The historic district of Boley made Preservation Oklahoma’s 2007 most-endangered sites list, but one resident claims the Okfuskee County town is not facing extinction.
“It’s here,” said Maurice Lee Jr., the 74-year-old owner of a manufacturing company in Boley. “It’s going to stay.”
Founded in 1903 and incorporated in 1905, Boley is one of only a few and largest all-black towns left in Oklahoma.
As of the 2000 census, Boley’s population was 1,126 people. Residents say the high school is on the verge of closing, the water tower is in desperate need of repair and the population is mainly those of retirement age. But its historical impact has not gone unnoticed.
“It’s a heritage that needs to be maintained,” said Hannibal B. Johnson, author of “Acres of Aspiration: The All-Black Towns in Oklahoma.” “These towns represented the aspirations of African-Americans of that era.”
Melvena Heisch, deputy state historic preservation officer, said Boley is working with Preservation Oklahoma to obtain grants to repair the water tower. Residents also are attempting to revamp their park.
“Successful efforts are locally led, locally initiated and locally funded,” Heisch said. “The drive to save places and to recognize their importance, that drive comes within the community.” “Krista Nightengale
Also on the Preservation Oklahoma list:
” Chilocco Indian School
” Darlington Masonic Orphanage
” Eagle Park
” Wheelock Academy near Millerton
” Pawnee Indian Boys Dormitory in Pawnee
” Judge H.L. Fogg’s house in El Reno
” four Blackwell elementary schools
” Route 66 motels
” Wichita Falls Northwestern Depot in Altus