Fort Gibson Native Restores His Old High School

Tuesday, July 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Standing by and watching part of one's past being destroyed isn't easy. For one Oklahoma man, it was too much to bear when it came to his high school, so he bought it. The News on Six heard about the renovation project at a recent Six In-Touch meeting in Ft. Gibson

The old Ft. Gibson High school doesn't look like much on the inside. Graffiti covers the walls. There are holes in the walls and ceiling. But it holds lots of memories. "The gym was beautiful. It looked like the gym in the movie, `Hoosiers'. It had wood floors, wood railings and a banister," said Ken Palmer, former graduate of the school.

Kirk Boatright is the man who is saving Ft. Gibson's old high school building. Boatright bought the school two years ago to keep away the wrecking ball. Now he's restoring the school to its former grandeur. "It's just history, it's the town and people, you can't get it back," Palmer noted. Boatright says he doesn't want the accolades for rescuing the 59-year-old school. He just wants to keep its history alive. The baseball field can't be rebuilt, but a replica flagpole will be back. One classroom and all the hallways will be restored to look like they did when Boatright walked the halls in the 1950's. "The walls will be like they appeared and hopefully, the graduating class pictures will be placed on the walls," he said.

The other rooms in the school will be rented out as office space. The old gym and theater stage will be restored so the whole Fort Gibson community can use them. Why do this? Boatright says he considers it a "family project. "Anything good about me, I can credit to Ft. Gibson and my family. When I say Ft. Gibson and my family, that's the schools, the churches, the neighbors, everybody, because it was all family. That's why I think there has been so much excitement about the project."

He doesn't want to talk about how much money he's spending on this project. Boatright says it's his way of saying thanks to Ft. Gibson, his hometown.