By Leilani Roberts Ott
Matthew and Annette Williams have given new life to one of Muskogee’s grand older homes on 14th Street and Okmulgee Avenue.
The three-story yellow brick home built in 1903 had been slowly falling apart. The young couple bought it as a HUD house in June 2010 and have made it their home since for their two sons, Gavin Williams, 7, and Harrison Williams, 5; and their cousins, Seryna Bergstrom, 9; Chyna Bergstrom, 15; and Athena Bergstrom, 17.
They are opening their home for the Christmas by Candlelight at 7 p.m. Dec. 1. Advance tickets are $25 available by calling Donna Taylor, (918) 683-6600. Proceeds benefit the Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-Muscular Center.
Annette said they are thankful for their healthy children and believe people should do what they can to help the community. It was her sense of community pride that brought her and Matthew back again and again before buying the house.
“I kept thinking ‘What if someone else buys it and doesn’t take care of it?’” he said.
They bought and remodeled five houses, three of those in the Honor Heights area. They use them as rental property and may even sell their big house on 14th Street next year. Annette wants a pool like the one they had at one of their homes in Honor Heights.
The house has 4,500 square feet with five bedrooms, three baths and four fireplaces in three floors and a basement. The couple agreed making needed repairs to the home was a much larger project than they expected.
“The columns were rotting,” he said. “Some people told us to tear them down. It wouldn’t be the same house without those. Someone already tore the porch and columns off one side.”
They had four new white columns put up with steel beams inside. There was foundation work done, new central heat and air, new plumbing, insulation blown in, new roof, new soffits and fascia wood, and a new iron fence built around the property. They also rebuilt the three-car garage that was nearly falling in.
“There’s just a lot of stuff you can’t see,” she said.
The work has brought their summer electric bill down to about $350 compared to a neighbor’s that was $800.
The original blueprint was found on the third floor of the home and saved by Realtor Donna Elliott. The signature on it reads “C. H. Sudhoelter - Architect - Muskogee IT” for Indian Territory. The blueprint has the rooms named — parlor, reception hall, conservatory and library.
“It shows copper was on the outside of the windows,” Matthew said. “It used to have a portico.”
Most of the original windows are gone. They bought nine stained glass windows from the owners of the Graham-Carroll House, a former bed and breakfast in Muskogee that has gone out of business. Two large stained glass windows were originally owned by Bacone College. One of them has the words: “Rev. A.C. Bacone” in the stained glass. They hang in the formal living room. Annette guesses they are at least 100 years old. Also from the Graham-Carroll House is a 5-foot mirror in a gold frame.
The original leather wallpaper that hung in the library was gone before the couple got the house.
“Everything was blue,” Annette said.
They have repainted almost every room, except the library. They do most of the home repairs themselves, including reupholstering the formal dining room chairs in a set they got from Realtor Sherri Jones. It matches a large buffet they got from her, too. Annette also cleaned up an old chandelier that was in friend Amy Love’s garage. It now hangs in the kitchen.
The kitchen has been updated with black paint on the cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.
A 12-foot Christmas tree is in the parlor near the staircase covered in twinkle lights and greenery. Another Christmas tree is on the landing upstairs decorated with flags and red, white and blue.
“We work at the VA (Department of Veteran Affairs),” she said. “We support our country and our veterans.”
The five bedrooms are accessed from the landing. One of them is used as a family room. The original servant’s staircase goes down to the kitchen.
At one time, Annette wanted to use the home for weddings, but she’s changed her mind about that project.
“My goal is to finish the little stuff,” she said.
If you go
WHAT: Christmas by Candlelight.
WHEN: 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1.
HOMES: Matthew and Annette Williams, 1403 W. Okmulgee Ave.; Bob and Gwen Coburn, 3420 River Bend Road; Noble and Pam Beck, 3415 Harris Ave.; and Three Rivers Museum, 220 Elgin.
ADVANCE TICKETS: $25 by calling Donna Taylor, (918) 683-6600.
• • •
If you go
WHAT: Muskogee Christmas Home Tour.
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2.
HOMES: Michael and Ellen Mayer, 3535 Mayer Lane; Ken and Linda Johnson, 2921 Mayer Lane; Vernell and Toni Redo, 3706 Country Club Drive; Joan Eaton, 308 Kingsbury Drive; and Thomas-Foreman Historical Home, 1419 W. Okmulgee Ave.
TICKETS: $10 available at the door or in advance at Economy Pharmacy, Bella Mea’s, Rustic Elegance, Haley and Loyd Jewelry, I’m A Basket Case, Bebb’s Flowers, and Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-Muscular Center.
PROCEEDS: All money goes to the Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-Muscular Center in Muskogee.