Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a monthly series of articles on the history of the Marland Grand Home. This feature follows the 1910s through1920s.
The Marland Grand Home located at 1000 E. Grand Ave. in Ponca City was the first large mansion estate of oil magnet, E.W. Marland, from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Marland came to Oklahoma in 1908 seeking his second fortune in oil. He had already acquired one fortune while only a young man in the hills of West Virginia, but unfortunately lost his earnings in the Bank Panic of 1907. Although educated as an attorney, oil was in Marland’s blood. He joined with the Miller Brothers of the famous 101 Ranch and the Ponca Indians to obtain new leases. Marland and the Millers created the 101 Ranch Drilling Company in 1911 which transformed into Marland Oil in 1916.
The Marland Grand Home was completed as a residence in 1916 and cost
approximately $350,000 to build. In today’s standards the amount would be
equal to over $3.5 million. Highly acclaimed architect, Solomon Andrew
(S.A.) Layton, was hired to draw up the site plans. Layton also designed the
Oklahoma State Capitol Building in Oklahoma City. The 22-room Ponca City
home was created in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. It boasted 16,500
square feet with an indoor swimming pool, central vacuum system, dishwasher
and air-conditioning ... All unheard of for their time in the plains of Oklahoma.
After touring Europe many times Marland
acquired a great love of English and French gardens. He, himself, was of
English decent and very much a British gentleman in heart and manner. With
the help of Japanese gardener, Henry Hatashita, Marland planned for four
square blocks of lovely formal gardens at his new residence which would
stretch eastward from the home to what is now known as 14th Street/HW 177.
Marland also constructed a 9-hole, 60 acre golf course for the community to
use free of charge. The course was located across
the street to the north of the home. An entourage of 30 gardeners tended the course on a regular basis, as well as the estate’s formal gardens to the east and vegetable gardens to the south.
was the original recreation area of the home. It included three large rooms
of adjoining space for relaxing, playing cards and pocket billiards. The far
west room contained the billiards table and bar. An indoor, underground
swimming pool with diving board and dressing room was also connected to the
indoor recreation area. Presently the basement holds memorabilia and
artifacts of the 101 Ranch and Wild West Show owned by Marland’s partners in
oil exploration, the Miller Brothers. Three collections have now been
brought together for exhibit by the 101 Old Timers Association, the 101
Collectors Association, and the City of Ponca City. The exhibit displays
hundreds of mementos reflecting the days of the active ranch and touring
show. Vintage film footage plays continuously so visitors can learn about
the ranch which was a self-sustaining city in and of its self.
The basement also houses an exhibit of an archaeological dig funded by Marland in 1926. The Arkansas River dig site unearthed artifacts of an ancient Wichita encampment and meat processing center. The effort was guided by Dr. Thoburn of the University of Oklahoma with one-third of the items found going to the Chilocco Indian School, one-third to the University of Oklahoma and one-third kept by Marland to start and Indian Museum in Ponca City.
The years between 1916 and 1920 saw great growth at
Marland Oil. EW and Mary Virginia Marland, his wife of 13 years, were
childless. Mrs. Marland had a sister in Pennsylvania who had four children
and had just taken on two more abandoned orphans of a relative who had died.
It was decided, as was common practice of the day, that the two oldest
children belonging to the sister would come to live with the Marlands to
share expenses. In 1916 after a series of long-term visits, George (18) and
Lydie (16) Roberts were formally adopted into the Marland Family. They moved
into the new home which was completed in December of the same year just in
time for Christmas holiday. George most probably stayed in an upper floor
guest room while at home from college and Lydie had her own bedroom with
walls depicting several sporting activities in which a teen age girl could participate.
Unfortunately, as E.W. Marland was rising in business, his wife of 13 years, Mary Virginia, was becoming increasing more ill. History suggests that her condition was most likely some form of cancer, although no permanent records of proof had been found. During this time Marland purchased another home in the Kansas City Plaza District to allow Mary Virginia to be closer to her doctor, Dr. Abraham Sophian, a renowned Kansas City doctor of the day. Mrs. Marland traveled back and forth to Kansas City from her the Ponca City home. She spent many months in Kansas City between 1917 and about 1925 for her “treatments”. Her bedroom at the Ponca City residence was the northeast, second floor, corner room which was complete with her own private bath. In 1919 air-conditioning was installed for this one room only to aid in her comfort.
By the 1920s Marland had amassed over $100,000,000 profit in Marland Oil. In today’s terms he had become a billionaire. He was now poised to help the community grow into a fine city of its day introducing the English sports of polo and fox hunting for the public to enjoy. He expanded his beautiful gardens at the estate, helped create a public parks system in the city, constructed an athletic field and dressing rooms for the community, and was giving annually to numerous charitable causes. Marland was quoted as saying “I spent money like water on my people and my town. They flourished and they blossomed like a rose!”