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February 2, 2005

Perry Main Street working to keep the flavor

To many Perry residents, the architecture visible here on some of the pioneer homes and business buildings is a special delight that helps set this area aside. Sadly, only a few of those old buildings remain. However, you can see evidence of the favored styles around the square and throughout the residential area. Many of these old buildings are being "seen" for the first time as facades and veneers are stripped away, placed there by well-meaning folks who were more interested in contemporary "modernization" than preservation of history. Perry Main Street, for one entity, works diligently to keep the flavor of the 1890's without the use of newer cover-ups that camouflage the true vintage.

A good example of our goals can be found on display in many Oklahoma towns and cities, but closest to us is Guthrie where extensive work has restored the charm and designer beauty of homes and storefronts in the old Capitol City. Guthrie's history may be more complex than ours, but Perry was an integral part of the Cherokee Strip and the appearance of our homes and businesses help us recall what it was like, 'way back when in 1893, when the Cherokee Strip was opened to settlement.

We have lost many of the good examples of original homes and business buildings, but a few of them remain. Some of those have been allowed to lie fallow and thereby fall into disuse or ruin, but others have been treated with genuine respect and they still reflect the Victorian styles that were in popular usage at the turn of the twentieth century, when this little prairie town was just beginning to come alive. We had some prosperous families back then, and they invested much of their wealth in real estate ventures where they planned to live and raise their families. Thankfully, some of those examples remain.

The next Northwest Corner will lead us on a tour of two of those homes, showing what can be accomplished with hard work and an appreciation of our history. Other examples could be cited, but his also brings a word of warning: We have already lost many of the great old homes that once characterized Perry, and we probably should be doing something to preserve that which is still at hand. Stay tuned for the next installment of this ongoing story.