Campus Corner, as today’s students know it, is a fairly new scene. The original Campus Corner was developed in the early 1900s to serve the needs of the students and faculty of the University of Oklahoma.
Before the university constructed the residential towers south of campus, all student housing was located north of Boyd Street, even Greek housing, and students were not allowed to have cars on campus. Therefore, it was necessary for students to have access to establishments within walking distance.
One of the original establishments was at 575 University and it housed a bookstore, school supplies shop, and restaurant on the ground floor. It was known as the “Tee Pee” because of its dance floor on the third level.
A tragic fire in 1929 destroyed most of what had begun on Campus Corner, but thankfully that led to further expansion later on.
The original building at 575 University became home to Rickner’s Bookstore and the ballroom became known as “The Organ Grinder” for a time until Randy Ratcliffe purchased the bookstore upon Ray Rickner's retirement and continued to serve OU students for books and school supplies.
In 1935, McCall’s, which is currently Harold’s, opened for business. Harold Powell, the owner of Harold’s, began his clothing career at McCall’s while still in high school.
In 1947 the Boomer Theater was constructed. The theater stopped showing movies in the mid 1970s when concerts became its primary use. All that remains now is the marquee.
By the 1950s, Campus Corner and downtown Norman were both booming. OU’s enrollment was increasing, as was then President George Lynn Cross’s campus building project. At that time, Berry Road was considered west Norman.
In the 1970s, malls and strip centers began to spring up farther west of campus near I-35.
The Red Dirt Café, which was a local hot spot for hordes of sailors and bobbysoxers throughout World War II and the anchor of the music scene in the 1980s, has been purchased by Rob Goodner from Tim O’Brien and reopened as the Red Dirt Bar & Grill.
But that’s not the only change that has been made on Campus Corner. Five years ago Campus Corner was a ghost town, but since the Sooners won the National Championship in 2000 the area has slowly began to grow.
Some of the major additions to Campus Corner since that victory include a number of bars, restaurants, and shoe, accessory, and clothing shops.
The top bars include Louie’s Deli & Bar, which occupies the former Campus Corner landmark Town Tavern, Logan’s Sports Bar, which is located in the old Quarterhouse, Al Eschbach’s Hall of Fame Sports Bar & Grill, which opened in what many years ago was a TG&Y variety store, Seven47, which is a trendy restaurant-bar located in an art deco building with a rooftop patio that for many years was University Cleaners, and The Deli, a late-night bar that for years has featured some of the best-received musical groups in the area.
The top restaurants include La Luna Mexican Restaurant, which was formerly the Lovelight Restaurant and, before that, the Copper Kettle, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Lori Treisa’s Ruby’s All Night Diner, Turquoise Café, The Pita Pit, the long standing Hideaway Pizza, New York Pizza & Pasta, and the newest and most interesting sandwich shop, Fat Sandwich.
Clothing venues include Aisle7, Olive J's, Antique Garden, Harold’s, Tulips, Shoetopia, Savvy, and this year’s newest addition Lucca’s.
Rainey Powell, Campus Corner Merchant’s Association President, told Hub Staff Writer Lauren Lagor in a March 28, 2007 article that eleven new merchants would be joining the Campus Corner scene by August.
With the approval of the new swim complex, changes being made on the south side of campus are also affecting Campus Corner.
Over the summer Jimmy John’s moved from its corner location to a smaller venue next door, and a new Starbucks now dominates the corner as the first big name company to invade an area once home to only local establishments.
In the next month, O’Connell’s Irish Pub will be moving into the former home of Al Eschbach’s Hall of Fame Bar and Grill.
Pad Thai, another venue being relocated to make room for the new swim complex, is renovating the space at 119 West Boyd and will be moving into it soon.
Norman’s only hookah bar, Moe’s International Grocery and Hookah Bar, will be staying at it location on the south end of campus one more year before relocating. Owner Moe Davani is unsure where his store will move to, but he told Oklahoma Daily writer Mary Gray in a Sept. 9, 2007 article that he would like to be either near the intersection of Lindsey Street and Classen Boulevard or off Asp Avenue on Campus Corner.
Since the commencement of classes about a month ago, students and football fans alike have been enjoying the new and improved Campus Corner. Hopefully, we will continue to see improvements in the future.