Q&A - August 12, 2016

Okmulgee is in the midst of a downtown revitalization that is almost unprecedented. Numerous renovation projects are underway and we will be seeing many more of our iconic architectural structures coming back to life over the next few years. These are exciting times to be living in Okmulgee.

Q: I would like to live in downtown Okmulgee. Will there be more apartments opening up very soon?

Yes, for about two years now, sights and sounds of construction have emanated from the southeast corner of 7th and Morton in downtown Okmulgee as Rob and Margaret Hess have lovingly and painstakingly taken on all projects and challenges necessary to “Bring Back the Mac.” Serving as their own general contractors, Rob and Margaret have been personally involved in every phase of the restoration work on the McBrayer Building, nicknamed the “Mac.”

This handsome two-story structure has a notable history. It was built in 1916 by Thomas Humphrey McBrayer, who owned a sizable farm near Okmulgee. He operated a feed store at the back of the building and later expanded into real estate, lease buying and the oil business using an office on the second floor. Other early tenants included doctors, lawyers and the Okmulgee Business College.

Today, the McBrayer Building is a treasured component of Okmulgee’s Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ready now to embark on its second hundred years, the McBrayer Building is looking better than ever. It’s beautifully refurbished storefront windows and spacious main floor will soon be filled with retail displays and merchandise to once again attract customers to our town square. By converting over 7000 square feet on the upper floor into 8 loft apartments, the Hesses have given new life to both the building and a source of new vitality to the community.

While the retail tenant for the main floor will be introduced in the near future, the Hesses have just announced they are accepting lease contracts on the McBrayer Lofts upstairs. These apartments will offer the perfect balance of vintage charm and modern amenities. Each of the 8 lofts will have energy-efficient electric heat pumps, stainless steel appliances, and bathrooms featuring claw foot tubs with showers. The original hardwood floors, windows, doors, and woodwork have also been preserved and restored. These downtown apartments are within easy walking distance to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. They are just a quick drive to the campus of OSUIT, a recreational lake system, and many other amenities.

“Bringing back the Mac” has been a colossal project, but it is very near completion. I really admire the hard work and commitment that went into making this happen. As far as I’m concerned, the entire community is indebted to Rob and Margaret for preserving such an important part of our town’s history. They have truly demonstrated that individual citizens can (and do) make a difference in this town. With dedicated people like this working within our community, it is easy to see why Okmulgee is rising.

I greatly appreciate all your questions and comments about downtown Okmulgee. Please continue to forward them to osuit-president@okstate.edu.