It may not be the largest home in Heritage Hills, but the Overholser Mansion, 405 N.W. 15th, will always stand as the neighborhood's first.
Henry Overhosler came to Oklahoma Territory in 1889 with a trainload of building supplies, including six wooden structures. Within 10 days, his first buildings were up, and the man some hail as the "father of Oklahoma City" was open for business.
Overholser would build his mansion more than a dozen years later on the outskirts of the city. Of the 11 buildings he reportedly commissioned, only his mansion remains.
Built in 1903 at a cost of $38,000, no expense was spared in constructing and decorating the home. The canvas walls and ceilings still show their original, hand-painted artistry and are lit by elegant Italian light fixtures. The original English carpets cover floors accented by lavish Belgian woodwork. The home's two exquisite stained glass windows distract visitors from the expansive views of surrounding Heritage Hills homes.
"The house soon became the social hub of Oklahoma City," said Lisa Escalon, museum coordinator. "Many famous musicians, entertainers and prominent leaders of the day graced the halls of the mansion."
Interestingly, only four people have ever lived in the 11,700-square-foot abode, and never more than three people called the big house home at one time.
The mansion's collection is unique in that all furnishings are original to the Overholser family. The house and its contents were deeded to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1972, and the home is shown today like it was then, right down to the clothes in the closets.
Guided tours take visitors through the three-story home's grand entrance, study, music room, bedrooms, dining room, third-floor ballroom and nursery. Old and new stand in stark contrast in kitchen, where an original Detroit Jewel wood-fired stove sits next to a 1960s modern gas range, and everything in the room seems dwarfed by the monstrous 1925 Frigidaire electric refrigerator.
Also on the grounds is a 4,000-square-foot carriage house. This elaborate barn, with servants' quarters upstairs, still has its original decorated tin ceiling and houses a gift shop in one of four horse stalls.
Tours are given from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1 for children; kids 5 and under are free. For more information, visit www.overholsermansion.org.
Price writes online at www.travelblur.com.
photo Overholser Mansion Photo/Shannon Cornman