Museums & Historic Sites to Visit in Ponca City!

Hey there – Welcome to my blog! My name is Kaitlyn and I love history. I have a master’s degree in American history and love to write about history tips and museum visits! This post includes some of my favorite museums and historic sites to visit in Ponca City, Oklahoma. So, let’s get started!

*For more information about each individual museum, please click on the blog links at the end of each section. There is a lot more information and links to websites in those posts written about the specific location.

Matzene Art Collection at the Ponca City Library

The Matzene Art Collection at the Ponca City Library is one of those hidden gems in Northern Oklahoma. I stumbled across it when doing some research before visiting Ponca City. There are hundreds of pieces of art in this collection and it is free to view. Make sure to stop by the information desk inside the library and ask for a FREE guide to the collection – it’s amazing.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Matzene Art Collection

Ponca City – City Hall

The Ponca City – City Hall Building is beautiful. This wasn’t on my original list of places to stop, but as I was driving through town I had to know what the building was so I turned around. It’s very close to the Ponca City Library so that was nice! City Hall has an interesting history and I loved all of the statues that were outside. I didn’t go inside, but there is a guide online that talks about the history of the inside of the building which was cool.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Ponca City – City Hall

Marland’s Grand Home

E.W. Marland’s Grand Home is beautiful. There are multiple rooms and many floors to explore. Each level tells part of the Marland story. You can purchase a guide book at the front desk and I’d say it’s worth it!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Marland’s Grand Home

Marland Mansion

The Marland Mansion in Ponca City is magnificent. There are multiple levels and rooms to explore. You can see why it’s called the “Palace on the Prairie” – it’s beautiful! I love the architecture of this building and all of the ornate decorations.

They have guided tours through the mansion, but I chose to walk through on my own. I really want to go back for the guided tour because there are 2 buildings you can walk through with the tour that are not available to the public.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Marland Mansion

Pioneer Woman Museum

I loved the Pioneer Woman Museum and have visited more than once. I study women’s history so this museum is one of my favorites in Oklahoma! I learn something new every time I go πŸ™‚

For more information, see my longer blog post: Pioneer Woman Museum

Poncan Theatre

How beautiful is the outside of the Poncan Theatre?! The architecture on the inside is equally as grand and detailed. I walked through the theatre while it was empty and was able to look at the collection of movie posters from the 30s and 40s. They still play movies and host theatre productions. I need to go back and watch a movie one of these days!

For more information, see my longer blog post: Poncan Theatre

CONOCO Museum

The CONOCO Museum was really cool! The staff was so kind and they took the time to talk with me about the history of the museum and Ponca City in general which was amazing. The museum has all kinds of oil history which I found fascinating. Make sure to watch the video at the beginning before walking through the museum! It’s extremely informative and well-done!

For more information, see my longer blog post: CONOCO Museum

Standing Bear Park & Museum

The Standing Bear Park and Museum is one of those places I felt honored to visit. The staff was very kind and they took time to chat with me about the museum which I always think is amazing. Please go visit this museum and learn about the history of Standing Bear and the local tribes.

The park is beautiful and has more information throughout the walking trails. The statues are beautiful as well. Make sure that you take good walking shoes!

For more information, see my longer blog post: (FORTHCOMING)

Cann Gardens and Estate

The Cann Gardens and Estate are beautiful! The home is simple, yet holds an air of sophistication. I loved the stained glass windows in the stairwell and the pictures on the walls. The gardens are beautiful and the perfect place to have a picnic or spend an afternoon relaxing. Make sure to pack some walking shoes for the trail that winds through the garden.

For more information, see my longer blog post: Cann Gardens and Estate

Concluding Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed looking through all of these super cool historic sites and museums in Ponca City! Make sure to use this post when you plan your next trip to Ponca City because you don’t want to miss out on these cool activities.

If you have any questions about the places I visited please feel free to send me a message on my contact page.

Happy Traveling, friend! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

City Hall: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the beautiful city hall building in Ponca City, Oklahoma. While visiting some other historic sites and museums in the area, I drove past this building and had to turn around. I got out of my car, walked around the outside, and took some photos. Let’s go explore the history of the building!

History of Ponca City

Ponca City was founded in the mid-1890s during the Oklahoma Land Run for the Cherokee Strip on September 16, 1893. The founder and first Mayor of Ponca City – B.S. Barnes – was a smart man. He chose the area before the Land Run because of the available water supply, its access to the railroad, and there was a river crossing. Barnes created the “Ponca Townsite Company” in hopes of bringing people to the area. He “sold $2 chances on lots of the settlers gathered to make the land run.” (Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes outside City Hall)

Barnes was a determined man. He discovered that the US Government had plotted town Northwest of Ponca City for the railroad to stop – this town was called Cross. But, Barnes did not like this at all and he took a few friends and under the cover of darkness they “moved the Cross depot to Ponca City.” (Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes outside City Hall) Needless to say, the train stopped at Ponca City.

B.S. Barnes was a strong leader who led Ponca City to many of its early successes. “The citizens always had confidence in his ability and integrity and , five days after the run, they elected him as their first mayor.” (Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes outside City Hall)

RESEARCH TIPS: For more Land Run history, see my posts about the Oklahoma Territorial Museum, the Edmond Historical Society Museum, and the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum.

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about the founding of Ponca City, let’s talk more about the history of the City Hall Building itself! It’s pretty cool!

City Hall Building History

Mayor W.H. McFadden proposed a bond election in February 1916 of $20,000 to build a new convention hall in Ponca City. This bond passed and an additional $25,000 bond was passed in December 1916. The building was designed by architect, Solomon Andrew Layton in 1916 in the Spanish Colonial Style. It was built by Layton and Smith – who also happened to design to the State Capitol Building. Ponca City local – O.F. Keck – was hired as the contractor. “The contract was let for $38,000.” (Ponca City Website – FAQs “When was the current City Hall building first constructed?”) The new auditorium opened on November 14, 1917 with a showing of “Experience,” a Broadway musical play.

FUN FACT! Many of the other buildings in Ponca City are also built in the Spanish Colonial style – just take drive around town and look!

Mayor P.B. Lowrance and the architecture firm of Layton, Smith, and Forsythe helped plan the addition of East and West wings to the facility. A bond issue worth $75,000 was passed in November 1922 for the project. Based in Oklahoma City, the Holmboc Company was awarded the contract for $135,000. Two years later, the Board of Commissioners held their first meeting in the new facility on March 20, 1924. The new East and West wings housed city offices, the police station, and fire station. The expanded center was renamed to the “Civic Center.” These three buildings were separate pieces and wouldn’t be connected for nearly eight decades!

The Civic Auditorium was closed in 1992 because it was deemed a fire hazard by the Ponca City Fire Marshall. The city offices were located in the East and the West wing housed Fire Station No. 1. These areas were deemed safe and were allowed to remain open. A few years later in 1997, the citizens of Ponca City passed a 2-year sales tax that allowed for much needed renovations to be made on Fire Station No. 1 in the West Wing.

After the fire station was renovated, the citizens of Ponca City passed a 3-years sales tax to renovate the rest of the city hall complex. The new complex was designed and renovated by Lewis Associates Architects of Ponca City. They completed the project in 2003 and the building looks stunning!

TRAVEL TIP: Here is a link to a self-guided tour of the inside and outside of the building.

Centennial Plaza

The Centennial Plaza is located in front of City Hall! There are several sculptures, memorials, and plaques that honor various aspects of Ponca City’s rich history. I have included few photos below and hope you enjoy them, but make sure to stop by and see them yourself!

Centennial Monument

The Centennial Monument was created by artist Jo Saylors to commemorate the Land Run. The Land Run took place on September 16, 1893. A century later in 1993, the citizens of Ponca City were given an opportunity to purchase a brick with their name on it to “stake their claim” as a portion of Ponca City’s history. Thousands of people purchased a brick to “stake their claim” – 6,527 people to be exact.

The plaque on the bottom of the Centennial Monument reads: “These 100 donors present this centennial bronze by Jo Saylors in commemoration of the Cherokee Strip Land Run September 16, 1893. Dedicated September 16, 1993.”

Lew Wentz Statue

Jo Saylors also created a sculpture of Lewis Hanes (Lew) Wentz that is on display at City Hall. Lew Wentz (1872-1949) was a wealthy oilman and philanthropist who “always gave.” (Wentz Statue Plaque) This sculpture was a gift from a group of citizens of Ponca City who wanted to honor the memory of Wentz.

The plaque on the bottom gives a lot of valuable information about Wentz’s projects in Ponca City. He was a donor for the Wentz Camp, Wentz Pool, and Wentz Municipal Golf Course. Wentz was a founder for The Society for Crippled Children, the University of Oklahoma Student Loan Fund, and the Oklahoma State University Student Loan Fund.

E.W. Marland Statue

Jo Davidson was commissioned by E.W. Marland (1874-1941) to create the statue of himself. The statue originally sat on the grounds of the Marland estate. Marland loved the arts, especially sculpture. Marland’s widow, Lydie Marland donated the statue to Ponca City in 1951 and it now sits on the southwest corner of City Hall’s lawn.

The bottom of the E.W. Marland statue lists his major accomplishments as the following:

  • Pioneer Oil Developer
  • Philanthropist and Humanitarian
  • Leader in developing the economy, culture, and beauty of Ponca City
  • Donor of Pioneer Woman Statue
  • Governor of Oklahoma
  • United States Congressman

For more information about E.W. Marland, oil history, and the Marland estates check out the following two posts: The Marland’s Grand Home and The Marland Mansion.

Ponca City Memorial Fountain

The Ponca City Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) built the Memorial Fountain to honor those who fought in World War I. The fountain was restored in 1981 by DAR and H.A. “Jack” Mertz. In 1993, the fountain underwent another renovation thanks to the Ponca City and Pioneer Rotary Clubs.

The most recent restoration took place in 2003. Forrest Mertz led the project in honor of his parents H.A. “Jack” and Hattie Mertz, the Ponca City DAR Chapter, and all Veterans. (Ponca City Self Guided Tour)

Concluding Thoughts

I thought this building was very pretty and I am very glad that I stopped to take a few photos. I loved doing the research behind the building and the statues honoring people out front. If you’re ever in Ponca City – make sure to drive by – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

516 E. Grand Ave.
Ponca City, OK 74604

TRAVEL TIP: City Hall is close to the Ponca City Library. Make sure to stop by the library to check out the Matzene Art Collection. This art collection is definitely a hidden gem and I definitely recommend stopping by! Here’s a post I wrote about the Matzene Art Collection!

TRAVEL TIP: While you’re in downtown Ponca City, make sure to also stop by the L.A. Cann Gardens and Estate! Take a pair of walking shoes to stroll through this beautiful garden and trails. The local garden clubs do an excellent job of maintaining this space. Here’s a post I wrote about the L.A. Cann Gardens and Estate!

Sources

City Hall – Ponca City Website

Ponca City Website – FAQs “When was the current City Hall building first constructed?”

City Hall Self Guided Tour – Ponca City Website

Informational Plaque about B.S. Barnes – Pictured Below

E.W. Marland Statue Plaque – Pictured Below

Lew Wentz Statue Plaque – Pictured Below

L.A. Cann Gardens & Estate: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Lester and Mary Cann Memorial Gardens and Estate in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The Welcome plaque in front of the garden claims “the Cann Garden is a museum for living plants.” The Cann Garden features an “important collection of plants in a display setting.” By definition, I love the idea of a living plant museum. The brochure for the Cann Garden calls it an “enchanting” place and I’d believe it after visiting this place! Let’s go look around and talk about the history!

*All photos used in this post were taken by myself at the L.A. Cann Estate and Memorial Gardens in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

History of the Cann Estate

Lester Cann (1869-1957) was the Kay County Commissioner and later served as the City Manger of Ponca City from 1934-1948. He proudly served the Ponca City community for over 25 years. He married Mary (Smith) Cann (1876-1954) and they had a daughter, Elsie.

Mary, Lester, and Elsie Cann

The Cann’s home – a two-story farmhouse – was built in 1908 in Ponca City. Today, the home has been completely renovated and is beautiful. It is used as a meeting space for many of the local garden clubs and organizations. Additionally, you can reserve the garden for special occasions like weddings or other activities.

Elsie ensured the legacy of her parents would never be forgotten by donating the farmhouse and 10 acres of gardens to the city of Ponca City in August 1975. She wanted an emphasis put on garden activities for the citizens of Ponca City to enjoy.

The above photo on the top left is Elsie (Cann) Brown. I am not sure who the other people in the photos are… If you know and would like to tell me so I can update this article – please send me a message on my contact page!

Inside the Cann Farmhouse

The Cann home was built in 1908 and the interior has been renovated. Below are some photos from the first floor of the home. I loved the stained glass window in the staircase – it was unexpected, but added a nice pop of color to the space.

TRAVEL TIP: You can schedule an appointment to tour the turn-of-the-century homestead farmhouse.

The Gardens

More fence posts that supported another entrance into the estate and gardens.

The Gardens are maintained by many of the local garden clubs. If you walk through the gardens, there are several benches, plaques, and tiles on the pathways honoring these clubs. There are over 2,500 feet of walkways in the Cann Garden according to the Kay County Master Gardener bench in the gardens. Make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes!

TRAVEL TIP: Here is a map of the Cann Memorial Garden Walking Trails. The garden is open daily to the public from daylight until dark!

In addition to being a garden, Cann is also a dedicated arboretum! An arboretum is a space dedicated to growing multiple types of trees.

The Cann Gardens feature “a formal garden containing several hundred varieties of annuals and perennials planted in unique color displays. There are over 100 species of trees that have been planted since 1980 and more to be added in the future.”

Kay County master gardener bench – dedicated 2017

Events at the Cann Gardens

The Cann Garden hosts an annual plant sale in May. For more information about the plant sale please contact the Cann Garden.

The Annual Herb Festival is held the first Saturday of June every year. Their mission is to “educate about herbs, gardening and to provide tools and crafts for outside. Also, to share the beauty of Cann Gardens and to invite guests to Ponca City while supporting the programs of the Survivor Resource Network along with increasing awareness and knowledge of services provided to Kay and Noble County survivors of domestic violence.” (Ponca City Herb Festival Website) For more information about the herb festival or to visit their website – CLICK HERE!

Saturday, June 4, 2022, will be the 29th Annual Ponca City Herb Festival from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be vendors from Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. You will have an opportunity to purchase plants, herbs, handmade items, jams, and more. There are also children’s activities, seminars, and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

FUN FACT: While researching this post, I found a recipe for JalapeΓ±o and Confetti Pepper Jelly from the Ponca City Council of Garden Clubs.

Concluding Thoughts

I really enjoyed having an opportunity to walk around the Cann Memorial Gardens and Estate. The walking trails were well-kept and the landscaping was beautiful. There are several gazebos where you could easily host a picnic! Next time I go back, I know I’ll be packing my picnic bag!

I hope you’ll go check out the Cann Garden in Ponca City. If you can’t make it to Ponca City – go check out your local botanical garden! Ask about the history of the garden – you never know what you might learn!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

1500 E Grand Avenue

Ponca City, Oklahoma 74604

TRAVEL TIP: This is located at the Corner of 14th & Grand Avenue.

Sources

The Gardens

“L.A. Cann Memorial Gardens” – Brochure

“L.A. Cann Estate” – Ponca City Website

“Cann Memorial Garden Walking Trail” – Map produced by Ponca City

“Lester & Mary Cann Memorial Botanical Gardens” – TravelOK.com

“Ponca City Herb Festival” – Website

“29th Annual Ponca City Herb Festival,” Ponca Post (Ponca City, OK)

Sherry Munchmore, “The Ponca City Garden Clubs’ Red and Green Christmas Jelly,” Ponca City Monthly, November 23, 2021.

The People

Lester Cann – Find A Grave

Mary Smith Cann – Find A Grave

Elsie Cann Brown – Find A Grave

Percy Brown – Find A Grave

Conoco Museum: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Conoco Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma. This will be a continuation of the oil history in the area. Please see the posts about Marland’s Grand Home and the Marland Mansion for more of the history of oil in Ponca City. Let’s go see how a regional kerosene distributer became a global energy giant!

TRAVEL TIP: You MUST watch the video at the beginning of the museum! There is so much information and it explains most of the exhibits in the museum. It was very well done and interesting – not boring at all! So, make sure to watch it! It’s around 10 minutes long.

CONOCO History

The Continental Oil and Transportation Company was founded in November 1875 by Isaac Elder Blake in Ogden, Utah. The former Pennsylvania oil field worker would remain president of Continental until 1893. Continental would be the first marketer of kerosene in the West. By 1878, the company was marketing goods like candles, lamp oil, and wax to overseas markets (Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, and Japan).

Continental became affiliated with Standard Oil Company in 1885. John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company was a known oil monopoly in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. In 1913, the Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil had to dissolve some of their holdings – this was anti-monopoly legislation. So, Continental Oil Company of Colorado was let go by Standard Oil and they became an independent oil company once again. They were the premier oil company in the Rocky Mountain region.

Continental realized that they had a viable market in the American West and built their first filling station in 1909. Over the next two decades they would build several hundred more. By 1917, Continental was made the exclusive gasoline supplier of Yellowstone National Park.

Continental acquired United Oil Company in 1916 allowing themselves to produce and refine for the first time in company history. In 1924, Continental merged with Mutual Oil Company.

In 1929, Continental Oil merged with Marland Oil in an historic deal. The official name of the merged companies was the “Continental Oil Company,” which was more commonly known as CONOCO. The company was headquartered in Ponca City, Oklahoma. (For more information on E.W. Marland and Marland Oil see the following posts: Marland’s Grand Home and Marland Mansion.)

Marketing

CONOCO had an excellent branding and marketing team which helped sell their products and image! It all started with Marland’s marketing team in the 1920s which utilized western images. After the merger in 1929, CONOCO continued to market to their target audience through radio, tv, magazines, billboards, trade publications, and branded merchandise.

As previously mentioned, Continental was the premier gasoline supplier for Yellowstone National Park. This was the only brand of gasoline sold in the park for nearly 90 years! 90 years, y’all!

Drivers of the era loved Continental because of the free maps and travel aids at the CONOCO Travel Bureau which opened in 1929. By 1936, the “Touraide” was the largest free trip-planning service in the United States.

The 1930s ad campaign, “Gentlemen Prefer Bronze,” won awards. The 1950s and 1960s campaign claimed that CONOCO gasoline was the “Hottest Brand Going.” The 1999 campaign employed Domino the cat. He was a nimble cat who would get past the competition. The ad line was, “Think Big – Move Fast.”

CONOCO Oil had a great reputation. It was the first off-the-shelf brand of oil used in race cars for the Indianapolis 500.

The CONOCO marketing team focused on consumer needs and pursued all of the new ad avenues. It also helped that CONOCO had a quality product that a lot of people wanted. This was match made in advertising heaven.

Research

Beginning in the 1930s, Continental emphasized research and exploration through their activities.

Like many companies during World War II (WWII), CONOCO helped provide oil for increased industry. Women also worked in the factories while the men were fighting in Europe. CONOCO also continued research efforts on oil and gas for aviation use. The original research lab was built by E.W. Marland in 1910 and was located in Ponca City. A second research lab was built in 1950 and a third lab was built in the early 1980s.

“Research was carried out in many areas, including exploration science, deepwater drilling technology, offshore platform design, refining processes, oilfield production, and a brand new method for dispensing gasoline.”

“Technology,” Conoco Brochure.

CONOCO eventually moved their headquarters to Houston, Texas in 1950, but Ponca City continued to be an important regional center. The company continued acquiring other firms like Coastal Oil, Western Oil, F.P. Kendall Oil, and Douglas Oil of California. By 1950, CONOCO was the eighth largest producer in the United States.

Scientists at CONOCO pioneered the cutting-edge technology of Vibroseis in 1953 (patented in 1956). This was a new method of seismic exploration that didn’t use explosives, but rather used low-frequency vibrations. This method is still used today in the oil industry.

CONOCO acquired Consolidation Coal in 1966 – this was the largest coal company in the United States. Coal complimented their oil and gas production capabilities.

The executive office of CONOCO moved to Stamford, Connecticut in 1972. CONOCO continued focusing on exploration throughout the 1970s because of the fear of running out of petroleum.

In 1984, a tension-leg platform (TLP) was produced for the first time. This would revolutionize deepwater production. They could find oil in water deeper than ever imagined before. CONOCO also began operating on Alaska’s North Slope in 1985 – only the third company to do so at the time.

Environmentally Aware

CONOCO has always had a reputation for being environmentally aware. CONOCO established a wildlife refuge in 1937 in South Texas for whooping cranes. This is a nesting site for the birds. The company wanted to demonstrate how business and the environment could coincide. CONOCO has funded several other sites as well.

The company adopted a formal environmental policy in 1968. It read, “Doing what is environmentally right.” CONOCO was awarded the Outstanding Industry Conservation Award from the National Institute for Urban Wildlife in 1983. This is just a single example of the many accolades the company has been awarded for its environmental and community contributions.

CONOCO continues to upgrade their technology and policies today to make sure that this is still true. They received many honors and recognitions for their environmental policies in the eighties and nineties.

CONOCO & DuPont

DuPont acquired CONOCO in 1981 in a “friendly” deal that was beneficial to both parties involved. DuPont was a well-known chemical company. CONOCO was a subsidiary of DuPont for around 17 years. In 1983, CONOCO executives moved their offices to Wilmington, Delaware. This was where DuPont’s headquarters were located. The offices in Houston and Ponca City were both still operating with thousands of employees.

In 1998, CONOCO became an independent oil company again and was re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Did you know that a single 42-gallon barrel of oil only produces 19.4 gallons of fuel? The other 22.6 gallons are used to make things we use everyday!

CONOCOPhillips

CONOCO was one of the 50 largest companies in the United States in 2002. CONOCO and Phillips Petroleum Company merged in 2002, creating the third largest integrated energy company in the United States. Phillips Petroleum Company had been founded in 1917 and had an international reputation by the time of the merger. (The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum and Frank Phillips historic home is Bartlesville, Oklahoma – so, I need to make a trip to both of these places!)

Logo History

Did you know that CONOCO didn’t become the official company name until 1979?

The CONOCO logo has changed a few times throughout the companies tenure. The first logo was a Continental Soldier on a yellow background with the words “CONOCO Gasoline” around him. By the 1920s, this logo was on display at 250 stations across the West.

The Marland Oil triangle was modeled after the YMCA logo. Marland received permission to use it. He liked the triangle because the three points represented quality, service, and courtesy. The triangle was surrounded by a green border. By the mid-1920s, there were over 600 Marland stations across the Midwest.

When CONOCO and Marland Oils merged in 1929 – so did their logo. The Marland triangle was kept and the word “CONOCO” was added. This was symbolic because customers would recognize the merging of the logo. The green border was dropped from the triangle in 1950. The logo was simply red and white. (Pictured Below – Right) The CONOCO logo we all recognize today was solidified in 1970. The capsule logo with the word CONOCO represents the brand today. (Pictured Below – Left)

Museum History

The Conoco Museum opened in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 2007 and displays the history of the company from 1875 to the present. The refinery across the street from the museum dates back to 1918! It is one of the oldest operating oil refineries in the United States.

Some of the Exhibits in the Museum

A Proud Heritage – This exhibit contains a replica of Marland’s boardroom.

Ponca City Proud – The Ponca City Refinery began in 1918. It’s one of the oldest in the US.

Getting to the Future First – Talks about some of the technology that Conoco helped pioneer.

Setting the Pace – Doodlebugger worksite outside. TLP was the most advanced oil production platform in history.

Marketing Conoco – See Conoco’s marketing campaign. 1930s Touraide Office interactive area. Replica of early service station.

Concluding Thoughts

This museum was pretty interesting to visit! I didn’t know anything about the history of CONOCO before walking through the museum. I plan on including the history of oil in Ponca City and Conoco in my future classes. I want to give a shoutout to Carla at the Conoco Museum for being so kind and helpful. She told me a lot of cool stuff about Ponca City and gave me a bunch of good travel tips for the area.

I hope you’ll stop by this museum and go see it! Seriously, it was so cool!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

501 S. South Avenue

Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601

Sources

Conoco Museum – Website

Conoco Museum Paper Packet – I was given a packet at the front desk that contained a lot of cool information about the museum, oil history in the area, Marland, and CONOCO. I have listed the documents below:

  • “Conoco Historical Highlights” – Timeline
  • “Products from Petroleum”
  • “A Brief Informal History of CONOCO” – Originally published in The Landman (January/Febraury 1991)
  • “CONOCO Returns to NYSE,” The Ponocoan (Ponca City, OK), October 23, 1998.
  • “Oil Mansions & Museums,” The American Oil & Gas Historical Society, The Petroleum Age, Volume 4, No. 3 (September 2007).
  • “Oklahoma Oilmen” – Brochure
  • “CONOCO” – Brochure

Poncan Theatre: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend – welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the historic Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma. This beautiful theater is located on Grand Avenue in the heart of downtown Ponca City. Let’s go look around!

The Poncan Theatre is located in the historic district of downtown Ponca City. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1985 and is an example of a Spanish Colonial Revival Style Theatre.

TRAVEL TIP: The Poncan Theatre has tours for visitors to learn about the architecture and the history. The Poncan Theatre hours are Tuesday through Friday 1-5 p.m. and they open an hour before show time on other days.

*All photos were taken by myself at the Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Other images used have attributions in the captions and in the sources section at the end of the post.

Poncan Theatre History (1927-2005)

The Poncan Theatre was designed by the Boller Brothers of Kansas City and was oringally owned by the Poncan Theatre Co. It was designed to be an “atmospheric theatre” with a special emphasis put on the ornate ceilings. Scroll through the photos below to see the beautiful ceilings!

The building cost a whopping $280,000 to complete. (An inflation calculator estimates this is around $4,486,468.97 in 2022 [when this article was written]). That’s a lot of money, y’all! This included the price of the equipment inside the theatre. The Wurlitzer Pipe Organ alone cost an impressive $22,5000 ($360,519.83 in 2022)!

The Poncan Theatre opened for business on September 20, 1927 featuring Our Gang and Shanghai Bound. Upon opening, the theatre seated 1200 people between the lower floor and the balcony. Lower floor seats were $1.10 and balcony seats were 50 cents. Fred Pickrel was the first director.

Fun fact! The balcony is not supported by any pillars, rather it is supported by a 5-foot thick “I-Beam.” After having walked through the balcony – I find this very impressive!

History of Film

Originally, movies didn’t feature sound and were called “silent films.” There were many stars in the “silent era” like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. These actors often exaggerated their movements to evoke an emotional response from the audience. Movies with sound (music & sound effects) were released throughout the early 1920s.

The first movie to feature a spoken dialogue was The Jazz Singer released in late 1927. Al Jolson changed cinema history forever when he uttered, “Wait a minute… you ain’t heard nothing yet.” The scene that changed cinema history is linked below – hear Al Jolson speak!

Movies with dialogue became known as “talkies” because the actors and actresses spoke in the film. Initially, many of the movie theaters didn’t have the technology to show such films because the technology was expensive. The first “talkie” film was shown at the Poncan Theatre in April 1929. People flocked to the shows to see!

Below are some of the show advertisements in the local newspapers throughout the decades. This was a random selection and that the newspaper archive had some years where there was a newspaper ad for every week with the movie listings. So, if this interests you, go check out a newspaper database!

Famous Faces

The Poncan Theatre catered to both silent films and stage entertainment – it was truly a vaudeville venue. Many famous silent film stars got their start on the vaudeville stage including Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini.

Vaudeville:

1. “A light often comic theatrical piece frequently combining pantomime, dialogue, dancing, and song.”

2. “A stage entertainment consisting of various acts (such as performing animals, comedians, or singers).”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

On February 5, 1931, Will Rogers gave a performance to the largest crowd in the Poncan Theatre’s history. Other entertainers like Sally Rand and Ethel Barrymore also appeared at the Poncan Theatre.

The historic painting of Will Rogers was returned to the theatre in 2007 (center, below). It had been kept safe at Central State University [now the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in Edmond, OK]. Some have suggested that Richard Gordon Matzene (pictured right, below) might have painted the portrait. Matzene donated a large portion of his art collection to the Ponca City Library. For more information on Matzene and the Matzene Art Collection – check out this article on my blog!

Theatre Upgrades

The first of many updates took place in 1938 with new seats being added. Bob Browning became the theatre manager in 1939 and a new marquee was also installed. (The current marquee is styled after the original one installed in 1927.)

Donald R. Hall became the manager of the Poncan in 1946 and didn’t retire until 1977. There is a painting of Hall in the lobby on the left side of the Will Rogers painting (pictured above). Donald Hall was responsible for writing movie summaries for advertisements in the local newspaper. You can still read the summaries in The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK) back issues!

Donald Hall’s wife Frances Hall also worked in the theatre. Tragically, she collapsed in the theatre, spent two weeks in the hospital, and didn’t recover. Frances Hall passed away in 1967.

The Poncan was remodeled from 1954 to 1955 with the renovations being completed in time for a Christmas Day open house. The marquee was upgraded to a larger one so that everyone could see the movie titles up and down Grand Avenue. The inside of the theatre included 1,000 new posture-design seats – time to relax at the movies! Additionally, the mezzanine furnishings and the air conditioning system were both replaced.

More renovations and upgrades were made throughout the sixties and seventies. In 1962, the marquee was made bigger – again! There was no way you could miss the theatre marquee. A decade later in 1974, new reclining seats were installed on the bottom floor of the theater. These would have been perfect to watch a show in!

Restoration & The National Register of Historic Places

The eighties were a good decade for the theatre. The Poncan was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Three years later, the Poncan Theatre Company was established as a non-profit in Kay County to preserve the history of the theatre. In 1989, Enloe and Wanda Baumert made a generous donation allowing the theatre to be donated to the Poncan Theatre Company.

The restoration of the Poncan Theatre began in 1990 and would take place in three phases according to the Poncan Theatre website.

  • Phase 1: “Replace roof, update mechanical, electrical, and sound systems.”
  • Phase 2: “Clean/replace carpeting, revamp offices and stage areas.”
  • Phase 3: “Restore original marquee, secure stained glass panels, and repair exterior masonry.”

In 1992, 15 tons of plaster was used to repair the interior which was seriously deteriorated at this point. That is a lot of plaster…

Many community members and companies donated funds to help fix the Poncan Theatre. The renovation cost roughly a million dollars! CONOCO donated a grant of $150,000! For more information about the history of CONOCO – check out my forthcoming post about the CONOCO Museum also located in Ponca City!

The grand reopening of the theatre was held on September 18, 1994.

Poncan Theatre (2006-Present)

In 2006, Dave May became the Executive Director of the Poncan. He was responsible for the restoration of the world’s largest collection of “hand painted lobby art” from the 1930s (1931-1937). Below are a couple of examples of the art – if you are interested in seeing more photos please look at my instagram post about the lobby art. You can find me on instagram @the_active_historian!

In 2011, Team Radio broadcast from the Poncan for the first time. Their office and recording studio are located there now.

Kelly Mayers became the Executive Director of the Poncan Theatre in November 2015. More restoration projects have continued to take place at the theatre.

The Poncan Theatre celebrated its 90th birthday in 2017! I can’t wait to see what they do for the centennial celebration five years from now in 2027!

Christopher Radaker-James took over the Executive Director position in June 2019. Today, the Poncan Theatre shows movies and hosts performances. Check out the Poncan Theatre Website for the list of events or to purchase tickets!

Is the Poncan Theatre Haunted?

Several people claim to have had encounters with ghosts in the Poncan Theatre. For more information, please see this article from the Ponca City Monthly.

Sometimes, the Poncan hosts ghost tours so check that out if you’re interested in that kind of stuff. I spoke with local gentleman in town who attended one of the ghost tours and he said it was cool.

Concluding Thoughts

Walking through the Poncan Theatre was really cool! I dropped by on a Friday afternoon and the man at the front desk let me look around. The hand-painted lobby art and the dome ceiling inside the theatre were my favorite parts of the building! I hope to go back one day to either see a show or a movie! I hope you’ll go visit this important piece of entertainment history!

Happy traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

104 E. Grand Avenue

Ponca City, OK 74601

Sources

Websites

Chelsea McConnell, “A Haunted History of the Poncan Theatre,” Ponca City Monthly, October 29, 2021.

“Ethel Barrymore,” National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Open Access.

“The Jazz Singer” – Clip from Warner Bros.

Inflation Calculator

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Oklahoma Haunted Houses

“Poncan Theater Ghost” – Discover Oklahoma

“Poncan Theatre” – Northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country

Poncan Theatre – TravelOK.com

Poncan Theatre – Website

Rick Roger, “Ponca City Residents Proud of the Community’s 83-Year Old Poncan Theatre,” The Oklahoman, August 2, 2010.

“Will Rogers,” National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Open Access.

Newspapers

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), December 1, 1947. Page 10.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), December 21, 1947. Page 4.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City), February 11, 1948. Page 8.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), August 11, 1948. Page 6.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), April 18, 1949. Page 8.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), May 6, 1948. Page 16.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), May 2, 1949. Page 10.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), June 30, 1949. Page 15.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), September 23, 1953. Page 4.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), April 12, 1954. Page 4.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), March 12, 1957. Page 3.

The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), June 19, 1959. Page 6.

The Matzene Art Collection @ The Ponca City Public Library: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Richard Gordon Matzene Art Collection at the Ponca City Public Library. This article will discuss the history of the library, the story of Richard Gordon Matzene, and the Matzene Art Collection. So, let’s get started!

Richard Gordon Matzene (c.1880-1950) was a photographer and art dealer who loved to travel the world. He had studios in Chicago (1900-1937); New York City (1908-1911); Los Angeles (1911-1919); Shanghai, China (1920s); and Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India (1920s). Upon his death in August 1950, he donated much of his extensive art collection to the Ponca City Public Library through his will. The collection at the Ponca City Library contains a variety of pieces including charcoals, oils, water colors, bronze sculptures, and pottery.

TRAVEL TIP: When you enter the library go to the front desk and ask for an art tour book. The books are FREE! It has information about the collection and Richard Gordon Matzene. The book also explains the significance of many of the paintings, important words concerning the art, and artist bibliographies. It is a very cool book that doesn’t take long to read at all! You can easily read it while walking through the library. I read it after I got home… so I totally recommend reading it while at the library! It might take a little bit longer, but it would definitely be worth it!

*All photos were taken at the Ponca City Public Library in Ponca City, Oklahoma unless otherwise noted in the photo caption.

Ponca City Library History

The original Ponca City Library was organized in 1904 by the women of the Twentieth Century Club in an insurance office on Grand Avenue. The library was housed in the back of the insurance office, but soon outgrew the space.

The first library building was constructed in 1910 on the corner of Fifth and Grand Avenue with funds from Andrew Carnegie (the steel magnate from the late 19th and early 20th centuries). The Carnegie grant for the Ponca City Library was $6500.00 (Today, that is around $195,000.000). Carnegie donated funds to other libraries across the United States as well. There are 25 so-called “Carnegie Libraries” in Oklahoma.

Ponca City continued to grow larger and soon outgrew the Carnegie Library. A bigger library was needed, so, the city bought some land with a grant from the Public Works Administration (PWA) in 1935. The larger building was 18,000 square feet and built by the WPA in a Mediterranean Revival style designed by George Cannon. Bret A. Carter describes the building’s architecture as follows in his book Kay County’s Historic Architecture:

“The Ponca City Public Library is built of buff-color brick and ornamented with terra-cotta details at windows, front arcade, and clerestory window of the main reading room.”

Bret A. Carter, Kay County’s Historic Architecture (Page 105).

In 1989, an additional 10,000 square feet of space was added to the building. This allowed for more space and activities in the library. Next, let’s talk about Richard Gordon Matzene – who he was, why he collected art, and what he did with that art!

Richard Gordon Matzene

Early Life

Richard Gordon Matzene’s birthdate is contested – some say he was born in 1875 while others say 1880. His birth name was Jens Rudolph Matzene which he used for many years before changing his name to “Richard Gordon.” His birthplace is unconfirmed – the 1910 US Census lists his birthplace as Denmark, his 1918 US Draft Registration claims England as his birthplace, and when he was older he told people he was born in Hungary. So, basically we’ll never know for sure where exactly he was from… The Tour Book from the Ponca City Library says that he was born in London, England; attended schools in Denmark and Italy; and moved back to England after the death of his parents to live with an aunt and uncle (page 3).

Matzene also claimed to be a Count, but this was never confirmed either. Some have suggested that he knew Americans had an affinity for royalty and he adopted the title.

Matzene actually had to hide in the basement belonging to a friend in China during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

“Mr. Matzene was in China during the dangerous days of the Boxer Rebellion when Chinese soldiers, under orders from the Dowager Empress, were attempting to kill all foreigners in the country. During this time, he was safely hidden in the home of a Chinese friend who, a few years later, helped him purchase many treasures from the Imperial Palace when they were offered for sale.”

File Note from the Matzene Collection in Stacey Pierson’s, Collector’s, Collections, and Museums: The Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain, 1560-1960 (Footnote 62: Pages 134-135).

Photography

Matzene opened a studio in Chicago in 1900 that operated until 1937. He had other people running the studio in his absence. Next, he opened a New York City studio in 1908 that operated until 1911. Matzene had to file bankruptcy claims in late 1911.

He met Antonia Baumer during this time and they were married in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 20, 1909. She was 39 years old according to their marriage record.

After this, Matzene and his brother-in-law, George Baumer moved to Los Angles. The Los Angles studio operated from 1911 to 1919. He had a business deal with the L.A. Times to take society and theatrical photos for the paper. He took photos of early stars and was considered a master of the glamour shot!

“In these days a photographer needs to be an artist, a chemist, a keen observer, and perhaps a raconteur all in one.”

Richard Gordon Matzene

Matzene’s photography is pretty significant according to an article published by the Stillwater News Press. He took many photos of members of high society – including the Royal Nepalese Family. Keep reading to learn more about that!

1918-1920

Matzene was required to register for the World War I (WWI) Draft in the United States. He registered at Draft Board 14 in Los Angles, California. According to his draft card, he had blue eyes, gray hair, a medium build, and he was tall (another record lists him at 5 ft 10 in). He was still married to Antonia at this time.

He tried to make movies from 1918-1919, but wasn’t too successful. He attempted to begin “Matzene Productions,” but it flopped. He did co-direct a 1919 film With David Hartford titled, “It Happened in Paris.” Have you seen it?

According to the 1920 US Federal Census, Matzene was 40 years old and living in Seattle, Washington working as a photographer. He was single at the time and lodging at the home of Andrew and Carolyn Casbeer. The 1920 Seattle Washington City Directory lists his business at 309 Mutual Life Bldg R 504 4th Av. He eventually left Seattle and settled in Ponca City – a booming small town in Northern Oklahoma.

Home on the Plains – Ponca City, Oklahoma (c.1927-1950)

Matzene collected Oriental Art and American Western Art by networking with artists from around the world in his spare time. There are several ship arrival and departure records on Ancestry.com if you are interested in more information on that (not sponsored – just ran across the records on a search). Matzene met several important people on these journeys – one man who changed the trajectory of his life, Oklahoma oilman Lew Wentz.

Supposedly in late 1927, Matzene met Wentz on a cruise. Wentz told Matzene of the new booming town in Northern Oklahoma, Ponca City. Wentz claimed that the town was in need of someone who could help the wealthy purchase art for their homes. Matzene liked the idea and settled in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Matzene was kind of a local mystery in Ponca City, but he did well for himself through art brokerage and decorating services. He even photographed Native Americans during this time. According to the US Federal Census of 1930, Matzene was living in Ponca City, Oklahoma as a lodger in the home of Charles and Maud R. Calkins. He was 55 years old and still working as a photographer. He was widowed at this point in his life.

Matzene was granted U.S. Citizenship in 1939 according to the Blackwell Journal-Tribune from Blackwell, OK (a small town close to Ponca City). This is supported by a Naturalization record from the District Court in Newkirk, Oklahoma (a small town north of Ponca City). His Naturalization date was January 11, 1939.

While living in Ponca City, he was drafted for World War II (WWII) in 1942. An L.H. Wentz was listed as his next of kin on the WWII Draft Card. I’m assuming this was “Lew” Wentz. The same man who had convinced him to move to Ponca City in the first place.

He stayed in Ponca City until his death on August 30, 1950. Richard Gordon Matzene donated a portion of his large collection to the Ponca City Library in the 1950s via his will. I have attached a newspaper article with specific details from Matzene’s will below!

Matzene Collection History (Ponca City, OK)

The Matzene Collection at the Ponca City Library contains a variety of pieces including charcoals, oils, water colors, bronze sculptures, and pottery. I have attached photos of a few pieces throughout this article, but there are so many more beautiful pieces that you need to go see!

More of Matzene’s photos were discovered in a closet at the Marland Grand Home in Ponca City. These photos were also donated to the Ponca City Library. It was a journey to identify the people in the photos according to an Oklahoma State University Art Professor – Marcela Sirhandi. She traveled extensively trying to figure out the puzzle and ultimately figured it out! Check out her book Royal Nepal Through the Lens of Richard Gordon Matzene.” He was invited to photograph the Nepalese Royal Family in 1927. This was a special project because the royal family of Nepal typically didn’t allow outsiders to have access to the family. Matzene’s photos allow historians and art historians a rare glimpse into their lives.

Additional pieces in the collection include the pottery shown below. Richard Gordon Matzene collected the pottery pictured below on summer trips to Taos, New Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s.

Wentz-Matzene Collection (Norman, OK)

Richard Gordon Matzene and Lew Wentz donated items to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) in 1936. My boyfriend and I actually visited the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma. CLICK HERE to read that blog post next!

The Wentz-Matzene Collection contains 758 pieces. Some of the most notable pieces include “Gandharan sculpture, Persian miniatures, Nepalese and Tibetan art, and Chinese ceramics, bronzes, and paintings.”  In 1936, the collection was valued at $250,000 (That’s around 5 million dollars today).

TRAVEL TIP: Admission at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma is free. For those not familiar with Oklahoma geography, Ponca City is in the Northern part of the state and Norman is in the central part of the state. So, you might have to take 2 separate trips to see both parts of Matzene’s Collection.

Lew Wentz was an oilman who helped finance Matzene’s trips to Asia to buy more art. They had met in the late 1920s on a cruise. Wentz was instrumental in influencing Matzene to move to Ponca City. Below is a photo of Matzene and Wentz – I’m not exactly sure when the photo was taken, but it was published nearly a decade after Matzene passed away in August 1950.

“What is a Library? Books? Well, partly…,” The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), April 10, 1961. [Page 3]

Concluding Thoughts

The Matzene Art Collection at the Ponca City Library is truly a hidden gem. I accidentally stumbled across it one day when planning a Ponca City road trip – I wish more people knew about it and Richard Gordon Matzene’s story.

I would like to give a shoutout to the kind people at the Ponca City Public Library. A local elderly gentleman stopped and talked to me about the art. He said he was glad that I was there to see it and he told me which one was his favorite. I absolutely love being able to connect with people over shared passions for art and history. I hope you’ll stop by if you’re ever in the area!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

515 E. Grand Avenue

Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601

Sources

“Richard Gordon Matzene Art Collection” – Ponca City Library Tour Book (Pictured below – Ask for one at the front desk!)

Books

Bret A. Carter, Kay County’s Historic Architecture (Google Books)

Stacey Pierson, Collector’s, Collections, and Museums: The Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain, 1560-1960 (Google Books)

Royal Nepal: Through the Lens of Richard Gordon Matzene – Marcella Sirhandi’s Website

Websites

List of Carnegie Libraries in Oklahoma – Wikipedia

“Making Connections: Associate Curator Shawn Yuan visits the Matzene Collection in Ponca City” – OSU Museum of Art Blog Post

Matzene Art Collection – Ponca City Website

Matzene Studio – Broadway Photographs

“Photos in Sheerar Museum exhibit show link between Oklahoma and Nepal” by Laura Wilson (June 28, 2010) Stillwater News Press

Ponca City Library – PDF Information Sheet

Richard Gordon Matzene – Google Arts & Culture

Wentz-Matzene Collection – Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art – University of Oklahoma Website

Newspapers

“Citizenship Paper Issued Three in Kay,” Blackwell Journal-Tribune (Blackwell, OK), January 13, 1939. [Page 5].

“Julia Claussen Tuesday,” The Chattanooga News (Chattanooga, TN), June 12, 1916. [Page 7].

“Matzene,” The Tulsa Tribune (Tulsa, OK), October 8, 1922. [Page 17].

“Matzene Art Display Closes This Afternoon,” The Norman Transcript (Norman, OK), November 13, 1932. [Page 1].

“Matzene Wills His Paintings And Investments to Library,” The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), September 3, 1950. [Page 2].

“Miss Rosa Raisa,” Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL), November 5, 1916. [Page 43].

“MME. Yorska in Films,” The Los Angles Times (Los Angles, CA), August 4, 1918. [Page 46].

“More Paintings From Matzene Collection Placed on Display at Ponca City Library,” The Ponca City News (November 12, 1952). [Page 11].

“Mrs. Winfield R. McKay,” Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL), July 30, 1919. [Page 19].

“Names Mrs. Phillips As Honorary Colonel,” Morning Examiner (Bartlesville, OK) November 6, 1945. [Page 1].

“Oriental Art Discussed For Members of League,” The Oklahoma News (Oklahoma City, OK), February 9, 1937. [Page 7].

“Painter and Art Collector, Gordon Matzene, Dies Here,” The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), August 30, 1950. [Page 7].

“Valuable Figures Are Added to University’s Collection of Ancient Oriental Art,” The Oklahoma News (Oklahoma City, OK), March 21, 1937. [Page 27].

“Wentz Donates Valued Paintings,” The El Reno Daily Tribune (El Reno, OK) May 24, 1936. [Page 1].

“What is a Library? Books? Well, partly…,” The Ponca City News (Ponca City, OK), April 10, 1961. [Page 3]

The Marland Mansion: Ponca City, OK

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re going to continue talking about the Marland Family from Ponca City, Oklahoma. This post will discuss the Marland Mansion, also known as the “palace on the prairie.”

First, if you haven’t already, I recommend reading the article about the Marland’s Grand Home! That article gives the history of the Marland Family, the Marland Oil Company, and the Marland’s Grand Home. Plus, there are some pretty cool pictures! Let’s get started!

*All photos in this post were taken on site at the Marland Mansion, the Marland Oil Museum, and the Bryant Baker Gallery & Artist Studio in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

The Marland Mansion

The Marland Mansion was built in Ponca City from 1925-1928 for E.W. Marland and his family. It cost $5.5 million to complete!? John Duncan Forsythe was the Master Architect. This home contains 55 rooms and covers approximately 43,561 square feet. It’s massive and is sometimes referred to as the “palace on the prairie.” I can totally see why!

The inside is ornately decorated with beautiful chandeliers, intricate woodworks, and lavish designs on the ceilings. Several artists and decorators were tasked with making the home elegant. E.W. Marland wanted to live in an actual palace according to the tour book we received at the front desk. I mean, it sure looks like a castle to me!

Inside the Marland Mansion

TRAVEL TIP: The Marland Mansion has scheduled guided tours that take you through the home. The guided tours last about two hours according to the tour book from the front desk.

We opted to walk through the mansion by ourselves with the tour book and it was still amazing! The Marland Mansion has several levels. The following stations are listed in the Marland Mansion Tour Book we received at the front desk:

  • Lobby Level (Main Entrance)
  • Formal Dining Room (Station 1)
  • Breakfast Room (Station 2)
  • Service Kitchen (Station 3)
  • Gallery Levels
  • North Salon – Sun Room (Station 4)
  • Loggia – Hallway (Station 5)
  • Ballroom – Gallery (Station 6)
  • South Salon – Living Room (Station 7)
  • Second Floor Landing (Station 8)
  • Third Floor Landing (Station 9)
  • George Marland’s Quarters (Station 10)
  • George Marland’s Bedroom (Station 11)
  • Guest Bedroom #1 (Station 12)
  • Guest Bedroom #2 – Will Rogers Suite (Station 13)
  • Terrace Suite #1 (Station 14)
  • Dumbwaiter (Station 15)
  • Cedar Closet (Station 16)
  • Terrace Suite #2 (Station 17)
  • Terrace Suite #3 (Station 18)
  • E.W. Marland’s Quarters (Station 19)
  • Lydie Marland’s Quarters (Station 20)
  • Domed Stairways and Landing (Station 21)
  • The Grand Stairway and Hall of Merriment (Station 22)
  • Handball Court (Station 23)
  • Lounges and Hunt Kitchen (Station 24)
  • Poker Room and Tunnel (Station 25) *Ask gift shop attendant to see this area.
  • Outer Lounge (Station 26)
  • Basement Level (Go down the stairs at the main entrance)

Ornate Ceilings

I also wanted to show you a few of the beautiful ceilings in the Marland Mansion. I didn’t take a picture of all of them, but make sure to look up while touring this historic home. They didn’t miss any of the details!

Outside Grounds

There are other buildings on the Marland Estate property, but you can’t go inside them unless you are on the guided tour. Some of the things to see outside are as follows:

  • Bryant Baker Gallery & Artist Studio (*guided tour only)
  • Lydie’s Cottage (*guided tour only)
  • Stables (not on tour because it is now a private home)
  • Lake Whitemarsh
  • Gazebo
  • Boat House
  • Original Swimming Pool
  • Gatehouse (not on tour)

TRAVEL TIP: There are over a 1/2 mile of walking trails that are accessible for use outside on the grounds. There are also picnic areas! So, pack a lunch and head to the Marland Mansion for a fun experience.

The artist studio was originally built for Jo Davidson. Davidson was the sculptor who created the Marland family statues. The Marlands also lived in the artist studio for a time when they could no longer afford to live in the grand mansion.

A wing in the studio houses works from Bryant Baker. He was an English artist who moved to the United States in 1915. He later became a US citizen in 1923. Baker primarily created statues and busts. His most famous work is the bronze statue of the Pioneer Woman commissioned by Marland. It currently sits in front of the Pioneer Woman Museum (also located in Ponca City).

TRAVEL TIP: The Bryant Baker Gallery & Artist Studio are only available to view on the guided tours. So we didn’t get to walk inside this building. Hopefully, I’ll make the tour next time! πŸ™‚

Marland Oil Museum

TRAVEL TIP: The Marland Oil Museum are only available to view on the guided tours. So we didn’t get to walk inside this building. Hopefully, I’ll make the tour next time! πŸ™‚

The building looked super cool on the outside though!

Concluding Thoughts

The Marland Mansion was a beautiful historic home to tour. I hope you’ll go visit Ponca City one day and stop by both of E.W. Marland’s beautiful homes! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my post on the Marland’s Grand Home!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

901 Monument Rd

Ponca City, OK 74604

Sources

Bryant Baker Gallery and Artist Studio

Marland Mansion & Estate – Tour Book (*Received from the front desk at the mansion after checking in. I can’t find it online to link here…)

Marland Mansion – Website

Marland Oils

The Marland’s Grand Home: Ponca City, OK

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.

β€œI 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!

Level 1

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.)

Basement

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.

Level 2

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)

Level 3

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.

Concluding Thoughts

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! πŸ™‚

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚

Visit

1000 E Grand Ave

Ponca City, OK 74601

Sources

Bryant Baker Gallery & Artist Studio

Ernest W. Marland – Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Marland Mansion & Estate – Website

Marland’s Grand Home

Marland Mansion History

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!)

Pioneer Woman Museum: Ponca City, OK

Today, we’re talking about the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City! My first visit to this museum was during my first semester of graduate school. I needed to visit an archive for a project for my Historical Methods class which was related to my research. I study women’s history so what better place to visit, right? Give me all the herstory!

I love the phrase used by the museum, “I see no boundaries.” This phrase embodies the pioneer spirit and is a great reminder for all visitors to the museum. There are no boundaries to what you can achieve. Keep trying! πŸ™‚

Travel Tip: The great thing about Ponca City is that it’s located about 45 minutes north of Stillwater! So if you’re traveling to Stillwater it wouldn’t hurt to drive an extra 45 minutes to visit this museum as well as the other cool sites in Ponca City!

*All photos were taken at the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Museum History

The Pioneer Woman Museum opened in Ponca City, Oklahoma in September 1958. The museum was expanded in 1996 to its current capacity. The museum features and explores the rich contributions of Oklahoma’s pioneer women to state and national history.

The Pioneer Woman Statue

The Pioneer Woman Statue was commissioned in 1930 because Ernest Whitworth Marland who wanted something to honor his mother and grandmother. Marland was a millionaire oilman, philanthropist, US Congressman, and the 10th Governor of Oklahoma.

Travel Tip: The Marland Mansion is also in Ponca City and you can tour the historic home. I haven’t been to it yet, but I’ve heard that it’s impressive! Road trip, anyone?

Marland held a competition for the statue design and Bryant Baker’s design won the most votes. The statue is 17 feet tall and weighs 12,000 pounds! If you add the base to the total height – it is 33 feet tall. It’s massive and very impressive, y’all!

The pioneer mother bravely takes hold of her young son’s hand and leads him forward. I was very moved by the piece. I even bought a mini version of the statue in the gift shop to sit on my desk and I was devastated when it got broken when I moved 😦 I need to go back to the museum to visit again and get a new one!

Museum Exhibits

The museum features a wide array of items pertaining to women’s history in Oklahoma and the West. The two photos below show an 1865 bedstead where 9 children were born!

The gallery above is an exhibit that illustrates different aspects of women’s history. One of the museum employees told me some really cool stories about different pieces in each display!

TRAVEL TIP: ALWAYS talk to the museum workers and volunteers! They are extremely knowledgable and you will always walk away having learned something new!

The looms pictured below are at the front of the museum! How cool are they?!

Concluding Thoughts

The Pioneer Woman Museum is one that you definitely need to go see. I’m almost positive that you will leave this place inspired!

Happy Traveling! I’ll talk to ya soon! πŸ™‚


Visit

701 Monument Road 

Ponca City, Oklahoma 74604

Sources

Pioneer Woman Museum Website