UrbEx: Falls Elementary School

Drive east on Robinson until the road ends. That is where you will find Falls Elementary, a 120 year old, abandoned rural school. Today it is boarded up, the students having been absorbed into Norman and Lakeview schools when Falls closed its doors in 1987…

I drove down for a preliminary visit on a rainy lunch break earlier in the week. As I got out of my car, a man at the intersection asked if I was okay. “Just taking some pictures,” I said with a smile. That reminded me to let someone know where I was; a cardinal rule of UrbEx. I texted a friend, I’m on NE 84th at Robinson. Just letting you know in case something happens. In my head I laughed at the questioning look she would have given me if we were standing face to face. I squeezed between the end of the fence and the large cinder block building that was the school’s main structure and turned to see where others have torn away the wooden planks and metal coverings of doors and windows.

I got that uneasy feeling I always get around abandoned buildings. What if there is someone inside? Some people worry that a place might be haunted or that they might get caught doing something illegal. (I saw no notice posted and I try to ensure that the places I explore are legally explorable.) My worry is that there could be someone around who…doesn’t want to be bothered. I peeked inside where a metal sheet bent away from a rotting window pane. Darkness. I shined my light inside. The floor was so covered in debris, I didn’t think I could get in anyway.

I really should start taking someone with me… I ignored my anxiety and looked for some interesting shots. Graffiti, dilapidation, garbage. All were acceptable candidates. I am usually drawn to things with bold colors, patterns or interesting geometry and out of the corner of my eye I saw a giant yellow trailer embellished with red and black graffiti. A good place to start. Soon after I began snapping pictures, my camera informed me that it had run out of memory. Well, shit! I forgot my data card again. It happens more than I would like to admit. I must get a spare. Maybe a spare spare as well.

I looked around a bit more and headed out the way I came in. I would have to return on the weekend. I checked my phone for a response from my friend. Shit, shit, shit! The message never sent. I sent it anyway with the addendum …this never sent I’m glad nothing happened. When I got in the car, she responded, Are you okay? Just fine. I thought to myself. I’m cold, wet and I have only five photos. But I’m great.

There is not a lot of information about Falls Elementary, save for an article from the time of the school’s closing. However, as with most urban exploration sites, there is plenty of conjecture. There are rumors of the school being haunted owing to the fact that it sits across from Falls Cemetery, which a message board user described as “littered with graves of children.” Just a note: out of the 79 graves reported to be on the property by OK Cemeteries, only five appear to be the graves of children. Suffice it to say, I’m not convinced. Then again, I’m never convinced.

There is some intersting history behind the school, though. It was the first in Norman to have a Kindergarten program, which began in the 1970s. The current structure is also not the original. The first building now sits in Slaughterville, having sold for $500 in 1963 to make room for the current building. There is also house-like structure in back, but unfortunately that remains a mystery. According to the above article, the school ultimately closed because there was insufficient land on the property for needed expansions and updates.

I was planning on returning to the school today to take more photographs, but winter weather has made the streets slick and the single-lane rural roads to the school are sure to be dangerous. I will be following this blog up with an additional photo blog at a later date. Special thanks to Grant and Taylor Gage for the lead on this site.

All images copyright: Catherine Carter 2016

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