In the Seventies, Bob Berry's construction company landed the first contract for refurbishing the opulent Marland mansion, once the Ponca City home of oilman E.W. Marland and wife (formerly his niece and then adopted daughter), Lydie. Then the workers discovered a mystery.
They were worried about the unsecured structure, with its $2.5 million gold-leaf ceilings, $30,000 silver sconces and hand-carved Italian marble. The great building was a state " if not national " treasure, standing silent and empty. They got to work.
Then, late one night, Berry said he got a call from one of the workers on the site. They had observed something eerie.
"He calls me at about 1 o'clock in the morning and says, 'Bob, I swear to God, somebody is in here, and it looks like they have candles.' I said, 'Oh, my God,'" Berry said. He got in the car and floored it from Enid to Ponca City.
Berry, the workers and police searched the house " what they knew of it. At the time, outsiders didn't know of all the hidden rooms and secret tunnels. Their search turned up nothing.
At nearly dawn, Berry caught a nap in his car and then went on a daylight walkthrough of the mansion. In addition to normal construction work, they also were repairing original furniture that supporters were returning to the estate in order to return the home to its former glory.
On one antique piece they found a handwritten note.
"Green love seat goes on west parlor wall," the note said.
"I'm looking at this, thinking, 'Holy moley.' It was obvious to us that the only person who would know that is Lydie Marland," Berry said. "Ben Fenwick