|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • Hotel/Motel|
|Built: • 1910 | Abandoned: • 1988|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places (1979)|
|Status: • Restored|
|Photojournalist: • AbandonedOK Team|
Wandering downtown Oklahoma City some have been curious as to the history of the jaw-dropping and stunning three-tower hotel known as the Skirvin. Some do not know that this now flourishing business used to be abandoned and is over a century old. The Skirvin Hotel was built by its namesake, William B. Skirvin a very wealthy oilman in the Oklahoma City area.
Designed by Layton, Hicks and Forsythe it only had two towers and ten floors. The general contractor was let for $225,000 and awarded to the Oklahoma City Construction Co./Campbell & Price. Groundbreaking for the project happened on April 25, 1910, and was completed by the June of next year, a testament to how quickly construction used to move despite the size.
With plush furnishings, it embodied luxury in every sense of the word. The Malakoff brick and symmetric external face made the look of the building flow harmoniously. It was allegedly one of the first buildings in OKC to have “Iced Air” otherwise known as air conditioning. Each of the 224 rooms were equipped with running water as well. Some of the notable features included a 500 person ballroom, chandeliers imported from Austria allegedly costing $100,000 each, a basement that not only extended under the building but further out under the sidewalks, and marble staircases. The dining room had a beautiful water feature with a cupid figure in the center nestled amongst rocks, ferns and moss.
Manager of the Skirvin from its opening until April 1913 was Frederick W. Scherubel. Controversy surrounded his death which was ultimately declared a suicide. A possible reason for the suicide was given by the hotel directors being that he was behind and couldn’t pay his share in capital stock. The hotel was relatively unaffected except for losing a popular and talented staff member who had a direct hand in making the hotel successful in its early years. He was replaced in December by T.A. Franker who immediately implemented new features and ideas.
Luxury and top-tier service weren’t just words on a page thrown around by the staff, the proof is in the pudding. The hotel was awarded with a 99 percent perfect score in the quarterly grading of restaurants in the city. This score was three points higher than any scores given to other hotels and restaurants. Skirvin’s daughter, Perle Mesta, also had a hand in bringing the hotel a national reputation by being the ambassadress to Luxembourg, and then Washington’s “Hostess with the Mostess,” portrayed in the famed Broadway musical, “Call Me Madam.” They even had their own ‘Skirvin Taxi Service’.
In 1930 the hotel underwent a major renovation, the once two-tower building would have a third tower added known as Skirvin Tower. Four floors were then added to each of the towers bring the total to 14 floors and the number of rooms to 525. Amongst the other renovations included doubling the lobby space, and all older rooms remodeled. After all was said and done the total investment of the property surpassed three million dollars.
William Skirvin met an unfortunate ending when he got in a car accident in 1944. Having been 83 years old at the time and receiving multiple series injuries he succumbed to them on March 25. The Skirvin Hotel was left to his three children who then started the process of selling it. Just a year later they closed on a deal with an undisclosed purchasing price with Dan W. James of James Hotel Co. They didn’t hold onto it for long though before selling it to H.T. Griffin of Griffin Enterprises for $1.2 million in 1967. Oklahoma City Federal purchased solely the Skirvin Tower portion of the building in 1971.
Griffin, unfortunately, learned a pretty tough business lesson and had to file for bankruptcy in 1972. There were more than $200,000 in taxes and liens on the property complicating the sale of the building. Griffin pitting all obligations onto any new buyer of the property. Great news came for the building in 1979 when a group of seven investors formed the Skirvin Plaza Investors and purchased the building for $5.6 million dollars. Just a few months later the historic hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Millions of dollars in updates were poured into the building only to be sold again in 1988 to Business Men’s Assurance Co. of America for $4.6 million.
Unfortunately, the hotel closed in October of 1988, it’s future uncertain. Again it was sold at a special auction in 1990 to Empire Land Co. for $2.22 million. It seemed like investors were playing hot potato with the fate of the hotel. The building stood empty for almost fifteen years wilting away to the elements and waiting for the one to finally come to its rescue.
That day finally came around 2007 when the Skirvin Hilton opened to an excited and overjoyed crowd in Oklahoma City. The $46.4 million project included the original exterior finish, installation of historically accurate windows, reconfigured guest rooms, new guest elevators, an elegant lobby, restaurants, and state-of-the-art meeting rooms. Wherever possible, historical elements such as moldings, tiles and ceiling treatments were incorporated into the design. It still operates today and is an amazing addition to downtown and a win for preservationists all over. Proving that no matter the hoops to jump through or the twist and turns there is almost always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Skirvin Hotel Featured in Feature Length Documentary
The Skirvin is used as an example in a historic development documentary. To learn more about the film, visit ForeverMajesticFilm.com
“In 2014 the town of Hot Springs Arkansas would change forever. A mysterious fire engulfed part of the Majestic Hotel in an eruption of flames. The historic landmark’s history goes well beyond that of the fire, however, the once bustling hotel that housed the likes of famous gangsters and baseball players in Hot Spring’s American 20s tells a story of city corruption and a decade of abandonment. Two activists race to save the building, and it’s legacy, fighting to keep the hotel FOREVER MAJESTIC.”
Gallery Below of Skirvin Oklahoma City Hotels
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I remember going through it in the early 90's, spooky, but fun for college students. Also helped a lot of us with newish sheets, utensils, etc. Still have a few things from then. It was fun to go up on the roof.
I have visited this hotel the service was very good and really enjoyed the atmosphere over there thanks for this kindness.
Haunted…such a crock… was full of bums stripping the place of anything valuable. The affair with the maid is made up bunk too.
So glad this was redone. Beautiful
The history of this hotel is so interesting, I’m glad I took the time to read this article. The complete restoration of this hotel is fascinating considering all the history behind it.
thanks for sharing this article
Remember that numerous remodelers concentrate on particular activities. The specific contractual worker that you contact will most likely be unable to attempt your task, yet they ought to have the capacity to allude you to a just as quality remodeler that will. Thanks!
This is the crown jewel of the MAPS initiative.The Skirvin is a romantic place.People are passionate about it.Its history is as one from the history of Oklahoma City.If you were in the lobby of the Skirvin Hotel,whatever was going ahead in Oklahoma City would pass directly before you.@Kim Martin.
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I think that the restoration is an amazing idea! All the artwork inside and out deserves to be enjoyed for future generations Also, May Effie rest in peace. Although there are worse places then this historical gem to spend an eternity.
I always loved looking at this place. It made me sad to see it falling apart and empty all those years. I'm so glad it's back!
Get a job and buy a house you damn bum
I actually worked Security during its renovation,i worked while the building was being cleaned and restored.I can tell you for sure that the buiding is haunted, my partner and i were up on the 6th floor looking out a window and we heard someone running up the stairs,the building had been locked up tighly and no one could have possibly gotten, so we took off down the hall and upthe stairs ,me at one end and my partner at the other. We ran all the way up checking each floor and found no one. Many times we heard people in… Read more »
Lady Lelouch why don't you and all the other sociopathic right-wing moonbats go and jam it sideways!
Actually, I'm quite the oppositte of a "sociopathic right-wing moonbat." Though I probably could have worded my post much better.
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There you go. Tresspassing is Illegal, unless you are Homeless. You rich people keep bring the Heat down on us! You pICTUER TAKING FOOLS have created a POLICE STATE where we Poor Homeless Hobos cannot find a Safe Place to Live anymore! YOU SHOULD PAY RENT FOR US! It takes ALL DAY PAN HANDELING to just buy TOP TOBACCO! $5.75+ Tax! At Least we USED TO BE ABLE to find a Good Warm Place to SLEEP, But YOU PICTURE TAKERS DRAW the POLICE and OTHER "DOPE FEIND" Teen Aged "HOMELESS KILLERS" Into OUR SANTCTURY! Shame on YOU!
thats kinda funny that you say that your homeless but you can get on a computer and post this comment on this website…
No shame on you! Tresspassing is illegal even if you are homeless. These old buildings are not yours sleep in and crap all over. Live in a proper shelter for a while, get a job, AND PAY YOUR OWN RENT! 5.75 for tobacco? Why don't you buy yourself a loaf of bread with that money so you can eat for a few days? And why the heck do you have a wordpress if you're homeless? Instead of bitching all day on the internet about how tough you have it, why don't you get up off your behind and FIX IT.… Read more »
my father was thw Bookkeeper/ Night Manager at the Skirvin from 1975-1978. He got a autograph from Elvis Preslry when Elvis was there. I cannot add much, Dad is passed away & all his family Pictuers & Letters were destroyed in Mulhall.
The Skirvin Hotel was where my husband and I spent our 40th anniversary last year. We enjoyed our stay. I have also enjoyed reading all about the Skirvin’s history. My mother claims to have purchased a large picture that hung in the Skirvin prior to it’s renovation. She passed a few years ago and I now have that picture. It is large- 36″x43″. The frame is gold but has a small green area close to the enterior part. The art work carries a plaque that says; Sir John Dean Paul Old England. I was hoping someone could tell me if… Read more »
this place is beautiful but creepy!!! my uncle is a cook there and one night he was in the kitchen cleaning dishes when suddenly he heard pots and pans banging but no one was there!!! i passed it one time while going to the okc bombing memorial and just being around that building gave me bad vibes……i did not like it at al!!!!