SEMINOLE, OKLAHOMA — His parents used to drive him by this house as a kid and A. J. Foster would wonder what it was like inside. “No one I knew would be able to come in here,” he said.
These days Foster is one of the people actually opening the doors of the Grisso mansion to the public for the first time. “As you can see,” he says while conducting a tour, “the house is constructed in the Italian Renaissance style. It was constructed in 1928.”
It’s still the biggest, grandest house in town, built at a time when Seminole was the oil capital of the world. Foster says, “Seminole County, at the time, was producing one fifth of the world’s oil.”
Before the boom years Doc Grisso had been a druggist and country physician to the Seminole Tribe. He wa a good trader though, so when the boom hit he found himself floating in an ocean of new money. “We call this the house that oil built,” says Foster.
Grisso built a new house for his wife and two kids. It contained close to 12 thousand square feet of space. The grounds, at the time, included more than 300 acres.
Inside, the music room played host to opera stars, the sitting rooms to state governors. Mrs. Grisso was said to have expensive tastes so no detail was spared.
The Grisso family owned the house into the 1970’s. A few owners came and went until the Seminole Tribe bought the place just prior to auction in the spring of 2012. Foster said, “It’s had 4 owners and the tribe is the fifth.”
They planned to open this architectural treasure to the public, but attached to the treasures were spookier stories that always accompany houses like this.
Caretakers reported seeing a phantom woman in an upstairs window. There is a light in one of the sitting rooms that used to turn itself on so much that the new owners now leave it unplugged.
By day visitors will notice the Italian architecture, the custom made gas fireplaces, and the heated towel racks in the bathrooms.
Seminole tour guides will explain how this place has come full circle back to the tribal land it once was. House and spirits, one and all.
Candlelight tours of the Grisso Mansion are conducted through the month of October. If you’re interested, call Seminole tribal headquarters in Wewoka.