Travel Back 119 Years Through the Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum
Cleveland County has a rich and vibrant history. The Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum preserves and shares this history with the community.
At 119 years old, the house has seen every historic and cultural event of the 20th century, including Oklahoma becoming the 46th state in the union. By way of the Santa Fe Railroad, William and Agnes Moore moved to Norman from St. Joseph, Missouri, in the 1890s, along with Mrs. Moore’s niece, Daisy Lindsay, her husband, Harry, and their daughter, Mary Agnes. Construction began in 1899 at 508 North Peters Ave., the first wealthy and exclusive residential neighborhood in Norman. Spending $5,000 on construction, when most homes in Norman were being built for around $400, William Moore chose the Victorian Princess Anne style of architecture. The family moved in in 1900. In 1907, the Moores moved to Oklahoma City and sold the home to the Lindsay family.
Mr. Lindsay, as the president of the Norman Grain and Milling Co. and an active member in the community, was another prominent Norman citizen. They moved into the house when their only child, Mary Agnes, was in high school. In 1911, Mary Agnes married Charles Wantland, an OU football player and future coach at Central Oklahoma College (now the University of Central Oklahoma). After living in Edmond and having six children, the family moved into the Norman residence to care for Mrs. Lindsay after her father’s death. The family lived at 508 North Peters for a time before selling the house in the early 1960s.
During the 1960s, the house was used for boarding, and was then condemned when it was discovered the original wiring was not up to code. The deterioration continued until 1973, when the City of Norman purchased it for the purpose of housing a county museum. Two years later, the Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum opened.
The Cleveland County Historical Society was appointed to operate the museum. Pieces from their collections were placed on display in the house to show the culture and history of Norman and Cleveland County in the late Victorian era (approx. 1890-1910.)
CCHS houses their archival collection of furnishings and decorations, artifacts, paper archives, photographs, slides, recordings, books, newspapers and over 5,000 items in the museum’s archive room. While most of the collection is from the 1850s to the 1920s, new materials are being added on an ongoing basis to continue the house’s timeline into the 20th century. Serving as a historical and cultural repository, the museum reflects the people of Cleveland County from the 1889 Land Run to today.
Highlights in the collection include Mary Agnes Lindsay’s 1911 wedding dress and a lady’s side saddle ridden in the 1889 Land Run. A chair used as a prop in the photo studio of an early Norman photographer, Emma Coleman, dating from the early 1900s, also is on display, along with an 1850s rope-style bed and furniture belonging to the Lindsay family.
“The Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum fulfills its mission statement to ‘research, preserve, publicize and perpetuate the history, genealogy and educational information, photos, artifacts and properties of Cleveland County and its people by providing a glimpse into Norman and Cleveland County’s history from around 1890 to 1910,’” says museum manager Amy Pence, noting that some 1,500 people visited the museum in 2018, an increase of 60 percent from the year before.
“William ‘Frank’ Flood’s Tool Chest” is the museum’s featured spring exhibit. As an early Norman resident, Flood was a builder, carpenter and contractor in charge of the construction of the first University of Oklahoma building. He also built the first OU president’s home, and he is credited with paving Main Street with brick and installing the first concrete sidewalks in Norman. Flood’s handiwork can be seen in the hand-carved staircase newel post he made for the Moore family. The exhibit, which includes the contents of Flood’s tool chest, will remain on display through April 27.
Two Children’s Spring Break History Camps are being offered this year. A Victorian Tea Party for children ages 6 to 10, where kids will learn tea party etiquette while enjoying tea and snacks, is planned March 19. Children ages 8 to 12 will get an inside look into what it’s like to work in the museum and view the archive room while setting up their own displays during Junior Curator Camp, set for March 21.
CCHS, governed by a Board of Directors elected annually, meets monthly for discussions relating to running the society and the Moore-Lindsay Historic House Museum. The Historical Society Board hires a museum manager, oversees the museum’s operation, supervises planning and implementation of programs and acquires, accesses and manages their archive collection. Current offices are Robertson Million, President; Vernon Maddux, Vice-President; Sue Schrems, Treasurer; Riley Million, Secretary; Barbara Million, Historian; and Jeffrey Wilhite, Museum Director