OKLAHOMA PENTECOSTALISM: THE BLUE FRONT SALOON MISSION

The Blue Front Saloon was located at the corner of Grand Avenue and Santa Fe (7 Grand Avenue) in downtown Oklahoma City.

When it was established has yet to be discovered. It was mentioned as a wild locale in a newspaper account dated 1904. It was well known as a part of the rowdy "Hell's Half Acre" of Oklahoma City. Gunplay, gambling, prostitution and crime were rampent. The area had swiftly developed from its founding in 1889 and the town was filled with brick and morter structures within months of its birth. The saloon was described as being fronted by broad windows normally covered by blinds.

In 1906 a revival began in far off Los Angeles that would have a direct impact on the life of many in Oklahoma. An African American holiness minister would begin a series of services in an old warehouse that would cross denominational, gender, and race lines in promoting a spiritual experience bringing the Book of Acts alive to a new century. These people sought redemption and experienced signs and wonders akin to the Biblical examples. People from across the nation who had been ardently seeking deeper spiritual experiences when to California to see first hand what was happening there. Some were shocked and left and others were certain that as Amie Simple McPherson would later say, "This is that", this was the experience the prophets had foretold. Those believed spilled out across the land sharing the vital new message of renewal and renewed spirituality.

In 1907 the notorious but now closed saloon was leased by two Holiness ministers and became the Blue Front Saloon Mission. In August of that same year the two men, R.B. Beall and O.C. Wilkins received what was known as the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' and spoke in other tongues. In November 1907, a well known prostitute, Martha Fleming aka "Old Zulu," received a spiritual experience in a meeting there and was baptized the next day in a nearby river. This is significant because it reveals that the racial barriers broken in California were also being done away with in early Oklahoma. Early day Oklahoma was in the larger society very racist due to a high number of southerners who had transplanted before and after the Civil War.

It became one of the first pentecostal churches in the central United States. Although no known photo of the saloon has been found, it may have looked like the saloon in Carnegie dated at about 1900. Unidentified photo.
In about 1907-08 it was being pastored by Rev. H.P. Lott. He had been in a revival in Billings, Ok in 1905 when one of the earliest recorded instances of speaking in tongues and the classical Pentecostal experience occurred in Oklahoma.

Under Lott's leadership the mission expanded to include a rescue home for 'wayward women'. This was a common outreach by churches and civic groups in a time when girls and women were often seduced and abandoned in a society that was often unforgiving of such falls from a moral high ground. The local prostitution business also sometimes used deceptive means to renew their 'stable' of workers. Young, naive girls coming to the city for the first time were often easy targets to lure into the trade or to assault and coerce into working in one of the houses or, as they were coyly called, 'resorts.'

Some Sources:
McGill, Albert. Satan Came Also. 1955
Paul, Harold. Dan T. Muse: From Printer's Devil to Bishop. 1975

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