In 1906, oilman J.M. Gillette and Tulsa merchant J.M. Hall, sometimes referred to as the “father of Tulsa,” joined forces as real estate developers and acquired property for a modest housing addition just outside city limits.
The land they purchased belonged to prominent Muscogee (Creek) pioneer and cattleman Alvin T. Hodge, who was allotted the land, just east of town, in 1903.
The Gillette-Hall addition would soon be renamed Whittier Square in time due to its close proximity to John Greenleaf Whittier School, named for the American poet and constructed in 1916.
Federal Boulevard, a popular farm-to-market road, was at one time the federal division between Creek and Cherokee nations. It was renamed Admiral Place in 1920 and eventually became part of the “Mother Road” — Route 66 — from 1926-1932.
The area continued to grow until 1965 when the construction of Interstate 244 cut off direct access to the area. Herculean efforts made by the local community since the late ’90s have reclaimed some of the magic from a century ago.
The Whittier Square Historic District was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.