I was very impressed.
E.W. Marland, born in 1874, was a lawyer and an oilman who made and lost a number of fortunes throughout his life. At one point, he owned ten percent of all the known oil in the world and his personal wealth was estimated at $85,000,000.
Marland and his first wife didn't have children and, so the story goes, they convinced his wife's poverty stricken sister from back east to allow two of her children, a boy and a girl, to live with them. After a few years, when the girl, Lydie, was sixteen, they adopted them, legally. Lydie spent a few years in boarding schools, back east, before returning to Oklahoma.
Here is a painting of her that isn't very good due to the low light:
She was a superb rider and enjoyed fox hunts and the social life that came with being a Prairie Princess. Her aunt was in ill health and Lydie played the roll of hostess for a number of years before her aunt passed away when Lydie was twenty-six years old. Marland and Lydie promptly had the adoption annulled and married when she was twenty-eight. Marland was fifty-four.
It was quite the scandal.
The Marland Mansion cost $5.5 million dollars to build and furnish and has 55 rooms, including ten bedrooms, twelve bathrooms and three kitchens. It had a boathouse and still has an underground tunnel connecting the artist studio (the mansion is filled with carvings and paintings and the artisans lived in the studio during construction). Hidden inside a large fireplace was a door to where they played high stakes poker and stored the booze that had been outlawed by prohibition. An Olympic sized swimming pool was adjacent to the house in a T shape so laps could be done in both directions.
Here are some photos:
Love the chicken. I am a chicken fiend:
Construction on the mansion began in 1925. Marland's first wife died in 1926 and it was completed in 1928 (the year Lydie and Marland wed). Although the first wife was still alive (although quite ill) when the original plans were drawn, they already had Lydie's bedroom directly adjoining Marland's with a doorway between them.
Lydie's room (note the door on the far right leading to her "dad's" room:
I absolutely loved the windows:
The Marlands actually only lived there about 18 months before having to move due to the high maintenance and utility costs. For many years, they kept ownership of the mansion and opened it for special events but lived in one of the cottages on the property.
Following the loss of his last fortune, Marland entered politics and lived in Washington, DC for a time. He was elected governor of Oklahoma in 1934 and served one term. It was during the Great Depression and Oklahoma, at the time, was drowning in debt. Marland wanted to pass grand New Deal type laws to assist poor people through public funding and ran into a great deal of opposition because there wasn't money in the public till.
He wasn't re-elected.
The Marlands returned to Ponca City in 1939 and continued to live in the small cottage on the grounds.
In 1941, although they kept the small cottage, they sold the mansion, proper, to the Carmelite Fathers for $66,000. No, this is not a typo.
Mr. Marland died of a heart ailment six months later, at age 67. Lydie was 41.
Lydie lived in the cottage until 1953. During that time, she engaged in some unfortunate romantic entanglements (one with a meter reader who managed to cheat her out of about $5,000.00) and then, without warning, took off to parts unknown. Historians have since tracked her whereabouts during her exile to DC, New York and Chicago. Before leaving, she paid a local farmer to destroy a statute of herself made when she was in her twenties. The farmer couldn't bring himself to completely destroy it and, instead, took the pieces and buried them on his farm. For years, the fate of the missing statute was a mystery. Lydie was fifty-three when she slipped out of Ponca City, taking her Studebaker and various art works that she later sold to support herself.
In 1975, at age 75, Lydie returned, broke and disheveled. She has been described as being a "bag lady" who had fallen on hard times, was besotted with cheap wine and had only one black tooth remaining in her head (bottom front). She moved back into the cottage and lived in the living room. Reportedly, she refused to enter the bedroom except to use the adjacent restroom. Notwithstanding her bag lady lifestyle and appearance, letters written at the time show that she was fully capable of coherent thought and quite literate. She died in 1987 when she was 87 years old. Elderly locals still recall that she was often seen wandering around Ponca City in rags.
She was not right.
The family of the farmer who had been paid to destroy her statute returned the hidden pieces to the museum after Lydie's death and it was reconstructed. If you look closely at her statute, you can see the repairs but the museum has it displayed in an area with soft light so the flaws aren't noticeable.
It was a fascinating place and these photos don't do it justice. There were so many carvings and paintings, inside and out, that didn't show up well in photos so I only posted a few. Taking the tour (included in the cost of admission) was a great idea.
On the quilting front, the backing I intended to use on my younger daughter's wedding quilt was an inch too small so I ordered more from Back Sides Fabrics. I think it will look nice and plan to start working on that in the next few days.
I didn't expect it to arrive so soon so started on my other daughter's picket fence quilt. Some years ago I'd ordered some Moda scrap bags from Hancocks of Paducah I'd been looking around to try to find suitable fabric for daughter's quilt and ran across where I'd had these stashed and was delighted to find a good use for them.
Evelyn is a sweetie: