Wheeler & Wheeler

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Bio:

Marion Norris Wheeler was born in 1890 in Chicago and moved with his family to Oklahoma when he was young.  As a teenager, he met a civil engineer who was laying out a new railroad that was being constructed across the state and, working with him, Norris became interested in drafting and engineering.  According to his biography, “The engineer gave him some materials and general instructions and indicated where work might be obtained.  Norris went to Chicago where he obtained a position with the Burlington Railroad as a tracer, which was in effect an apprentice draftsman.”  Eventually, Norris made his way to Enid, where he went to work for architect Roy Shaw — their most well known design is the H.H. Champlin house, which was built in 1939 and added to the National Register in 1993.

Norris and his wife, Lenna had a daughter and two sons, Norris Glen (b. 1914) and Elbert (b.1931).  Both boys shared their father’s interest in architecture and went to OSU to get their degrees.

During WWII, Glen went to North Africa with the 12th Air Force and after victory there, his company was transferred to Italy.  In Sicily, he restored electrical service, water, and sewer to the village where the company was based and was later decorated for his efforts with a Bronze Star Medal.  After the war, Glen returned to Enid.  When Roy Shaw died in 1946, Glen joined his father’s firm and the two men worked closely for the next 10 years.

After Elbert earned his BA at OSU, “he received his commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Army upon graduation in 1954 and reported for duty at Ft. Belvoir in June of that year. He volunteered for a special course involving the use of stockpiled atomic weapons and was sent to the European Theater, where he was assigned to the Post Engineer of the Ulm Germany area,” according to his obituary.

Upon Elbert’s return to Enid, he too joined his father’s firm while simultaneously working on his Master’s degree at OSU (which he earned in 1958).

Marion Norris died in 1958, whereupon the brothers renamed the firm Wheeler & Wheeler and continued their work designing some of Enid’s most impressive architecture.  Glen retired in 1981 and Elbert renamed the firm Elbert M. Wheeler, Architect.  After working for another decade, Elbert closed up the five-decade-old firm in the ’90s when he retired.  Glen died in 1996 and Elbert followed in 2011, but many of Wheeler & Wheeler’s modern buildings in the Enid area are still around and remain stand outs in the community.

Projects:

Briggs Auditorium, Enid
Dillingham House, Enid
Wallace Shopping Center, Enid
Central Christian Church, Enid

Mod Blog Features:

On the Hunt for Mod in Kingfisher and Enid
How Much MCM Can One Town Have: A Tour of Enid’s Architectural Marvels, Part 2