Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Great State: Signatures and Graffiti Artwork Revealed in Second Floor Closed Off in the 1940’s

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MINCO, OKLAHOMA -- The building dates to 1901.

The Merkle family ran a grocery store for years here.

But walk through the same front door now and Deana Wolje will likely be there to show you around.

On a tour of the first floor she points out, "This is where the old meat locker used to be. We still have it."

It's been Blossom Time Antiques for about fifteen years, but PC Bob's is in here too along with a soda fountain and a couple of other small businesses.

"It's been a good thing," says Wolje.

Deana and her family saved this building from the fate of two old structures torn down next door.

She says, "If you can save any building that's a good thing."

Renovating the upstairs took longer.

That was a job too, clearing out years of bird droppings and dust.

Her second floor had been closed off for decades.

She knows this because the graffiti covering the peeling plaster ends between the mid-1920's and 1930.

Wolje estimates, "From my knowledge, in the 40's or 50's they closed it off so it hasn't been used up here."

Deana never knew about these messages from the past.

The people who wrote them are long gone.

They're faded.

Some have fallen with the crumbling plaster.

But in addition to the names, she found art work too.

She put a frame around this portrait of a mysterious woman named Lucee.

"A woman from around the '20's I guess," she says.

These sketched figures are labeled from 1916.

The earliest scrawls go back to when the building was brand new.

The second floor is open now filled with antiques waiting for new homes.

But there are people who come up just to stare at the walls, kind of like cave paintings from the past century, a few 'hellos' and 'here I ams' rediscovered long after the authors passed through.

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