Henry Overholser Mansion
405 NW 15 Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73103
Many Oklahomans are familiar with the former home
of Henry & Anna Ione Overholser because it has been a public
venue for many years.
Overholsers’ daughter, Henry Ione lived with them in the mansion
on the second floor while married to her husband, aviator, David
1903 Victorian home of the social and civic
leader, Henry Overholser, features English carpets, French
stained glass, Antwerp fine oak paneling. Heritage Hills
Historic Homes Tour. Henry Overholser spent $38,000 to have a
10,000 square foot mansion built in 1902-1903. Devon Energy has
teamed with the Overholser Mansion to begin a major restoration
project on the house to repair the toll that time has taken.
Work should be done in the spring of 2009.
1846 ~ August 25, 1915
Anna Ione (Murphy) Overholser
1872 ~ 1940
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
October 14, 1911 page 5
Henry Overholser Is Critically Ill
One of the Richest Men in Oklahoma Stricken With Paralysis
Feeble Condition and Age Cause of Unusual Anxiety
The condition of Henry Overholser who was struck with
paralysis Thursday night, was greatly improved late Friday
Mr. Overholser is one of the pioneers of Oklahoma City,
having come at the time of the opening of the territory, April
22, 1889. He is considered one of the wealthiest men in the
state. He owns considerable property in the downtown businesses
section, among which are the ___ on which the Grand avenue hotel
and the Tradesman's State bank are located. He founded the
Overholser theater and has been possibly the chief factor in
making the Oklahoma State Fair a success. He is general manager
of the fair association.
|Source: The Encyclopedia of
Oklahoma History and Culture
OVERHOLSER, HENRY (1846-1915).
Oklahoma City businessman. Ohio-born Henry Overholser became
wealthy through varied business successes in Indiana, Colorado,
and Wisconsin before arriving in Oklahoma City a few days after
the Land Run of 1889 into the Unassigned Lands. Overholser's
arrival in the new town was preceded by the arrival of several
carloads of prefabricated wood-frame buildings he had purchased
in Michigan to sell in his new home.
For the next twenty-six years this entrepreneurial spirit
pervaded Overholser's ventures in Oklahoma. Within a few days of
arriving, Overholser erected six business buildings on lots he
purchased on Grand (now Sheridan) Avenue, and within a month he
was elected president of the new Board of Trade, precursor to
the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. Twice running
unsuccessfully for mayor, Overholser was elected to the Oklahoma
County Commission in 1894.
In 1889 he built the Grand Avenue Hotel. In 1890 he erected
the magnificent Overholser Opera House on Grand Avenue, followed
by the Overholser Theater at Grand and Robinson. In 1906 he
helped the Chamber of Commerce purchase grounds at 10th
and Eastern for a permanent home for the State Fair of Oklahoma,
and he served many years on the Fair Board.
While living in Indiana, Overholser had married, and the
union, which ended in divorce c. 1880, produced one son, Edward (1869-1931, later mayor
of Oklahoma City), and a daughter, Elizabeth.
Within six months
of arriving in Oklahoma City, Overholser married
eighteen-year-old Anna Ione Murphy (1872-1940), daughter of
Samuel Murphy, prominent lawyer and first Oklahoma territorial
treasurer. Their union produced one daughter, Henry Ione
(1904-1954), who married David Perry.
In 1902 Overholser purchased three lots in Classen's Highland
Park Addition (now generally known as Heritage Hills) and built
a twenty-room brick-and-stone Victorian mansion. The lavish
opening of the home in the spring of 1904 was the highlight of
the social season, and Mrs. Overholser remained the grand dame
of Oklahoma City society until her
death. The Overholser Mansion
is now a property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is open
to the public.
While on a tour of Europe in 1911, Overholser suffered a
stroke. He lingered as an invalid until his death on August 25,
1915. Truly one of the founding fathers of Oklahoma City, Henry
Overholser exemplified the pioneering spirit of the Eighty-niners.
[Mr. Overholser was buried at Fairlawn Cemetery, Block 12,
|Source: A History of the State of Oklahoma Vol 2,
by Luther Hill, published 1908, page 4, 5.
HENRY OVERHOLSER. With the first
rush to Oklahoma in April, 1889, there came to Oklahoma City a
man whose subsequent business activities form an important
chapter in the city's history. During the first months, while a
city was taking shape on what had been an uninhabited waste,
Henry Overholser directed his capital and efforts into
channels that can now, as then, be estimated of direct benefit
to the growing town. From April to July he erected the first
two-story buildings of Oklahoma City - six frame buildings on
Grand avenue between Robinson and Harvey that stood until 1907,
when they were torn down to make room for costly improvements in
that block in keeping with the metropolis of the new state. He
also constructed the Grand Avenue Hotel and other buildings on
that avenue. Throughout the hard-times period of 1893-96, when
so many citizens became discouraged and left the city, he
vigorously pushed his building enterprises, and that part of
Grand avenue where he centered his building operations has been
a monument to his pioneer work. One of his most notable
achievements during this period was the promotion, in
association with C. G. Jones and others, of the railroad
from Oklahoma City to Sapulpa (mentioned elsewhere), connecting
and now a part of the Frisco System. In face of the gloom of
financial depression the money was raised and the road built,
and its coming to Oklahoma City proved its turning point into
the high road of prosperity.
Mr. Overholser's connection with the public
amusements of Oklahoma City is deserving of special and warm
commendation. In 1890 he built the pioneer play house of the
city, and for years it remained the most pretentious theater in
the territory. The drop curtain was covered with advertisements,
the seats were wooden chairs, and other arrangements were in
keeping. John Dillon opened the house. A few landscapes
were afterwards painted on the curtain, and the plays
subsequently produced were really standard. In 1903 he erected
the magnificent Overholser Opera House on Grand avenue, at a
cost of $108,000, which is pre-eminently the finest theater in
the new state, and is one of the most imposing structures of any
kind in the southwest.
If a man never knows when he is beaten, then he
is never conquered. The faculty of rebounding adverse
circumstances, revising the campaign of life and passing
hopefully on to new accomplishments is the saving grace among
humanity; is the element which is at the bottom of all progress.
This is perhaps the leading trait in the strong character of
Henry Overholser - the persistent bravery which, while it
takes account of retarding conditions, refuses to be crushed, or
even dragged down by them. Had it not been for the display of
this heroic spirit in the gloomy period of depression commencing
with 1893, when so many were deserting Oklahoma in panic and
disgust, the city itself might have been injured beyond
recovery. Today he has his reward not only in the general
gratitude and admiration of its citizens, but in the increased
prosperity which has come to him as a capitalist a property
owner and a public benefactor.
Mr. Overholser is a native of Montgomery county,
Ohio, where he was reared and schooled. Removing to Sullivan,
Indiana, he there engaged in the mercantile business for
thirteen years, going afterward to Colorado and to Ashland,
Wisconsin, where he conducted various real estate and building
enterprises. He has made his home continuously at Oklahoma City
since the date of the town's founding. His large business and
property interests have absorbed the bulk of his time, although
for six years he served with ability as county commissioner of
Oklahoma county. Although he is still active and indispensable
in the furtherance of both private and public enterprises of
meritorious prominence, his enterprising son, Ed Overholser,
has largely succeeded him in the management of the opera house
and his other extensive city interests.
|Contributed by Marti Graham, October 2003.
Information posted as courtesy to researchers. The contributor
is not related to nor researching any of the above.
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