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Henry Overholser Mansion
405 NW 15 Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73103
405-528-8485

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 J. Perry.

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.


Henry Overholser
1846 ~  August 25, 1915

Anna Ione (Murphy) Overholser
1872 ~ 1940


Daily Oklahoman
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 night...

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, Lot 37]

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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