McLain Rogers Park, Clinton, Oklahoma, USA
Between 1934 and 1937, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Civil Works Administration, and the Works Progress Administration helped employ out-of-work citizens of Clinton, Oklahoma with the construction of McLain Rogers Park. It was intended to be the city park and was named for the mayor. The park welcomed visitors, who could enter it directly off Route 66, through an impressive Art Deco style gate with brick piers on either side of Bess Rogers Drive. McLain Rogers Park is important in the recreational and economic development of Clinton between 1934 and 1942 and for its unified design that reflects the New Deal’s influence. This design is still evident today.
The 12-acre park has changed very little over the years, still featuring the kinds of recreational attractions that appealed to local residents and cross-country travelers during the 1930s and 40s. Visitors to the park will find pavilions, a bandstand, tennis courts, putt-putt golf, a baseball field, picnic tables with fire pits, playgrounds, a volleyball court, amphitheaters, and a bathhouse. Many of the buildings and structures are historic and date from the earliest days of the park. Traffic on Route 66 increased the work of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and the last Depression era building constructed in the park is the 1941 Highway Patrol Building near the main entrance gate.
Landscaped during the 1930s, the grounds now contain mature hardwoods and conifers that partially encircle the amphitheaters. Bess Rogers Drive meanders charmingly along the rolling terrain of the park. Devotees of the Mother Road go to Clinton to use the park but also to see the a WPA masterpiece, the Art Deco east gate of the park, situated directly on old Route 66 and still shining with its original neon at night.
The brick piers that support the gate are best described as zigzag. The piers are elaborately built so that the core of each has recessed corners buttressed with additional staggered brickwork. The piers support a cross member that repeats the zigzag motif of the piers and supports the neon lights that spell out the name of the park in that modernistic, spare, square font associated with the Art Deco style.
This impressive entrance is connected to the park’s north gate by a short drive. The north gate has the same Art Deco zigzag brickwork, but no cross member or neon. These two gates along with the drive and stone bridge that connect them are the signature elements in the park. Overall, this is a recreational area where it is easy to imagine the travelers of the past. The park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
The McLain Rogers Park is located at the intersection of South 10th St. and Bess Rogers Dr. in Clinton, OK. The park is bounded on the east by 10th St., on the south by Jaycee Ln., on the west by 13th St., and on the north by Opal Ave. Call 580-323-4572