A century-old brick-and-mortar structure in downtown Pawhuska is getting more than a fresh coat of paint from Osage County’s biggest celebrity writer and TV personality. Ree Drummond, an award-winning blogger who documents daily life as a ranch wife and mother, is in the process of renovating the downtown building into a downstairs deli with office space on the second floor.
Drummond and her husband Ladd purchased the 1910 building as a means to "benefit Pawhuska." Since then, she’s been keeping fans updated on the refurbishment, with regular posts to her "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman" blog, which has more than 20 million followers.
"My husband and I are opening a deli in our small town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma," Ree Drummond wrote on Facebook late last year. "It will have fresh, home-cooked food, lots of goodies and things you can eat there or take home. We just hope we finish it before we’re in our nineties."
For now, the structure, located on Kihekah Avenue, is simply known as "The Building" by the Drummonds. Since the restoration project began, the family has unearthed several intriguing discoveries in one of Pawhuska’s oldest buildings.
The revelation of old, dusty glass bottles in the structure’s crawl space has led Drummond to believe that a speakeasy once existed within the building.
"A den of sin, right here in our small town," Drummond surmised in a recent blog post.
In the early 20th century, the building housed the Osage Mercantile Company, the Osage Realty Company and a regional telephone company before eventually becoming a C.R. Anthony department store. The family-owned retail business was known as an Oklahoma mainstay and one of the nation’s largest department store chains offering merchandise for urban and rural customers.
The Drummond’s refurbishing project has uncovered a vintage advertising mural for C.R. Anthony as well as for "Crackers and Biscuits."
"This is the old Uneeda Biscuit advertising mural … it’s one of my favorite features of the whole place," posted Drummond. "Of course, we’re leaving the mural (rather than paint over it or cover it with plaster or sheetrock) because it’s a part of the building’s history."
Other areas of the historic two-story building are also being preserved, including mirrored columns and original baseboards. The building’s numerous windows will be restored, the deteriorating ceiling tiles on the upper level replaced, and the structure’s wooden floors spruced up.
Although Drummond hasn’t projected a finishing date, residents and fans can keep up-to-date on the progress at www.thepioneerwoman.com. The Osage County ranch wife and mother of four released a holiday book, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays," late last year. She also stars on the Food Network series "The Pioneer Woman," which features life with her family on their ranch.
For more history about the building renovation and Drummond’s plans, see a previous story in the May 22, 2013, Journal-Capital by Correspondent Kathryn Swan, "GFWC Heeko Club tours Pioneer Woman’s new building in Pawhuska," — http://pawhuskajournalcapital.com/livinglifestyles/gfwc-heeko-club-tours-pioneer-woman%E2%80%99s-new-building-pawhuska.html?j