History of The Old Plantation
The Old Plantation, built in 1910, is a large three-story building, with rooms and cubbyholes throughout. The original structure started life as a wooden open-air pavilion. As the number of visitors to Medicine Park grew, the pavilion did the same. In 1914 the pavilion was enclosed and a second story with a flat top roof was added. Cobblestones were added to the structure during this time and the Outside Inn became a hotel.
As the years passed, visitors from all over the country made their way through Medicine Park. During the “Roaring Twenties” the town was a playground for the affluent and notorious alike. Many of which danced late into the night on the first floor and then rested their heads in one of the second story rooms. The Old Plantation is said to have been visited by the likes of Bonny and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, and Al Capone. At one point during prohibition it is said that a whiskey still was erected in the basement along with a gambling room.
The hotel changed owners and names multiple times over the decades some of which include the “Outside Inn”, “The Grand Hotel”, and “Medicine Park Lodge”. Owners included founders, Senator Elmer Thomas and Hal Lloyd, DL Sleeper and Associates, and Lulabelle Hutchens (who reportedly bought the town of Medicine Park to be the first woman to own a town), Rex and Ruby Leath, Forest Ray, and current owners Chad and Jenna Thornton. Though the town and the hotel flourished for many decades the town fell into hard times during World War II.
The closed hotel which had seen better days took on a new life when Rex and Ruby (Grandma) reopened the doors as The Old Plantation Restaurant in 1966. It was during this time that the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Grandma Leath, who was enchanted with the history of the building and the town, became the local historian and could be heard telling her many patrons about the days of old over a helping of her famous hot rolls. She told of “pretty ladies”, politicians, and buried gold. Stories of traveling salesmen, jealousy, and murder kept visitors hanging on every word. Rex and Ruby owned and operated the Old Plantation Restaurant for nearly 35 years until declining health lead to its closure in the early 2000’s.
As a new investor, Forest Ray saw the potential for a rebirth of the historic building in the quaint cobblestone community. He purchased the property and, after some much-needed repair, opened the doors once again in 2008. At that time, he enlisted Chad Thornton as the operator of the restaurant until 2014 when Chad and Jenna were able to purchase the property.
The Old Plantation Restaurant with its colorful history, unique cobblestone façade, and delicious selection of Oklahoma inspired fare is being discovered by an entirely new generation of people and reviving the fond memories of past visitors. We hope to provide an outstanding dining experience in a unique history-rich environment and to share the incredible reemergence of Medicine Park for generations to come.