In the early 1900’s, Campus Corner developed to serve the needs of the students and faculty of the University of Oklahoma. Within the next 20 years, the Corner was thriving and had emerged as the center of all activities for the University community. Restaurants, clothing stores, laundry facilities, pharmacies, and beauty salons were just a few of the merchants located in the corner. Ballrooms were located on the second floor of buildings on both Asp and University with one of the original wood dance floors still in existence above what is now the Harold’s Outlet.
Virtually all student housing was located north of Boyd Street including the Masonic Dormitory (now Whitehand Hall), the YMCA (current home of Harold’s), and all Greek housing. At that time, students were not allowed to have cars and a need arose for services within walking distance. Campus Corner became the obvious choice.
Built by the Whistler Family in the 1920’s, 575 University housed a bookstore, school supplies shop, and restaurant on the ground floor, but was best known as the “Tee Pee” for its dance floor located on the third level. In later years the building became home to Rickner’s Bookstore and the dancing would continue. Called “The Organ Grinder,” the ballroom saw everything but traditional ballroom dancing. Randy Ratcliffe purchased the bookstore upon Ray Rickner’s retirement and continued to serve OU students for books and school supplies. In 1996, the old bookstore was restored and now serves as Harold’s Outlet.
In 1935 McCall’s opened for business in Campus Corner at 329 W. Boyd, which is currently Harold’s. This marked the beginning of Harold Powell’s clothing career as he started working for McCall’s while still in high school.
750 Asp became home to the original Clark’s Cleaners. It was cleverly advertised as “48 Cleaners” because the telephone number was simply “48”.
In 1947 the Boomer Theater was constructed at 765 Asp Avenue. The theater stopped showing movies in the mid 1970’s when concerts became its primary use. Jerry Jeff Walker was one of many performers to take the stage of the Boomer in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In 1985 the Boomer was purchased and remodeled by Harold’s Stores, Inc.
A waffle shop and Garner’s Men’s store were on the ground floor of 766 Asp with The University Club and a dance hall located on the second level. A gentleman known simply as “the crippled man” offered dance lessons to all who were willing.
One of Oklahoma’s first TG&Y stores was located at 769 Asp. TG&Y closed in the late 60’s after a fire; however, plans are currently underway to restore the front of the building to its original historical facade.
784 Asp was originally built as a movie theater and later housed The Webb Shoe store. Currently, The Apothem Sooner Sportswear is located in the building.
At the corner of Asp & Boyd, bonfires raged before every Sooner’s home game. At the pep rallies, the ruf/neks, wearing solid red sweaters, and the Jazz Hounds, in their red and white striped cardigans, would lead cheers until fire trucks arrived with their sirens blaring to extinguish the fire.
225 W. Boyd was the home of Fred Swisher’s Varsity Shop which offered up food and music by the Pinky Tomlan Band. Tomlan achieved success after penning “ The Object of My Affection” and “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.”
215 W. Boyd, currently Miller’s Bicycle Shop, served the campus area as a grocery store owned by Mr. Mumm. In the 60’s or 70’s Sed Kennedy opened “The Across the Street” better known around town as “the street.” It had two stories at the time and was a popular burger and beer joint. Hal Smith, successful restaurant entrepreneur, began his lucrative career at “the Street.”
The building at 329 W. Boyd was originally on Buchanan Alley and served as the original YMCA. Purchased by H.E. Powell, it was hand wrenched on pipes to its current location with Bob Barbour of Barbour & Short serving as contractor.
In 1948 Dee’s restaurant opened for business at 333 W. Boyd. Breakfast began at 7:30 in the morning and the last meal ended by 9:00 at night. On Sundays, meals were not served in the dorms or Greek housing, so Dee’s took up the slack and cooked 15 dozen eggs for Sunday Breakfast.
By the 1950’s, Campus Corner and downtown Norman were both booming. OU’s enrollment was swelling, George Cross, then President of OU was embarking on an extensive campus building project, and Berry Road was considered west Norman.