PAWNEE, Okla. — His home was the road for twenty years.
The Pawnee Bill Wild West Show, the Pawnee Bill Far East Show, the show he shared with Buffalo Bill; from 1888 to 1908 Major Gordon Lillie and his wife May, a performer herself, acted out the fable of the American West.
But when the show closed they settled in Oklahoma on Blue Hawks Peak, built a 14 room Tudor Arts and Craft style house that kind of looked like this when they finally moved in.
That was in 1910, and no one, not Facilities Director Ron Brown, contractors, or volunteers were even close to being around for the first move in.
109 years later they were here for the second.
“It’s just exciting,” smiles Brown.
In September of 2017, the Lillies’ dream house took a wild ride of its own when a 5.8 earthquake hit the area.
An already shifting foundation split open in several spots.
Original furnishings flew around.
It could have been worse.
Brown continues, “We had to just take everything out of the house. I mean every little knick-knack, every little thing.”
The house had to close for a year, about as long as it took to build in the first place.
“All the rooms in the home have been restored and repaired,” he says.
A million dollars in repairs went to a new retaining wall, jacks and piers, and a deep clean of all the furnishings.
Brown points to a wall, “We’ve taken the tapestry in the dining room here, painstakingly, carefully taken down, cleaned, and put back up.”
On a weekend when Wild West show fans will gather at the grandstands to watch performers those same fans are invited up to the house again to share his Wild West home.
The modern version of the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show takes place Friday and Saturday evening July 26- 27, 2019 at the ranch just west of Pawnee, OK.