By Dale Ann Deffer
A couple new to Fort Gibson has decided to take an old mansion and make it new again.
Ally and Todd Carlson, relocated from Alabama, have enlisted the expertise of Spencer Roth Contractors to completely make over the Coppinger home in what promises to be a lengthy process, the couple said
“Our projected move-in time is October this year,” Ally said. “We fell in love with it and liked the idea of bringing an old house back to life.”
The 13-room, brick historical mansion is perched at the top of the hill where Fort Gibson's commanders once lived.
Ally said they are trying to keep the exterior as it once was in its glory days from the mid- to the late 19th century.
They are renovating the interior in a more modern style, according to their needs, she said.
The old front porch will be brought back around the front, and the wooden paneling and several fireplaces will remain intact.
There will be a completely modernized kitchen and central heat and air.
The 16-foot ceilings will be brought down to 13-feet to accommodate the heat and air where fireplaces used to do the job, she said.
The commanders house is full of history. It was erected in 1867 by Fort Quarter Master A.J. Kimball, who did not live there, but supervised the soldiers whose job it was to haul the bricks up to the top of the hill and painstakingly erect the home.
As commanders brought in their eastern wives to add graciousness and artistry to the home, it became a center of social life at the fort.
Dinners and dances were held there as the wooden room dividers were opened to allow the entire downstairs to hold the men and women who brought civilization to the frontier. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One officer was Lt. Col. John Coppinger of the 18th infantry who was in residence for two years from 1886 to 1888.
He was a graduate of West Point and referred to as a “bold and dashing officer, as well as brilliant.”
His wife was from eastern society and brought along steamer trunks of the latest fashions, said Corey Twilley, Fort Gibson historical interpreter.
Together, they cut quite a figure in their hospitable flair of events at the fort, he said. The street in front of the home is named Coppinger in his honor.
Ally said she is glad they can save the house and have had much positive response from the Fort Gibson community.
Todd is the production planning manager at Dal-Tile in Muskogee. They have two daughters, Caden, 6, and Larkin, 2.