Patty George calls her home in Muskogee’s Kendall Place district “a love gift” from her husband, Ronnie.
He knew she had always dreamed of owning a home with the aura of a historic Southern residence. He also knew she loved Muskogee’s older residential area.
Ronnie found the home and when the couple looked at the three-story Georgian-style brick beauty in 1986, they knew it was the perfect home for them and their two children still at home.
Patty loved the home’s windows — 52 in all. The Belgian crystal chandeliers were original to the home. Fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom, crown molding and thick plaster walls were other attractions.
Unfortunately, another couple also thought the home was ideal for their family. The Georges’ disappointment was palpable but brief. Just 10 days after Patty and Ronnie expressed their desire to buy this home, the earlier contract fell through.
“Now,” Patty laughs, “we have been working on this perfect house from the day we moved in.”
Fortunately, Ronnie, who was then the northeastern district director for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, was as skilled at painting those 52 window frames as he was at building exquisite grandfather clocks.
“A home like this is an investment, a continual project,” Patty says. “Ronnie has been fabulous. He’s redone so much of the house cosmetically while keeping the home’s historical integrity.”
Walk through the “keeping room” at the home’s entrance, step into the living room and you feel the ambience of antique furnishings, art and treasured accessories.
You could be in an antebellum home in the South reminiscent of Tara in “Gone With The Wind.” While there is the impression of grandeur, there is also the feeling of gracious comfort.
The home was built in the early 1920s. A man named Jolly saw it under construction and persuaded the owner to sell it. Jolly and his family lived in the house until the stock market crash of 1929 changed many lives and fortunes. The home was sold at auction on the Muskogee County Courthouse steps and purchased by the Gibson family.
The Gibsons had several daughters who stopped by to see the house one Christmas.
“They loved seeing the house where they grew up,” Patty recalls. “They said it still looked like it did when they lived here.”
Much of Muskogee’s social history could be traced by the people who lived in or visited this home.
Careful, strategic renovations have been part of the Georges’ master plan for their home. Like many vintage homes, wallpaper reflected design trends of earlier eras; some remnants still grace closets. Floors were often covered by tile or carpet. For Patty and Ronnie, the question was always, “What’s hiding beneath the floor’s surface?”
They were delighted to discover small black and white period tile under tired linoleum in the kitchen. Beautiful hardwood floors were masked by carpet in many rooms. Restoring those floors to their original beauty was no easy task, they note.
The living and dining rooms have retained their original charm, accented with Patty’s handmade draperies, well-chosen antique furnishings and accessories, all complementing the classic style of the home.
The dining room is an ideal setting for Patty’s elegant entertaining style. The heirloom Duncan Phyfe dining table and chairs are accented by other antiques, including a china-filled hutch that belonged to her mother.
Ronnie’s favorite room is a cozy den, adjacent to the living room. It was once a back sleeping porch and small dining area. Here, Ronnie displays memorabilia reflecting his youth on a Texas farm and ranch.
The kitchen had an extensive facelift several years ago, incorporating a former back porch. Now, that space is used for china storage and a large refrigerator. Granite countertops and cabinets refaced with oak veneer updated the kitchen, which still reflects a period personality.
Although there is no grand staircase, a well-decorated stairway landing at the end of the living room leads to the upper stories. Those floors house the master suite, guest rooms and a lodge-style haven for grandchildren.
Patty is a member of a local antique collectors group.
“I’m an eclectic collector,” she says. “I seldom use antiques for their original or intended purpose. I only buy antiques that mean something to me.”
Among her treasures: a variety of wall clocks, portraits of special places from Ronnie’s youth, anything in shades of cobalt blue and her great-grandmother’s trousseau trunk.
She is also creative at salvaging pieces from old wood furnishings, giving them a fresh look with unusual treatments or placement throughout the home.
“I grew up in Midland, Texas,” Patty says. “We lived in a cookie-cutter ranch-style house. I always loved antiques, and playing with a doll house was my favorite pastime then.”
For almost three decades, the Georges have worked tirelessly to turn this early-day home into a historical treasure. With each renovation, they have remained sensitive to the architectural structure and period heritage of the home.
Patty’s dream of living in a historic home finally came true. The doll houses of her childhood have been replaced by a stately home that is a stage for inviting collections and a setting for her distinctive style of gracious entertaining.