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A History: Service Center Building

The oldest structure on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center campus, the building now known as the Service Center Building, was originally Webster Junior High School. Completed in 1920 at a cost of $450,000, the school served the Webster Addition, a thriving residential area that was home to hundreds of black families.

In 1961, the school was renamed Moon Junior High School to honor Frederick D. Moon (1896-1975), the retiring principal of Douglas High School. A prominent educator and civil rights leader, Moon was a native of Fallis, Oklahoma.

After graduating from Langston University and earning a master’s degree at the University of Chicago, Moon began his teaching career in Crescent in 1921, and in 1924, he was elected president of what was then the Oklahoma Association of Negro Teachers. From 1931 to 1940, he taught in Wewoka. Under his guidance, Crescent and Wewoka became two of the first schools in the state to have accredited high schools for African American students.

Moon was named principal of Douglas High School in 1940. He was a founding member of the Oklahoma City Urban League and served as its first African American president. After his retirement from the Oklahoma City Public Schools, he became the first of his race elected to the Oklahoma City Board of Education and the first to serve as president of that organization.

Moon Junior High School and much of the Webster neighborhood was located in the John F. Kennedy Urban Renewal Area. Much of the area was cleared in the early 1970s to accommodate the expanding Oklahoma Health Center, but the handsome school building managed to escape the wrecking ball. It was decommissioned by the Oklahoma City Public Schools in 1974 and acquired, along with a city block of land, by the OU Health Sciences Center under a five-year lease-purchase arrangement totaling $175,000.

Renovation of the structure preserved its broad hallways and vintage junior high character. Also preserved was the site of Payne Boomer Camp, located on the east side of the building. Occupied from 1884 to 1889, the camp was one of five established by David L. Payne, the leader of the “Boomer” movement, which sought to hasten the opening of the Unassigned Lands. Now a small park, the site is commemorated with a historic marker.

The Service Center Building houses the OU Health Sciences Center administrative support offices.