Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If Walls Could Talk

When we lived in our little bungalow in Mesta Park, I couldn't get enough of the history that had to have occured in our house over the last 98 years.

We had spent the better half of a morning at the Oklahoma History Center scouring through City Directories from the early 1910's determining who had built our home, lived in it and man, can you find a lot of information out there or what?!

We determined how many residents had been in the home (upwards of 70+) over the almost century and we we're amazed at how good of condition the home was in for all of the students that came in and out of the house during the 70's and 80's.

The little bungalow was a modest house even for it's time. The typical owner that lived there worked as a druggist, a machinist for OG&E, etc. The families had anywhere from one to five children (all living in that bungalow, shows how distorted our need for space is these days). A very standard house for a very standard working family. That's what Mesta Park was for the most part and I love every second of it.

I knew we would do some research on six twelve when we got the chance, I just didn't know it had already been done for us. A couple from the neighborhood had gone through the neighborhood, house by house and done research on the older occupants of the homes.

The house was built in either 1929 or 1930. Possibly started in '29 and finished in '30 but I'm not really sure. The first owner of the home was RJ Benzel, who at the time was the general manager of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. He was also the 29th president (or Chairman) of the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. Big wig. He was also sued a couple of times in the Oklahoma Supreme Court for same shady real estate deals. Love the juicy stuff. Benzel sold the house in 1945 to Johnston Murray.

Johnston Murray, get this, was the 14th Governor of the State of Oklahoma. Bigger wig. Murray was married to his second wife Willie Roberta while living in the house for one whole year. They moved out in 1946, the same year he received his law degree from Oklahoma City University. He was the Governor of Oklahoma from 1951 to 1955 following in his father's footsteps who had also been the governor of the state of Oklahoma. After leaving office he got into a nasty public divorce with Willie and then later married for a third time.

So, yea, a governor of the entire state of Oklahoma owned the house that we now own. Insane.

After Murray, the home sold to the Hoffmans. Pete Hoffman was a Vice-President at First National Bank and his wife, Marian Briscoe was from the famed Briscoe Oil Comapny. They lived there from 1946 until they sold the house to the Cathey's in 1957.

The Cathey's owned the home until 2010 when the home fell into foreclosure and became the property of a bank in Colorado. Donald Cathey, an accountant for the Kerr-McGee Oil Company, had passed away awhile ago, leaving the house to his wife Dorothy for many years. After talking to our neighbor last night who knew Mrs. Cathey quite well, we found out that one of her sons quite possibly made some really poor financial choices that he had involved her in and their home was the victim of those bad choices (i.e. the foreclosure). Dorothy's mother lived in the house with them for awhile after Dorothy's father (an early owner of the OU Faculity House, in fact he sold it to OU, just a few blocks away) had passed away. Mrs. Cathey passed away earlier this year and the house has been sitting vacant since 2010.

And now it's just little ole us. I feel like there's some pressure to actually make something big of ourselves now. Otherwise, we're the odd couple out for the house. The fifth owners of this home. Seems slightly more daunting now.

1 comment:

  1. Love the archival work!! -anne