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Historical landmark being sold due to state budget cut

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WATONGA, Okla. - The Oklahoma Historical Society is selling off its third historical landmark. The T.B. Ferguson Home will be transferred then sold to the city of Watonga and nonprofit The Friends of the T.B. Ferguson Home.

The house, built in 1901, has been under the care of the state tourism board then the OHS for nearly 50 years. However, over the past three years, operational funding for the house has been cut.

According to the OHS executive director, Bob Blackburn, the state has cut the OHS budget by about 45 percent. That's cost the operational budgets of half of its museums and historical sites.

But, Blackburn is confident the new owners will take care of it.

In fact, the two groups have shouldered the full financial burden of the house for the past few years.

Treasurer of Friends of T.B. Ferguson Home, Louise Dunn, said running the house costs about $12,000 a year. It takes about 10 annual fundraisers to raise that in donations.

But, she insists taking over ownership will be a good thing.

As a state-run historical site, there are strict guidelines dictating who is qualified to do work on the house, so needed repairs have been ignored.

Once the contract transferring the property is complete, the city will have more freedom to hire repairmen and carpenters to bring it back to good shape.

Furthermore, Blackburn said the state will retain ownership of the easement on the property, so any renovations to the exterior of the building would still need to go through the state.

An appraisal of the property came in at just under $80,000. Once the new owners have spent that amount on the property, the home will be fully deeded over.