Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Plan

While it may appear that nothing is going on at The Mac right now, looks are deceiving. We are anxiously awaiting this Friday when we will have full possession of the downstairs. It will be interesting to get the rest of the stuff cleared out, get the storefront windows clean and begin to think about how to divide the retail spaces. Rob is anxious to get the 7th Street entrance to the upstairs uncovered. It was closed off in 1964 when the building storefront was remodeled for C.R. Anthony’s. It should open up behind the storefront on the northeast corner of the building.  Hmmmmmmm…………..

This is what we’ve been trying to imagine for months now……

8 APARTMENT PLANHow to layout loft apartments on the 2nd floor.

This is just a rough draft on a possible layout.

We can fit six 2-bedrooms, a 1-bedroom, 1 studio & a laundry room.

We want to keep the central hallway with all of the great windows and doors in place.  All of the glass is patterned so it will allow for privacy. Not all of the doors will be used but they will be there.  It will maintain the current feel of the common space and it’s super cool.

We have many major things that will be determined over the course of the coming weeks : Finalize the layout of the units, determine a plumbing, mechanical and electrical plan,  figure out which windows can be saved and the ones that will have to be replaced, getting on Allen Lewis’ schedule to get the roof torn off and replaced, and the list goes on and on and on.  All the while, we’ll be awaiting our approval from the NPS on our tax credit application.  We can’t actually “start” on the project until we have their approval.

We have another project down the street that we have been working on fast and furiously over the past two weeks.  “The Horton on Morton” is next door to the Okmulgee Police Department.  This building was built in 1918 by Fred Severs (who also built the Severs Block on 6th Street where the Citizens Security Bank resides).  He sold the building to the Okmulgee Democrat Publishing Company.  When they went bankrupt in 1922, the building was purchased by H.H. Horton.  So being the fans of Dr. Seuss that we are, the name seemed fitting.

Plus we always have to give our properties a name.  We have the “Witches House” duplexes on East 8th, named for their steeply pitched roofs.  The “Clinic” on the corner of 8th & Morton that was home to a hospital upstairs & medical offices of Drs. Buell and Myers in the 1940’s, 50’s & 60’s.  There is the “Blue House” also on East 8th with the “garage apartments” behind.  And I can’t forgot “Tom’s apartments” on the Old Morris Highway.  (We bought them 15 years ago from my mom’s husband, Tom, but they will always carry his name).  It’s a little eccentric but it makes it easy to keep track.

Ok…..getting back on track……let’s take a quick look at The Horton.

Horton livingThis is the living room of the apartment that is in the back.

It’s a great space.  We’ve painted the ceiling black, the trim is a shade of khaki called Portabella and there are creamy white walls.

(the refrigerator not live here permanently, in case you were wondering.  It will go to the kitchen soon).

We’ve pulled out carpet and vinyl tile and have discovered beautiful wood floors throughout that are going to be refinished this week.

Kitchen at The Horton
Kitchen at The Horton

Here is the kitchen.  It’s huge for an apartment and has tons of cabinet space.  These are white metal cabinets that were probably installed in the 1940’s or 50’s.  They are in great shape.  (It’s also been a good place to gather up all of our tools while we work). It has the same creamy white walls and portabella trim and a big window on the opposite wall that has a great view of the Okmulgee Post office.

The bathroom is really going to be cool……..

here’s a glimpse………..

exposed brick in the bathroom we are updating at The Horton
exposed brick in the bathroom we are updating at The Horton

All of this amazing brick was hiding behind some laminate paneling and plaster.

The shower has new subway tile and the floor will have white small hexagon tile.

All of the debris was carried down the 26 steps that lead from Morton Street to the upstairs.

All of the new tile, mortar & grout were carried up the same 26 steps.


I hope that these many trips qualify as exercise since  I’ve been MIA from Paula Brydges’ spin class all summer long.

One of my favorite parts of The Horton renovation was the text last week after a visit from the tenant that will live in this great space in a few weeks.  “Y’all have done a number on this place!!! Looking awesome!!!  🙂 Love it”

Another great thing is that the air conditioner works great which is a big plus in July in Oklahoma…..thank you Bud Hayes for putting in a new fan the weekend we started work.

But the very best part was this note Rob left for me early one morning last week……..

Be still my heart!

We flippin' Okmulgee


The McBrayer Family

I got to spend Monday morning with 3 “McBrayers”, touring the Mac!  I had so much fun I that I forgot to take a dang picture, so no visual…..sorry!

Nancy McBrayer Gleeson brought her kids, Michael and Amanda down for a visit today.  Nancy’s grandfather, Thomas Humphrey McBrayer built the Mac in 1916.

Three days after we put the building under contract, my brother called me and said “I’m going to text you a name and phone number.  It’s for a relative of the McBrayer’s who built your building.  You need to call him.”


Really…….I’m just supposed to call some guy up out of the clear blue sky and start in about how I’m buying a building that was built by one of his relatives?????

I did……”Hi….I’m Margaret and my brother gave me your name & number.  I’m calling because I’m buying a building in Downtown Okmulgee that one of your relatives built.  Call me back when you get the message so we can discuss…..”

Thank the Lord I got his voicemail.  What kind of nut job is this guy going to think I am?

Two hours later the phone rang…….

“Hello….Margaret?  My name is Nancy Gleeson and my son Michael just called and gave me your number.  He said you called earlier today and said you are buying the building that my Gampy built in Downtown Okmulgee?”

Gulp……..”yes ma’am.  We are buying the McBrayer Building and are planning to restore it”……..and an hour and a half later………my brain was overflowing with all things McBrayer over the past 98 years!  I had hit the mother lode!!!!

Mc Brayer Family - CopyMeet the Thomas Humphrey McBrayer family!

Thomas & Nanny Lou moved to Okmulgee in 1910, where he worked for a railroad and a wholesale grocery company.  He later went into business for himself with a feed store and in 1916, built the building.  His feed store was housed in the back.  He later went into real estate, lease buying and the oil business, making many of his deals in the lobby of the Parkinson Hotel that sat directly west of his building.

The McBrayer’s had six children: Thomas, Martha, Andrew (whom they called Bill), Mary Louise, Sara Kathryn (Katy) and Nanna Lou (Dan).  They attended the Methodist church.   Thomas married & moved to Hollis.  Martha married Orus Bingman and resided in Okmulgee her entire life.  Bill lived in Bartlesville (dad to my new pal Nancy) and retired from Phillips.  Mary Louise married & moved to Henryetta.  Katy married Henry Martin and they lived in Okmulgee and had Martin Monuments.  Dan lived in Oklahoma City.  The six siblings are all deceased now and they died in the same order in which they were born.

The McBrayer Family owned the building until 1997.  Nancy and her brother Andy, came with her Dad, Bill, to move things out of the upstairs offices at that time.  Many of these treasures they have saved through the years and are now sharing them with me!

It’s funny because I have been surrounded by McBrayer’s most of my life:  Martha and her husband sat in the row behind my family in the balcony of the First United Methodist Church every Sunday throughout my childhood.  Katy and her husband Henry were close friends of my Mom.  Sis, Tom, Katy & Henry enjoyed many years of Friday night dinners out and were all members of The Harmony Sunday School class at FUMC.  Katy’s son, Bill & wife Danna are still very active members of our church today.

I look forward to having the whole McBrayer clan attend the 100th birthday celebration for this beautiful building that has been a part of their family for so long.  And I look even more forward to exploring more of the history of this family that has made such a lasting impression on our hometown.

The Mac is on the left in this photo from 1942
The Mac is on the left in this photo from 1942

The Application

What is wrong with me?                                                                                                                                     I’m having  anxiety, a panic attack and fear over two pieces of paper.

Two sheets……8 1/2″x11″ have me hostage.

This doesn’t scare me……………..

bad floor







Neither does this…………….






I’m not even afraid of these former tenants we evicted………






I even have a guy in OKC that sent me the two pieces of paper that has pledged his whole-hearted support and will proof-read what I write to make sure it’s correct……

What do I have to be afraid of???????

nps app pic





Maybe I’m afraid I won’t do my girl justice?  Maybe I’m afraid that the folks at the department of the interior won’t recognize how beautiful she is and won’t deem her worth saving?

You see, for those of us just crazy enough to take on a historic preservation project, there are some ways to get assistance.  There are federal and state (in Oklahoma) tax credits for qualifying historic preservation projects.  It’s a program that is handled by the US Dept. of the Interior through the National Parks Service.  Each state has a historic preservation officer (SHPO) that is the contact to make application.  My new pal Harry Simms is Oklahoma’s man.  I have yet to meet Harry personally.  But if my phone conversations, e-mail communications and visits with mutual acquaintances are correct, I think we will get along just fine.

Just to make it clear…..Harry nor the NPS (National Park Service) are just standing around handing out checks.  The application process is going to be an education in and of itself.  You see, their goal is to insure that historic preservations projects are done correctly.  They share the same passion as I do.  They want to help preserve our history through our buildings.  They want photos and documentation and details of the condition of the property.  They want the historic history of the property.  They want you to show them how it’s a contributing factor to the history of America.  The have done this before and know what they are doing.

I have not……..and I think that’s what scares me.

So after a day filled with laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, making lunch, going to an apartment and pulling up tack strips & staples from where we removed carpeting that was over a hardwood floor, I finally took a deep breath, spread out the contents of my file folder on tax credits and began to complete Part 1 of the application.

I didn’t even have to lock myself in here to get it started…..








Tonight,  I have my rough draft of the description of physical appearance and statement of significance ready to e-mail to Harry tomorrow for his review.  I’ll go have the 90+ photos that my friend Paul A. Orosco took printed tomorrow so that I can create a photo log and key to submit with my completed application.

So now I guess the only thing that I have to be afraid of is this………..

laundrythe laundry baskets are bottomless.   It’s hot and sweaty work in the middle of a typical Oklahoma summer.  We change clothes many times each day.  I think the clothes breed every time we walk out of the door.



But I have accomplished another first in this journey.

I wonder if there is a tax credit for laundry services while restoring a historic building?  Think I’ll ask my new pal Harry about that tomorrow.

The Elephant

IMG_2148Let’s just go ahead and get it all out in the open right now…………….it’s the question that is looming in the back of everyone’s minds………the proverbial elephant in the room……..

“Have you two lost your minds?”  (We know that you are all thinking it…….)

Who in their right minds can look at this……

2nd floor holeand this……..







photo 4and this………..







IMG_2138and this……and see anything positive?????





Folks…’s not all cool preserved woodwork and neat windows.  It’s not all beautiful hardwood floors and retro sinks, light fixtures and doors.

This is not going to be all glitz,  glimmer and fun.  It’s going to be work.  It already has been.  It’s hard, sweaty, dirty, gross and down right disgusting, at times, work!!!!

Our sweet girl is chock full of flaw and imperfections.  She’s lived a hard 98 years.  She’s been neglected.  But the one thing we know for certain is that we HAVE NOT lost our minds.

Over 20 years ago when we were newlyweds, thinking we were in total control of the path our lives would take, we discussed moving back to Okmulgee.  The big 3 factors were:

  1. We wanted to have and raise our children surrounded by our family.
  2. Rob wanted to join Rotary as his Dad had been a long-time member.
  3. Rob wanted to buy & manage rental property, as his Dad had done for many years.

While we’ve had many detours, set-backs and changes throughout our lives  but these desires have been met.  Our boys have grown up living within 1 mile of all of their grandparents and their Mammy (my sister, Mary).  Rob has been going to Rotary on Thursdays at noon since 1992 and we have bought, renovated and even sold rental properties throughout Okmulgee.

So while you might think we are a little bit crazy…..(and we’ll both admit to that with pride), this isn’t exactly our first rodeo.

Rob has worked on rental property since he was 14.  He’s also been an insurance adjuster, an insurance agent and real estate agent.  He worked for years in finance.  I’ve had my real estate license for 7 years.  We’ve learned from, and with, each other for years.  We’ve unclogged toilets, pulled staples out of hardwood floors, scraped wallpaper, scrubbed nasty refrigerators and gotten up in the middle of the night to go let tenants in who have misplaced keys.  We’ve met the police to break up wild parties and stood and endured an enraged tenant as he called us every name in the book.  We have often said we could write a best seller just using our experiences with rental property.

We’ve also met some great people through the years.  We’re  proud when others call and have been given our names from a friend who has rented from us before.  We are proud when tenants graduate from OSU-IT and move away to begin their dream jobs.  We have gotten to meet and play with kids while their parents look at our properties to see if it will fit their needs.

And while we have never taken on a project of this size or scale.  and don’t know what the next 18 months will bring, we are excited to pour our hearts into it.

We go to bed talking about it and get up talking about it.  It’s still new and exciting and fun, but we fully embrace that there will be issues and problems and days when we will throw our hands up in frustration.

But she’s ours and we love her and we are  just crazy enough to have faith that it will all be a great chapter in the story of our life.



The Treasure

IMG_2207Just a staircase…..opened up for the first time in 60 years.  Let’s walk up and see what’s at the top…….





IMG_2206So, it has a nice little landing close to the top……interesting………….




Looks like some has been sweeping up……..




Wow….door after door after door……..

look at that wood work?

Doesn’t it give you goose bumps?


Well… gives us goose bumps.  Every single time we walk up those stairs.

Who would have imagined that all of this amazing space full of beautiful wood work, light fixtures, hardwood floors was hidden away all of this time?  I certainly never did.

IMG_2176look at the trim…..look at the window glass……look at the cool corner sink




IMG_2168look at the neat names still in place on many of the office doors…….




Can you feel it yet?

Can you feel the life that once flowed through these spaces?

Can you imagine the 30+ people who came down from these offices onto the streets of Downtown Okmulgee for smoke breaks, lunches and hot dates after work?

Can you feel the life?  I can.

I can feel neighbors stopping in the hall ways to chat.  I can feel  friendships forming with neighbors.  I can feel plans being made and experiences.  I can feel a place of rest and retreat.

And now that the treasure has been discovered…………..let’s roll up our sleeves and go!