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Oakley stadium, Penokee barn added to Register

Special to The Hays Daily News

TOPEKA -- The Kansas Historical Society announced a barn near Penokee and a New Deal-era high school stadium in Oakley are the newest Kansas listings in the National Register of Historic Places. These listings were entered into the National Register April 9, bringing the number of Kansas listings to 1,295.

Construction of Oakley High School Stadium, 118 W. Seventh Street, in 1938 was financed through the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration and has hosted football games and track meets since its completion in 1939. Lewis Mershon was the lead builder and used a team of unskilled WPA laborers made up of local farmers who were struggling financially.

The limestone and concrete stadium faces a standard 100-yard football field with natural grass surface encircled by a 400-meter track and includes two locker rooms, restrooms, a tornado shelter and outdoor bleacher seating. It exhibits symmetry, vertical and horizontal lines, and rounded features, all of which gives it a WPA Moderne appearance.

The stadium was first used Oct. 6, 1939, for the first home football game of the season between the Oakley Plainsmen and the Colby Eagles. Although the local newspaper reminded readers Oakley had defeated Colby "seven times in the last 11 years," the Plainsmen were "trounced" by the "powerful" Eagles. It was nominated as part of the New Deal-era Resources of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of recreation, government and architecture.

The Harry Keith Barn is located south of Penokee in Graham County and was built in October 1940 by farmer Harry Keith with the help of brothers and neighbors. Situated within a landscape of rolling agricultural fields and century-old cottonwood trees along nearby Brush Creek, the barn is built into a hillside and features an iconic gambrel roof.

The barn's lower level functioned as a place to house and feed livestock and milk cattle, and the upper level served as hay and grain storage. The surrounding farmstead includes a few remaining outbuildings. Adjacent to the barn is an Aermotor windmill, believed to be a 702 model, which was first manufactured by the Aermotor Co. of Chicago in 1933, along with a reservoir that holds 4,000 gallons of water. The Keith Barn was nominated to the National Register as part of the Agriculture-Related Resources of Kansas multiple property nomination for its local significance in the areas of agriculture and architecture.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/nr.