home builder and residential developer Gilbert Apple Nichols was
born on September 24, 1876, in Owensville, Ohio. He and his
family moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1887, and to Guthrie,
Oklahoma Territory, in 1890. After graduating from Guthrie High
School, he attended the Louisville (Kentucky) Medical College
and the Western Dental College in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1898 he married Alma M. Johnson in Guthrie. They had three
daughters, Vivian, Elizabeth, and Lucile. Before establishing a
dentistry practice in Oklahoma City with Charles D. Coil as his
partner, Nichols practiced in Cashion between 1902 and 1904.
Soon after 1907 statehood he became interested in home building
and in the development of Oklahoma City.
Nichols started out modestly by building one bungalow, and
its quality earned him a reputation as a good home builder. His
endeavors soon expanded from building single homes to the
development of residential areas. By 1914 Nichols and Horace D.
Chandler had formed a partnership. They bought a substantial
part of the Winans Addition, bounded by Northwest Eighteenth and
Twentieth streets and Robinson and Walker on the east and west.
To stimulate the sale of the lots Nichols and Chandler built
several homes on each block. Nichols continued his building
efforts in the Harndale Addition and Heritage Hills. By 1920 he
had incorporated his business and had Lemuel I. Baker as his
partner. In 1928 Nichols built the first commercial district
north of downtown Oklahoma City. Known as Spanish Village
shopping center for its Spanish-style architecture (listed in
the National Register of Historic Places, NR 83002108), it is in
the Paseo District.
In that same year Nichols opened
Nicoma Park, nine miles east
of the state capital, as a colony for chicken farmers. Plans
involved the construction of homes, a fifteen-thousand-dollar
hatchery, and a forty-five-hundred-dollar brooder house.
Apparently, the Nicoma Park venture began to fail in 1931, when
a lawsuit was brought against him for not providing promised
G.A. Nichols opened a plot east of Oklahoma City which was
named Nicoma Park. It was going to be an outstanding area for
raising chickens. This time we went on a flat-bed truck and wore
our caps with feathers [Oklahoma
City's Famous Kiltie Band]. There was a chicken-calling
contest and the girls knew I had been reared on a farm, so they
dared me to enter. I won the contest.
During his career Nichols orchestrated the construction of
homes in many of Oklahoma City's present historic districts such
as Mesta Park, Gatewood, Capitol-Lincoln Terrace, and Crown
Heights. However, the development of the exclusive residential
area known as Nichols Hills, incorporated as a municipality in
September 1929, was his crowning achievement. The 2,780-acre
addition, developed in 1929 and early 1930s, had wide, curving
avenues, two golf courses, bridle paths, a polo field, a club
house, tennis courts, and parks. The Nichols family built their
home on a seventeen-acre estate at 7006 Nichols Road in Nichols
Hills, where they had a stable for their show horses.
In 1929 Gilbert A. Nichols was honored as Oklahoma City's
most useful citizen. His many business interests included
managing a bus company, a lumber company, and several downtown
Oklahoma City office buildings. Failing health caused him to
enter a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he died of
heart failure on July 1, 1950. He was buried in
Rose Hill Abbey
Mausoleum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
photo courtesy Zoey Fryhover, May 2009
Sources: good faith fair use of sources stated above
Compiled, transcribed and submitted by Marti Graham, Oklahoma County, OKGenWeb Coordinator,
February 2009. Information
posted for educational purposes for viewers and researchers. The contributor is not
related to nor researching any of the above.
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