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Old building spruced up to house new spa

A piece of Lawton history is being given a new lease on life.

The Keegan Home at 401 W. Gore  after a painstaking and lengthy renovation and updating  is now open as The Red Rock Spa.

It's not a historic restoration, by any means: The goal was to take an old space, keep as much of its distinctive architecture as possible and make it suitable for commercial use.

"I thought it was iconic, so when I heard it was for sale I jumped on it," said builder Mark Cox. "I thought I could do something really special with it."

Once you find something unique, you want to bring it back to life."

He bought the property three years ago and began work to modernize the building. As in most remodeling projects of older buildings, he found plenty of challenges  some of them created because the original work was so good. The interior walls, for example, were constructed of plaster embedded in wire. 

"Just to demolish it was a chore," he said.

Then there was the basement of the two-story building. Cox found that the basement window wells emptied into a central sump in the sloping floor, which distributed the rainwater around the foundation. It was an effective way to keep water out of the building and water the clay soil to preventing the foundation from shifting, Cox said, but the presence of the stale water in the sump made the space unsuitable for commercial use. So he had to replace part of the sloping floor and figure out how to keep the natural light once the window well plumbing was no longer functional. So he replaced all the windows and installed covers that can be closed when it rains and opened when it's not rainy.

"It cost me a fortune," to make the basement usable," he said. "That was a big challenge and a lot of money."

Cox originally had planned to convert the house into professional offices. That changed when Edwin and Joyce Miranda, who own The Brow Parlour, showed an interest.

The Mirandas, who've owned the Brow Parlour  which now offers waxing, threading, sugaring and other services  for 10 years were looking for a second location for a spa. When she saw the "for lease" sign in front of the Keegan House, she was immediately interested.

"She was just in awe of how much love Mark was putting into the building," Edwin Miranda said.

So began a collaboration that would convert not only the house but also the garage into a single experience.

The "new" garage at the back of the building (the "old" attached garage on the west side of the house was incorporated into the main building long ago) was converted into a reception and gift shop. Stairs lead to a tunnel that goes to the renovated basement, beginning the immersive experience that the spa owners want their business to be. (Those who can't negotiate the stairs can enter by way of the sidewalk.)

Once in the main building, customers can take advantage of salt therapy, stone and infrared saunas, soaks, message therapy, body and skin care treatments, manicures and pedicures, and relaxation retreats. There are lockers for men and women, as well as an abundance of lounging places and even meeting spaces. Other services will be added as the business grows.

The Lawton Constitution

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