SKIRVIN HOTEL TIMELINE 1911-2007
courtesy Steve Lackmeyer, Daily Oklahoman

1911: William B. Skirvin opens the Skirvin Hotel, featuring neo-Georgian architecture, oak paneling and Venetian crystal chandeliers. The hotel is considered one of the finest in the Southwest.

 

1926: Skirvin adds a third wing to his hotel.

 

1928: Skirvin adds two floors, raising the hotel’s height to 14 stories. The renovation also includes the opening of a “modern” coffee shop with mosaic tile flooring and columns.

 

1930: Skirvin starts work on the Skirvin Tower across from the hotel. Original plans call for the property to be a 26-story expansion of the hotel, with modern banquet and meeting rooms. The project plagued with financial problems and is capped off at 14 stories and isn’t ready for occupancy until 1938.

 

1931: Skirvin begins a four-year-long fight with City Hall to build a tunnel beneath Broadway to connect the hotel and the tower. He prevails, and the tunnel is later expanded into a system of pedestrian tunnels spread throughout downtown known as the Conncourse.

 

1938: Skirvin battles lawsuits filed by daughters Perle Mesta and Marguerite Tyson, and son Bill Skirvin, over the hotel’s control.

 

1944: Skirvin dies from injuries sustained in a traffic accident. One day before the crash, appeals court judges had awarded Skirvin control of the hotel, ending a four-year period when it was run by a Dallas operator as legal battles waged amidst the Skirvins.

 

1945: Dan James buys the Skirvin Hotel. He spends millions on renovations that included adding air conditioning.

 

1954: Dan James opens the Tower Club in the Skirvin Tower.

 

1963: Fearing unions will succeed at organizing employees and worried about a pending Urban Renewal plan downtown, the James family sells the Skirvin to the Chicago Syndicate, a hotel operator that was buying older hotels across the country. Lead partner John Grande announces the group will add 18 floors to the Skirvin Tower and modernize the hotel. The tower addition never materializes, but the company does add a 3,000-seat banquet hall.

 

1967: Griffin Enterprises acquires the Skirvin properties for $6.8 million. Developer H.T. Griffin also buys the Huckins Hotel, and later tears it down with plans to replace it with an office tower.

 

1971: Hotel goes into receivership after the owners declare bankruptcy. Trustees allege hotel revenues were siphoned off into development of Liberty

Tower. The Skirvin’s Persian Room and Tower Club are closed as the Skirvin Tower is converted into offices for Oklahoma City Federal Savings and Loan.

 

1972: The hotel is sold to Skirvin Venture, a partnership consisting of Oklahoma, Texas and California investors. The owners change the name to the Skirvin Plaza Hotel, and begin a $2.3 million renovation that includes a new stucco facade.

 

1974: Renovations continue, totaling a reported $8 million.

 

1979: Skirvin Plaza Investors, a group led by Ron Burks and including Penn Square Bank executive B.P. Jennings buys the hotel for $5.6 million and start a $2.5 million renovation. Improvements include new furnishings, updating old utilities, and elimination of old closet-sized guest rooms.

 

1980: The hotel is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

1985: Skirvin GP Inc., a 17-member investment group based in Miami, Fla., including several executives with Walt Disney Productions, buys the Skirvin Hotel for an undisclosed price.

 

1987: Skirvin GP Inc. acknowledges the Skirvin is near bankruptcy, and can not make its mortgage payments.

 

1988: The title is relinquished to Business Men’s Assurance Co. of Kansas City, the principal mortgage holder, for $4.6 million. Fort Worth businessmen Peiter Streitt and Michael Profitt, partners in Savoy Hotels and Resorts, became owners of record after a the hotel is auctioned at a sheriff’s sale. Later in the year, the owners close the hotel under the pretense of a $1.2 million renovation. Laid-off employees say the property is closing for good.

 

1989: Streitt and Profitt lobby the city for grants and loans to renovate and reopen the hotel. City officials complain the owners are not always truthful and often unavailable during negotiations. Profitt announces a split in the partnership and admits efforts to reopen the hotel are at an impasse.

 

1990: The Skirvin is bought for $2.2 million at a sheriff’s sale by New Orleans businessman Louis J. Roussel.

 

1994: Frustrated with the hotel’s deterioration, the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority accedes to requests by city leaders to acquire the hotel, through condemnation if necessary. Urban Renewal, however, does not follow through with its plans.

 

1995: BYOC International Inc., led by Oesman Sapta, buys the hotel for $1.7 million. Sapta, a hotel investor who claimed to own four other inns in Indonesia and Singapore, promises to spend up to $26 million on renovations and have the hotel open by Christmas

 

1995. The project falls apart after Sapta’s partner, William Myles, sues alleging a plot to divert city-provided grants. Sapta’s firm declares bankruptcy and Myles wins control of the hotel.

 

1999: Myles loses control of the hotel to partners Michael Dillard and Roddy Bates. Mayor Kirk Humphreys forms the “Skirvin Solutions Committee” to determine how or whether the hotel can be saved.

 

2002: Oklahoma City Council buys the hotel for $2.875 million after determining the property won’t be renovated and reopened without public subsidy.

2003: City solicits development proposals and selects Skirvin Partners, which proposes renovating the Skirvin into a Hilton.

 

2005: Skirvin Partners completes a redevelopment deal with the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority and starts a $55 million renovation – the most extensive overhaul in the hotel’s history.

 

2007: The Skirvin reopens as The Skirvin Hilton, a 225 room hotel.