Barnard artifacts saved before fire

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Updated: 9/07/2012 10:02 am Published: 9/06/2012 9:41 pm

Federal investigators are preparing to start digging through the debris while historians are sharing memories of a school destroyed by an explosion.

Early Wednesday morning, Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, formerly Barnard Elementary, exploded.

The school had been there for 87 years, but closed as part of the cost-saving initiative, Project School House. It sat vacant for a year and TPS leased it to the charter school this year.

When Barnard closed a collection of about 800 historical items were given to the Tulsa Historical Society.

"Here's my photograph when I was in the third grade. I remember my teacher Ms. Irker I had her for homeroom,” said Miranda Neff.

She is from the class of 1989 at Barnard Elementary.

"That's Sarah Solsbey. I still know her today," said Neff.

She had famous classmates at Barnard.  

"That's William Buthod. He was a child singer and opera. I went saw him do Carmen,” said Neff.

Now he’s back in Tulsa as the Church of St. Mary’s music director.

"It's funny how you remember things like that . He was a really good singer,” said Neff.

She also had a daughter of a classic country duo as a classmate.

"Whitney Dunn row three. Sure enough,” said Neff. “That's Rodney Dunn's Daughter. From Brooks and Dunn."

Neff is also an intern at the Tulsa Historical Society. Last spring her first project was archiving Barnard’s artifacts.

"Several teachers. You see that they have had their whole life, their whole career at Barnard,” said Neff.

"Probably high school kids couldn't write a poem like these 11 year olds like they did in the 30's,” said Ian Swart.

He’s the archivists and curator of collections at Tulsa’s Historical Society who said someone saved a book of poems dated from the 1930's.

There was a report written by a student named Bailey.

"Here is a report that a kid did after the name on the history of the guy who is named after the school,” said Swart.

Henry Barnard was an American education reformer.

"Everyday is a treasure hunt,” said Swart.

A certificate of commendation dated from World War II was found in the archives.

"This is my favorite because of the color. This is a certificate from the Treasury Department in 1945."

It thanked Barnard students for the donations to hospitals.

A teacher’s contract from the 1932-1933 school year listed the annual wage of $1,830.00.

Still some of the documents and pictures are a mystery. There is a photo with a group of people estimated to be from the 1980's. One of the men has a name tag "David Hall."

"We look for all sorts of clues in photographs. Trying to read photos like you would read a book,” said Swart.

The Tulsa Historical Society plans to have a temporary exhibit featuring the Barnard artifacts.

Currently, you have to make an appointment to view the archives.

Tulsa firefighters and federal investigators will be out Friday morning to start investigating the cause of the explosion. It could take three days to a week to determine the cause.

Eight firefighters were injured, six were released on Wednesday but one had to return. Tulsa Fire Department spokesperson Stan May said doctors needed to monitor his medication.

He said the three firefighters will stay in the burn unit until Monday. They are expected to be okay.

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