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Berryhill is a small unincorporated community in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, west of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and about four square miles (10 km²) in area. It is located south of the Arkansas River and north of West 41st Street South, and between South 71st West Avenue and South 47th West Avenue.
Berryhill has nine or ten churches, a store, businesses, creeks, and hills. The creeks tend to flow into Berryhill Creek before emptying into the Arkansas River near the railroad tracks off West 21st Street near South 57th West Avenue, in an area which will soon become part of the Gilcrease Expressway. Most of the homes directly east of South 57th West Avenue and west of South 55th W. Avenue have already been demolished and the first phase, the Gilcrease Expressway Extension, has been finished for several years.
The most recognizable hill in the valley is Victory Hill, located just east and towering over the Berryhill Football Field. This hill is said to have significance to the earliest inhabitants of Berryhill. Cowbell Hill has been the scene of repeated fatal car accidents for travellers on South 49th West Avenue. The most famous hill in Berryhill is Chandler Park. Located in Berryhill and next to Chandler Park was a Superfund clean-up site. The United States Environmental Protection Agency set up monitors to record exposure atop school buildings at Berryhill. The old refinery and the trash-to-energy plant between downtown Tulsa and Berryhill contribute as sources of pollution, although improved technologies promise less destruction to the environment of Berryhill than in the past.
At first, the area was called Happy Hollow. Much of the land in Berryhill was originally owned by a Native American named Ryan Berryhill. The old, original parts of Berryhill, although containing some affluent members, were mainly working class, blue-collar families with high hopes for their children.
Both economic classes were attracted by the comparatively rural culture of Berryhill as opposed to the urbanization going on in Tulsa, as well as the fact that there was an abundance of manufacturing jobs in nearby West Tulsa.
Berryhill's rural culture is best described as the 1950s. This quality of Berryhill insulates one from the more stark reality of the modern world. Serious violent crime is very rare, like in many other small towns. The rural ethnic of the Ozarks and Boomer/Sooner spirit predominates the cultural orientation for most residents. Many have a great deal of pride in Native American heritage and culture as well.
Berryhill was not able to generate enough mail to establish a post office, and certain laws governing the geography of townships in Oklahoma prevent the community from ever becoming a town. This meant that the independent school district became the focus of the community.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, echoing cultural changes across the country, a marginalized drug culture grew among some of the families in Berryhill. Drinking was long a normal part of the local culture, usually reserved for the men who would slip over to the bars on Southwest Boulevard. Other drugs, especially marijuana, gained acceptance, especially with rebellious youth who wanted to strike out against the rigid class system at Berryhill.
In the 1980s, drug use seemed to leap across the traditional class structure. Parents desperate to save troubled youths transfer their student to Berryhill Schools, hoping the rural atmosphere would help. In fact, the new students from the city served to introduce new ideas of what was cool to the social elite, including rap music, trendy apparel, and use.
In 1982, the city of Tulsa proposed to extend its city limits to surround Berryhill. However, vigorous opposition by Berryhill residents and some Tulsa officials (e.g., Police Chief Harry Stege and City Engineer Harold Miller) resulted in leaving Berryhill outside the Tulsa line.
The development of the Rolling Oaks area in the 1980s and 1990s, enabled affluent families to enjoy Sand Springs sanitary system, as opposed to the septic system used by most of the residents of Berryhill. Also, many parents sought the more-individualized attention to students the Berryhill school district offered.
Eventually, the increase of well-to-do families on the hills over South 65th W. Avenue led to other developments in Berryhill. Recent developments include an expansion of West 41st Street into four lanes between South 57th W. Avenue to SH-97 in Prattville, Oklahoma (Sand Springs), and construction of several new commercial buildings including a Tulsa Community College campus, National Guard facility, a bank, and a carwash.
Berryhill School District is an independent school district. Classes are offered for students in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school. Student population is nearly 1,150 as of 2004.
Berryhill High School serves grades 9-12. Behind the high school is the library. South of the high school is Berryhill Junior High School. Next to the junior high is the C.C. Ogilvie Fieldhouse which features the basketball court for the high school, and the concession where Berryhill High School students have the option of having lunch. Behind the junior high building and the fieldhouse is a building for the 20 time State and Grand Championship Band class, The Brigade. South of the fieldhouse is the wrestling room. An additional athletics facility has been constructed on S. 65th W. Ave. across the street from Berryhill Fire Department's fire station.
The elementary grades are split between Berryhill North Elementary and Berryhill South Elementary.
At one time, the South Elementary building served as both high school and junior high school, and elementary. After the school board built an elementary school, the building served as the high school and junior high school. Later, Berryhill built the high school, and the old building became Berryhill Junior High School for grades 7-8. In 1988, a new junior high was built near the new high school and the building became the Upper Elementary building. In 2004, the north wing of the original build was demolished and a new building was constructed in its place and now the building is called Berryhill South Elementary School.
Berryhill Fire Protection District
The Berryhill Fire Protection District was established at the first directors meeting September 30, 1954. The original board of directors was Waymon Ray, President; Lawrence A. "Buss" Woolridge, secretary; James Sadler, Vice-President, Edward Lee "Bill" Cecil; and Robert Marian Hensley. The original district was the same as Berryhill Public School district. The first truck was a 1941 Peter Pirsch purchased from the City of Siloam Springs Fire Department. On April 26, 1977 the district was made a Title 19 (County) Fire Department by a vote of the people. In 2006 the district doubled in size by a vote of the people to include the 21st Street corridor (Holly Refinery, BNSF Railyard, AAON, and Magellan Pipeline Services. The fire district purchased land in December 2014 to build a new fire station on 41st Street (in front of Berryhill Baptist Church) with a building to be constructed in 2015. Currently there is a petition to include the Oakhurst community north of 61st Street. The community has a 2014 ISO Community Fire Protection Rating of 3 (formerly a 5) and is protected by 27 volunteers and 7 paid staff.
Current Board Members
- Howard Mefford - Chairman
- Ezra "Ray" Lusk - Treasurer
- Frank Mason - Clerk
- Glenn Buckner
- Bill Walker
- Homer Jackson
- Buddy Washburn
- Jim Downing, Sr.
- Grady Beeson
- Dan Sturman
- Michael Hall (2012 - Present)
Berryhill is a Bible Belt community. On S. 57th W. Ave. is Most Precious Blood Parish of the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, an apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), currently pastored by Fr. William Define. Many of the churches in Berryhill are Baptist, and a small few are Catholic (mentioned above). Berryhill Baptist is on West 41st Street View Acres Baptist church is the voting location for Oklahoma State District 64 and is located on South 65th W. Avenue. The New Home Freewill Baptist church pastored by Rev. Roy Dale Smith is located across from the South Elementary. Solace Church is located on 41st Street 73rd W. Avenue. Cavalry Baptist is located off 65th W. Avenue on 36th Street South.
- Tulsa City Council, "A History of Tulsa Annexation." 2004. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Bryan, Emory. News on 6. "Tulsa Looking To Expand City Limits To The North And West." August 9, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- Adapted from the Wikinfo article, "Berryhill,_Oklahoma" http://www.wikinfo.org/wiki.php?title=Berryhill,_Oklahoma, used under the GNU Free Documentation Licensedead link