Editor’s Note: This is the Ninth in a series of 12 monthly articles on Marland’s Grand Home. Some, but not all, of the information was taken from past articles by the P.C. News.
the 1990’s, the Cultural Center was seventy-five years old, and the home was
showing its age. The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee was commissioned by Mayor
Andrews, in 1996, with the specific task of formulating proposals regarding
various capital improvements for the City of Ponca City. A group of 36
citizens, with various backgrounds and experience, met to attempt to
formulate such a proposal. Their recommendation for the Cultural Center was
The committee acknowledges the historical value of the Cultural Center and the role that it plays in our community. However, the structure is subject to ongoing escalating maintenance and faces renovation, including compliance with ADA requirements. Due to economic constraints, duplication of services and limited usage, the committee recommended that the most economically feasible option was to sell the property at fair market value. However, the committee added that it would be desirable to incorporate covenants to maintain the historic value of the property.
The question was then put up for a vote of the people. The proposition asked “Shall the Board of Commissioners of the City of Ponca City be authorized to sell by competitive public offering the City’s ownership of the real estate and grounds commonly known as the Cultural Center, located at 1000 East Grand Avenue, Ponca City, Oklahoma.” A majority of the citizens voted against the proposition, and it did not pass.
Following the vote, a study of how to best utilize and maintain the 1916
home was conducted. MATRIX Architects, Engineers, Planners Inc. completed a
Ponca City Cultural Center - Use Priority Study in 1997 and a Master Plan
for the Ponca City Cultural Center in 1998. The Master Plan defined the
mission of the Ponca City Cultural Center:
To preserve the historically significant first home of E.W. Marland in Ponca City, interpret the history of E.W. Marland, founder of Marland Oil Company, millionaire philanthropist and tenth governor of the State of Oklahoma, and preserve the artifacts contained in the museums housed in the building for our multi-cultural community and its future generations.
Guidelines for usage of the building and site were also developed and adopted in the Master Plan:
The Master Plan also included projected building repair, restoration, and renovation needs, including interior renovations and repairs, heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing systems, electrical systems, special construction, life safety upgrades, structural repairs, exterior stabilization and repairs, and interior stabilization and repairs.
Exterior repairs began in earnest. Work on the foundation, corrections to the drainage and water infiltration around the perimeter and concrete decking over the swimming pool took precedent. New guttering and downspouts were installed. Deteriorated wood was replaced on columns and eves. Windows were reglazed with new putty. All trim, doors, windows, and other details were repainted. Stone corners, urns, and balusters were completely removed, repaired, and reset. Garage doors were updated. Stucco was restored. All in all, the home experienced an exterior restoration which helped prepare it for a new century. Some, but not all, of the issues were resolved. And still to tackle were interior renovations and other building repairs as funding allowed.
Finances were identified as the most important concern in the MATRIX
plan. The Master Plan stated:
The Facility is owned by the City of Ponca City, which provides financial support for operating and personnel costs. However, the need for significant capital investments to maintain and improve the Cultural Center at a time of limited City funds requires all City institutions to look for other funding sources. “Friends” [known today as “Friends of the Marland’s Grand Home”] was formed to cooperate with City Officials in order to preserve and improve the Cultural Center. The traditional sources of revenue in the past have included ticket sales, special events, Cultural Center activities, and direct funding from the City of Ponca City. New revenue producing uses must be identified for the Cultural Center.
Fundraising activities for the “Friends” included an Ice Cream Social to begin the membership drive, a fundraising event at the Mertz barn with square dancing and entertainment from Silver Dollar City, a Heritage Day on the grounds of the home celebrating local history, a birthday party for Oklahoma’s 90th year, a 14 Flags educational program, and a member appreciation reception.
In 1998, the 30th anniversary of the site was celebrated by the unveiling
of a bronze plaque signifying the dedication of the home on May 26, 1968.
Leon Nelson, who was the City Manager when the City of Ponca City acquired
the property in 1967, spoke at the unveiling. He stated, “The purpose of the
Indian Museum and Cultural Center is to preserve for future generations the
vast and unique culture - the heritage of Ponca City and its environs. That
purpose is as true today as it was 30 years ago.”
The addition the office of Ponca City Tourism being housed at the location during this era made the site of great service to the surrounding region. With tourism specialists available to the public, well-established museum exhibits in place, beautiful spaces to rent for special events, and a renovated exterior, the Cultural Center had become a showpiece destination for northern Oklahoma.