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A Little-Known Chapter of Tulsa History

The South Haven neighborhood in West Tulsa was originally established in 1919 as an outlet for black families overflowing the city’s then-flourishing Greenwood district. Following the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, the population of South Haven swelled quickly with those fleeing the destruction in North Tulsa. By the time South Haven was annexed into the City of Tulsa in the mid-1960s, what had been a working class black area was largely integrated and the area fell into rapid decline. With absentee ownership and property vacancies becoming the norm, this “transitional neighborhood” experienced a sharp increase in crime and social problems.

While many observers acknowledge Tulsa as being one of most beautiful and generous cities in the country, the little-known South Haven community had been neglected for so long, in fact, that most Tulsans – even life-long residents of the city who live east of the Arkansas River – didn’t even know that it existed.

In several significant—yet incomplete steps, Tulsa community leaders have responded to the challenges of South Haven. One of the first major initiatives was to rid the area of rampant criminal activity. Through the cooperative efforts of the Tulsa Gang Task Force, the U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies, a sting operation in the early 1990s resulted in over 40 drug-related arrests and the seizure of 16 properties – with the properties ultimately being converted into loving homes through Habitat for Humanity. Habitat has now built more than 85 houses in South Haven, with spaces available for several more. The Tulsa Housing Authority also addressed a critical need in the area through construction of South Haven Manor, a subsidized residential complex along West 56th Street.

Although these are all encouraging developments in neighborhood redevelopment, there are still no schools, libraries or other large-scale public facilities in South Haven – and low-income residents must rely on an often unreliable public transportation system as their only connection with needed social services, medical care and other community resources.

Board of Directors…

Chair: Shannon M. McMurray – Attorney

Vice-Chair: Dr. Clarence V. Boyd; Dean of Student Development at Oral Roberts University

Treasurer: Derrick Williams – Sales Manager TriStar Glass Co.

Executive Director: Willard L. Jones 

Program Director: Monty Johnson

Rev. Weldon Tisdale – Pastor Friendship Church 

Albert E. Jones – Independent Agent Allstate Insurance 

Tim Kelly – TriStar Glass Company

Ireen Cooper – Community Volunteer                                                                                 

Rev. Phil Taylor – Pastor Carbondale Assembly of God

Paul Sullivan – TriStar Glass Company

DeMarlon Younger – Retail Sales Management WalMart Stores, Inc

Contact Us:

Cornerstone Community Center

4122 West 55th Place South

Tulsa, Oklahoma 74107 

(918) 960 – 2645

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