stewart tells me.
* * *
At the vortex of this swirl of activity sat the Slaughter Building. On Sunday afternoons, young men escorted their young women to the of soda fountain in Randolph's Drugs on the ground floor for malted milks and banana splits. Ellison worked there as a soda jerk and delivery boy.

Slaughter's Hall occupied the entire third floor. Big-name bands from Kansas City, as well as local bands, played there nightly and at Saturday breakfast and Sunday matinee dances while Ellison, Stewart and their friends danced the glide, the one-step, the two-step and the waltz over the cornmeal-polished wood floor.

In summer, music poured from open windows and saturated the air for blocks around. When Ellison lived on Second Street, just before he left for college, he could lie awake at night and listen to the music.

"You couldn't escape it. That was one of the delights," Ellison had said.
To read Perry's other article, his interview with Ralph Waldo Ellison, click here.
If you've done a little reading on the history of Deep Deuce, the above type of hearfelt nostalgia is probably what you've seen most often. But, I said at the beginning of this article, the Slaughter Building meant much much more to this community than entertainment. I said that the building was "the center of the community" and a search through the Oklahoman's archives gives a representative sampling of other types of activities that occurred in the building. Dates shown are Oklahoman publication dates.
  • December 12, 1921: Opening of the Dunbar Library, a branch of the Carnegie library in the Slaughter Building

  • December 6, 1931: With regard to the "Manchurian situation," an anti-war mass meeting with speakers addressing world peace problems

  • November 5, 1932: Last Negro Democratic election rally on eve of the general election

  • December 14, 1932: Bob Pierce, an Oklahoma City man who had for a year been making a study of conditions among workers in the Soviet Union, addressed a group at Slaughter's Hall, according to J.I. Whidden, an Okc Communist leader in the city; in 1934, Whidden was the Communist party candidate for Sheriff what's that, you didn't know that the Communist Party was active right here in Oklahoma City? See this August 3, 1933 Oklahoman article.

  • June 4, 1934: Business sessions of/for 1,500 visitors during the 3-day ninth annual convention of the Middle Western Association of Negro Elks and its women's auxiliary, attending from seven states, concluding with a grand ball from 2 to 5 a.m. on Wednesday
  • April 23, 1936: Meeting of Oklahoma County Negro Democrats rally featuring beer, barbecue and praise of Democrats, with music provided by the "Negro training school at Boley"

  • June 6, 1940: Statewide meeting of Oklahoma State Colored Democratic Association

  • August 15, 1948: Oklahoma Negro Central Committee for a statewide drive to raise $10,000 for the Democratic campaign, with every Negro voter in the state invited to attend

  • March 25, 1958: With rent paid for by the Beta Sigma Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority (the first Greek-lettered sorority established for and by Negro college women), 4 rooms are rented in the second floor for well-child conferences for mothers and babies under the auspices of the Oklahoma City Health Department
In a nutshell, this short list shows time and space being given to literacy, health care, 1,500 crazy Elk conventioneers, and international, national and local politics including time afforded to pinko commie rats uhh make that the interests of labor in the community.
I'll close this article with two photographs of the building with a zoomed in crop of the first. The first image is from Vanished Splendor III by Jim Edwards, Mitchell Oliphant and Hal Ottaway (Abalache Bookshop Publishing 1985) and second is from Oklahoma City Rediscovered by William D. Welge (Arcadia Publishing 2007). The 1st is a streetscape proably taken in the 1920s. The second is during a World War II rally in 1942. Click on any image for a larger view.

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