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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

Historic Downtown Buildings

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Andersen Building: 200 North Second
The postwar years constituted a transitional period for downtown Ponca City; that construction was on Cleveland rather than Grand, and the building generated considerable excitement when it was opened.
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad Depot: 100 Block of West Oklahoma
Constructed at the beginning of the oil boom in Ponca City, the depot became a hub of commercial activity and a funnel for passenger and freight transportation during those hectic years. During the Depression, that traffic declined but was reinvigorated by the demands of World War II to the extent that it underwent a remodeling by the end of the war.
Barnes Building: 301-303 East Grand Avenue
Constructed in 1910 or 1911, representing as it did the increased commercial activity in the downtown area after statehood. Barnes operated a grocery store downstairs while the upstairs, typical of other buildings in the area, provided office space. The building, designed by noted architect Solomon Andrew Layton, is a two-part commercial block building that set the style and standard for other buildings. It retains strong integrity and displays the many features for which it was, and remains, distinctive.
Brett Implement Company: 100 East Grand
There were two locations used by the Brett Implement Company and this was the first. Brett’s implement company served a broad area and was the largest such dealer in this part of the state. Brett’s business also keenly demonstrates the transition from Ponca City as an agricultural-service community to a commercial center. Its position was pivotal, near the railroad to receive shipment of goods, yet right on Grand Avenue alongside other merchants. The building has changed over the years and it is not entirely clear which changes came during the period of significance. The most notable alteration was made in the 1930s or 1940s, and that was the enclosure of the cutaway entrance at the corner; subsequently the corner (including the windows in the storefront) was rebuilt.
C. F. Calkins / IOOF Building: 101 West Grand
Located across the intersection diagonally from the Brett Implement Company Building, the Calkins Building, now often forgotten by many who pass by its elegant exterior, once served as a center for commercial and social activity in the community. Some of the most prominent individuals, commercial and civic in their leadership responsibility, retained office space in the floors above while an assortment of retail operations, especially grocers and meat markets, served the needs of customers at street level. And the building provided a home and office for the local chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal order of considerable importance in the community.
Community Building: 223 East Grand (also listed as 110 North Third)
This building played an important role in the development of the commercial, and especially professional, community of Ponca City. Built as the oil boom was continuing to grow, the building offered modern office space for the businesses and professionals who were serving the needs of the community. Indeed, when it filled it to capacity, the Masonic Building across the street was built. In later years after the boom subsided, it still remained an important feature in the city and numerous physicians, dentists, and attorneys used it as their base before the creation of separate clinics spread around town became popular. The building is also eligible under Criterion C in the Area of Significance Architecture for its craftsmanship and design.
Donahoe – Souligny Building: 119-121 East Grand
The building is clearly associated with the commercial development of downtown, and indeed of the entire city, and that association began early, in 1909, well before the oil boom. And the Donahoe brothers and J. P. Souligny, as realtors, were key figures in shaping the development that took place and their activities took place upstairs in this building, above the various retail stores that operated below.
Douglass Apartments: 114 South Pine
Built and operated by a local physician (Douglass) was designed to cater to the needs of the city’s burgeoning population during the oil boom and thus both reflected and shaped the development of the city. Moreover, it was an integral part of the growing downtown business sector and the denizens of the apartments provided the workforce for downtown retail establishments and the clientele for downtown retailers. The combination of white stone and red brick and the use of a dramatic balcony on the east elevation with the name of the building engraved in stone made the building a singular feature then and continues to do so.
Douglass Apartments: 112 South Pine
Constructed two years after the building immediately south, this larger unit also contained a retail section at the front of the units with two separate storefronts in classic urban commercial fashion. It repeats many of the distinctive features of its neighbor.
Gill Funeral Home: 122 North Second
Gill Funeral Home/Gill’s Mortuary - Constructed in 1925 during the oil boom, the erection of this building provided concrete evidence of the community’s commercial growth and the growing needs of its population, even if those needs sometimes wore a dark mantel. With its distinctive classical form; at the time of its construction it was both one of the largest and one of the most sophisticated buildings in downtown Ponca City.
Howe Building: 114 North Fourth
The building previously housed Union Bus Station, with a dry cleaning establishment in the building at the back of the lot, but around 1941 or 1942 Howe Bakery moved in and reflected the shifting development within the community. With its dramatic use of arches, urns, torches, and columns, this building, small in comparison with some other downtown buildings, is one of the most distinctive buildings in the downtown and even in the community.
Hutchins and Hanley Building: 305-307 East Grand
Shortly after the construction of the Barnes Building to the West, this building emerged with the same lines and details to the extent that the two even appear to be a single building.
Marland Building: 322-324 East Grand
This building directly attributable to the lack of office space in the community as a result of the oil boom, this building was financed by E. W. Marland. Very shortly it held the offices of physicians, insurance agents, petroleum companies, and other business and professional people. A compact commercial building with retail spaces at street level and offices above, the building connected traditional styles and features, such as the stone sills and universal clerestories, with a modern sleek appearance, employing crisp corners and angular lines in an Art Deco influenced parapet.
Masonic Building: 222 East Grand
Constructed during the oil boom explicitly to meet the demand for office space, the building is literally the towering representative of that period of growth, change, and ultimately also, contraction. It provided a home for the local Masonic Lodge and its related fraternal and sororal organizations and the top floor was designed and arranged to accommodate the rituals of the organizations. Designed by noted commercial and public building architects Smith and Senter, the building is a two-part vertical block commercial structure with an impressive cornice and careful detailing throughout.
Montgomery Ward Building: 419 East Grand
Constructed at the end of the 1920s, it reflected the expansion of the consumer-goods retail stores in downtown Ponca City, and the expansion of the downtown district as it inched forward to the east, one building at a time. A large building, it offered competition to the existing department stores by providing a home for the local Montgomery Ward chainstore. This commercial building is subtle but powerful upon close inspection; the stone pilasters at the corners are fluted columns that rise to a stone cornice carved with a flower-motif which is then repeated in the stone lintel above the clerestories.
Moose Building: 111 North Third
Constructed by the local chapter of the Loyal Order of Moose in 1920, this building served mainly as the home for the lodge’s fraternal, social, and recreation functions and appears to have increased in popularity and membership during the 1920s. Downstairs the building housed a variety of businesses, many of them recreational such as billiards and even bowling. Another Solomon Andrew Layton building, a striking two-part block commercial building, the façade dominates much of the block with its engraved letters spelling the name of the fraternal order and with additional engraving in the cornice.
Nonnamaker Hall: 209 West Grand
Built in 1929 by Floyd Nonnamaker, the building responded to the influx of population into the downtown area, and in the community broadly, and housed a variety of music schools starting with Plummer’s Violin School and Verne Denney’s general music instruction, and continuing with Nonnamaker himself offering music classes in the upstairs section of the building. After World War II the building was noted on Sanborn maps as a dance hall. Meanwhile, downstairs, a series of retail businesses operated and for a while the local Oil Workers International Union Local kept offices there. Situated adjacent to a restaurant and then bar, near a handful of automobile dealers, a half block from the prominent Douglass Apartments, Nonnamaker Hall was in the midst of activity in downtown Ponca City well after the boom deflated. A fine example of commercial architecture, this building includes brick columns, wrought iron balconies with brackets, distinctive parapet, and careful use of contrasting brick and stone.
Orville Savage Motor Company: 200 West Grand
Built at the height of the boom in a part of town that was already becoming a concentration of automobile dealerships, the Savage Motor Company reflected a major change in the economy and social dynamics of the community, one in which mobility was increasing and the automobile was becoming more and more an everyday part of life; ultimately the automobile was connected with the course of commerce in Downtown Ponca City. Built at a time when automobile dealerships endeavored to display their shiny new cars and also the stability and future prospects of their line of business, the building was itself something of a showpiece. Carved stone insets, contrasting brick patterns, carved lintels, pilasters, and sills enhanced the appeal of the building. Moreover, the design of the building was characteristic of dealerships of the area including the vehicle storage area on the second floor (and possibly on the roof) and the vehicle service bays on the east elevation. A service station area for gasoline sales, a feature common in the 1920s and 1930s, was located at the diagonally clipped corner of the building but was removed during the period of historic significance.
Pabst Building: 201 East Grand
The story of commerce in downtown Ponca City can largely be told through this building. One of the early saloons in territorial days, the first building was destroyed by the 1900 fire and was probably in the brick configuration now standing. The size of the building and its central location downtown suggests the prominence of saloon life in the early community. When Prohibition came with statehood in 1907 the saloon closed and the building found other tenants, ultimately winding up as the location of Cuzalina’s Pharmacy. Although altered in places, the crenelated cornice still marks its origins as a brewery or saloon, the institutions that such work is generally associated with.
Paris Furniture Building: 409 East Grand
  E. W. Marland himself was responsible for the construction of this building. Just as he sponsored the construction of new office buildings for the growing population of professionals and business people, he also provided for the development of retail operations to supply their various needs, in this case furniture. Constructed in 1927, the building housed the preeminent furniture business owned by Jay G. Paris and did so for decades, all the way through the period of significance. Eclectic in design, the building was the product of Marland’s preferred architect, the eminent John Duncan Forsyth, and features not only commercial building configuration, but also Spanish Mission Style influences and other influences. One of the details continues to puzzle passersby who notice but are unfamiliar with the building’s origin: the monogram M inside the inset blocks at the side lintels. The matching building to the east, an annex added in 1929, is a contributing part of this building. 
East Middle School: 612 East Grand 
A delayed response to the boom that took place in the 1920s, this building was constructed to serve the children of the people who came to the city and started families. It continues to serve the educational needs of the community and it has often served, as schools often do, the broader community as well. Two years after it was constructed, the school auditorium was the location for the funeral service of E. W. Marland. Together with the Post Office, this building is one of the most prominent examples of Art Deco construction in Ponca City. While the building has subsequently expanded on the south, the additions have been consistent in design and materials. 
Ponca City Milling Company Elevator: 114 West Central 
Dating back to the years just at the beginning of the oil boom, this elevator reflected the Ponca City that existed before the growth of the Teens and Twenties with its close connection between the agricultural world and the modern markets. Situated next to the railroad it operated and grew, and in 1924 owners Donahoe Milling enlarged the elevator and built a new flourmill which created and sold Robin Hood Flour. During World War II, the elevator is reported to have had a huge V for victory sign atop it. The elevator consists not just of cylindrical tanks for the storage of grain but includes an entire mechanism for the filling and emptying of the grain with headhouses and side grain dumps. 
Ponca City News Building: 217 East Cleveland 
  Designed by noted architect Clyde Woodruff, this commercial building is one of the outstanding downtown features and is especially notable for its many terra cotta inlays with variously, colorful PCN monograms, cartouches, and geometric and floral designs. Its large clerestories still admit ample light into the interior and the building retains excellent integrity. Born in 1923 as a product of the oil boom and the political dynamics unleashed by that growth, this building was home of intense journalistic / commercial energy that vanquished its competitors. 
Ponca City Post Office: 404 East Grand 
The U.S. Postal Service, one of the most visible and assumed functions of government, had moved around Ponca City in various buildings including a building on the north side of the 300 block of Grand and in the Moose Building, but the growth of the city during the 1920s stressed the existing facilities and repeatedly the city endeavored to get a new post office building. Ultimately they were successful and this building has served as the Post Office since 1935. An excellent example of Art Deco architecture popular at the time, the building was initially symmetrical (maybe perfectly so) and the smooth stone sides, themselves an important building material, were interrupted only by vertical windows. The eagle flagstands only heightened the power and the massiveness of the building. 
Ponca City Savings & Loan Building: 120 South Third 
Founded in 1917, the Ponca City Savings & Loan Association, under the leadership of L. S. Barnes, grew and occupied other offices until 1956 when the association built this building as its headquarters and central building although it had branches in other communities. The design of this building incorporated modern styles and materials, using the increasingly popular V, vanes, and sleek lines common in automobiles and new service stations, even approaching the building style that came to be known as “populuxe,” a streamline modern form. The materials include granite and marble as well as brick. 
Poncan Theatre: 104 East Grand 
This building, with perhaps the most decorous façade on Grand and in the city, was listed on the National Register in 1984 under Criterion C in the Area of Significance Architecture. The beautiful historic Poncan Theatre has been the grand showplace of entertainment in north central Oklahoma since it opened in 1927. Learn More Here
Royalty Building: 401 East Grand 
The building expanded Ponca City’s business district to the east and provided additional office space in 1923—in the midst of the city’s petroleum boom. This was another building financed by E. W. Marland and designed by John Duncan Forsyth. A good example of Spanish Mission Revival Style, the building’s stucco walls, arched windows, and ornate entry make it a conspicuous feature downtown. 
Security State Bank Building: 123 East Grand
Built in 1905, the bank building existed prior to the boom that reshaped the downtown and the bank that it housed was but one of several in the city. In the 1910s, with directors that included E. W. Marland, Dan Donahoe, and L. K. Meek, and in the 1920s under Meek’s presidency and control, the bank became largest financial institution in Ponca City. When the Masonic Building was completed, the bank moved into the ground floor of the new building and this building then offered both retail and office space for the commercial sector of the community.
Southwest Bell Telephone Company Building: 221 North Second 
One of the pressing needs for the rapidly expanding community was functioning and efficient telephone service. In 1923 or 1924 this building was constructed to house the hub of the city’s phone system and it remained there for two and a half decades. It is important to note that this was not just the administrative offices of the local telephone company but the actual telephone exchange itself. Until 1949, when Southwest Bell moved to its new building nearby, the city did not have dial telephone service; in this building, at the core of the technology of the telephone exchange, were rows of workers, usually, and perhaps always, female, who asked callers for the number or the party they wished to call when the caller picked up the telephone handset or turned the crank. An understated building on the periphery of Downtown Ponca City, this is a quietly elegant Italianate building with intricate brick masonry from its cornice to its arched window surrounds on the second floor to its triangular entrance accents to its brick sills. 
Stewart Building: 300 East Grand 
One of the early retail establishments, this corner location provided a prime spot for the businesses who operated out of the ground floor storefront. Built just two years after the founding of the city, this store housed an electric company, the Buster Brown Shoe Store, and, for a long time, the popular gathering place and restaurant, Jimmy’s Eats and Sweets. After Jimmy Pappas (who lived upstairs) moved next door to the Kress Store, this became the location of a series of men’s wear stores. Each of these activities demonstrated the association with the commercial aspects of downtown life and often more than just the provision of a good or service. The building is also eligible under Criterion C in the Area of Significance Architecture. Recently uncovered from decades of siding over the façade, two outstanding features strike the observer: the limestone building materials that characterized the earliest commercial building efforts and the cornice with both Stewart and the date of construction, 1895, engraved. 
Union Bus Station: 201 North Second 
Constructed in the oil boom, this building was not just the station where a bus came to town and dropped off some travelers and picked up others; it was a transportation hub that soon rivaled the railroad depot. Especially during the 1930s as highway travel became easier with a federal highway program, bus lines and trucking companies took advantage of the decline of rail traffic and their business mushroomed. By 1938 this building provided service to the Southern Kansas Stage Lines, the Mo-Kans-Okla Coach Lines, and the Red Ball Bus Company. Inside was the Union Bus Station Café and upstairs was the Terminal Hotel. A careful study of the surrounding buildings also reveals that more and more hotels were locating near the bus station, again demonstrating the shift away from the railroad hub. During the war, some of the bus lines consolidated and this station appears to have replaced alternate bus stations in the downtown; by 1948 the Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma Trailways, the Santa Fe Trail Transportation Company, and the Turner Transportation Company operated here. In addition, however, the Veterans Cab Company and the Yellow Cab Company had their base in this building. The café and the Terminal Hotel still served travelers too. This pattern continued so that by the end of the period of significance, 1958, there were still three bus lines and three taxi cab companies using this station. It was only around 2002 or 2003 that bus service to Ponca City, and this station, was discontinued. The building is also eligible under Criterion C in the Area of Significance Architecture. The bus station is a good example of commercial architecture but, more importantly, its construction design with waiting room and café inside and hotel upstairs reveals the particular business of transportation. The canopy over the boarding area to the north has been removed and the bus parking area is now enclosed and landscaped, but the building itself retains integrity. 
Wigton / Parkinson Motor Company Building: 112 South Second 
Its history runs parallel to that of the Orville Savage Motor Company and others in the community in that the rise and then the departure of the companies owning them reflected fundamental contours in the history of Downtown Ponca City. Likewise, the building housing the dealership reflected the increasing status of automobiles (and, in this case, as indicated by the Fordson ghost sign etched into the window, tractors too) in society. Occupying a full quarter of a block, the Wigton / Parkinson Motor Company Building exhibits both architectural style and appeal but also has the particular qualities of an automobile dealer and repair facility integrated into its design with various features ranging from the service bay entrances to the vehicle elevator carrying cars to the roof.