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!

... Click here to read the full article and any comments ...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Skirvin Hilton - The Day Before

By the time I finished working on this Skirvin "update", I decided that it needed a new post, all by itself. This is written on Sunday, February 25, the day before the Skirvin reopens its doors to the world. For related posts, see Grand Reopening, Skirvin History and Skirvin Preview

I remind all that this grand event is something that we, in Oklahoma City, have all contributed to since it was by the leadership of Mayor Kirk Humphreys that our city "engaged" and became pro-actively involved in this project. Had that not happened, what we are about to see tomorrow would not have come to be. It did happen, and our city is proud, very proud. "We" can rightly claim that, "This is OUR hotel!" As Okc citizens, it is our due to make such a claim!

Two segments are in this post ... the excellent Sunday Oklahoman front page story and supplement published today, February 25, and the images contained in Dan Mahoney's website published just a few days earlier.

The Oklahoman Supplement. Today's Sunday Oklahoman front page and supplement, mostly written by Steve Lackmeyer, tells the story:

  • Front Page: Fans Ready For Return
  • Supplement Starting Point
  • Money, Money, Money!
  • Crowning Moment
  • At The Skirvin's Front Desk
  • In It's Decline
  • One Big Party
  • At Home in the Skirvin
  • Attracting the Stars
  • Bob Blackburn's Legacy
  • Managing the Banquets
  • What a Comeback!
  • Indonesian Investor Fails
  • Legacy That Refused To End
  • City's Blacks Recall A Different Skirvin

  • Some of the images in that Oklahoman supplement are below ... click on a pic for a larger view ...

    Now ... and in the 1960s

    Skirvin Moulding ... Now and Then ...

    Events Gone By In The Skirvin

    John Wayne and Skirvin Employees

    Dan Mahoney's Website. As mentioned in earlier posts, Dan is a publicist for the Skirvin Hilton, working with the Gooden Group, and he kindly made it possible for lowly Doug Dawg to have one large tour and a mini-one before today. Dan has set up his own Skirvin website, a Press Kit located here, and he has kindly consented that I use those pics here which range from initial construction, through the glory years of famous guests, to today's finished construction.

    Most of those pics are below ... marvelous eye candy ... click a pic for a much larger look.

    1st Construction and The Tunnel

    Small Ballroom and Hotel Lobby

    Restaurant and 1930's Expansion

    Glen Ford and Perle Mesta

    Martin & Lewis and the Nixons

    Richard Nixon & Dwight Eisenhour

    Billboard & Hotel Desk

    Bell Captains and Fountain Gals

    Hotel Brochure and Dan James

    Restaurant and 14th Floor Sitting Room

    Original Ad and Lobby Lighting Today

    Lobby Lights Close Up and Mezzanine

    Main Ballroom Lights and Exterior North

    South Views At Night

    Closeups of Top of Skirvin Hilton

    Building Top and Fourteenth Floor Moulding

    Park Avenue Grill

    Front Desk and Bill James' Children,
    George James and Dannie Bea Hightower

    In slightly less than 24 hours, it's all ours again, baby!

    Go To Top

    ... Click here to read the full article and any comments ...