Raven Kennedy sat at the table in her Muskogee Day Nursery classroom Wednesday hard at work.

She was using her colored pencils to draw a picture of a horse drinking water. He was a very tall steed drinking from a very tall tank.

“Horses need water,” commented teacher Jo Nowlin.

“And apples too,” chimed in Brandon Anderson from across the table.

Children have been learning about art, horses and other subjects for 100 years at the day nursery.

But children come here today under much different circumstances than they did a century ago.

What evolved into the day nursery started in 1904 as a “baby clinic.” The facility was one room built on borrowed ground with donated lumber. Unwed mothers stayed there until their babies were born and adopted out, said Linda Call, executive director of Muskogee Day Nursery.

By 1906, it had evolved into a child care facility.

“Because people were having hard times, their kids were brought and left here to be fed and taken care of while they were out doing whatever they had to do to make it,” Call said. “Some of them were left here for more than just a few days.”

The center grew from a mission study class that met in the home of Mrs. G.B. Hester. The group was involved in not only the day nursery, but also the Old Folks Home for those older than 70.

The day nursery offered classes in sewing and other crafts.

By 1919, the organization was incorporated as the United Charities of Muskogee.

The two-story brick building that serves as the heart of the day nursery was built in 1923. Much remodeling has been done since then, and the building is continuously being remodeled and refreshed, Call said.

The center today is operated by the Muskogee Welfare Association and offers day care and preschool for up to 95 youngsters.

It receives some of its funding through United Way and is able to offer care at reduced rates, Call said.

Reach Liz McMahan at 684-2926 or lmcmahan@muskogee phoenix.com.

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