Newkirk, Oklahoma was platted by the U.S. Government as the county seat of “K” County as one of the seven counties in the Cherokee Outlet which was opened to homesteaders by a land run on September 16, 1893. The townsite was first named Lamoreaux after Silas W. Lamoreaux who was Commissioner of the General Land Office at the time. Unhappy with the name, one of the first acts by the citizens was to choose a different name.
For political reasons, on September 18, 1893, the citizens voted for the name Santa Fe to entice the railroad to build a depot here. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe tracks ran the length of the townsite on the east side. Two versions exist to explain why the name was once again changed. One version insists that the post office vetoed the name Santa Fe. The other suggests the railroad itself rejected the name.
The railroad still was influential in naming the community, however, because it had a cattle shipping point named Kirk on its line two miles north. On November 8, 1893 an election was held to change the name with Newkirk receiving three hundred ten votes.
Newkirk’s entire business district was placed on the National Register in 1984 as an historic district. Newkirk has one of the most intact streetscapes in Oklahoma. Many of the lovely, turn-of-the-century buildings are constructed of native limestone which was quarried a few miles east of Newkirk.
The predominant architecture of these buildings is known as Plains Romanesque. The later buildings constructed in the 1920s and 1930s are of brick with the architecture being Plains Commercial. As a result of Newkirk’s beautiful buildings, the community qualified in 1992 to become one of the first small towns in the Main Street program under the direction of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.