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Enid, Town with a Re-purpose


The people of Enid soon will greet an old friend with a new outlook. Enid’s Convention Hall was built in 1921 as a memorial to Garfi eld County’s World War I veterans.


In its 91-year history, it hosted luminaries such as Bob Wills and President George H.W. Bush and community events from Tri-State Music Festival concerts to basketball games and high school graduations. The renewed building will house two ballrooms and meeting spaces and, along with the under-construction, next-door Enid Event Center, will give Enid the capacity and fl exibility to attract a variety of large gatherings. Although this may be Enid’s biggest restoration project, it’s certainly not the


fi rst. Just looking around downtown, you can see the results of earlier efforts to save grand old buildings and give them new life.


Perhaps the liveliest is Leonardo’s Children’s Museum (formerly called Leon- ardo’s Discovery Warehouse). In the early 1900s, it was a distribution center for Alton Mercantile, a wholesale grocer. Museum Director Julie Baird was told by one of the founders, astronaut Owen K. Garriott, 81, that he remembers visiting the building as a Cub Scout to watch candy being made. It subsequently served as a Sears warehouse but stood empty for several years before being purchased in 1992 to become a children’s museum. The Enid Symphony Center was originally the Masonic Temple. The Masons


built the fi ve-story, Italian Renaissance Revival building in 1921. The Masons moved out in 1946 and the top two fl oors sat empty until 1997 when Enid Sym- phony Orchestra conductor Douglas Newell toured the space. His vision was so vivid that funds for renovation were quickly raised and today the Symphony Hall is an architectural jewel with 22-karat gold trim and Viennese crystal chandeliers.


Enid Event Center Photo by Elaine Warner Photo Courtesy by Enid CVB


One of the most unusual re-inventions is the brainchild of Larry and Rick Simpson. After closing the mercantile store that had been in their family for over 50 years, the brothers turned the huge building into movie sets for their western movie production company and added exhibits of Western memora- bilia. It’s a favorite Enid stop for tourists—especially with bus tours that make arrangements to have lunch in the saloon. The brothers also rent the building for (non-alcoholic) parties and host weddings on the chapel set. Many Western movies end with the heroes riding off into the sunset. Thanks to the Simpsons—and other Oklahomans with an appreciation of history—the sun’s not setting on these great old buildings. Instead, they’re getting a second chance. OL


Redlands Chapel


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This photograph of Lake Tenkiller State Park accompanied our article on Green Country in the October issue of Oklahoma Living. Due to an oversight by Green Country Marketing Association, credit for the photograph was not given. The photograph was taken by Ron Day of Cookson. You can see more of Ron’s work at his website, www.rondayphotography.com.


NE OKLAHOMA’S


GREEN COUNTRY 800.922.2118


NOVEMBER 2012 25


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