The Stone Lion — What will they do with it in 2021?

Author: Eric Neher
Category: B & B | Murder | Mystery | Stories
Date Published: September 18, 2021

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. 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What is Uniquelahoma?

You’re a Uniquelahoman when you love Oklahoma, maybe because you were born here or because you love what Oklahoma has to offer. There’s just one thing standing between you and have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the state you love so much: finding those hidden gems of stories and tucked away places. That’s where we come in. The hearts and minds behind Uniquelahoma are brimming with that appreciation and are always looking for new ways to share it with you. We will bring you those stories and find those places that you always wanted to know about you just had no idea. Stick around. Find something unique.

Recent Stories

X