Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Skirvin Hilton Grand Reopening

The events leading to this grand day have already been stated. Skirvin History, Skirvin Preview, and The Day Before.

But, Monday, February 26, 2007, at Noon, is the day and time itself that downtown became itself, again! This post is largely eye candy and lots of it! The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer's articles tell the story much more completely than this post does – see A Grand Reopening of the Skirvin and City, Investors, Chain Write Happy Ending For Landmark Hotel.



Click on any pics below for a much larger view.

At about 11:45 a.m., as I walked south on Broadway approaching Park Avenue, this "window" caught my eye ... this is Avis Scaramucci's "Painted Door" gift shop which faces on Broadway. Some "inside" pics of the store are toward the end of this post



A window further south reflects the 100 Park Avenue Building – but, if you look really really closely, you can make out a red grand piano through the glass. This is the Red Piano Lounge which is shown more closely in just a bit.



After reaching Park Avenue, I was greeted by ladies & gents like these dressed in period attire suitable for the "original" hotel opening in 1911. These are students at the Classen School of Advanced Studies.






Of course, Steve Lackmeyer was there to record it all for posterity. In his regular columns in The Oklahoman and by the great book which he co-authored, OKC: 2nd Time Around, Steve is a great contributor to Oklahoma City history himself. The man needs a coat though – it was cold outside!



Mayors were everywhere! Here are former mayors Ron Norick, Andy Coats, and Patience Latting.



Music was provided by the Northeast Academy Viking Singers, here singing God Bless America.



Jane Jayroe (1967 Miss America and former director of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation) guided the formal outside ceremony through its steps ...



... and Cheyenne-Arapaho artist Gordon Yellowman, assisted by his daughter, Cricket, blessed the event with incense and Native American chants ... after which, Ms. Jayroe pronounced, "We are blessed," as we surely were!



Mayor Mick Cornett described how the deal finally got done ...



... and former Mayor Kirk Humphreys reflected on how it had gotten started after years of frustration.



City Council Member Willa Johnson, a former Skirvin elevator operator, added some spice – and, this being her birthday, she got a fabulous birthday present, as did we all!



Bill Otto, President of Marcus Hotels and Resorts, a partner and operator of the Skirvin Hilton, extolled his enthusiasm for this project, as did Steve Marcus, Chairman of the Marcus Corporation.
One of Steve Lackmeyer's articles says, "Marcus thinks the only challenge left for Oklahoma City is to 'tell its story'. 'You've got a great story to tell,' Marcus said. 'It's a story about the city's attitude toward development of its downtown, central city, and the things that you're doing. The spirt of the people here is just fabulous.'" Bill Otto is shown below.



Bill Skirvin's granddaughter, Betty Ellis, traveled to Oklahoma City from Maryland for the festivities – not letting a wrenched knee keep her away. "Nothing could stop me from coming!"



After her remarks, the Northeast Academy Viking Singers sang Oh Happy Day as the members of the Skirvin and James' families led the way into the hotel and the rest of the happy company followed, where we would all go gaga, oohing and ahhing!



Let the oohing and ahhing begin!









A hall leading to Broadway shows some of the memories of times gone by ...







The Front Desk contains elements of the original (the panels, I think, but probably not the lamp)!





It's time to ooh and ahh some more ...





OK, OK! Let's eat! As you approach the Park Avenue Grill, you get this ...



... and this small bar (the pretty lady on the left served me a Monte Cristo sandwich the next day (Tuesday) and a heck of a great Bloody Mary! I couldn't eat but half of the sandwich ... it was great!



As I discovered on Tuesday when a friend and I went for lunch, it's best to make reservations if you're wanting to dine in the Park Avenue Grill!







Walking back toward the lobby, it's time for more oohing and ahhing!







Even taking a "break" gives you one!



Next, the Red Piano Lounge ...













On leaving, I stopped in for a quick look at what the Painted Door had to offer ... London, Paris, Rome, Oklahoma City? Well, why not!





Events continued all afternoon and into the night. I didn't realize it at the time, but as I took this night picture, I later learned that the whole day's activities were open to the public.



I learned on Tuesday that, in the evening, guests were offered this cool Grand Reopening souvenir ... a clock ... but Doug Dawg got lucky on Tuesday at lunch and got one, too!



That's it, and Let the Romance Begin!

2 comments:

Julie Riggs said...

Had lunch with my brother and Mother in the grill on Monday. We slipped in before the festivities outside were finished and managed to get a table before the manager stopped accepting walk-ups. The food was excellent and beautifully prepared, but the staff was young and nervous as cats. It was quite funny, actually! Everything was beautifully restored but the floors looked like they needed a good polishing. I'm looking forward to attending an event there soon!

Mark L. said...

Having worked at my parents business all my life I graduated high school and went to college. I subsidized my income by joining American Security. They handled The Skirvin back in 1983. It was my first post of my first day on the job. I was a duck out of water. We also guarded their part of the parking garage. It was so nice when a hotel employee asked if I had eaten dinner. He then invited me to the employees dinning room. It was like a buffet. I then guarded conventions like the cable tv show and the radiologists convention. When it closed, they transferred me to the Hilton Inn NW. Then I got a promotion to the Park Suites. Wow, that was nice as we got to eat Hagen Daz for a snack.
I went back to the Skirvin for the 2010 OAB convention. I visited many of the places I remembered. One thing that disappointed me was that they actually down sized the convention space. Seeing the old phone booths gone was also a shock. Many NYC hotels just pulled out the phone and made it an internet booth.