Guthrie’s secret garden: Turning a once abandoned city block into a showplace

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GUTHRIE, Okla.-- An ivy-covered fence, high, arched windows, and an iron gate keep most visitors from seeing this Guthrie retreat. That is, unless Gary Good is home to unlock the treasure that lies inside.

He opens a gated doorway and says, "Welcome to the Magnolia Moon."

It's been almost 35 years since a group of developers took over this block of downtown Guthrie.

They had plans for an entertainment district but only got as far as building an amphitheater for outdoor concerts.

"They ran out of money, had an issue and basically left," he said.

The Guthrie Historical Society had it for several years after that and used it as a performance venue.

"The Bluegrass Festival was here," he recalls.

They auctioned the property off to a couple who made it into the home you see now.

Gary moved in more than a decade ago and has been pinching himself ever since at the luck of owning the key to this hidden paradise.

"I've been here for 11 years," he smiles, "and still walk around looking at the various angles and different shapes. The architecture is really amazing."

Good and his wife, Christina, are the only full-time occupants at Magnolia Manor.

Christina says, "The first time I came here I thought it was a museum or something."

But Gary grew up in show business, so he couldn't help opening the doors and moving furniture around for a series of house concerts.

"I thought it had to be shared," he says.

Performing artists from all over the world sign a closet wall of the main hallway.

"I call it the Picasso Closet."

Mumford and Sons stayed a whole week a few years back. They left a signed guitar.

"We've also had Leona Mitchell here three times," he adds.

Once Gary moved in, he cast his eye toward an old warehouse next door.

Walking up the steps of this 1910 building, Good offers, "It was the first poured concrete building in the state of Oklahoma."

He turned that into a whole series of suites he rents out to wedding parties and guests.

The Guthrie Retreat @Magnolia Moon is a wedding venue, performance stage, party spot, and private home.

Gary smiles and says, "These opportunities just sort of present themselves and I show up."

There still aren't very many people who know about this garden but the secret is out.

It's not as private as it might seem from the outside.

For more information about The Guthrie Retreat, concerts, or reservations, visit the website.

'Is This a Great State or What?' is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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