Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Victor Building, A Declaration of Victory

 
The Victor Building
Taken by Alanna Radle Rodriguez
  


By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez


Hello Friends!

Thank you for joining us once again as we delve into the history of this great state we call home, Oklahoma.

First allow us to say: we wish to pay our respects to the brave men and women of our military, first responders and police and let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families, particularly those currently on deployment outside our country and away from their families.

Last month, we covered the history of one of the most beloved thanksgiving foods. Potatoes. This month we continue our regularly scheduled articles on the different buildings in Guthrie. We have covered several of the older buildings in Guthrie, to include the Pollard, the Drug store Museum and the Capitol Printing Company Museum as well.

The Great Land Run was an exciting time. The land was open for everyone who could go in the run to claim. One of the rules of the land run was that they allowed many people to scope out the land, so they could know where they would claim.

In particular, the planned towns were hotly contested items. One such claim was on the corner of what would turn out to be First and Harrison in Guthrie.

Two men lay claim to the land, had started building on it, even though they were in dispute over it. The plot of land is just south of the plot that was planned for the Federal land. This Federal land was expected to be the new government offices for the budding territory.

After a long and contentious court battle, one of the claimants won. The winner took his claim to the sheriff, who then evicted Winfield Smith. From what we have been told, Smith refused to leave the property, so the sheriff threw a rope around the wooden building and dragged it two blocks down the street to an empty lot.

Mr. Smith was so aggrieved by this, he took the case back to court, this time winning the property. It was at this point, he engaged the services of a certain Joseph Foucart, who in 1893 completed the construction of the building.

Now, mind you, during this time, it was common to name the buildings after the owner. For instance take the McCabe building. It was named after the original owner, a freed slave with the name of McCabe. It was expected that the name of the building would be the “Smith Buiding” in honor of the builder. Well, you can imagine the collective gasps when the building was revealed to be the “Victor Building”, in a not-so-subtle way of thumbing one’s nose at the claimant who lost the final battle.

The building, when it opened, housed several different businesses, an business college, several territorial offices, a drug store, even a bowling alley in the basement.

The building has gone through several owners, and numerous businesses have resided in there over the years. On the second floor there were the territorial offices, a bank, even a hotel.

One of the stories we were told was that after the hotel had closed, back in the 80’s, they were clearing out the drawers of one of the night stands that had been in that office, only to find personal correspondence of a territorial official that was sent to Washington D.C. regarding the impending statehood of Oklahoma.

The third floor originally had the College of Architecture in it, until it closed in 1910. During the “Roaring 20’s”, a grand ballroom was placed on the third floor and was the “toast of the town.”

 
Third floor Sandplum Ballroom
Taken by Alanna Radle Rodriguez

As all things must, the building fell into disrepair and disuse during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It was in 1982 that the Guthrie Historic District Preservation Movement started renovating the building. During the renovations, a new mural was painted on the wall in the Grand Ballroom, several pictures of which we have included in this article. The mural was painted by Frank Old.

 
The Mural by Frank Old
Taken by Alanna Radle Rodriguez
  

 
Self-portrait of Frank Old in the mural
Taken by Alanna Radle Rodriguez

The building is now owned by a property owner in Guthrie, who is in the process of renovating the building once again, to make use of its historic past. If you are ever in Guthrie and have the chance to stop by, during an event like the Victorian walk of this past two weekends, or ever get to discuss the history with the owner, it would be time well spent.

Thank you for joining us this month as we explored such a historic icon in Guthrie and our journey in the history of this unique state, Oklahoma. This is our last post and want to say thank you for such an amazing journey.





Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Judge was born and raised in Little Axe, Oklahoma, the son of A.F. Veterans. Judge and Alanna love the history of the state and relish in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her second published story, part of a collaborative novella titled 18 Redbud Lane, is now available. Alanna and Judge live in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Oklahoma. The first book, The Marshal of Denver, is expected to come out in Spring 2020.

Facebook.com/authorAlannaRadleRodriguez
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2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful building! And I love the part of your story where the sheriff dragged the building down the street off the property!!! I suppose that's better than setting it on fire, for sure!

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    1. Hey, Connie! It sure is, beautiful. When I knew it in the late 90's, early 2000's, there were shops on the first floor, including a clock shop that we brought a mantle clock to get repaired. It was so beautiful to see the "street" view of the shop windows and be inside. And it is suck a funny story about the sheriff, and you're right about it better than having it set on fire. Merry Christmas!

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