Controversy over historic downtown building in Ardmore

By: Todd Larkin Email
By: Todd Larkin Email

ARDMORE, Okla. -- One of the oldest buildings in Ardmore survived a fire that destroyed downtown back in 1895, but can it stand up to changes in the works today? Like the old Denison High School south of the Red River, an old downtown Ardmore edifice is quickly becoming a hot button issue for Ardmorites.

The landmark known as ‘the Stag Bar’ was recently out on the 10 most endangered buildings in the state of Oklahoma, but changes are being made to that historic building and some people are furious.

The Stag Bar was built in 1894 and has been a staple of Ardmore ever since. The first owner was a U.S. Marshal. Current owner Gerald Wells is remodeling that same building without city approval, and that could cost him thousands if he doesn’t follow city ordinances. Some Ardmore historians say the Wells have gone way too far.

"This is so disappointing to see. There is so much history, and now there are people out there who want to change that. What is next for our town?" says Ardmore historian Sally Gray.

The Wells say they are doing downtown a great service, and they plan to liven up what they say the city let die years ago. Their plan is to buy property and restore it to its proper facade. Even though Gerald is on the historical board, they say they never thought something like this would go so far.

"We had no idea it would go this far. We are trying to make this area better, and we never thought things would get this out of hand and turn this bad. But it will get worse before it gets better," said Stag Bar owner Saundra Wells.

Historical board members say that these changes could be approved but now they want the wells to repair the building to its original front before they started their renovation. Board member Lynn McIntosh says this all could have been prevented.

"There are rules you have to follow and guidelines. You can’t just go in and start making changes and expect everything to be ok. There will be a punishment, and things need to be returned to the right order," said McIntosh.

Ardmore city officials say Wells will be asked to resign his position on the historical society. But the Wells will continue to remodel and stick with their plan.

Are you for or against the renovations to the old Stag Bar?

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  • by BRIAN Location: ARDMORE on Dec 16, 2011 at 01:41 AM
  • by Cyndi Location: Pauls Valley on Aug 5, 2007 at 11:53 AM
    The future IS HISTORY........we have all survived the millenium, the computer age, automobiles, planes.........the fact that a building is in the hands of people that are obviously serious about preservation, (I have seen this first hand) means that generations to come will experience more technology changes and be able to still enjoy the nostalgic past!! We have to grow in knowledge through the past. I studied art history and wondered as a graphics designer what it all would mean in the future. I have grown through the history of hand set type, letterpress, then electronic type alot easier and I was able to accept the changes for the better, wow then got easier yet, never fearing the changes, but always remembering the history!!!
  • by p Location: ardmore on Aug 4, 2007 at 05:13 PM
    Instead of the city fining the Wells, they should be paying the Wells for the work they are doing to save and improve our downtown. It seems apparent that our city leaders and some of the older people in our community, would rather have non income producing and non tax revenue producing properties downtown. Maybe they prefer that the Stag and other buildings just fall in as the other oldest building in Ardmore did.
  • by Cindy Location: Arlington on Aug 4, 2007 at 07:44 AM
    I've known Sandra for more than 20yrs and have watched her accomplish an amazing reputation in OK. Every challenge she takes on has usually been rebuffed by OLDER people JEALOUS that someone her age can get done what she can. She's butted heads more than once with these types of people who are too shallow to look at the grand picture of what the Wells are trying to do. I have to laugh at these "old farts" who'd rather rant and rave about this matter than praising them for CARING enough to want to make their city a better place, while providing much needed resources and income for such a beautiful town like Ardmore. If the historical society would SHUT UP and let the Wells do their thing, they'd see the downtown looking like it did back in 1894 when the Stag Bar was originally built!! See that's the key word that seems to be over looked - ORIGINAL! That's what the Wells are trying to do for downtown - restore it to it's original look. WOW that's sounds like a good reason to harass them!
  • by Krystal Roberts Location: Ardmore on Aug 3, 2007 at 01:36 PM
    would you rather see it fall down from someone not taking care of the building or some one atually taking there time to refurbish this down town buliding. Main Street will slowly crumble away, is that really what you want for a town that you all call home! The Historical Society needs to lighten up!
  • by anonymous Location: ardmore on Aug 3, 2007 at 10:23 AM
    fyi --- ms. mcintosh is not even from ardmore.
  • by store owner Location: ardmore on Aug 3, 2007 at 09:38 AM
    The problems with the Historical Society have been going on for many years in downtown Ardmore. They rule everything with an iron fist and dare anybody touch any of the old dilapidated buildings. They interperate the UDC guidelines to their own advantage. It is like tey try to be as difficult as possible, maybe they should be fined.
  • by Sandra Wells Location: Ardmore on Aug 3, 2007 at 09:09 AM
    As KXII has reported; the City Manager has called for my husband, Jerold to resign his position with the Historic Preservation Board. He responded to Mr. Parrott letting him know that we were not raised to be "Quiters". So now, the Mayor Bob Geurin has sent Jerold a letter to notify him that his appointment to the HPB has been vacated prior to proper investigation. I quess this city not only applies the ordinances equally, but they also do not believe in due process. Mr. Gallager is right about the dictatorship. So remember, "JEROLD DID NOT QUIT ON YOUR CITY, IT QUIT ON HIM!" How sorry!!!!!
  • by Damian Location: Ardmore on Aug 3, 2007 at 08:38 AM
    To Mike Outside of Ardmore.... What law is it that you think they broke? That's one of the problems with this type of journalism and these tactics from the city. There have been no laws broken!
  • by anonymous Location: near Ardmore on Aug 3, 2007 at 08:14 AM
    Thank you Elizabeth, you description of the "historical" members gives us all a less foggy picture of what may be going on here. I guess the owners didn't hire/consult the attorney or architect. And I am guessing that the "at least 3 downtown building owners" may have objections to improvement because their own buildings are eyesores? And maybe their buildings are not eyesores; they could be nice but maybe not as nice as Mr. Wells' building will be. So, no actual structural changes have taken place is what I understand. Now what crime is to be punished? I think "Hysterical" was right.
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