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Hotel Sparks

Hotel Sparks

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Location Class:
Built: 1923 | Abandoned: ~1980s
Status: AbandonedBurned Down
Photojournalist: Michael SchwarzErin Garrett

Hotel Sparks 1922-1924

In 1922 George W. Sparks had the idea for a grand hotel in Okmulgee. A three-story brick matt-faced building that would be named Hotel Sparks was erected with the help of Contractor and Architect J.F. Montgomery. Building materials consisting of cement, roofing and sand were provided by the Home Lumber Company, electric work was done by Reynolds Electric Company, while brickwork was done by Francis-Vitric Brick Company of Boynton. The hotel and its twenty-one rooms were beautifully furnished by local business Okmulgee Furniture Company. The rooms were warmed with a Quick Comfort gas stove making sure the cold winter air was not too much to bear. On each floor was a bath with hot and cold water in circulation to ensure relaxation after a long day or trip.  The hotel officially opened on January 8, 1923, prices were a steal ranging from a single dollar to $1.50 per day which translates to about $16-17 in today’s money. For a week-long stay, you paid $5-6 upfront.

Bateman Hotel 1924-1930

While the building has kept the Hotel Sparks emblem above its doors for all these years the hotel was short-lived as such. In August 1924 just a year after opening the Hotel Sparks was taken over by hotel guru Colonel Rufus Bateman. Known as “the Colonel” he had his hands in multiple hotels all over the state. After the transfer of management the hotel would start to go by the Bateman Hotel. It would officially open as such in the Spring of 1925 with home-cooked meals for guests and special weekly rates. The Bateman Hotel got off to a terrible start in its first few years being plagued with scandals. J.C. Clawson, manager of the Bateman hotel, and two customers Jack Hunter and Mabel Blain were arrested after police raided the hotel. Clawson was arrested for operating a disorderly house and possession of whiskey which he had already been arrested once before for and paid a fine of $50 to be released. In 1926 when he was arrested prohibition laws were active all across the states making his possession of alcohol illegal. Later that year in October J.C. Clawson was arrested for a third time at the Bateman Hotel after it was raided again for the same thing.

Hotel Elmo 1930-1972

After the misfortunate, that plagued the Bateman Hotel hands changed in 1930 and adopted a new name, Hotel Elmo. For the most part news about the hotel was quiet for the next thirty years besides the occasional advertisement for rooms or salesmen. But in December 1960 the Hotel Elmo went up for sale and was sold to Louis Ira Smith and his wife Clara May Smith. The pair continued running it as the Hotel Elmo and were proud of their business. The rooms became popular amongst college students attending the nearby Oklahoma State Tech school.

“The Elmo Hotel as my grandparents called it was home to so many family gatherings. My grandparents had nine children that lived to at least age 12; 8 of those children married and had children of their own. I’m one of those children. There were about 35 of us first cousins, most of whom spent numerous weekends and holidays at the hotel. Upon entering there was a long hallway to a set of steps that led to the large kitchen and dining hall. At one time my granny fed many boarders in that dining area. I can see our family gathered around that table now, grandpa wearing his hat and overalls and smoking a cigar. Most of the kids (my father and my uncles and aunts) also smoking away! We kids played outside in the backyard and on the back porch and also in the suite of bedrooms to the left of the entryway hallway. Our memories are full of backyard baseball games and walk down the alley to Sorrell’s Broasted Chicken. We were so fortunate to have the hotel as a gathering place all those years,” said Brenda Smith, Granddaughter of Louis and Clara Smith.

After the passing of Mr. Smith, Clara continued running the business which had become more of an apartment building now. Her family had become increasingly worried about her safety running the hotel alone so she decided to sell and moved out of Okmulgee. The Elmo Hotel went up for sale again in 1972 including all furnishings, 16 livable/rentable units and living quarters for a manager. The asking price for the hotel was $12,000, which may not seem like a lot for an entire furnished building but that translates to $80,038.85 in today’s money.

Huffman Hotel 1972-1980s

The hotel was purchased by Willie Huffman Sr. who changed the name again, to become the Huffman Hotel. Mr. Huffman loved the hotel and it has since been kept in the family. Memories here haven’t always been great for Willie Huffman Sr. though. In April 1975 it was reported that two men were treated at the Okmulgee Memorial Hospital for injuries and a third man was charged after a shooting and knife incident occurred. Willie Huffman Sr. sustained cuts on his left arm and face. Leonard Alexander was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and also treated for laceration wounds. Frank Lewis who was witness to the attack on Huffman fired warning shots in the air to scare Leonard Alexander off. It seems the hotel was open not much longer after that with ads and talks of the hotel dying out in the late 1980s. Lots of hotels were struggling during this time and many closed. The hotel of many names was abandoned and deteriorated over the next thirty years suffering vandalism, break-ins, and fires.

Hotel SparksOn January 17th, 2022 at 10:30 am the historic building that had sat vacant for many years caught fire. The fire had fully engulfed the building and by 2 pm crews were still working to contain the blaze. The owners of the building watched as firefighters put the fire out to their long-beloved former family business but declined to comment only saying it’s sad to see this happen.




Bibliography

“10 Mar 1937, 11 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/708012593/?terms=hotel%20elmo&match=1.

“10 Oct 1926, 6 – Sunday Times Democrat at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709539874/?terms=bateman%20hotel&match=1.

“11 Jan 1972, 7 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/749982692/?terms=hotel%20elmo&match=1.

“16 Feb 1923, 7 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709223441/?terms=sparks%20hotel&match=1.

“18 Jan 1979, 16 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/747889271/?terms=115%20Frisco&match=1.

“20 Apr 1975, 2 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/750055101/?terms=huffman%20hotel&match=1.

“23 Oct 1926, 1 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709551609/?terms=bateman%20hotel&match=1.

“29 Apr 1927, 2 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709638006/?terms=hotel%20Frisco%20Avenue&match=1.

“3 May 1925, 4 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709179416/?terms=bateman%20hotel&match=1.

“30 Aug 1923, 4 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709234856/?terms=hotel%20spark&match=1.

“30 Dec 1960, 11 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/597095299/?terms=115%20N.%20Frisco&match=1.

“4 Feb 1943, 7 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/708339190/?terms=hotel%20elmo&match=1.

“5 Jan 1930, 11 – Sunday Times Democrat at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/707780150/?terms=hotel%20elmo&match=1.

“7 May 1926, 2 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/709545741/?terms=bateman%20hotel&match=1.

“8 Jun 1972, 14 – Okmulgee Daily Times at Newspapers.com.” Newspapers.com, www.newspapers.com/image/750029635/?terms=hotel%20elmo&match=1.

“Clipping from Okmulgee Daily Times.” Newspapers.com, 2 Jan. 1923, www.newspapers.com/clip/92827829/okmulgee-daily-times/#.

“Hotel Sparks.” LandmarkHunter.com, landmarkhunter.com/197405-hotel-sparks/.

“Image 7 of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Okmulgee, Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.” The Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/resource/g4024om.g4024om_g072031920/?sp=7&r=0.476,0.477,0.482,0.368,0.

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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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Frangiosa Joy
Frangiosa Joy
8 months ago

There was also a boarding house next to the Sparks hotel owned by George W. Sparks

Daniel Wright
Daniel Wright
Reply to  Frangiosa Joy
8 months ago

That was large wooden house. It was leaning pretty bad before it burned. It still had furniture in the rooms.

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