It isn’t a “Ghost Sign” like the one that is now safely re-hidden behind the beautiful new façade of the recently opened Fleet Feet store. But you never know what surprises lurk behind old remodeling jobs, and often – there is a story, too.
I like stories.
Some of you may recall the Pontiac dealership signage that was revealed briefly in the Rose District (click here here for that story…). As with much of history, that particular chapter of Main Street past life is once again lost to time indeterminate.
Wait a minute, though!
There is another “reveal” in the Rose District and I’ve been hearing about it: “What’s that construction down the street?” is how it is typically worded. And I’ve been answering, “Oh, that’s Andolini’s Pizza – should be open soon.” But I’ve been wrong.
Not about Andolini’s. (They are still making progess toward opening.) But I didn’t realize that so much has changed in the next block. Driving by the other morning, I spotted an architectural feature that I didn’t recall ever seeing before. For many, many years, the building had been the Furniture and Design Studio, with a tan-colored stone lower exterior.
Behind that (now less) fashionable façade was an original building exterior of Main Street brick, complete with an arched doorway and elegant brickwork. It still has the 1904 date set in stone at the top, in which time it was known as the Laws Bros Building.
As it turns out – it is still called that in some circles. In Broken Arrow’s earliest days, the entire section of Main was the “Laws Brothers Block,” constructed in 1904.
The Gilford Laws family had migrated to Indian Territory from Tennessee and set up shop in the community, eventually at a new home on Avenue D, and by 1910, Joseph H. Laws (J.H. as he was commonly known) had a thriving medical practice upstairs in the family’s building on Main.
Numerous changes were in store. Gilford Laws died in 1907, Joseph married and brought his new bride in to the home he shared with his mother Jemima and his medical office took in other physicians. A Broken Arrow Ledger article from 1906 listed the young town’s medical professionals:
…represented by Dr. A. J. Pollard, with parlors over Neibling & Bell’s mercantile establishment; Dr. J. B. Haggard, with parlors in the Laws building; Dr. J. H. Laws, with parlors in the Laws building; Dr. C. B. Maddox, with parlors over McKeehan’s pharmacy; Dr. F. C. Myers with parlors over the First State Bank; Dr. F. P. Dunn, with headquarters in McKeehan’s pharmacy; Dr. J. N. Shippey, with parlors in the Laws block, and Dr. R. B. Fowlkes, with headquarters at the Owl drug store.
When phone service was begun, patients could ring Dr. Laws by having the operator connect them with his office: Telephone 301.
J. H. Laws was not only well respected in the Broken Arrow community, but in Tulsa County medical circles as well. Within twenty years of his arrival, the young physician was being mentioned in an article about the area’s medical arena:
Heading the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1924 was Dr. Arthur V. Emerson, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, who was later to intern at St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester. Son of an Indiana farmer, Dr. Emerson was born in 1879. His professional degree was obtained in 1902 at the University of Illinois. He practiced in Rochester and later at Perry, Oklahoma, where he had been president of the Noble County Medical Society. Removing to Tulsa in 1913, he became a leading civic figure and an outstanding surgeon and gynecologist.
Dr. Charles H. Haralson was selected as secretary-treasurer. The young ophthalmologist had done most of the work in that post in 1923 due to the illness of Dr. Horace T. Price. The latter was selected as president-elect to serve in 1925. Dr. J. H. Laws, Broken Arrow, was elected vice-president.
In the 1930 phone book, Joseph H. Laws still maintained his practice in the upper suites at 210 South Main. Dr. Laws died in 1941 at the age of 66, but the family name is still associated with the building. The Rose District website explains the changes that are currently underway and the plans that are in store for the space…
Laws Bros. Building 210 S. Main St., Rose District This 10,000 SF turn-of-the-century Mercantile style building will undergo restoration and improvements this summer. Upon completion, it will have four commercial units ready for lease in Fall 2014. The existing 50’ x 100’ structure will have a new roof, updated HVAC and electrical systems, 6 ADA bathrooms, stained concrete floors downstairs, hardwood floors upstairs, and updated lighting throughout. The brick façade will be restored to its original Mercantile design, with tall windows, ornate brick details, and outdoor lighting. The redevelopment will create two distinct commercial spaces downstairs and two units upstairs with the possibility of further expansion on the west side of the building, if necessary. There is also an opportunity to combine units for one tenant. Unit A – Retail – 2,500 SF Unit B – Restaurant/Bar – 2,500 SF Unit C – Restaurant/Bar – 2,500 SF Unit D – Office/Studio – 2,500 SF
Personally, I’m excited that the heritage of the building is being restored while the purpose of the structure is as solidly modern as the future of the Rose District.
A “Tip o’ the McHuston Hat” to the developers and contractors, with grand wishes for continued growth here in the Rose.
If you haven’t been lately – Come visit!
Booksellers & Irish Bistro
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!