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Keeping La Quinta Beautiful

Renovation of the historical building focuses on preserving its natural design and beauty.

With La Quinta Mansion being home to Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s administrative offices, Student Academic Services, and other events for both students and community, consistent maintenance is a must for appearance as well as safety. Every few years, large-scale renovations are completed in addition to the daily cleaning and grounds maintenance.

Prior to the Lyon Foundation’s $1.5 million dollar gift over the past few years, to the major renovations of La Quinta, the Mansion’s beauty was looked after by the La Quinta Preservation Foundation throughout the 1990s. The Foundation, now disbanded, was responsible for over $54,000 worth of renovation between 1989 and 1995. These renovations included restoration of the south and central garden fountains, rose gardens, marble well cover, stone walkway, tile benches and shutters, the stained and painted glass window above the main stairway, and installation of wrought iron rails to assist visitors.

Below is a list of the notable contributors to the care and restoration of La Quinta Mansion, most of them commissioned by the Preservation Foundation.

Victor Jones, a Bartlesville local, worked as a developer for his company Victor Homes. Homes’ contribution included the restoration of the criss-crossed walkway – made of local brown sandstone – leading to the Rose Garden’s fountain.

Carolyn Payne was the prominent tile artist for La Quinta’s Rose Garden. She was and still is operator of Payne Creations in Kansas City, and was brought on in the restoration projects of 1990 and 1995. In between these assignments, she also completed a large-scale tile mural for the Kansas City Country Club Plaza, coincidentally another Delk structure. As a tile painter, Payne’s work at La Quinta was immense. Between two Rose Garden restoration projects, she silkscreened and painted over 500 tiles by hand. Her work included matching colors from the original Spain-imported tiling as well as experimenting with glazing techniques to prevent any bleeding. In addition to matching colors for the existing pieces, Payne also painted nine original scenes (including Mozart pictures and a view of La Quinta) for the two tile benches in the Rose Garden.

Del and Tom McKinney were the other tile artists involved in restoring La Quinta. Bartlesville locals, the two brothers own McKinney Tile Company. Their work in 1990 included reconstructing the south wall of the Rose Garden’s fountain and water/weatherproofing the tiling. The McKinney’s were also indispensable for both the installation of the fountain’s new plumbing and pump equipment — which prior to this restoration had been out of order for ten years — as well as the installation of Payne’s tiles onto the benches and the fountain in 1995.

Don Underwood, a Colorado marble worker, sculptor, and founder of Eureka Stone Co. in Arkansas, finished repairing and restoring the La Quinta’s main rose garden fountain and front lawn wellhead in 1994. Underwood cleaned and rebuilt the rose garden fountain’s central limestone body, almost one-third of which had deteriorated due to internal flooding, and then redefined the structure’s original carvings representing the four seasons. In addition, Underwood cleaned an estimated 60 years’ worth of dirt and grime from the front lawn’s wellhead and filled in the cracks of the marble surface.

Thanks to the hard work from contributors over the years, La Quinta Mansion now stands much the same as she did since being completed in the 1930s. Between the attention to detail from the mentioned artists, local community members, the Lyon Foundation and the care of current staff, the Mansion will able to continue as the center of the OKWU campus for years to come.

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