We are all familiar with Roswell and the purported aliens that dwell within secret bunkers, as well as the witches that can sometimes still be seen walking the moonlit streets of Salem. Indeed, these attractions are just that; attractions; commercialized relics that have found their way into our mainstream culture. They are magnets for the slightly twisted entrepreneur who dares to dream. This was not the case for Becky Luker, who stumbled upon her haunted fortune by accident.
Sometimes, it seems, fate’s cruelty is nothing more than a test. A brief hurdle that we must either choose to leap over or remain frozen. For Ms. Luker, that hurdle came in the form of an unwanted severing that left her suddenly single with two boys. Fortunately, she did harbor a dream, and it was one that would soon have her racing out of her New Mexico home eastward along the I‑40 interstate. Curiously, Oklahoma was not her first destination. There was a small town nestled within the plush shadows of the Ozarks in Arkansas. This community had been recommended to her by a friend who claimed that it would be the perfect place for Becky Luker’s new life to begin. Ms. Luker was determined to open up her own Bed and Breakfast, and not just any B&B, but one that offered a story. This wouldn’t be the type of tale produced by Disney, either. It would be a Murder-Mystery loosely based on facts—the best kind.
The town was a rustic throwback, a picture-perfect community, and yet there seemed to be something missing. This is something that had been at Becky’s core for as long as she could remember: Diversity. After talking to the mayor, it became clear that this lack of mix wasn’t altogether an accident, and that left her shaken and unsure of what her next move should be. There was more at risk than just her dream, after all: Her two boys would be the silent recipients of whatever Becky decided. There was little else to do but return to New Mexico. She had pushed herself to get to Arkansas, only stopping for fuel and food, but she would take her time going back, for there was little to go back to. For some reason, and it’s still unclear to her, even now, she decided to stay a night in Guthrie Oklahoma, a town just north of the route she was on. She pulled in just as the sun was reaching the western horizon and was immediately entranced by what she found. It was as if she had driven back in time; Victorian homes stood shoulder to shoulder with Edwardian houses. Titans from days gone by, witnesses to the early days of statehood. Becky continued her journey through the town as if in a dream, with each turn revealing another page from the past. Finally, the complaints from the backseat began to take precedent, and it was time to find a motel. She had reached the western border of the community and was about to turn around, and that was when she saw it; a massive structure standing just beyond the treeline on the next block. It only took the promise of pancakes and a toy to buy enough time to track the street down and find the mansion.
It sat in the growing darkness, vacant and utterly alone, seemingly forgotten. A gasp escaped her throat, causing the boys to ask if she was alright. And she was. Better than alright because sitting next to one of the stone lion statues that bordered the front porch steps was a For Sale sign. Becky Luker had found her home. This was in 1986.
Two weeks later, the purchase had been made. And it only took a few more months of hard work until the Stone Lion Inn was opened for business. But what of the place itself? What is it that makes this B&B one of the most sought-after haunted places to stay in Oklahoma? Built in 1907, the same year that Oklahoma became a state, the eight thousand square foot home was a product of necessity. Its reason for existing was based on the fact that the original owner F.C. Houghton needed a bigger house for his growing family (twelve children.) Yet, not all of them would reach adulthood. One daughter named Irene fell ill and succumbed at the tender age of seven, leaving the family devastated. Was it because of this that the Houghton’s eventually left the house, leasing it out to the town’s mortician? What an interesting turn for a structure that was once looked upon as a growing family home. This sanctuary for life became an in-between for the dead. Leftover tools from that time can still be found decorating the halls and rooms in the house, including the actual embalming table, which now doubles as a buffet stand…yummy!
But, as stated before, this branding of horror was never the intention of Becky Luker. In fact, she tried desperately to avoid the growing rumors of slamming doors and mysterious voices. The last thing she wanted was for her life project to be equated to a carnival sideshow, but much like a wildfire, it was beyond her control. It is said that the best form of advertising is word of mouth and the terrifying stories began to spread, viral verbiage that soon went beyond even the state’s borders. These were not paid advertisers planting seeds but actual patrons who had had encounters while staying at the family mortuary.
One such account, verified by TAPS Ghost Hunters, is the voice of a little girl who seems to be daring the listener to come and find her. A chilling game of hide-and-seek and one which I’m sure she never loses. Another encounter is the sighting of a man dressed in a Victorian-era suit complimented with a top hat. This shadowy figure can often be seen lingering within a doorway or pacing the stairwell. Could this be F.C. Houghton?
Upon my arrival, I was immediately taken in by the history of the house. Much like a classic work of literature, it held a story filled with both tragedy and joy.
Becky Luker, I’m happy to report, has learned to embrace the haunted inevitable, as the portrait of Lizzy Borden hanging on the wall can attest to. The neighborly vibe that assaults you once you walk through the front door comes with an almost humorous catch; the refreshments are available for the taking, and all you have to do is remove what you want from the embalming table that sits in the main hallway. But it was the second floor that piqued my interest. It is there that you will find the guest rooms, which is where most of the encounters take place. I have to admit that a certain eeriness seized me as I began my ascent. Midway up the stairs, I was suddenly wrapped in a blanket of must and age: A trapped fragrance reminiscent of something long gone but demanding to be remembered. It was as if the cracked plastered wall had been broken from within, releasing an archaic truth fighting for survival. Perhaps that was what had lured Becky to a vacant house once slated for destruction. These spirits which wander the halls, shutting doors and inviting guests to play, are not nefarious in nature. Indeed, they seem quite content with the knowledge that the home that they care for is now in good hands. And maybe they will do whatever they can to make sure it stays that way.
So, if you hear the grinding of a rusted hinge, or happen to open your eyes from a deep sleep only to find yourself face to face with someone who’s not quite all there, just remember to tell a friend or a family member. The residents of The Stone Lion Inn are counting on it.