Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we are talking about the Marland’s Grand Home in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The Marland’s Grand Home has undergone several restoration projects thanks to generous donors. Today, the home is in pristine condition.
Marland’s Grand Home is located on Grand Avenue and should not be confused with the Marland Mansion. My next blog post will be about the Marland Mansion!
The name “Marland’s Grand Home” wasn’t attached to this site until May 22, 2000. Previously, the site had been called the Cultural Center, but the city commission decided to rename the building for marketing purposes. They wanted the building to become a tourist attraction – and it worked!
This article is broken into two parts – the history of the Marland family and the history of the Grand Home itself. We’ve got a lot to cover today, so let’s get started!
*All photos in this post were taken on site at the Marland’s Grand Home in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
The Marland Family Story
Ernest Whitworth “E.W.” Marland was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He and his first wife, Mary Virginia, moved to Oklahoma in 1908 – 1 year after Oklahoma statehood. They moved to Oklahoma because E.W. lost his oil fortune from West Virginia in the Panic of 1907. He arrived in Ponca City in 1908 and lived in the Arcade Hotel looking for oil.
E.W. Marland and the Miller Brothers (known for the 101 Ranch) became business partners in 1911 forming the 101 Ranch Drilling Company which would later became Marland Oil in 1916.
The Marland Grand Home
The Marland’s Grand Home was built from 1914-1916 and has 22 rooms. Marland and his wife, Mary Virginia (Collins) Marland, moved into the Grand Home in 1916. It is called the Grand Home because it is located at 1000 Grand Avenue.
Solomon Layton designed the home in the Italian Renaissance Revival style with a red clay tile roof. The home covers approximately 16,500 square feet! Much of the original woodwork and light fixtures are on display throughout the home. There is also a carriage house on the property which is designed in the same style as the Grand Home.
TRAVEL TIP: While driving through Ponca City make sure to swing by the City Hall. This building was also designed by Solomon Layton and features much of the same style as the Grand Home.
A Wealthy Man
By the late 1920s, Marland was worth $100,000,000.00 and he was generous with his wealth. He established several things for the community like polo, fox hunting, public gardens, a public park system, and many other community projects. His company also had a progressive employee benefits program.
“I spent money like water on my people and my town. They flourished and they blossomed like a rose!”E.W. Marland
By the 1920s, Marland was operating over 550 service stations across the United States. He also ran a first class oil refinery. While his oil business was booming, others were getting jealous.
J.P. Morgan, Jr. was not the nicest person and had some underhanded business practices. Morgan bought the majority number of shares for Marland Oil stock. He then called in loans to gain the controlling interest. This was not an illegal practice yet… Marland was forced to hand over his house at 1000 E Grand Avenue to Dan Moran the owner of Continental Oil Company (CONOCO). CONOCO was a merger of the Marland Oil Company and Continental Colorado.
Did you know that Marland Oil would later become Continental Oil Company (CONOCO) now known as ConocoPhillips?!
E.W. Marland left the Marland Oil Company in 1928 and his son, George, left with him. Shortly after, the Stock Market Crashed and the Great Depression took hold across the United States. Marland wasn’t able to start a new oil company and his assets were worth less money now…
George & Lydie
E.W. Marland and his wife did not have children of their own. Mary Virginia’s sister had 4 children and adopted 2 more abandoned orphans of a relative. Her sister’s two oldest children, George (18) and Lydie (16), came to live with the Marlands. The Marlands formally adopted George and Lydie as their own to help with expenses – even paying for their education. Lydie was sent to finishing school, while George attended Lawrenceville Academy and Yale University.
Mary Virginia Marland Becomes Ill
Sadly, Mary Virginia became ill with what is thought to have been some form of cancer. She traveled to and from Kansas City for treatments from 1917-1925. Marland purchased a home there for her so she could be closer to the medical attention that she needed.
Marland also had an air conditioning unit installed in the Grand Home to help make Mary Virginia more comfortable while she was in Ponca City. The unit is still in the bedroom and you can see it tucked away in a back closet.
Sadly, Mary Virginia passed away in 1926 at the Marland Home in Ponca City from pneumonia.
E.W. Marland’s Second Wife
Two years after Mary Virginia’s death, E.W. Marland annulled the adoption of his niece, Lydie. He would marry her on July 14, 1928. He was nearly twice her age – he was 54 years old and she was 28 years old.
House of Representatives & 10th Governor of Oklahoma
E.W. Marland chose to run for a seat in the House of Representatives and was elected in 1932. He served for 2 years, but decided he would not run for re-election. He had other things in mind already…
Marland ran for Governor of Oklahoma in 1934 and won the election becoming Oklahoma’s 10th Governor. Marland was inaugurated in January 1935 and Lydie became Oklahoma’s First Lady.
As governor, E.W. Marland agreed with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal plan and used his democratic influence to help the people of Oklahoma during this time. Marland was Governor of Oklahoma until 1939.
Did you know that E.W. Marland was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1931?!
Walking Through the Marland’s Grand Home
Alright, enough history! Let’s talk about the actual house now. The Marland’s Grand Home has three levels you can explore and then a fourth area that visitors are not allowed to go in. I have set this section of the article up to follow the same order as the Marland’s Grand Home Tour Book. (This book isn’t available anywhere online that I can find – I purchased the tour book at the front desk when we checked in.)
TRAVEL TIP: There are several scavenger hunts and seek/find activities for children on the website. I have linked the page HERE – scroll down and you will see them! Each station had little activities that would be fun for kids and teens – so make sure to check that out!
You enter the Marland’s Grand Home on Level 1. Make sure to ring the doorbell to be allowed to go inside! The check-in area is to the right and you can purchase the tour book there as well!
On Level 1 you will walk through several stations ranging from the kitchen to the living room to the entry way. The following list of stations comes from the Marland’s Grand Home Tour Book:
- The Library (Station 1)
- The Foyer (Station 2)
- The Living Room (Station 3)
- The Sun Parlor (Station 4)
- The Dining Room (Station 5)
- The Butler’s Pantry (Station 6)
- The Kitchen (Station 7)
- The Back Stairs, Laundry, & Breakfast Room (Station 8)
Marland loved the sports of polo and fox hunting. He brought both sports to Ponca City and hoped it would one day become the horse capitol of the United States (spoiler alert – it did not…) Four polo teams were established in the town though – the Reds, Blues, Whites, and Yellows. Marland’s son, George, was a very good polo player. Additionally, Horse and Hound Shows were held in Ponca City for people to view the prize mounts and fox hounds.
Did you know that foxes are not native to central northern Oklahoma? Foxes were imported for the sport of fox hunting!
- (Station 9) was the Garage and Carriage House (We didn’t walk through it.)
The exhibits in the basement can be broadly categorized as the following: the 101 Ranch Showrooms, the Wild West Showroom, and the Archaeological Showroom. The following list of stations comes from the Marland’s Grand Home Tour Book.
- The Recreation Rooms (Station 10)
- Swimming Pool and Changing Area (Station 11)
The Marland Grand Home contained an extensive entertaining area in the basement of the house. There was even an underground indoor swimming pool! It was thought to be one of the first of its kind in Oklahoma! As a former swimmer, I always dreamed of having a lap pool at my house and E.W. Marland actually did. How cool is that?!
Marland’s Archaeological Interest
Marland provided the funding for an archaeological dig in 1926 called the Arkansas River Dig Site (north of Newkirk, Oklahoma). This was led by Dr. Thoburn of the University of Oklahoma (OU). They found a Wichita encampment and meat processing center. The findings were divided into 3 groups and sent to 3 different places: the Chilocco Indian School, the University of Oklahoma, and the rest was kept to begin an Indian Museum in Ponca City by Marland.
Marland’s Indian Museum was on display in the basement of the Ponca City Library beginning in 1939. Eventually, the City of Ponca City purchased the Marland’s Grand Home in 1967 and moved the artifacts to the basement of the home for display. Other people have generously contributed to the collection over the years.
The exhibits on the second floor can be broadly categorized as the following: the Patriarchal Showroom (Native American Men), the Matriarchal Showroom (Native American Women), the Basket and Pottery Showroom, the Marland Oil Office, and the Horse and Hounds Landing. The following list of stations comes from the Marland Grand Home Tour Book:
- Second Floor Landing (Station 12)
- Matriarchal Bedroom (Station 13)
- East Bath (Station 14)
- Office (Station 15)
- Guest Bedroom (Station 16)
- Linen Closet (Station 17)
- Lydie’s Bedroom (Station 18)
- Screened-In Proch (Station 19)
- West Bath (Station 20)
- Patriarchal Bedroom (Station 21)
The third floor is roped off in the home, so we couldn’t go upstairs and look around. I have attached a photo of the plaque describing who slept there and the paintings in the hallway.
The Marland’s Grand Home was a beautiful historic home in Ponca City, Oklahoma. I definitely recommend checking it out if you visit the town! The workers were very kind and full of knowledge about E.W. Marland and the home!
TRAVEL TIP: E.W. Marland actually built a second home in Ponca City called the Marland Mansion. I have written a blog about this historic site as well. It is linked HERE! 🙂
Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂
Marland’s Grand Home – Tour Book (*Can purchase for $5 at the front desk after checking in. I totally recommend purchasing one because it is full of cool information and pictures you can quickly read while walking through the house!)