There’s no reason to go beyond Oklahoma for an early fall getaway. Pawhuska, gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, beckons with two elegant retreats.
The Boarding House
The Pioneer Woman Boarding House was created by Ree Drummond, and her husband, Ladd. Just as they did with their next-door, wildly popular Pioneer Woman Mercantile, which draws visitors from around the country, the couple took a downtown building they owned and found a good use for it. Before renovation, the building, which once housed a silk shop and a smoke shop, sat empty for three years.
“The boarding house was actually Ladd’s idea to turn into a boutique hotel,” says Brittany Mauricio, a staffer at Pioneer Woman Mercantile, which sells thousands of items and has a restaurant.
The boutique hotel is another way the Drummonds have added to the Pawhuska experience. Ladd Drummond, acknowledging the high customer traffic at the store, saw a lack of hotel rooms in a town of 3,300 residents. Creating a place for an overnight stay allows visitors to spend additional time sampling a variety of attractions, including the tallgrass preserve, 17 miles north.
The boarding house became the Drummonds’ “his and her project.” None of the eight dazzling rooms looks the same; those that Ladd designed have a strong cowboy and western theme, while Ree’s reflect her penchant for splashes of color and celebrating a prairie lifestyle with a contemporary, feminine feel.
On the main floor are the Tack Room, the Ranch Room and the Drug Store Room (simulating an old-time pharmacy … with original, 1920s tile floors). Photographs of Oklahoma by Ree Drummond add authentic design touches.
Hotel manager Sondra Ward says the boarding house is “all about hospitality. We want our guests to feel extremely special.”
The Frontier Hotel
Across the street, the five-story Triangle Building (similar to the iconic Flatiron Building in New York) and its distinct design appealed to interior designer Lori Wilson during the creation of the Frontier Hotel.
The Frontier, with 20 rooms, offers visitors overnight or weekend experiences. Its rustic-chic ambiance invites guests to hang their hats and stay awhile.
The building is lined with historic, leaded-glass “windows on the world,” which provide views of the revitalized downtown.
The Frontier, created by Triangle Pawhuska LLC, shares common ownership with Tulsa’s Mayo Hotel, says Macy Snyder-Amatucci, vice president of the umbrella company Brickhugger LLC. Co-owner of the Frontier, Dale Forrest, says the building was originally slated for a different purpose.
“We thought about doing apartments,” Forrest says, “but the Frontier has been successful, and it complements what Ree has downtown.”
“The idea of a hotel that would draw visitors and repeat patrons was much more enticing,” Snyder-Amatucci adds. “The potential for offering jobs to local residents was also compelling.”
For the Triangle, vacant for many years, “the intent during construction and design was to maintain as much of the building’s original beauty as possible,” Snyder-Amatucci says. “We had to keep the beautiful marble staircase that goes all the way through the building.”
Forrest, who says it was “special to bring a historic building like this back to life,” mentions the hotel is adding a coffee bar that should be opening during the holiday season.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Snyder-Amatucci says of the Frontier. “A lot of times a project like this is a real gamble, a financial risk. We are thankful Ree and Ladd gave us a reason to invest in Pawhuska.”