Buena Vista Mansion - Alva OK
Rod sends this story concerning the McClure Mansion placed on Oklahoma's Most Endangered Places list, that appeared in the Alva Review-Courier, 02/27/09, written by Helen Barrett.
Helen writes, "Dr. Kay Decker, president of the board of directors of Preservation Oklahoma, Inc., announced this week that the statewide non-profit, preservation organization placed one of Alva's historic structures on its Most Endangered Places List for the entire state."
Nickel's mansion is most commoly refrred to as the "McClure Mansion" today. It was the Nickel home located at the corner of 14th and Locust in Alva, Oklahoma and built in 1904 by the George E. Nickel family. It was also known as the "Buena Vista" because of the beautiful views you could see from its location on the hill at the west edge of Alva. It is reported that from an upstairs balcony, Kansas could be seen to the north.
Preservation Oklahoma lists those structures which have a historically significant past in hopes that they will be saved and returned to their former grandeur.
Barrett also states, "George E. Nickel, a prominent Alva banker, and his wife built the magnificent structure at the turn of the century for an astonishing $65,000. Together the Nickels planned and arranged many details of the home.
Many have said that the Nickels built their mansion to outdo the local lumber merchant, George Crowell. Nickel built his mansion bigger and more elaborate than the Crowell Mansion.
As to the Nickel mansion, Barrett states, "Imported woods were used throughout the house for the exposed parts of cabinets and baseboards. Most of the woodwork in the Nickel home is mahogany. Cedar was used for the chests in the bedroom closets. Other woods providing color throughout the house were clear red birch, sawed red oak, yellow poplar, oak and walnut. The formal dining room is trimmed in oak with solid oak doors at each entrance of the room. Mrs. Nickel took extreme pride in all of the beautiful woodwork. Her servants pumice-stoned it 13 times and used a wax finish."
Barrett also goes on to say that the Nickel mansion was built by J. E. Peoples, contractor. Peoples delicately carved woodwork throughout the home and produced massive four-poster beds with carved posts; chests of inlaid wood and clocks that stood 8-feet tall.
We understand that the Nickel's remained in the home until the 1930s during the Great Depression and the bank holiday that "hastened their retirement" and they moved to California.
That is when the Elk's lodge claimed the house and gambling occurred in the basement and master bedroom with dancing in the ballroom. The Elks sold the mansion in 1941 to Dr. D. Boy Ensor, Alva physician. That is when the home took on a southern styled interior and most of the wood in the home was painted white. The grand staircase and dining room canvas were left untouched, though.
After Dr. Ensor's death, the William L. McClure family purchased the mansion and raised their family there for 40 some years.
The mansion is 13,000 square feet with stamped buff brick made in Coffeyville, Kansas. It maintains the original entry hall light fixtures of brass multiple bulb fixtures with hand painted glass globes.
Barrett goes on to state, "The second floor of the massive home has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a sunroom and large hall. There are also two balconies and two carved fireplaces with tile hearths. The third floor served as a music room and ballroom with three small anterooms, an area for hanging coats, and one big room with French doors opening onto a balcony. The basement has 10 rooms including a kitchen and laundry room, two fireplaces and the original bar where gambling parties were held. An area under the front porch had been designed to be a bowling alley, but was never completed."
The article also mentioned that the McClures were accustomed to unusual sounds coming from the ballroom at odd hours and things showing up where they didn't belong. Is it haunted by the Nickels family and/or the members of the Elks Lodge?
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