|City/Town: • Mangum
|Location Class: • Hotel/Motel
|Built: • 1928 | Abandoned: • 1986
|Status: • Abandoned • For Sale
|Photojournalist: • Gary Henry
In 1927, a prominent Mangum resident, Ralph Helper attended a convention in Alva, Oklahoma. The convention was being held at the “first-class”, Bell Hotel. The Bell Hotel had opened in 1922 and was a high-class hotel. Helper was thoroughly impressed by the hotel and its amenities. Helper believed that Mangum needed such accommodations for conventions and travelers. Upon his return to Mangum, he met with the Chamber of Commerce and pitched his dream for the “finest hotel in Western Oklahoma.” The Chamber president, Guy Brooks was so impressed with the idea of such a hotel that he donated $10,000 of his own money as “seed money” for the project. Brooks’s investment convinced sixty-six investors to form the Mangum Hotel Company. One thousand and five hundred shares of stock were sold for $100 per share. After raising $160,000, the group then secured financing for an additional $80,000 from the Exchange National Bank of Tulsa thus raising $240,000 for the project.
The architectural firm of Layton Hicks and Forsyth, of Oklahoma City, was commissioned to design the hotel. Solomon Layton of Layton Hicks and Forsyth had previously designed the Oklahoma Capitol, numerous county courthouses across the state as well as a large number of schools and university buildings. Layton was the preeminent architect of Oklahoma then and now. Milton and Shelton, contractors from Enid, Oklahoma, were hired to build the hotel. Construction started on November 13, 1928. The building was to feature a concrete frame, floor and roof system, brick veneer walls covered hollow clay tile curtain walls, and thus the building was deemed fireproof.
Robert E. Durkee, who managed the Bell Hotel in Alva was granted the lease to operate the hotel once completed. Descending from a long line of hotel operators, Durkee named the hotel after his recently deceased father, Franklin. The building has a footprint of 51 feet by 112 feet. There are five floors with a full basement. Instead of a mezzanine floor, which was common in “first-class” hotels of the day, the Franklin boasted a ladies lounge and writing-room on the second floor. There were 70 guest rooms in the Franklin. Ten of those rooms had full baths. Those full bathrooms and were all located on the east side of the building. Each floor, (except the second floor, with the ladies lounge) had eight rooms on the west side. Those rooms did not have full baths but only had a sink in each room. Near the elevator/stairway of each floor, there was one ladies toilet and one men’s men’s toilet for the west side rooms. All rooms opened into a central hallway that ran north to south. The elevator and stairway were in the middle of each floor.
The ground floor was the most public space and beautifully decorated. Stained birch wood and bronze hardware adorned the lobby and dining room. The original mail, key slots and phone switchboard are still in their original locations today. West of the check-in desk were two telephone booths next to the stairs and elevator. On the north end of the ground floor was a large, elegant dining room/ballroom. It was the finest restaurant in Mangum. On the west side of the building was a coffee shop capable of accommodating 58 customers. It was finished in gleaming marble of pink-peach tint. A cigar stand joined the coffee shop to the lobby. The basement housed a large boiler room which heated the hotel with steam. The basement also housed a tailor shop, laundry room and locker room for employees. After prohibition ended, a large private club was added to the basement. The Franklin Hotel opened on August 15, 1929. Fifty cars lined Commerce Alley and Jefferson streets giving the hotel a metropolitan atmosphere and that night was a “who’s who” of Mangum and western Oklahoma. Rooms with a bath rented for $2.50 a night. Rooms without a bath cost $1.75 per night. The formal opening was set for September 6th and 7th of 1929.
The hotel remained in operation until the mid-1980s. Sometime in the 1970s, the 2nd and 5th floors were converted to apartments. To accomplish this, multiple hotel rooms were joined to create one-bedroom apartments with a living room and kitchen. In 1986 the hotel closed for good and has remained vacant since. In the past few years, the City of Mangum proposed converting the hotel to senior housing such as the Hotel Aldridge in McAlester and the old Bell Hotel in Alva. With a Brownfield Loan from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, the City had the hotel remediated of asbestos in preparation for restoration. However, at this time, the hotel is for sale with hopes that a new owner will restore the nearly 100-year-old treasure.
Article by AOK Photojournalist Gary Henry
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