Photo courtesy of Justin Miers Photography

Photo courtesy of Justin Miers Photography

Captained by Zach and Mary Ann Osko

Researched by Carol Haaksma and Dave Knox

This house, built in 1907, exhibits many of the details of the Victorian style but also shows the influence of the Craftsman style which was gaining popularity at that time. Fortunately there is a rare photograph of the house taken around 1917. Although only part of the house is pictured it shows that it had elaborate details that have disappeared over the years. The front porch had double columns on the ground floor and the top of the porch has elaborate balustrades. In addition the roofline has dental work detailing. The house is rectangular and lacks the towers typical of Victorian homes. It is also symmetrical with a single, simple dormer - both qualities of details found on Craftsman homes. With this combination of styles the house is an example of late Victorian architecture with Craftsmen influences.

Anton Classen, Charles Colcord, J.B. Zeigler, Margaret McKinley, and John Shartel formed the University Development Company in the early years of the 20th century. The lot at 800 NW17th Street was included in a purchase of 360 acres from McKinley Avenue to Walker from NW 16th Street to NW 23rd Street. Sometime before 1905 the lot sold to real estate speculators William and Jesse McClure. The lot changed hands several times before being purchased by J. West Gillespie in 1907.

J. West and Susan Gillespie purchased the lot for $3,000 on April 5th, 1907. They apparently built the house as J.W. Gillespie was listed as living there in the January 1st, 1908 edition of The Oklahoman, reporting that he was recovering at St Anthony Hospital from an operation.

Dr. David Wolff, 74, purchased the house in 1910 for $13,000. He lived there with his three children Dora Wolff (age 38), Harry Wolff (age 42) an actor, and Moses Wolff (age 30), a clerk at the P&H Cigar Company. Dora Wolff was an active volunteer and was mentioned in the July 11, 1918 edition of The Oklahoman for receiving an emblem from the Red Cross for her work preparing supplies to be sent to servicemen in France during World War I. In the October 10, 2018 edition of The Oklahoman she was again mentioned for her work distributing bathrobes to those affected by the flu epidemic. In 1916 Dr Wolff transferred ownership of the property to Dora although he and his siblings continued to live there.

David Wolff died in 1922 but the family did not move. The Wolffs had gone into the auto supply business as two sons worked at the Wolff-Eagen Motor Supply Company located at 311 N. Broadway. In 1922 Dora married Adolph Englesman, Dora was 49 and Adolph was 57. He was a prominent businessman. The 1923 city directory shows him in the house and his occupation as general agent for Englesman and Goldstandt Equitable Life Insurance Society with their office in the Colcord Building.

An interesting but not widely known fact about Oklahoma City was that many of the early business people in the city were Jewish. The Wolff and Englesman families were amongst this group. In 1923 Dora and Adolph went on an extensive world trip visiting Switzerland, France, Germany, Palestine, Holland, and Czechoslovakia.

In 1923, the Wolff-Engelsmans sold the house to Roscoe and Winnie Benbow Seever for $10,000. The 1925 city directory lists them as residents of the house with Mr Seever’s occupation listed as Assistant Manager at T.B. Slick, an early and very successful oil company that is still in business.

Roscoe and Winnie Benbow Seever sold the property to George E. Swisher and Mae T. Swisher in 1925 for $10,000. The Swisher family would own the house for 43 years. Mr Swisher was a lawyer in private practice. Also in the house were his son George W. Swisher, 20, a student at S&S College and wife Mary T. Swisher. The 1930 and 1940 censuses also listed the Swishers in the house.

George E. Swisher was also a real estate developer. The Sunday, November 1, 1930 edition of The Oklahoman included an advertisement for a new apartment building, The Mayfair. George E. Swisher was listed as the owner and George W. as the architect. Located at 1315 North Payne Avenue the apartments included tile baths with tub and showers, kitchens, electric refrigerators, Wilton carpets and furniture designed especially for the building. The building is no longer there.

George E. Swisher retired in 1957. He was living still in the house with George W. Swisher and his wife Genevieve. Mae had passed away sometime after 1952. In 1967 George E. Swisher died and the house then went through many owners before being purchased by Mathew L. and Robyn M. Warren in 2017.