In 1941, Shawnee was named the Redbud City of Oklahoma. Every Spring, the redbud trees bloom thanks to Shawnee citizens who originally planted many of the trees after they were named the Oklahoma state tree. Every third Friday of April, Shawnee hosts their annual Redbud Festival downtown.
Did you know that Louise Fluke, designer of the Oklahoma state flag, was from Shawnee? The blue on the flag represents devotion. The unity of the Okahoman people is symbolized through the peace pipe and olive branch.
At the turn of the 20th century, Shawnee was the center to cotton, peach, and potato crops and remained a center for Texas cattle transportation. At the time, Shawnee was experiencing a boom that rivaled that of Oklahoma City.
The Ritz Theatre in Downtown Shawnee was known as the longest continually running theatre in Oklahoma until its closure in 1989. Recently, the Ritz theatre has been reopened and has become the location of several events in Shawnee thanks to the Safe Events for Families Organization.
The Santa Fe Depot on Shawnee’s Main Street was completed in 1904. The unique castle-like architecture make it one of the most interesting attractions in Shawnee and a national historical marker. The Pottawatomie County Museum features the history of the railroads through Shawnee. The museum is open at 10 AM to 4 PM on Tuesday through Saturday.
Did you know that Shawnee is home to Oklahoma’s only Egyptian Mummy? Tutu the mummy is located at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art on the campus of St. Gregory’s University. The art museum is also home to many cultural and artistic pieces from all over the world.
Astronaut “Gordo” Cooper was the first American to sleep in space. He piloted the flight, Gemini 5, which orbited the earth for eight days and he later logged more hours in space than the six previous astronauts combined. More than all that, Gordon Cooper was from Shawnee!
Shawnee has a sister city: Nikaho, Japan! Every summer, ten students from Shawnee visit Nikaho, Japan, and every Fall, 12 students from Nikaho visit Shawnee! The cultural exchanges began in 1990 when TDK moved a factory to Shawnee. As a gift to Shawnee, the city of Nikaho built the Japanese peace garden located on the corner of airport drive.
Did you know that the first Sonic Drive-In opened in Shawnee in 1953? Today, a Sonic Drive-In still operates on the same location as the original restaurant on Harrison.
Doctor Brewster Higley, who wrote Home on the Range, is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Shawnee. After retiring from medicine, he came to live with his son in Shawnee.
Brad Pitt, actor and film producer, was born in Shawnee! Brad Pitt has appeared in films such as Fight Club, Oceans Eleven, 12 Years a Slave, and The Strange Case of Benjamin Button.
Shawnee has a rich sports history that reaches back before statehood. First reports of a town baseball team was in 1902. There's since been organized baseball from sandlot to minor league teams. At least 34 Major League Baseball players have connections to Shawnee, either by birth, or having played on a local team or lived in town at one time.
Notable People From Shawnee:
- James Bridges, screenwriter & director
- The Honorable Glenn Dale Carter, Retired, renowned child advocate and judicial authority
- Patrick Cobbs, running back & special teams player for the Miami Dolphins
- Leroy Gordon Cooper, astronaut
- Melodie Crittenden, singer
- Jeremy Dawson, keyboardist for Shiny Toy Guns
- Darrien Gordon, football player
- Wade Hayes, country singer
- Brad Henry, former Governor of Oklahoma
- Robert H. Henry, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals judge
- Brad Pitt, actor
- Brandon Self, offensive lineman for the University of Wyoming Cowboys
- William O. Wooldridge, military