Chandler was named after Judge George Chandler, a member of Congress and commissioner of the general land office in Washington, D.C. Chandler was opened by a land run on September 28, 1891. The town had been planned to be opened on September 22, (the date of the Land Run of 1891) but the site survey had not been completed. The Chandler Post Office had opened September 21, the day before the planned run. When Oklahoma county A (Lincoln County) was organized, Chandler became the county seat. On May 30, 1897, a tornado destroyed most of the fledgling town and killed 14 residents.
In 1891 the county government operated out of an office building until the original courthouse was built. The courthouse was destroyed by the tornado of 1897, and a temporary courthouse was erected on the present site. This building was removed in 1907 to make way for a stone courthouse. This third courthouse burned down on December 23, 1967 and the current courthouse was set in its place.
Chandler is one of the many cities along the famous U.S. Route 66 and contains a number of attractions to devotees of "The Mother Road." These include The Route 66 Interpretive Center, The Oklahoma Law Enforcement Museum and Hall of Fame, The Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History, several Route 66-themed murals, the newly restored old cottage-style Phillips 66 gas station, and one of the last remaining painted barns adverting Meramec Caverns west of town.
U.S. Route 66 brought a significant amount of commercial business to Chandler - due to travelers crossing the state and the country; however when the Turner Turnpike (Interstate 44) was built, much of this business died out.
In 1958, professional baseball player Bo Belcher opened Chandler Baseball Camp. For 42 years, the camp hosted campers from around the world for a bootcamp-like baseball camp during summers. The camp closed in 2000 due to the death of Tom Belcher. In 2011 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.