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May 25, 1999

A sign in the front yard tells the story: One of Perry's finest historic homes will go on the auction block on Saturday, June 19, at the corner of Eighth and Jackson. If walls could talk, what a fascinating story the old house could tell.

Many of us still think of it as "the McCandless home," although in truth the Hoot family has been the owner and occupant for nearly 50 years. It's a treasure that has been preserved, a visible link to the early days in this community when gracious living meant gentility and culture in a frontier community that was just taking shape.

The house was built in 1900, seven years after the opening of the Cherokee Outlet and seven years before Oklahoma gained statehood. The owners and original occupants were Harry A. McCandless and his wife, Florence. Mr. McCandless and his sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Fred G. Moore, came here from Kansas on February 26, 1896, to establish the Exchange Bank. At the time, Mr. McCandless was still a bachelor but he and Florence were already engaged to be married.

The two-story frame home has many distinctive features in construction. Cypress lumber was used by the builder and brick and mortar foundation walls in the basement are a solid three feet thick. Interior trim also is cypress. George G. Byers, the general contractor, was paid $3,600, a substantial amount in those days. Before the late Dr. Delmar C. Hoot, an optometrist, and his wife, Harriet, purchased it in 1951, it had been owned for several years by Dr. C.H. Cooke, a physician who operated Perry General Hospital; and his wife, Virginia, and their raven-haired daughter, Jesse Kathryn. Every owner has kept the house in excellent shape. Its gleaming white exterior and a large old shade tree in the front yard are symbols of the respectability, the genteel style of those who dwelt within. In recent years an enclosed porch has been added on the north side of the lower floor, largely shielded from view by a fence and a tall green wall of shrubbery.

When it was built in 1900, only one other house was on the east half of the block facing Eighth street between Ivanhoe and Jackson. That was the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Moore, who came here with Mr. McCandless in 1896. In recent years, Robert McCandless of California, son of Harry and Florence, described some details of the building site in a letter to a Perry student who was doing research on the house. The Moore and McCandless homes were on opposite ends of the block and a semi-circle carriage drive linked them. Beautiful cannas bloomed in season all around the driveway and an assortment of fruit trees added a pleasant aroma to the ambience, on spring evenings. The old Moore home is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. B.J. Sparks.

One can picture the merry parties, hear the happy laughter and inhale the fragrance at the informal gatherings and the holiday dinners that have been served in this fine old home. We're grateful to Mr. and Mrs. McCandless for their thoughtful choices in its original design and construction, and to the owners in intervening years who have maintained it so perfectly. Our best wishes also to Mrs. Hoot, who now is a resident of Smith Manor. Elegant residences such as this stand regally, though silently, as reminders of another age in this little Cherokee Outlet city.