The Historic Mattie Beal House has once more opened its doors to visitors.
The Lawton Heritage Association, which controls the historic Lawton home, was forced to shut down access to it last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No tours or visitors have come through the home since March 2020, which has led to a financial loss for the association.
“I’d say, and this is a ballpark figure, that we’ve probably lost around $1,000 since last year,” Sharon Stephen, an association board member, said.
The association has likely lost even more than that when factoring in missed tours form Lawton Public Schools, Stephen said.
“It’s wonderful to be back open. We felt so bad with the house just sitting empty there. It has been a financial hardship. We’re very happy to be back and we hope that people will come and see this beautiful home.”
The Mattie Beal story is one of determination, trailblazing and love. Beal, a young telephone operator from Kansas, was the second name chosen in the 1901 land lottery. The young woman, unmarried and undeterred, moved down to claim her 160-acre allotment on the south side of the Lawton townsite. She became instantly famous and received hundreds of marriage proposals before agreeing to wed Charles Payne in 1902.
Beal’s home became a hub for socialites and parties. After the couple’s death it changed hands several times and eventually fell into disrepair before it was saved by the Heritage Association in 1974.
“Mattie gave a lot to the City of Lawton,” Stephen said. “She didn’t want to get rich. She took her 160 acres and sold the lots for a very small price. She also donated land for the Lincoln School, a church and two parks. She was a very giving person. Everybody loved her.”
Albert Rivas is going on three years as a docent at the Mattie Beal House. He is excited to be able to tell Mattie’s story once again.
“The house is a key element for sharing Lawton’s history. It’s good to be able to share a strong female story like Mattie’s,” Rivas said.
The Historic Mattie Beal Home is located at 1008 SW 5th in Lawton. For more information, please call 678-3156.