The Artesian Hotel celebrates two birthdays this August, a 110th and a 3rd

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.


SULPHUR, OKLAHOMA -- The King Executive Suite still looks pretty good at three years old.

Artesian Hotel General Manager Nick Starns says this 2nd floor room is popular for the turret seat, views of the national park across the street, and its framed pictures of history which runs pretty deep on this spot.

"Visitors like seeing the flair and some of the things that bring back the original components of the original property," he explains.

In August of 1906 developers J.M. Bayless and C.J. Webster used spare lumber from their unfinished Hotel Bland.

That hotel had to move to make way for the new Platt National Park.

The whole town of Sulphur had to move twice.

The new Winston Hotel, soon to be re-named the Artesian, was the town's anchor, a grand place, a summer White House for Oklahoma's first governor Charles Haskell, and, for years, one of the fanciest hotels in the state.

Mary Lou Heltzel grew up fascinated with the Artesian's lofty turrets and funky charm.

Harry Kelly was hotel manager when she was a kid.

Passerby could call to Harry's pet parrot and he would answer back.

"The parrot would call back," she says. "He would answer you and it was fun."

She was still young when the old Artesian burned to the ground on a cold January night in 1962.

The motel that opened on this spot was a poor substitute for the original.

"It wasn't the grand old lady that we had," says Heltzel.

But there it sat for 50 years until the Chickasaw Nation built the new Artesian.

Back came the corner turrets, the pillars in the lobby, and the ornate floors.

Nick Starns doesn't have a parrot but there's still plenty of the past for visitors to call upon, even a phonograph that served the old hotel ballroom until just before the fire.

Starns says, "Folks come back in and say, 'oh. you have the fireplace. You have the wonderful tile work. You have the pillars.' which is truly an homage to the original."

Another old building in Sulphur, the old City Hall turned Arbuckle History Museum has a few items from the old Artesian too; soap, towels, a couple of chairs, and a dinner menu that would fill the current dining room within minutes.

August, 1906, August 2013, and so many historic summers in between.

This corner in downtown Sulphur has come full circle from grand, old hotel to grand, new hotel, a true phoenix, or better yet an artesian well who's waters are flowing again.

For more information on the Artesian Hotel and its unique history go to

Latest News

More News

National News

More National

Washington D.C.

More Washington DC

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ
graphic of the Red Cross

Latest News

More News


KFOR Podcasts

More Podcasts

Follow @KFOR on Twitter