Monthly Archives: August 2014

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……’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.