Oklahoma Mansions

Oklahoma has a number of homes that are anything but humble. A visit to these grand houses gives glimpses into the history of the state and some of its most interesting inhabitants.

Oklahoma Mansions

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Photo by Elaine Warner

1. The Murrell Mansion

The Murrell Mansion

Photo by Elaine Warner

The original owner of the 1845 Murrell Mansion was Virginian George Murrell. Married to Minerva Ross, niece of John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokees, he chose to move to Oklahoma with her family during the Indian removals.

The Murrells built a Greek Revival-style manor in Park Hill, when it was Indian Territory. The home was a center of social life in the community. Historical Interpreter Jennifer Frazee, a Lake Region Electric Cooperative member, says, “Not only is the mansion the only antebellum plantation home in the state; it illustrates the sophisticated culture of the Cherokees at the time.”

Two-thirds of the furnishings are original and 90 percent belonged to family members. www.okhistory.org/sites/georgemurrell.php


2. The Seay Mansion

The Seay Mansion

Photo by Elaine Warner

A. J. Seay built the three-story, turreted, Victorian shingle-style home in 1892 when he anticipated his appointment as Oklahoma territorial governor. He hoped that Kingfisher would become the territorial capital. 

Today, while the furniture in the gentleman’s parlor is original, most of the other furnishings are pieces appropriate to the period. The woodwork is an outstanding feature of the home with elaborately carved oak lintels and molding in the central hall, maple woodwork in the formal parlor and family parlor, and cherry in the governor’s office.

Gov. Seay lived in the house until 1901. His dream of a Kingfisher capital never came to fruition. www.okhistory.org/sites/seaymansion.php  


3. Pawnee Bill’s Home

Although he spent much time traveling with Wild West Shows, Pawnee Bill (Gordon William Lillie) and his wife built their 1910 home atop Blue Hawk Peak in Oklahoma. 

Pawnee Bill's Home

Photo by Elaine Warner

The Lillies loved entertaining and their dining room table could accommodate 25 to 30 guests. The silver is from Tiffany & Co.; the floor and the woodwork are oak and Philippine mahogany. 

Historical Interpreter Anna Davis describes another feature of the dining room, “A Belgian silk tapestry the Lillies bought in Europe covers all four walls. The tapestry, as well as most of the other items in the mansion, is original to the Lillie family’s collection dating from before 1910 to Pawnee Bill’s death in 1942.”

The house had both electricity and plumbing. There are many western touches in the house including authentic Navajo rugs and western art. www.okhistory.org/sites/pawneebill.php 


4. The Overholser Mansion

Overholser Mansion

Photo by Elaine Warner

Henry Overholser, already a wealthy man, arrived in Oklahoma City just days after the Land Run of 1889. He had arranged for train cars of lumber and building materials with which he began building a legacy in the new town.

In 1903, he and his bride, Anna Ione, moved into the mansion he built on the prairie northwest of Oklahoma City. From here, they reigned over Oklahoma City’s developing social scene.

The massive Oklahoma sandstone and brick, French chateau-esque style home retains so much of its early-1900s appearance that, should the Overholsers walk back in today, they would notice little difference.

In addition to exquisite furniture, crystal and Murano glass chandeliers, china and silver, the house contains many more personal items. Guests need to take time to examine displays in the Carriage House and on the third floor. Among the treasures there—a lacy handkerchief that was part of Queen Victoria’s trousseau. www.overholsermansion.org


5. The Frank Phillips Home

Frank Phillips Home

Photo by Elaine Warner

As did many speculators, Frank Phillips came to the Bartlesville area after the first commercial oil well was drilled in Oklahoma. Phillips struck it rich and built a 26-room, Neo-Classical mansion at the corner of 11th and Cherokee.

The 1909 mansion features such elegant touches as Waterford chandeliers, Philippine mahogany woodwork, marble bathrooms—one with gold taps—and silk damask wall coverings in the living and dining rooms. The home remained in the family until the 1970s when it was given to the state.

Visitors check in at the Interpretive Center, formerly the six-car garage. Exhibits here provide information about the Phillips family, their community activism and the oil business. www.frankphillipshome.org 


6. The Marland Mansion

Marland Mansion

Photo by Elaine Warner

E.W. Marland’s 55-room estate was inspired by a visit to the Davanzati Palace in Florence, Italy. Completed in 1926, the house featured 10 bedrooms, seven fireplaces, 13 baths and three kitchens. Panels in the dining room are made of rare oak from a royal forest. Décor includes tapestries, paintings and other works of art. The ballroom ceiling is trimmed with gold leaf and lighted with Waterford chandeliers.

The story of E.W. Marland is dramatic with both personal and business highs and lows. The mansion’s Executive Director David Keathly is a fount of information about the house and family. He explains what happened after the Marlands left the mansion.

“The furnishings were sold in a series of estate sales,” he says. “Area families and people from Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Wichita bought most of the items. Ninety percent of the furnishings have been returned.” 

Visitors can see the house as it was at the height of its glory. And of all of Oklahoma’s mansions, this is the most glorious. www.marlandmansion.com

Be sure and check the websites listed for days and hours of operation for each of these destinations. Calling ahead for tours is suggested. 


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The Governor’s Mansion

The Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion was dedicated in 1928. Designed by the architects who designed the state Capitol building, its exterior features the same Indiana limestone used in that structure. The north entrance door is original with hand-etched glass depicting the state seal. The original oak floors have been carefully maintained and in the library the walnut paneling and bookcases with leaded glass also date back to the ‘20s. The last major renovation took place in 1995 during the term of Gov. Keating. 

The décor includes paintings by Charles Banks Wilson and Wilson Hurley. The most notable painting is an original Gilbert Stuart. One of the most unusual pieces is a hand-carved wood sculpture of a scissortail flycatcher on a branch of redbud.

Historical references are subtly incorporated into the furnishings. The names of Native American tribes border the foyer carpet. Governors’ names appear on the carpeted risers of the spiral staircase. Senators’ wives hand-stitched the seats of dining room chairs. The needlepoint designs include the seals of the Five Civilized Tribes, the state seal and state emblems. A centerpiece of the foyer is a massive punchbowl, a reproduction of the punchbowl from the U.S.S. Oklahoma. The original punchbowl is in the Oklahoma History Center across the street from the mansion.

The mansion stands on a 14-acre plot with plenty of room for gardens, a swimming pool, a tennis court and a helipad. Among several outdoor works of art is a sculpture dedicated to the children of Oklahoma’s governors. Bricks bearing the names of these children circle the base. In front of the north entrance to the house, an American elm, grown from a cutting from the Survivor Tree, now stands tall and strong—a symbol of Oklahoma’s resilience.

Gov. Fallin shared these thoughts on living in the mansion: “It’s been a great honor to live in this beautiful, historic residence … I often reflect on the previous governors who lived there and think about the problems and issues they were facing … It’s also been a blessing to share the Governor’s Mansion with the public during weekly tours—one of the few in the country—so that Oklahomans have a chance to view this wonderful residence.”

Public tours of the mansion cover the first floor public areas—the foyer, the Oklahoma room, the library, dining areas and kitchen. Tours are not given during the summer months. The rest of the year, they are scheduled for Wednesday afternoons. Calling ahead for reservations is a must. https://www.ok.gov/governor/Tour.html.


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