|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • Hotel/Motel|
|Year Built: • 1910|
|Year Abandoned: • 1988-2006|
|Status: • Restored|
|Photojournalist: • Cody Cooper • Justin Tyler Moore|
The Skirvin Hotel built in 1910 by oilman W.B. Skirvin, who was determined to have the finest hotel in the Southwest. Opening its doors in 1911, the plush hotel had two, 10-story towers containing 224 rooms, was one of the first buildings in Oklahoma City to have air conditioning, then called “iced air,” had running ice water in each room, a ballroom that seated 500, and imported Austrian chandeliers that cost more than $100,000 each.
Skirvin’s daughter, Perl Mesta, brought 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.”
In 1930, a third wing was added, raising the structure to 14 stories and increasing capacity to 525 rooms.
The Oklahoma showplace became a popular speak-easy during prohibition. It was during this time that W.B. Skirvin was said to have had an affair with one of the hotel maids. According to legend, the maid soon conceived and in order to prevent a scandal, she was locked in a room on the top floor of the hotel. The desolate girl soon grew depressed and even after the birth of her child; she was still not let out of the room. Half out of her mind, she finally grabbed the infant child and threw herself, along with the baby, out of the window.
The maid’s name remains unknown, but her ghost continues to haunt the Skirvin Hotel and she was nicknamed “Effie” by former employees.
In October, 1979 the hotel was listed on National Register of Historic Places. When it closed in 1988 the building stood empty for almost fifteen years. However, the historic hotel has now been fully restored and now open once again for guests.
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.