It is time to celebrate summer! Join us at the Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar on June 14th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm for the opening of our new “Summertime Fun” exhibit. With something for everyone, the exhibit features Stillwater’s lakes, parks, pools, movie theaters, and other summertime hang-outs. The exhibit opening will even feature lawn games and summertime treats to take you back.
In the early years of Stillwater’s existence, summer entertainment options were limited. Most traveling entertainment groups skipped Stillwater due to its lack of access from the main railroads, but as the town grew, so did its entertainment options.
Yost Lake was developed into a Country Club for Stillwater residents starting in 1901. In 1924, a plan was created to dam Boomer Creek to solve the city’s water issues. This was followed by the building of Lake Carl Blackwell in 1935, and the creation of Lake McMurtry in the 1970s, as Stillwater’s population grew. Stillwater’s lakes now boast vast recreational options, yet most of these recreation facilities would not exist today if it were not for Stillwater’s water shortages over the years.
By the 1950s, the city was sponsoring summer youth sports leagues and playground programs, and today they work with a variety of community partners to continue providing summer activities in area parks. Other summertime fun spots in Stillwater were privately owned, such as Crystal Plunge Pool, which operated as Stillwater’s primary pool from 1928-1969. Thousands of families visited the pool each summer. Today the municipal pool, which opened in 1973, resides in Couch Park, which was once the home of the Payne County Fairgrounds.
Movie Theaters also became popular summertime recreation spots, because they were some of the earliest businesses to have air conditioning. They offered a break from the sweltering summer sun, and people of all ages streamed into movie houses to beat the heat and enjoy the latest Hollywood spectacle. The town also featured a roller skating rink, bowling alleys, and other neighborhood hang outs.
The Stillwater History Museum has a large photograph collection which helped to inspire this exhibit. It will also feature the newly restored opera house model, artifacts from the Leachman Theater, and other Stillwater memorabilia. The exhibit will open on June 14th, and will remain on display through November 2018. Admission is always free and it is a great place to cool off while remembering summer days gone past. The museum will also be hosting its annual Cool Classics concert series every Friday night in July beginning at 7:30 in the Sheerar Auditorium, and the museum will remain open from 5:00pm to 7:30 pm on the concert Fridays. To learn more about our current exhibit and upcoming programming go to sheerarmuseum.org.
Originally published in the Stillwater Newspress.