Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Farewell for Now

Revisiting a place where you were consummately happy as a child is risky.  The house you remember may be gone, or irreparably changed.  

The house at 801 Flynn when George Crowell owned it.
The house, in my grandmother's photo
album, with her notes about it.
She bought it from members of the Crowell family.
The house today: The Vintage Inn B&B.
Visiting my grandmother's old home has been a chance for me to look back, look around and look ahead.

I look back in my mind and at old pictures of the house, and am blessed (and relieved) to know that it hasn't changed a whole lot.

Clawfoot bathtub with some original hardware.
I looked around the house when I visited in October, and saw that a family who truly loves it now shares 801 Flynn with their bed-and-breakfast guests and their neighbors.  I saw a community, and a state, that cherish their history.

Antique cast iron fireplace insert, stamped "The Buckeye"
I look ahead and I hope that more people will recognize the Crowell House for two things: its history and its graciousness.

The historic significance of the house is evident.  Built in 1906, its exterior red brick design appears to reflect a major trend in American architecture around the turn of the 20th century: the Prairie Style, with its hipped roof, overhanging eaves, and windows all in rows.  

Its interior lead glass windows, gold-leaf scrollwork, and solid oak appointments were reportedly crafted by an unnamed but highly skilled Italian immigrant, one of so many working in the Midwest in the early 20th century.


The house's original owner, George W. Crowell (1861-1944), was an influential local businessman at that pivotal time in Oklahoma, and American, history.  (The Cherokee Strip land run was in 1893; Oklahoma became a state in 1907.)

George Crowell's Lumber Yard
(photo found in public document at Ancestry.com)

George and Mae Crowell
(photo found in public document at Ancestry.com)

But how to describe a house that extends grace to the people who cross its threshold?  

The house at 801 Flynn reminds me of what the English novelist Dora Jessie Saint ("Miss Read") wrote about another peaceful old house:

"There is no doubt about the general reaction most people have to the 'feel' of a house.  Some houses are forbidding, cheerless and indefinably hostile.  Others seem to welcome the stranger who steps inside.

"...It was full of memories for me.  [The previous owners and visitors] seemed to have left something intangible behind: a sense of happiness, simplicity, courage and order...."  

The house at 801 Flynn is just such a place.

I think I need to visit it again.

This story is one in a series on the historic red brick house at 801 Flynn in Alva, Oklahoma.  The Prairie-style mansion was built in 1906 by local businessman George W. Crowell. 

My grandmother bought it from his heirs in 1968, and lived there for several years. 

The house has changed hands several times since then; it’s now The Vintage Inn, a bed-and-breakfast.  

I went back to visit in October 2013.   All the blog posts I wrote on the visit are collected here:  http://estatesalechronicles.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-historic-house-at-801-flynn-alva.html

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