Remembering M.D. Oliver-Eakle

Womens History

Melissa Dora Oliver-Eakle was here when Amarillo saw its first development boom in the 1920s. 

She was visiting family in Amarillo and decided to stay, seeing great potential in the Yellow City.

“Melissa Dora Oliver-Eakle was a pioneer businesswoman in Amarillo,” said Beth Duke, Center City executive director.

Melissa more commonly went by her initials when conducting business back at the beginning of the 20th century.

“It wasn’t popular for women to be in business or to do business with women, and so a lot of times she used her initials,” said Duke.

Her name can still be found around Amarillo today. 

“She was truly a founding mother of our community. I mean, we’re still building on the momentum that her vision for the City of Amarillo created,” said Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson.

“She bought and developed a lot of property when she lived in Amarillo. The most famous one is what we call the Barfield Building,” said Duke.

That building also used to bear her name, but that’s not all. She also donated land that is now in her name.

“Oliver-Eakle Neighborhood is a national historic registered district. It’s one of only two national historic districts in our city,” said Duke.

It’s even said that she loaned the City of Amarillo money during the Great Depression.

Mayor Nelson said while Oliver-Eakle would be fascinated to know what a player Amarillo has become in the worldwide economy, she would want us to keep progressing. 

“I think she would be pleased but not content, and I think we as Amorilloans should feel that same pressure, that we have come a long way. But we still have a lot of potential that we need to work toward and keep the momentum going, and keep building on the vision that our city mothers and fathers have had for us in the past,” said Mayor Nelson.

That momentum actually is moving forward with the Barfield Building. It’s currently being repurposed into a boutique hotel.

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