The capital of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City is the biggest city in the state and one of the most visited spots in the Great Plains region of America. With beautiful architecture and plenty to see, Oklahoma City is a super spot to visit and offers a broad array of outdoor activities, including kayaking. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
2.Best Kayaking Locations in Oklahoma City
3.More Kayaking Locations in Oklahoma City
Best Kayaking in Oklahoma City
- Overview, Photo: Seth Schubert/stock.adobe.com
- Best Kayaking Locations in Oklahoma City, Photo: Alonzo/stock.adobe.com
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Attraction Spotlight: Henry Overholser Mansion
Located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the Henry Overholser Mansion preserves the former home of “city father” Henry Overholser, open to the public as a living history museum for guided tours. Businessman Henry Overholser is credited as the “father of Oklahoma City,” developing many of the city’s early urban and residential areas throughout the late 19th century.
In 1901, Overholser purchased three lots of land within the city’s Highland Park Addition for the purposes of constructing a residence for himself and his wife, socialite Anna Murphy Overholser. An 11,700-square-foot Châteauesque-style residence was designed by architect W.S. Matthews, noted for his training at Kensington Academy in London, and completed in 1903 for a cost of $38,000. The mansion was officially opened to the public the following year for private special events with a gala reception.
As the first mansion constructed within the city, the Overholser Mansion served as a major center for social life in the area, hosting cultural luminaries such as opera singers Amelita Gala-Curci and Ernestine Schumann-Heink. It remained in the Overholser family for the more than 50 years, passed down to Overholser’s daughter Henry Ione and her husband David Jay Perry in 1937. Following Henry Ione’s death in 1959, Perry sold the residence to the Oklahoma Chapter of American Institute of Architects and Historical Preservation, which later donated it to the State of Oklahoma. The mansion briefly served as the official residence for United States Senator Mike Monroney while under the care of the State of Oklahoma. After two decades of supervision by the Oklahoma Historical Society in the late 20th century, management of the mansion was transferred to Preservation Oklahoma. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and was fully restored to its original condition in 2015 through joint efforts with the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, the Women’s Architectural League, and Historical Preservation, Inc.
Attractions and Tours
Today, the Henry Overholser Mansion is owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society, with the Preservation Oklahoma nonprofit organization, which was established in 1992, overseeing all tour and management operations. The 11,700-square-foot mansion is designed according to the Queen Anne and Châteauesque styles of European architecture, featuring an exterior construction of sandstone and brick. A carriage house and porte-cochère on its grounds that adds another 4,000 square feet of footage. Many of the home’s interior walls and ceilings feature handpainted detail work and showcase original imported Italian light fixtures. Original English carpeting, French stained-glass windows, Brussels lace curtains, and Belgian woodwork is also showcased throughout the mansion.
Docent-led tours of the mansion are offered Tuesdays through Sundays during the morning and afternoon, with tour groups embarking every hour and tours lasting approximately 35 to 45 minutes. All tours begin in the mansion’s carriage house and span restored rooms throughout its three stories. Tour rates are offered for adults, students, and seniors, with all children under the age of six admitted free with paying adult admission. Tour reservations are required for tour groups of 10 or more, including educational field trip tours for elementary and secondary school students. The mansion is closed during the month of January and during times of inclement weather where conditions would prohibit safe travel throughout the estate.
Ongoing Programs and Education
An educational tour program, “Henry Overholser and the Built Environment,” is provided for elementary and secondary student groups of up to 60 students. Programs include guided field trip tours of the mansion, as well as in-classroom educational programs centered on the legacy of the Overholser family in the Oklahoma City area and their influence on architecture and urban development in the American South. A historical reenactor portraying Anna Overholser is also available for appearances, and a PASS-objective-incorporated teacher’s guide is provided for instructors.
The Henry Overholser Mansion may be rented for private special events, including weddings, reunions, and business events. A maximum of 20 guests are permitted for weddings held within the mansion, with food and drink prohibited due to the preservation of the mansion and its furnishings. The mansion’s carriage house may also be rented for weddings and events for up to 50 guests, with seating and access to a full kitchen provided by the facility. All events may also add on guest tours of the mansion for an additional fee per guest.
In addition to its restoration and maintenance of the Henry Overholser Mansion, Preservation Oklahoma oversees a number of programs related to historic homes and businesses throughout the Oklahoma City area, including the Oklahoma’s Most Endangered Historic Places list, which flags historic properties at risk of demolition and raises awareness for preservation efforts and campaigns. The organization’s This Place Matters campaign, established in 2009, also offers a variety of tours and lectures highlighting other area historic places, and a number of preservation-themed workshops are offered throughout the year centered on public initiatives such as Route 66 preservation efforts.
405 NW 15th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73103, Phone: 405-525-5325
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Attraction Spotlight: American Banjo Museum
The American Banjo Museum, located in Oklahoma City, and is home to 21,000 square feet of information that provides historical celebration of the Banjo. With approximately a $5 million worth, the American Banjo Museum is recognized as one of the most extensive museums of its kind.
In 1998 Brady Hunt and Jack Canine bonded over their shared love of the banjo. Canine believed that the Banjo is America’s most beautiful and special instrument, and that its history should be preserved and made accessible to anyone. So, Canine and Hunt founded the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Since then, the museum has evolved by moving to a bigger location in Oklahoma City, and changing the name to the simple, American Banjo Museum.
The American Banjo Museum provides extensive history and facts about the banjo. Through a variety of exhibits, the American Banjo Museum proves that the banjo is historically and culturally significant.
America’s Instrument is an interpretive exhibit that is around eight minutes along. Through the America’s Instrument exhibit, visitors will see an overview of the history of the banjo, specifically focusing on how the banjo emerged within the mid-1600s, which was during the height of American slavery.
The Minstrel Era – From the Plantation to the Stage follows the banjo’s rise that began in the 1840s. This attraction showcases how the banjo began to stray from solely being a folk instrument. During this time, many people created new banjo structures, which ultimately influenced how the modern banjo is designed. One of the highlights of this attraction is a rare William Boucher banjo, which was manufactured in the 1840s.
The Classical Era – The Banjo Goes Legit focuses on how the banjo became a monumental classical instrument. This exhibit examines how social and cultural factors influenced the banjo being an instrument only used by comedians and folk musicians, to an elegant and whimsical instrument.
The 1920s – The Banjos that Made the Twenties Roar showcases over 300 banjos from the jazz age. Throughout this attraction, visitors will learn how the banjo and jazz music influenced each other. After all, the 1920s is the period that banjo enthusiasts argue was the height of success for the banjo and banjo players.
Bluegrass & Beyond examines how the banjo reemerged after WWII. Instead of being viewed as a classical instrument, people began using the banjo for Bluegrass music. A popular historical moment from this exhibition is about one of the most popular sounds in Bluegrass music is a banjo picking noise that is created by lightly picking the banjo with three fingers. The exhibit details how the technique was created by Earl Scruggs during this period.
The Folk Explosion…A Mighty Wind explores the resurgence of folk music that occurred during the 1950s and 60s. This attraction focuses on popular folk groups and artists from that time, such as Pete Seeger, and how they used the banjo to transform music. Many of the modern day folk artists take influence from the likes of Seeger.
Aside from the permanent attractions in the American Banjo Museum, there are special attractions that come and go from the museum monthly. If you’re interested in exploring a special attraction, you should check the Special Exhibit tab on the museum’s website.
To expand on the American Banjo Museum’s efforts to promote the banjo, they offer banjo classes to the public. These banjo classes are geared towards beginner banjo players. Participants don’t have to worry about getting a banjo, because they are provided. A fun initiative for taking the banjo class is that participants get a 10% coupon that is good for anything in the American Banjo Museum Gift Shop.
After walking through the museum, visitors get the chance to purchase something from the American Banjo Museum Gift Shop. The gift shop has a variety of products, such as; apparel, CD’s, DVD’s, sheet music, publications, banjos, and other gift items. All the profits from the American Banjo Museum Gift Shop goes directly back to the American Banjo Museum, so that the trustees can actively search for more artifacts and keep the museum running.
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9 E Sheridan Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, Phone: 405-604-2793
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Attraction Spotlight: Oklahoma Historical Society
The Oklahoma Historical Society aims to collect, preserve, and share the history and culture of Oklahoma through the maintenance and management of museums, historic sites, and research centers located across the state of Oklahoma>. Most known for the Oklahoma History Center and Research Center, the Oklahoma Historical Society has many collections and programs aimed at education and cultural and historical preservation.
The Oklahoma Historical Society was founded in 1893, just 4 years after the founding of the town of Kingfisher, by nineteen editors of the Oklahoma Territory Press Association who wanted to collect and preserve newspapers as they were published in Oklahoma Territory as part of a Historical Society. The Association partnered with The University of Oklahoma in 1895 to pass legislature allowing the historical society to be the trustee for territorial records and receive government funding for its operation costs. The headquarters and archives were moved to the university on campus in Norman.
By 1907 the society had amassed a collection of over 3,000 newspapers, more than 1000 books and nearly 2,000 documents, along with other speeches, manuscripts and legislative records, and had been moved to Carnegie Library. Appropriates for the society continued to increase each year as well into the 1900’s and by 1926 the collection had quadrupled in size.
In 1929, a bill was authorized for the building of the Temple of History which would also serve as a war memorial with offices and galleries that could be used by veterans and patriotic groups. This would be the permanent home of the Historical Society collection as well.
In 1934 The Society acquired the title to Fort Gibson Barracks overlooking the Verdigris and began the work to stabilize those structures. They also purchased Sequoyah’s cabin, and built stone walls around several historic sites in Oklahoma in the 1930’s although never purchased the sites. In 1952 The Historical Society purchased Cabin Creek Battlefield and Worcester Cemetery. In 1959 the society was able to title the property of a Choctaw Chief home, followed by Fort Washita which is also an important archaeological site in 1962, Plots at Honey Springs in 1967, Fort Towson in 1968 and many other Civil War sites throughout Oklahoma.
Throughout the 1970’s The Oklahoma Historical Society set out to purchase historic homes and museums. The board members were successful in acquiring 10 different properties within two years from 1973-1975.
Museums and Historic Sites
The Oklahoma Historical Society maintains 30 museums, historical sites, and military sites, in the state of Oklahoma. Each site has a link from the Historical Society webpage that can be visited for more detailed information such as hours and admission.
1. Historic Homes
1. A.J. Seay Mansion
2. Frank Phillips Home
3. Will Rogers Birth Place Ranch
4. T.B. Ferguson Home
5. Sod House Museum
6. Henry Overholser Mansion
7. Fred Drummond Mansion
8. George M. Murrell Home
9. Pawnee Bill Ranch
10. Jim Thorpe Home
2. Military Sites
a. Honey Springs Battle Field Historic Site
b. Cabin Creek Battle Field Historic Site
c. Fort Gibson historic Site
d. Fort Washita Historic Site
e. Fort Supply Historic Site
f. Fort Towson Historic Site
a. Will Rogers Memorial Museum
b. Atoka Museum and Confederate Cemetery
c. Cherokee Strip Museum
d. White Hair Memorial
e. Tom Mix Museum
f. Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
g. Sprio Mounds Archaeological Center
h. Pioneer Woman Museum
i. Chisholm Trail Museum
j. No Man’s Land Museum
k. Museum of the Western Pride
l. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
m. Oklahoma History Center
n. Oklahoma Territorial Museum
Each historic site offers its own unique educational experience. The Historical Society offers educational opportunities specifically through The Research Center which is open Tuesday through Saturday and open to the public free of charge. Materials in the research library are non-circulating. Tours and field trips of The Research Center which is found on the first floor of the Oklahoma History Center can be arranged online or on the phone.
The Oklahoma History Center offers many educational programs, classes, workshops, lectures, and scouting programs for the community and school groups. The history center has been fundamental is collecting and preserving Oklahoma history and culture in partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society. Collections featured at the History Center include American Indian, Military, Photographs, Textiles, and Historical. The collection can also be viewed online through the Historical Society website. The Devin Great Hall inside of the History Center can be rented for private events such as weddings, parties, corporate functions and more. There is also a café, and museum store located at the Oklahoma History Center.
Oklahoma History Center 800 Zuhdi Drive, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, Phone: 405-521-2491
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