We’re Still At it………

I snuck out of town for 48 hours for a time of relaxation and rejuvenation with my best friend.  While it was great and much needed, by early afternoon today,  I was itching to get back home to The Mac.

Our beautiful girl is coming together a bit more every single day.  The tin siding on the upper east side has been updated.  Drive down the alley behind and check it out.  The upstairs plumbing is roughed in.  The plaster has been removed from all of the ceilings.  We hope to begin the electrical, heat and air work in the next two week.  The crane came this morning to place the 3 downstairs heat and air units atop the roof.  The downstairs ductwork has been put into place.  But the piece de resistance is the new “old” storefront that Bill & Shane have re-created.  Upon approval from the local historic preservation committee after their monthly meeting on July 21, we should be all systems go on finally removing the storefront that was placed in service in 1964 and take her beautiful face back to a very similar resemblance of her early days.

It’s just going to be breathtaking…..

And the new “old” front doors……….ahhhhh!  They are tall and solid and heavy!  They have beautiful strong hinges and handles.  They were salvaged nearly 20 years ago when they were removed from the Okmulgee School Board of Education Building at 8th and Muskogee.  And a dear friend has entrusted us with them to adorn the grand entrance of The Mac.

Stay tuned…….photos will be coming soon.

I didn’t think we could love her any more than we did a year ago……but we both do!

Outside The Wake

Buying a boat without a name leaves a family of five perplexed.  We had owned it for 7 months before it became clear just what her name would be.  It had made many turns around Okmulgee Lake, pulling kids and adults on water skis, wakeboards and tubes.  We had all suggested many names, both common and obscure.  Nothing seemed to fit.  But on a warm afternoon as another kid managed to get up on a wakeboard, Rob turned and began to holler “get outside the wake”.  When said child let go of the rope and he circled the boat back around, he began to explain…….”right behind the boat is the wake.  It’s rough and it looks scary to go over the wave and get outside the wake.  But once you do, the water is smooth and that’s when you really can have some fun.  Suck it up, get over the wake and I guarantee you’re going to love this so much more”.  On the next pass, the grin that spread across that face, once the wake was jumped, was the confirmation to know that our boat had just been named……..Outside The Wake.

outside the wake 1

So the next week when Rob ordered the vinyl letters for the boat, he ordered a couple of smaller versions that he put on the back windows of our car.  Outside the Wake had become so much more that just a name for a boat, but a mantra our family quickly embraced as a guideline for life.  It’s been 5 years but I still get asked often to explain about what that stands for on the back window of my Flex and I always enjoy sharing the story with those who inquire.

Nineteen years ago, with a 2 year old and a pregnant wife, Rob left a job in banking to set out on his own and buy an insurance agency.  It was a decision that wasn’t made lightly or without a lot of thought and sleepless nights.  But it was a chance we took and made work.  A few years later we merged our small independent agency with Fansher, Stone & Milroy, a local independent agency that had been serving Okmulgee since 1928.  In 2001, we partnered with First National Bank and moved the operations of Fansher, Stone & Hess to the main bank location.

reglazing 2

Today, with a nearly 21 year old, an 18 & 11 year old and most definitely NOT a pregnant wife, Rob is hanging up his insurance hat and stepping Outside The Wake to follow his passion; practical preservation, construction and property management.






He and The Mac are in the middle of the wake right now. While the roof is on and the window repair is nearly complete, there is much left to do. The next few months will encompass many changes as her electrical, plumbing and climate control systems will be overhauled.  But her captain will be right there with her, steering her though the rough waters until she can get “outside the wake” where it is smooth.




One thing for certain, that I bet his insurance family and customers can attest to, is that Rob will do what it takes to get “outside the wake”.  From reviewing policies, working claims and offering advice on coverage, he has touched the lives of many people.  He’s enjoyed working and establishing friendships with others in the industry throughout the state.  Rob knows his insurance but also knows that now is the time to follow his passion.









I’ve never been so proud of him.  His accomplishments are many but as he follows his passion and restores this grand old girl, I know he will thrive and shine.

We flippin' Okmulgee








And I’m the lucky girl that still gets to be right by his side.


226 Days

lighted hallway

On a warm summer evening, over 80 people gathered together on hallowed ground in the center of town with a common desire; Hope.

There were business people, retirees, bankers, lawyers and teachers there.  There were many who had lived in this place for a lifetime,  together with new comers.  There were city leaders, Muscogee Nation leaders, Education leaders gathered together.

As I stood at the top of the stairs greeting guests and directing them to the food and tables, I saw faces I’d know for a lifetime.  I made new acquaintances.  I had butterflies in my stomach wondering what the evening would hold.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the connection that would be made in that very room, on that very night that was going to change my hometown forever.

You see, 226 days ago, a fire started in the Historic District of Downtown Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

We are no strangers to fire.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, we lost blocks of historic old buildings to the ravages of fire.  Treasures that were once grand and strong were reduced to rubble.  The only thing that remains are the photographs, memories and stories of time spent within the walls.  Fire is devastating and a constant fear of those who love historic old buildings.

But this was a fire of another sort, one like we had never experienced before and that would smolder and burn through the entire community.  The fire of hope.

226 days ago was the day #okmulgeerising began.

It was the day that a connection was made with a university leader who had a vision of how a great working partnership could be formed.  It was the day “Okmulgeeans” began to observe and look at the place they called home with a whole new set of eyes.  It was the day that barriers began to break down and conversations began.  It was the day mindsets changed from “we can’t do that” to “how can we make this work?”.

It’s been an amazing 226 days.

Day 227 is going to bring more fuel for the fire that will perpetuate it’s flame for years to come.


6 months later……

They say time flies when you are having fun. I think time also flies when you are working hard towards something you love.


Walking in the front door and seeing this still stops me dead in my tracks.  Rob is the same way.

It’s often surreal to think we are the caretakers of this beautiful old building who has stood with such grandeur on the south side of the Square for nearly 100 years.


IMG_2223It’s hard to believe that this is a photo from right inside the front door a mere 6 months ago.




It’s amazing what Rob and his work crews have accomplished in such a short period of time.


That may have come to a screeching halt yesterday when they discovered that one of her walls is a perfect “screen” for movies.  I caught them screening “The Only Oly” late in the afternoon.    They also have declared the Mac downstairs a great place to fly remote controlled helicopters and Rob is dying  to get us all roller skates.

And if he ever finds any bowling lanes on Craig’s List or Ebay, we are all going to be in trouble.

IMG_0748Here is the central command upstairs.

Rob took the vent stack that were removed when the roof was replaced and fashioned a table by putting a board on top.  We needed a place to keep the blueprints so here it is.

We also repurposed the carpet that was removed downstairs.  We now have “runners” covering the hardwood floors in the upstairs hallways.  We don’t want to damage or cause too much wear to the floors while the work is going on.


IMG_0752I used Mark’s sidewalk chalk and have marked all of the rooms, doors that will be left and permanently closed,  office suite walls to be removed to create open living spaces.




IMG_0754We’ve removed the interior doors that will be repurposed for use as bedroom, bathroom or closet doors.

We have been careful to bundle and mark the trim and door pieces so that they will be replaced in the proper location.




IMG_0747But the biggest transformation to date has to be the window rehabilitation that has been taking place over the past 6 weeks.

If you drive down Morton Avenue, you will see that all of the windows on that side of the building have been updated.  While they may appear to be new, they are all original, 98 year old windows.  They have just had an extreme makeover.



sandingAfter the windows are removed, they take a trip downstairs to the  “shoe department” which has been set up as the window rehab bench area.  Citrus paint remover is spread over the glass and all of the paint is scraped from both sides. The old weight cords are removed and thrown away. Then, the heat gun comes out to soften the putty so it can be removed.  Once it’s out, the glaziers points come out that are holding the glass in.  Carefully oh so carefully, the glass is removed and set aside.  (You’ll notice there are no pictures of me on window rehab as I was fired after I broke 3 pieces of glass). The hardware comes off and goes for a soak in a vinegar filled crock pot.  After an hour or two in the vinegar bath, a good scrub with a stiff brush and buffing with a soft cloth and the hardware looks better than new and is ready to go back into place.

Then the wood frame is scraped, sanded and repaired with bondo if needed.

ready for paintHere are several that are ready for paint.







mezzinine windowsThese are the windows that were salvaged from the back of the mezzanine.  They are tall and have 10 lights each.  I declared that I wanted to refinish these.  I think they may let me since the glass is in small sections and maybe I won’t break them.

It’s truly amazing what a few hours, a few tools, bondo, glazing and paint can do for 98 year old windows.

Here’s a glimpse of what they look like back in place today……

IMG_0767 IMG_0766










With the beginning of 2015, the countdown is on.  Our girl will be  100 years old in 2016 and our goal for upstairs renovations to be completed.  It’s amazing how far she has come in just six months.  And we can’t wait to see what her 99th year will bring.  And we are so honored to be a part of her comeback as well as the revitalization of amazing places and spaces throughout historic downtown Okmulgee.  #okmulgeerising

The Cousin’s and The Key

IMG_0303 IMG_0302 FullSizeRender mac cousins














We had a fun day of visitors not too long ago!  The McBrayer cousins came to visit!!!

Nancy called one morning and we had a great visit.  She mentioned that she had picked up some cars for the antique Lionel trains that her brother Andy collects and needed to meet him to deliver the trains.  We quickly decided that since she’s in Tulsa and he’s in Edmond that it made perfect sense for them to meet in Okmulgee at The Mac!  I could hardly wait!

They arrived bearing gifts.  Treasures that had been part of The Mac for years that they brought back home.  There are two framed prints of President’s Wilson and Roosevelt that were from their grandfather’s office, along with a ledger book tallying rent that dates back to the early 1920’s.  Then Andy pulled out a block of wood with a key attached.  It was the key to the Men’s restroom upstairs.  I flew upstairs with key in hand and was so excited that not only did the key fit in the lock but it all still worked!!!

It’s so much fun when they visit and start telling stories about memories of their “Gampy”.  They always go straight down the hallway to his office.  They feel close to him in this space that he was in daily for so many years.  This trip, their eldest cousin, Tom Bingman took a stroll over from his law office in the McCullough Building to see what was going on.  He was quiet and just looked around upon arrival, but it wasn’t 2 minutes before he started telling his stories.  You see, he would come to The Mac every day after junior high and high school.  His granddad had Parkinson’s and it was hard for him to get up and down the stairs, so Tom would come after school to be “his legs” and run errands. He bet that he went up and down those stairs a thousand times. Tom also recalls that one could get a divorce from Mr. Peterson, who rented the front office at the top of the north stairs, for $25 back in the mid-40’s.  We learned that the office suite on the west front of the building was always rented by the Democratic Party for their campaign headquarters.

Rob asked Tom that day why he thought these downtown office spaces were abandoned.  He replied with the following :  “no air conditioning”, “they weren’t modern”, “the staircases…people couldn’t walk those stairs” and “the roofs…..if you put the gravel on top of the tar roofs, that would provide some protection from the hail, but if there was a leak, you couldn’t find it”.

I cherish these living history lessons about our girl.  I can’t wait for the next time the cousins come to play.









Windows on our World

Light……it’s an amazing thing. I never stopped to think about it much until we became the caretakers of The Mac.

Just in case you were wondering, there are 53 windows and 5 skylights on the 2nd story of The Mac. When we first toured her last spring, only 3 of those were exposed. The rest were covered. Once we got everything exposed and the light started flooding in, she looked like a whole different place.

mac windows 4

Here is a glimpse out of the front window on the northwest corner of the Mac.  We were so fortunate to have found this summer a room full of the original window screens so we have enjoyed cool breezes as the clean up began.

With the cool mornings and October here, we’ve got to start thinking about how we are going to get her buttoned up for the winter.

With this being a tax credit project, we have very specific guidelines when it comes to dealing with our windows.  Ideally, we want to repair and reuse as many as possible.  There are a few that have not fared well and will have to be replaced.  In doing so, we must take care in replacing them with an exact replica.  Nearly every time I have mentioned windows and historic buildings in the same sentence, I been advised, “you need to call the guy in Wekoka”.  So after googling “windows, wekoka, OK & historic preservation” I found just whom I was looking for.

Last week, Rob and I loaded up with 2 windows in tow and took the hour long drive southeast to Wewoka, OK.  This guy greeted us at the door.

dogDennis called her Sissy and she never got to close to any of us.  She was making a pretty steady loop around the inside of the fence that surrounds the shop at Wewoka Window Works.  It was no surprise at all when, later in the conversation, it was revealed that they have never had an intruder there.

So on a raining Oklahoma morning, our education about wood windows began.

Dennis Myers started in the window repair trade upon his retirement as a general contractor in 1994.  Since that time he has purchased the former TH Rogers site and has one shop there and another in this beautiful building on the main street in Wewoka.

photo 1

We had at least hour long discussion about rails, glass, sills, weights, bondo, paint and glazing.  We saw some sample pieces in the showroom.  There was little doubt in my mind that we had been advised correctly to come meet him.  When Dennis asked if we would like to see some of the work they were doing in the shop on site, we hopped out of our chairs like kindergarteners.  That was a dumb question…….we had been “itching” to see  just that since we walked in the door.

sawdustThe first thing I encountered was this great truck bed full of saw dust.  Even on a rainy morning, there is nothing quite like the smell of saw dust.

I knew we were in for a treat.



the yard


This warehouse full of all kinds of assorted wood was just overwhelming.  (I think I even caught Rob drooling over it).

Then we got to see where the magic happens.


the mill 1This air-conditioned shop, full of so many different hand and power tools is where the guys hone their craft.




transomThis beautiful arched transom window is just one of the pieces they are working on restoring and repairing.




door 1This hand crafted door was simply amazing.





dennis & robI think we could have stayed and talked with Dennis all day.  He was so passionate and truly loves the work they do here.  His attitude towards his craftsmen and business were genuine and heartfelt.

When I asked him if he’d consider coming to Okmulgee to meet with the others who are pursuing downtown building renovations, I was so pleased (and not surprised) that his answer was “sure”.

So last week, I get to see my new friend Dennis again and  introduce him to my old friends in Downtown Okmulgee.  He was the presenter for the Economic Restructuring meeting we had for Okmulgee Main Street.  ER mtg

For an hour, Dennis schooled 15 of us in the world of wood windows and how to preserve, restore and replace them.  He toured the Mac and basically talked himself out of much of a job as he deemed most of our windows repairable.  We ended our day sharing lunch at Kirby’s Café and by the time I bid him safe travels back to Wewoka at 2:30 that afternoon, I knew for certain I had just made a lifelong friend in Dennis.

This started out as a project to save an old building and restore it to her former glory.  But it has become so much more.



The Leak

We have a new roof!!!!  I can’t take a picture of it because it’s white and absolutely blinding!  I crawled up there with no sunglasses on and thought I was going to die!  Thank goodness it was a cloudy and overcast day.

The roof had many layers of material on it.

photo 2 photo 1








These were pictures from earlier in the summer when Rob was patching the old roof.  It was black and cracked and thick and tar covered and it needed to go.

So that’s what we did.  Rob and a couple of guys spent about a week removing the old roof.  It is not fun.  It is hot, miserable and dirty work. You have got to remember it’s late August and early September in Oklahoma.   This is what they found underneath layers and layers of roof.

roof patch





There were many spots in this beautiful old roof top that required  new patching and had been patched over the years.

roof holes                                                                                                                                                                                    This one really shows how 98 years can wear on lumber, even though it’s been covered up with layers upon layers of roofing material.

roof patching

Here is a shot of the stripped front area of the roof in the midst of prepping and patching before the new roofing materials went in.

roof stuff 1

Here are the lightweight Styrofoam type sheets that will become the new roof of The Mac.  This is a component of the TPO Roofing System that Allen Lewis Roofing.  TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin and is a single ply roofing membrane.  It has gained broad industry acceptance for its performance and installation advantages.

So in layman’s terms…..this is what they did.

After tearing off the old roof, they patched all of the holes in the  roof with tin.  Then they took these lightweight foam type sheets and attached them to the roof with screws. It was all then covered with a rolls of a white, membrane.   It kind of reminded me of white rubber wrapping paper laid out on top of the Styrofoam.   Then, once the whole surface is covered, they come back in and melt the seams together to form a water tight barrier.

roof stuff 2 roof stuff going down roof stuff 3                                                                                                                                                                                         Here they are piecing together the Styrofoam underlayment. This is part that didn’t take very long.  It was like laying out puzzle pieces as you want to vary the seams on the pieces so you don’t end up with a bunch of straight seams.

Did I tell you that these guys were getting up and working 5:30 am – 11am days and then returning last evenings for more until the sun set?

I couldn’t decide what was worse in the heat: the old black heavy tar covered roof or the new bright white highly reflective roof.

These guys stuck with it and got the front half complete before the holiday weekend.  With rain in the forecast, they made a patch between the old & new roof areas that should have gotten us through the predicted light storms that weekend.

What we couldn’t predict,  and were in no way appropriately prepared for,  was the 3 inch in an hour rain that fell on the Tuesday morning after Labor Day.

rain in mac rain in mac 2                                                                                                                                                                                   This is the nightmare we found on the 2nd floor of our girl that morning.  I bet I carried fifty 5 gallon buckets and dumped them out of the window trying to keep the kiddie pool from over flowing.  As soon as the rain stopped, we broke out the shop vacs and started sucking as much water as we could off of our beautiful hard wood floors.  Within 2 hours of an appeal on Facebook for fans, Nancy Gleason (granddaughter of Thomas H. McBrayer) was on the scene and loaned us all of her fans that are used in her family’s carpet business.

But the good news is that the floors have dried out and the damage is minor so we should be able to salvage and repurpose all of the hardwoods upstairs.

And since it leaked through to the downstairs, we’ve pulled up the carpet and started taking town the suspended ceiling tiles exposing incredible tin on the ceilings.

tin ceiling2 tin ceiling1 hearts                                                                                                                                                                        Discovering all of this was our prize for surviving the week of water upstairs. They are in such beautiful shape.  The patterns are intricate and detailed. The trim molding is in the shape of hearts.

And the Lewis Roofing crew got right back up there, finished up the back part of the roof and got the new skylights installed.  We did a walk through last week to check their work and were pleased that the leaks were few and far between on Monday when it rained.

roofers                                                                                                                                                                                   Thanks to the guys at Lewis Roofing, our girl has a great new hat; a layer of protection to protect her from the elements.

This is the first major step in bringing her back.

We are in the midst of completing permit  and scope of work information.  We will be starting on the 2nd part of our tax credit application process. We are making contact with specialized trades to determining what can be saved and rebuilt (windows) and what has to be replaced.   We are getting bids on the electrical, plumbing & HVAC.  The day will soon be approaching when we will remove our first set of original doors & windows on interior office suite walls to reconfigure for living quarters.  I already know that day I’ll be a nervous wreck.

It’s still such a thrill to take friends, both old and new on tours of The Mac.  They nearly all have the exact same expression on their faces as they round the corner and see the central hallway upstairs for the first time.  I’d like to install a camera to capture that look that I’ve seen so many times.

And we’ve weathered our first storm.  It was stressful.  There were tears shed.  There were many moments of frustration.  But it all worked out, and for that we are thankful and ready to see what the next steps take us.


Simply Amazing

Last August, Rob, Alex and I attended the orientation for new students at Green Country Technology Center. I’ve been driving by the school practically every day for years. Rob has done business with them his entire insurance career and has enjoyed his working relationship with all the directors (Jerry Painter, Danne Spurlock and Brady McCullough). We’ve watched the campus grow and new buildings go up and knew that it was a huge asset to the students in Okmulgee County. But when I walked in the door and down the hallway for orientation, I was stopped dead in my tracks. I was almost paralyzed by what was surrounding me. I no longer had any interest in orientation but wanted to just stay there in the hallway and soak it all in.
The photographs lining the walls of both of the hallways took my breath away. They were framed works of places all over Okmulgee County that students in Julie Robards’ Digital Media class had captured. The colors were vibrant and the details were amazing. And all were of familiar places and spaces we pass every day.
Fast forward 11 months……..
I received a message from Julie that she and Mr. McCullough would like to offer any services that their school or students could provide to help with the “Okmulgee Rising” movement that Okmulgee Main Street had begun this Spring. I thanked her and shared her message with our Main Street director Heather. A few days later, Julie came by the Main Street office to purchase an Okmulgee Rising t-shirt and Heather told her of our plans to clean and renovate the restrooms at the Orpheum Theatre. Julie joined us there that night and worked all week.
So last Thursday when I popped in the Main Street office I was glad to see Julie there visiting with Heather again. She was Downtown with her morning Digital Media students as they were photographing images for class. She said that the bus driver had parked right in front of The Mac and it blocked the view of taking photos there. When she mentioned that she was going to have the bus park elsewhere when they returned with the afternoon class. I offered to unlock the doors so the students could come in the Mac and take photos if she would like.
Fast forward to this morning when Julie messaged me asking for my e-mail address so she could share some of the photos.
These appeared in my inbox less than an hour later………….TABBYS HRD MAC DOORtn

This shot was done by Tabby.







as well as this one.








Sharahn captured this shot





Morgan.CeilingtnThis is from Morgan





MASON-DSCN8762Mason found this beautiful scene through one of the windows still covered on the back of The Mac.




MASON-DSCN8761He also found these pigeon eggs nestled in the space between the covering and the window sill.




Mason found the character in this damaged ceiling




MASON-DSCN8756and in this cool corner sink





KENDALR-DSCN1581Kendal captured the staircase leading to 7th Street





KENDALR-DSCN1574and also must find the office numbers on the doors as cool as we do.





KENDALR-DSCN1570Did we ever mention that there are wash sinks in every office suite upstairs?

A family of pigeons were nesting in this one when we moved in.



KENDALR-DSCN1567Kendal shot this image of the neat theater/church seats that we found.





KENDALR-DSCN1563And we plan to rewire and use all of these beautiful vintage light fixtures.  Kendal saw the beauty there as well.




KAYLEE-DSCN8995Kaylee’s image of the damaged ceiling with the beautiful lighting and fixture.






Once again…….I am speechless.  And overwhelmed at this incredible gift that was shared with us.  Thank you Kaylee, Kendal, Mason, Morgan, Sharahn and Tabby for sharing your vision and talent with us.  Thank you Julie for sharing your students with us.

I called Tabby’s mom this afternoon to brag on her photos.  I’ve known Tabby since before she was born.  Her mom, Laura, shared that Tabby was so excited after they were in The Mac last week.  She even told her mom that she now might rethink leaving Okmulgee to go to school somewhere else if she could live in a cool loft apartment downtown.


It’s right there in front of our eyes, if we stop and look at it all with a different vision.

And I can’t wait for Julie to bring her next group of students to see our building through their eyes.

What a blessing Julie, this program and Green Country Technology Center is to Okmulgee County students and Okmulgee Main Street!

Okmulgee is rising…………..




Let there be Light!

I’ve been accused before of talking too much.  As I get older, I realize that often times less is more.  So I’m going to keep quiet for a bit and just let you take a look at the treasures we have uncovered this week………

shes coming offskylight10coming offstep 1

This is one of 5 skylights that sit on top of The Mac.  They have been boarded up for who knows how many years.  They are made of metal and have glass imbedded with chicken wire in them.  The chimneys on each end are for ventilation purposes.  Not only did they serve to provide natural light into the upstairs spaces, but also contributed to the ventilation in the days before air conditioning.  We have just been dying to get them opened up again and see how much light floods in.

So Monday morning, as I was sitting at my desk, finishing up my 2nd cup of coffee and determined to spend the day working on so many things I’ve neglected at home this summer, my phone rang………

“What are you doing?”……..

“Working.  Trying to get my desk cleared off and organized.  Playing catch up.  I’m not leaving the house today until I’ve gotten everything on my list checked off.     Why?”

“Let’s go open up a skylight on the Mac……..”

“Be right there!”

5 skylights

Here is the view of the roof, facing south.

( Isn’t that a beautiful Oklahoma summer morning sky?)

We are going to have a new roof put on the building next week.  We have talked with Allen Lewis, (our roofer) about putting in skylights.  We have talked with Ron Drake about skylights. We have researched skylights.  There is one common word that seems to be associated with skylights…………….LEAK.

So here we go.

Decision time.

Do we take a chance on installing  the 2 large skylights where they were originally located in the central hallway or do we seal them off forever underneath the new roof?

Is this one of those ‘practical preservation’ things that we consider?

Do we risk that we may have to deal with leaks around the skylights if we decide to put them in?

lighted hallway








It just took one look down the hallway with all of the light flooding in from the uncovered skylight to make the final decision.

Of course the skylights are going in!

These beautiful original ones will be mounted so they hover above the new skylights (yes, Allen Lewis…..start thinking about how we are going to do that).

Here’s a glimpse of what that is going to look like in a few weeks……

glass broken on skylight








You see that the glass is cracked.  The softball sized hail that swept through downtown Okmulgee in the Fall of 1998 is responsible for that.  That will be another decision as to whether we replace that cracked glass or just leave it in place since it’s going to be decorative.

That will be a decision for another day.  My desk full of clutter and list are waiting.



The Tour & The Staircase

We have been focusing on the 2nd floor spaces at The Mac awaiting the former tenant to remove personal items from the ground floor spaces. That is almost complete so today, we decided that it was time for some fun.

down the wall comes

Rose colored sheet rock has never been a favorite of mine.


Maybe we should just rip it out……..it’s pretty ugly and maybe it’s covering up something great………



Nothing quite as satisfying as ripping out old and ugly painted sheetrock.

Especially when you have a pretty good idea of what’s behind it and

Especially when you know that no one else has been in that space for nearly 50 years and

Especially when you have a crowbar in your truck!


So I got to wait, camera in hand, sitting in the display window on 7th street late this afternoon.  It didn’t take very long until this is what I saw…….

step outhello







Today, for the first time since it was closed in 1964, the staircase on 7th Street saw the light of day.  The hand rail is covered in a thick layer of dust and the bottom step had been removed but Rob walked right down to greet me.  (Don’t you love the grin on his face?)

Not 5 minutes after this monumental discovery, our neighborhood watch dog, Kim Priegel stopped by.

Kim and the rest of the gals that work in the District Attorney’s office across the street are the best neighbors ever!  They step out and cheer us on when we are working.  They march across the street and run folks off who are rummaging through our treasures that are stored in the alley.  They even called one day to alert us that a thief had just loaded up all of our lumber and was headed off in a dark pickup.  Little did he realize that we have many sets of eyes guarding the Mac.  He was a little more surprised when our handy man Geoff followed him to the local tire store and escorted him back to the Mac to unload all of the lumber that he had “obviously” taken by mistake.    When I say we have the best neighbors, I’m not exaggerating.

But in addition to being a great neighbor and a dedicated Okmulgee Main Street volunteer, Kim has a long history with The Mac.  You see, she worked at C.R. Anthony’s Department Store for many years.  So today, I got to hear her story.  She showed me where all of the different departments were housed.  She showed me where her counter stood in the shoe department.

shoe dept





The gift wrapping stand is even still in place……

wrap stationWe found the shelves that housed the bolts of fabric in that department.  She showed me where the men’s suits used to hang and the shelves that used to be full of Wrangler’s jeans.   She cringed just a little as we entered the mezzanine that housed the ladies clothing department, remembering the woman in charge that you didn’t want to cross!!!  It made me nervous just imagining her.

Through the entire walk thru, Kim always referred to it has “my” shoe department, “my” fabric department and “my house goods”.

This space was a part of her daily life for years.  She took, and still takes,  great pride and ownership of it.  She’s only one of many Okmulgee kids who worked through high school at C.R. Anthony’s.

I love how The Mac is apart of so many lives.

I love that shortly after we opened up the staircase, our friends and neighbors, Teresa and Brooks Brewer (the Brew Crew at KOKL 1240 AM) drove by on their Harley and waved.

I loved even more when they circled the block, parked and came in the front door, walked through the pile of sheet rock and up the newly opened staircase for a tour of the upstairs.

brewers I’m thankful for the lives that The Mac has touched.

I love the stories of those who have called her their own.

I love the new friends and those whom we have become reacquainted with this summer spending time in Downtown Okmulgee.

I love this sense of community that you feel on the streets now.


I love that Summer of 2014 will be long remembered as the start of Okmulgee Rising!

And I really love that I never have to worry because if we are not there, Kim and her posse in the DA’s office have got it all under control on South Morton Avenue.