The former Aldridge Hotel is now an apartments complex.
Our family trips to Oklahoma are long, taking almost a twelve-hours drive to get there starting our journey in McAllen, Texas. Traveling with my family, is one of things that I enjoy the most, because we have the chance to get to know each other better and listen to all the stories my parents have to tell, it’s an incredible experience!
This time, we went to the city of McAlester, Oklahoma. I remember that on the summer 2017 we passed this city by and even stayed here just across the rail line, but that time, I didn’t discover its beauty. Now, it’s way different, because I had the chance to go around and discover very interesting buildings, one of the most attractive is the Aldridge Hotel, a 11-story former hotel completed in 1930, placed just downtown McAlester and used today as an apartments complex. Guy C. Reid was the architect who designed this outstanding building in a Renaissance and Sullivanesque architectural style and in 1995, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the USA official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects worth to be preserved for their historic value (what a jewel it is!).
The former Aldridge Hotel located at East Carl Albert Pkwy.
Another beautiful construction is the Okla Theatre, which opened in the year 1931 and closed as a movie theater in 1989. I really hope that next time I visit McAlester, OK there is a chance to capture its amazing inside as you can see in Matthew Lambros’ website After the Final Curtain.
Definitely, and because we often took my beautiful little niece Mariam, the place I visited the most was Chadick Park, a community park with many attractions such as tennis courts, playground, picnic pavilions, and a captivating sculpture titled God’s Little Angels Memorial, created by the artist Elouise DeGiacomo and inspired by God “We are Someone’s child”. I photographed this sculpture a day before we went back home.
God’s Little Angels Memorial at Chadick Park.
This city gets its name from James Jackson McAlester or J.J. McAlester, a man known as one of Oklahoma’s most respected businessmen and politicians. We can say that McAlester is the city that has two downtowns, the present-day downtown and the Old Town. This historic area is the original site of McAlester and it includes the oldest constructions of the city. Inside of several of these buildings it is possible to find antique shops with impressive collections.
(A Scary anecdote) My parents Gerardo and Maria Elena, my brother in-law Hazem, my sister Yoana and my little niece Mariam and I went to an antique shop at Old Town and we were looking around interesting objects, then Yoana and I saw that there was a second floor filled with objects, so we walked up the stairs. It was a creepy blue room, so our walk through it lasted only seconds, the moment we walked in we walked out, there were mainly all kinds of old dolls, and a wind chime sound that had no excuse to be because it was an isolated room. What we both saw (and then we were more scared) was a doll closing one of her eyes intermittently, so we immediately said to each other to get out of there because only in that room, there were odd vibes. I didn’t take any pictures.
Old Town McAlester.
Conoco old gas station.
LIFE magazine from June 9th, 1947 at an antique shop.
100 years old postal cards.
Objects at an antique shop .
I think that one of the biggest buildings in the city is the McAlester Scottish Rite Temple, also known as the Masonic Temple, built in 1907 and 1928-1930. As well as the Aldridge Hotel, the Masonic Center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1980. Its architectural style is Art Deco and Neo-Classic.
McAlester Scottish Rite Temple.
A curious thing about the city is that you can observe buffaloes’ statues everywhere, and the reason is that in 2010 a businessman had the idea that the city should have an icon, so many bronze statues were bought and installed in public spaces, counting up to 36 buffaloes’ statues in the city currently.
A buffaloe's statue at Chadick Park.
Just to finish, I consider McAlester a great, small and quiet place to live and visit.
I hope you liked this little tour around some places of McAlester, Oklahoma.
Web page created by: Jonathan Nuño
Photographs by: MEVM
References used in this publication: