Fine Art Photographer Keith Dotson brings us along as he makes photographs of an abandoned and recently burned brick school at Hext, in western Oklahoma
Thousands of people drive past this old school every day, but how many actually notice it?
The ruins of a red brick building can be seen from the west bound lane of Interstate 40 in the middle of nowhere –actually at a community called Hext — near Erick, Oklahoma. Scroll down for a brief history of the old school.
Video: Join photographer Keith Dotson on location at the ruins of the old school in Hext, Oklahoma
- Hext School built by WPA in 1930s
- Probably closed in the 1960s
- Stood vacant with furniture inside until April 2021, when it burned
- Hext had a post office in 1901 – 1902
- Was aligned to Route 66 in 1929
- Was on the last stretch of Route 66 to lost its interstate designation
History of the Hext School
The ruins of the red brick school stand amidst a cluster of trees between Interstate 40 and the old Route 66, which opened through here in 1929, and was decommissioned in 1975. The site is on the corner of Bank 15 and East 1220 Road, surrounded by farmland in all directions.
Hext is basically a ghost town, if you could ever even have called it a town. It had a post office from 1901-1902. The community was named after a local farmer.
The school was built in the 1930s by the WPA. It probably closed in the 1960s and stood abandoned here for all those years, with even some furniture inside.
The old school burned in April, 2021, and the fire was tackled by firefighters from nearby Erick, Oklahoma. What we see here is what’s left after that fire.
In the video you can see a low stone wall in front of the school. On the left entry was once a WPA placard that’s since gone missing — presumably it’s been stolen. (See the empty spot for the placard at around 1:50 in the video)
The WPA was the Works Progress Administration, a federal government program, created as part of the New Deal, that put the unemployed to work during the Great Depression, building things to benefit the nation. A lot of their projects still serve the country today. Workers employed by the WPA built schools, dams, roads, bridges, and used the skills of artists to make murals.
Black and white photographs of the ruins in Hext, Oklahoma
Thanks for reading