our History

Early Pioneers

When Oklahoma City was a small prairie town of approximately 25,000 inhabitants, many of the city leaders chose the area just north of downtown to build their homes and raise their families. The installation of an electric streetcar made it possible to work downtown and live in a residential area one mile to the north. The six residential additions immediately north of the Central Business District were platted and recorded between 1900 and 1910, with building continuing until about 1930.

Great Depression and Dust Bowl

After this early prosperity, Oklahoma’s economy was hit by the Great Depression and the relentless Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Many neighborhood residents moved on or were unable to make mortgage payments. Buyers were few. Businesses and boarding houses started moving into the grand old homes.

New Pioneers fight for Historic Preservation

At this time a second wave of pioneers became important in the life of the neighborhood. These pioneers are the residents who fought for decades to save their stately neighborhood from 20th century threats: suburban flight, encroaching businesses, heavy traffic, and the once-fashionable trend to knock down the old and replace with the new.In 1941, the neighborhood started its fight back. Residents cited the original zoning restrictions, which banned businesses in this quiet residential area. They sued and won most of the battles. As pride in the neighborhood grew, the first tour of neighborhood homes was organized in 1967. The event increased interest in the area as 500 people paid $2 each to walk through six grand homes nestled beneath towering trees. In February 1969, Heritage Hills became the name of the first district within the State of Oklahoma to be designated by local ordinance as an area of historical significance. The ordinance establishing the Historical Preservation Commission was adopted by the City Council of Oklahoma City in February, 1969 and Heritage Hills was placed under its protection in July, 1969. Historical Preservation, Inc. was formed as the governing body of the Heritage Hills Preservation District, a nonprofit foundation organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Heritage Hills was added to the National Register of Historic Places in June of 1979.

Learn more about the history of the city ordinance.

Unique Architecture

The homes in Heritage Hills range from 20,000-square-foot mansions to picture-postcard bungalows. All but a dozen of so were built before 1930. Various styles of architecture are represented throughout the neighborhood, including Châteauesque, Italian Renaissance Revival, Prairie School, Greek Revival, Neoclassical, American Craftsman, Colonial/Georgian Revival, Mission Revival, American Foursquare, and Dutch Colonial Revival.


Heritage Hills residents continue the ongoing upkeep of the neighborhood and renovation of what are now 100-year-old homes always in need of love and stewardship. Monies raised from the annual Home Tour, annual dues from neighbors, and donations from preservationists have been used to pay legal bills, plant trees, rescue dilapidated homes, install period streetlights on every block, replace and maintain sidewalks, install historic street markers, improve landscaping of public areas, and more.

Support For the Community

Neighborhood funds have provided significant support for the greater community as well. Beneficiaries include the Overholser Mansion, Wilson Elementary Arts Integration School, Historic Preservation, Mesta Park Neighborhood, Oklahoma Heritage Center, Neighborhood Alliance, OKC Beautiful, OKC Community Foundation, OKC Police and Firefighters, and St. Anthony’s Hospital. During the COVID-19 pandemic, HPI and neighborhood residents made over 1000 masks for St. Anthony’s and contributed donations to pay local restaurants to provide and deliver meals for frontline health care providers. Heritage Hills residents have been active in all facets of Oklahoma City’s growth and instrumental in rejuvenation of the districts surrounding the neighborhood area.

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