Holy City of the Wichitas - Oklahoma Grounds. Photo courtesy Holy City of the Wichitas
The Holy City of the Wichitas
This Holy City started as an Easter
Passion Play in the Wichita mountains in 1926. The impetus behind
both the pageant and city was the late Reverend Anthony Mark
Wallock. He was born in 1890 in Austria. He immigrated to the
United States with his parents at two years of age. After
completing ministerial studies at the Garret Biblical Institute,
Wallock served at several churches before coming to Lawton as
pastor of the First Congregational Church. In 1926, he took his
Sunday school class up a mountain where a tableau of the
Resurrection was presented. The popularity of this service led it
to become an annual event. In 1927, the service became
nonsectarian, and was referred to by the Lawton Constitution as
Each year the Passion Play expanded its cast and
worshipers. In 1930, it attracted 6,000 people. By 1931, the
congregation has swelled to 15,000 with 150 cast members, and by
1934, 40,000 worshipers came. Because of the event's popularity, it
received a grant of $94,000 from "federal funds [that were]
unconditionally set aside for the Wichita Mountains Easter
Pageant." The first buildings were completed by the Federal Works
Progress Administration (WPA); they included walls and gateway to
Jerusalem, Calvary's Mount, the Temple Court, Pilate's Judgment
Hall, Watch Towers, Garden of Gethsemane, dressing rooms and rock
shrines. A ceremony to dedicate the Holy City was held in 1935,
when the cast for Easter Sunrise Service had grown to 1,200, which
a capella choir, and Knights Templar from all
over the state.
In 1936, more facilities were completed: The Lord's
Supper Building, Herod's Court, a lodge, control room, and others.
The chapel was built to resemble America's oldest church, Christ
Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where George Washington worshiped.
Irene Malcolm donated several years of her life to create Biblical
murals and paintings on the ceilings and walls.
A radio broadcast of the pageant took place in 1936,
during which a telegram from President Franklin D. Roosevelt was
read. That year 2,000 cast members came from 65 cities and towns,
and there was a congregation of 100,000. Thousands of tourists have
come each year to see the city and the chapel, where various types
of chapel services are held, including weddings.
The citizens of Lawton elected Wallock as the
Outstanding Citizen of 1938. The following year, the state of
Oklahoma included Wallock in its Hall of Fame. He died in 1948.
Following Wallock's last wishes, a white marble statue of Christ,
eleven feet high, was erected in 1975. The Oklahoma Historical
Society nominated the Holy City for the National Register of
Historic Places. A new use permit was issued in 1996, not expiring
Documentation includes a 14 page report and
Originally submitted by: James M. Inhofe, Senator.
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