What's the story behind a name?

Published: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:00 am
look," Johnson said.

Blackburn said the Paseo demonstrates Nichols' winning formula for development, which married neighborhoods with small retail centers.

Heritage Hills, originally called West Highland Park, was built in stages from 1902 (at that time largely by Anton Classen) to the early 1920s.

"A lot of the early leaders, like Overholser and Classen and Colcord, built big houses out there," Johnson said.

The financial struggles of the early 20th century slowed growth for a time, then Nichols started developing the rest of the area, Johnson said.

Blackburn said the name "Heritage Hills" came out of a contest in 1969, after three neighborhood associations banded together to fight a proposed four-lane highway on NW 16th Street.

Mesta Park was named after socialite Perle Mesta, daughter of William Skirvin. Mesta had owned a home in the neighborhood. Blackburn said Mesta Park really coalesced 10 years or so after Heritage Hills, in the mid-1980s. It was formerly known as University Addition, which was platted by Anton Classen.

Nichols Hills was, of course, named after the developer. Blackburn said it was platted as a city in 1928, farther away from the next-closest development due to the use of automobiles rather than street cars.

Putnam City and Putnam Heights were both named for Israel M. Putnam, who developed a separate community and wanted the Capitol built there.

Blackburn said Putnam had been able to buy up land cheaply around Bethany.

"He made a better deal for the state Capitol than Harn and Culbertson did here on the northeast side," Blackburn said. "He offered more land and more incentive. But the city fathers did not want to go way out in the country like that."

Johnson said the governor at the time favored putting the Capitol in Putnam City.

"Then there was a little bit of legal wrangling that happened," he said. "They said the ballot to place the Capitol there was mis-worded."

The courts called for another election.

"When they did that, they decided to place it where it is now," Johnson said.

He said city leaders such as E.K. Gaylord, William Harn and J.J. Culbertson were behind the latter movement.

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