A Curious and Luxurious Overnight in Oklahoma
In recent years, The Dominion has been a venue for weddings. In 2018, one of the brick federal-style buildings was renovated to hold 6 guest rooms.
The main house looked very quiet and grand, when we arrived on a Sunday afternoon. If we'd come the night before, we would have taken in a different scene, with wedding guests on the veranda.
The Masonic Children's Home
I found this internet photo of the main house, when it was vacant between 1978 and 2000. The Children's Home was built in 1923, by the the Mason's, to house orphans and children whose parents could no longer care of them.
Originally, the children were related to members of the fraternal organization. In the fifties the home opened its doors to other children. In the seventies, changes were made in the Oklahoma foster care program and the home closed. It must have been an eerie sight for many years, to the neighbors living nearby.
Besides the main house, there were a number of other buildings on the property.
Years ago, the city of Guthrie offered up 28 acres to the Masons for their children's home. The city also gave the children access to the public schools. Today, the buildings are surrounded by gorgeous lawns and gardens.
The West Wing
This is the building that now houses the 6 guest rooms. I'm still unclear about what this building was originally used for. I know that at least one dormitory building was torn down.
Approaching from The Rear
To enter the property, we came through gates at the rear. The huge parking lot was empty, except for one car. We hoped we had booked correctly and they were expecting us.
Our gracious host was expecting us. She checked us in and gave us a quick tour, showing us the gardens where weddings have taken place for about a decade. She insisted we pose for a photo, when she found out our 39th anniversary was coming up.
Lots of Green
We explored a while on our own. It was hard to imagine the peaceful lawns and pathways, swarming with wedding guests. I loved having it to ourselves.
I spotted a couple statues of children in the front gardens. It made me stop to think about what it was like for young kids living here, without parents. There's evidence that the Children's Home was a luxurious place, offering art and music lessons and a indoor pool with marble tile, a gymnasium and a skating rink. There are also creepy rumors, of an evil head mistress who beat children to death and a nutty nurse who threw herself from the bell tower. Just rumors, I hope. But supposedly, graves were found on the property. Yikes.
West Wing Superior
But all the crazy tales were easily forgotten when we headed down the second floor hallway, lit by glowing chandeliers. We opened the door to our West Wing Superior Room and the title matched the decor. It seemed more like a room at the White House, than a room in a haunted hotel. I felt totally unworthy.
Everything from the view, to the glass doorknobs was top notch.
Sconces and Chandeliers
We must have had 7 or more crystal light fixtures. It was so utterly not our style, but we were giddy about the whole thing.
Velvet and Wood
There was something pretty splendid about being in an old building, where everything smelled fine. The bed linens, drapes, couch and rug were all odor free.
The last time we had velvet drapes and couch, we were in a musty Victorian hotel in Wyoming, with creaky floors. Everything from the square pillar to the panel moulding, looked sturdy and clean.
The bathroom was so glamorous it pretty much made me laugh. The spacious, marble shower, looked like it could hold about 4 guests at once. The dramatic horse looked like he was politely turning his head, for those entering the claw footed tub. The gorgeous wood and marble vanity did a very fine job of holding the bucket of ice, delivered by our friendly host.
Evening at the Dominion
Before Don and I headed out for the evening, we went against house rules (no alcohol) and had a wine toast in our room. How could we not? Like sneaky children, we took the evidence back to our car. Which was wise, since we had a little turn-down service while we were away. A nice chocolate stamped with the hotel image, was our reward!
Unfortunately, the hotel's new restaurant wasn't yet open for business. But we were able to walk to the historic downtown area, for dinner. Returning to see the lit up main house and fountain, was the best surprise. Equally lovely and eerie!
The faucet handle fell off and water began to spew in all directions. I tried desperately to force the handle back on, while I kicked open the door with my foot to whisper/shout, "DON!" (I wanted no hotel staff coming to help!) Don woke and came to the rescue of his naked wife, by shutting off the water valve, underneath the tub. By this time, there was water covering the entire framed horse, the mirror, the marble floor and water was seeping towards the wood and carpet in the next room. Don and I used every towel to meticulously mop up the puddles and to remove every droplet. No bath for me.
By the time Don and I were dressed, we were exhausted. We headed straight to breakfast, passing though a sort of walkway between buildings.
The Main House
We ended up in the main house, with its grand staircase and formal dining room and bright reception room, with fireplace. I'm not sure how this space was used 95 years ago, but for a while it became a private residence to the new owners in 2000... I think!
Don and I greeted another hotel guest on the way to our cozy breakfast room. She was sitting in her nightgown, having tea in the dining room... and that sort of amused me. I'm pretty sure I've never gone to a B&B breakfast, wearing a robe or nighty.
Chef David appeared from the new kitchen, which will be used to prepare meals for the new Bistro, soon. He was in great spirits for 8 am. We chatted a bit about all the interesting places he has worked in past years. I was curious about his interest in international cooking.
The Bistro looked just about ready for business. David was extra excited about the pizza oven.
More Than Enough to Eat!
Time To Go
When it was time to check out, we had to share the news of our bathtub, with the host. I'm pretty sure I didn't cause the problem, but I somehow felt a little sheepish, as if I were one of the kids from the Children's Home, admitting guilt. My casual description of the problem, gave no hints about the real drenching fiasco that occurred.
The grounds and the hotel couldn't have been more lovely. The chef-cooked breakfast was a delicious treat. The staff and even the other guests, made us feel welcomed and comfortable.
That crazy bathtub experience, could have been the punishing work of the ghostly mistress!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!