Sep 15, 2010

Marland Mansion

Marland Mansion

I'm not sure how, but since living in Oklahoma City I've come to know a lot of transplanted folks from Ponca City. These people, while all interesting individuals in their own right, seem to share a certain unmistakable attitude known as the Ponca Swagger.

It's easy to understand how a city as one-of-a-kind as Ponca could have such an unmistakable impression on its inhabitants. Located in the north central part of Oklahoma, Ponca City is an oasis of history and culture in what is primarily a pretty rural part of the state.

There's a lot to Ponca's story that I won't get into here, but the important thing to know is that oil has been at the forefront of Ponca City's development throughout the last 100 years. Ponca was the home to many oil entrepreneurs during the early 20th Century, and the evidence of the extravagance and wealth that once dominated the city can be seen everywhere from their amazing downtown theater to the public library which houses an impressive collection of Asian art ranging from the Ming to Meiji periods.


The Mansion as seen from the bottom of the hill

Perhaps the greatest monument to Ponca's (and quite possibly America's) early involvement in the oil business can be found at Ponca City's Marland Mansion.

Built between 1925 and 1928 for the cost 5.5 Million Dollars (that's 5.5 million in the twenties folks!), this "Palace on the Prairie" stands as one of the largest homes in the American southwest to this day.

It's size is impressive, but nothing can truly prepare you for the opulence an grand splendor that saturates every single detail of the house itself. Everything from gold mosaic ceilings, ornate hand carved wooden molding, elevators, priceless art, ruby eyed statues, and that's just scratching the surface.

Gold ceilings aside, the most captivating part of the mansion is the story of E.W. Marland and his family which seem to echo throughout all 50 rooms of this massive estate. Once again, I can't do the story much justice, but I do urge you to check out this great summary. The story has it all, love, death, massive successes, crushing failures, and some pretty unforgettable family drama.



This is the first thing you see once you walk in

The dining room

One of the things that make the Marland Mansion so interesting is the insanely opulent detail contained in each room. Every minor conceivable aspect of the mansion from floor to ceiling is a screaming testament to the inconceivable wealth Marland possessed at the time. I have never felt as poor as I did standing in that mansion.

The Kitchen, including the ancient dish washer

The Grand Ball Room

The Grand Ball Room

The Grand Ball Room



Tepid?

The eclectic taste of the Marlands becomes apparent while walking through the mansion. Each room seems to embody a different theme; every room that is, except the bathrooms.

Green tile seemed to be something Marland's could stand behind, and I'm pretty sure I agree with their decision. There are 12 bathrooms throughout the mansion, but Marland's personal bathroom is easily the most impressive. I say this primarily because of the archaic Mr. Burns styled personal sauna that dominates the room, but the two sinks and unprecedented square footage certainly help.

Old timey sauna

Marland's office

The party room gets a party ceiling

The downstairs section of the mansion was dedicated to partying, and its hard to party like a rich person in the twenties without massive amounts of bootlegged alcohol. This is why (along with the kidnapping fears facing the super rich in the twenties and thirties) the Marlands had a massive underground tunnel built beneath the house. Easy escape in and out of the house could be planed, and alcohol could be brought in without suspicion.

The scary tunnel is my favorite part of the whole mansion

Lacey and I had actually planned on making a full day of Ponca, as there's a whole lot to see and do (and most importantly, eat!), but unfortunately, I ended up getting sick on the car ride down (fever and traveling do not mix folks!). We had to cut our trip short and bailed out on a lot of worthwhile stuff to do in Ponca, as well the surrounding areas.

Marland Mansion is certainly worth the trip on its own, but there's a whole lot more to do! Rest assured we'll be back sometime soon to show you all the other cool historical treasures to be found in Ponca City.

-Austin

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