Saturday, 23 March 2024 13:37

Kerr Legacy up for auction Featured

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POTEAU, Oklahoma - A Iconic Mansion, a part of LeFlore County History is now being put up for auction. The Kerr Mansion, also known as the Kerr Conference Center, was originally a home built by U.S. Senator Robert S Kerr, is going to be auctioned off on April 20, 2024.


The Kerr Mansion to many in Poteau is like Camelot, the place where a “King” lived. A place where many memories were made, a place like no other. A place like the Kerr Mansion is not something you see here in Poteau, but only in the movies. Yet since 1960 we have been blessed with such an iconic home that can never be replaced or duplicated. What Senator Kerr did was truly amazing, he even brought the president of United States to his home to visit.
The home was incredible!


Construction on the home began in 1957 and the home was completed in 1961. The Senator only got to enjoy the home for a few years, when in 1963 the beloved Senator Kerr died from a heart attack.


The home is located on Kerr Mansion Road, and at the time it was built was the longest home to be built in Oklahoma. The 11,000-square-foot home sits on 40 acres with expansive views of the Poteau River valley. The home was built with local rock and timber by the Gadie Frank Construction Company. The interior was beautiful with lots of architectural details, from Japanese-style wooden grillwork to Black Angus Bull head bathroom fixtures in Senator Kerr’s bedroom and Black Angus bull heads aligned the spiral staircase with an indoor Koi pond at the foot of the staircase, and a “submarine” room in the kids wing of the house.


Long time curators of the museum Laird and Ruth King loved giving tours of the house and he told visitors that there were real gold flecks in the wallpaper, traps doors and tunnels in the home. Anyone who ever visited the home will never forget the fantastic view of the valley below. The home originally had 10 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms and 5 fireplaces throughout the house. President John F Kennedy stayed in the home as well as Lyndon B Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

Mrs. Kerr's Sewing room 


In 1978 the Kerr Family donated the mansion to the state Board of Regents of Oklahoma. At that time the home was used as a retreat and was developed into a hotel and conference center under the operation of Carl Albert State College. During that time many weddings, high school proms, conferences and other events were held at the historic mansion. If the walls of the home could talk, what stories they would tell. The garage of the mansion was transformed into a museum. Later, cabins were built on the site to accommodate more guests. The original house has a “K” shaped swimming pool, four-bedroom guest house and an air conditioned doghouse.

In 2013, CASC decided to close the center and a group “Friends of the Kerr Mansion” began efforts to operate and improve the facility, but the home was in much needed repair and a decision was made to put the home up for auction.


Through the years, several of Kerr’s grandchildren continued to visit and, over the last several years they witnessed firsthand the continuing deterioration of the home and its grounds which brings us, the people of Poteau, wondering what we are going to do now that our Camelot is up for auction on April 20th.

Submarine room 


Some of the Kerr Legacy is being preserved. In 2018, the LeFlore County Historical Society took possession of some of the artifacts from the Kerr Museum and they now have an exhibit room dedicated to Robert S. Kerr.

Whoever purchases the home will now have the dauting task of remembering the legacy of the Kerr Mansion and the many things Kerr did to help the people of LeFlore County, and all of Oklahoma. Hopefully, the new owners can see the home restored, so the legacy can live on.

 


Ours Is A Sustaining Commitment

"Our abiding belief in the sanctity of the living earth which favors us all with ... 'Land, wood and water' - nature’s gifts for life and survival, man’s hope for future progress."

“It is in our power, under the watchful eyes of God, to determine the physical form of the world in which we live. We can make it a paradise… or by neglect, permit it to become a desert. The choice is ours.”

“To use, to understand, to love the soil, is a civilizing process.”

Senator Robert S. Kerr

About Robert S. Kerr
Robert S. Kerr, Oklahoma's first native-born governor, served from 1943-47 and was a U.S. senator from 1948 until his death in 1963. He was president of Kerr-McGee Oil Industries. He was responsible, along with Sen. John L. McClellan of Arkansas, for development of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which provided the direct shipment of Oklahoma goods by water to world markets.

He also championed the conservation of natural resources, as reflected in his book, "Land, Wood and Water". The book is available for purchase at the LeFlore County Historical Society in Hotel Lowrey located at 303 Dewey Avenue in the Downtown Dewey District of Poteau.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 March 2024 14:29
David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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