Self-Guided Tour

Ponca City Attractions - City Hall Self-Guided Tour



City Hall Self-Guided Tour


Welcome to Ponca City, a city that is unique. We are a community of approximately 26,000 people established in north central Oklahoma during the famous Oklahoma land run called the Cherokee Strip. The town has an unusual history. We have been home to wealthy philanthropic oilmen and the birthplace of a successful oil company, the first in the U.S. to offer employee benefits.

The community is synonymous with agriculture, oil, and water resources. Ponca City continues to grow, offering a life style, which reflects our rich history. It is our pleasure to welcome you to our beautiful City Hall, and we hope you enjoy yourself.

Before you start your indoor tour, take a look around our plaza...

City Hall serves as the backdrop for Ponca City's Centennial Plaza. In keeping with the spirit of the Cherokee Strip Land Run, citizens purchased 6,527 personalized bricks to stake their claim in the new Centennial Plaza and make their families a permanent part of Ponca City's history.

Ponca City Memorial Fountain
The Ponca City Memorial Fountain, a beloved community focal point, was constructed by the Ponca City Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in memory of the men and women who served during World War I. H.A. "Jack Mertz and the DAR restored it in 1981; the Ponca City and Pioneer Rotary Clubs funded another renovation in 1993.

Today this historic fountain makes use of advanced LED technology and intelligent control to generate light shows that synchronize with the water sprays to produce choreographed, color-changing effects. This latest restoration was a work by love by Forrest Mertz of Mertz, Inc. and the Mertz family in memory of his parents, H.A. "Jack" and Hattie Mertz, the Ponca City Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and all veterans in 2003.

Art on the Plaza


Centennial Plaza is the home of 3 of Ponca City's favorite sculptures.

The statue of Lew Wentz on the southeast comer honors Louis Haines Wentz, one of Ponca City's most generous benefactors. Sculpted by Jo Saylors, the sculpture was a gift from a group of citizens who wanted to honor the memory of Mr. Wentz.

E.W. Marland's statue, on the southwest comer, originally sat on the grounds of the Marland estate. Mr. Marland loved art, particularly sculpture, and commissioned this work from Jo Davidson. His widow, Lydie Marland, donated the statue to Ponca City in 1941.

Centennial Monument anchors the plaza and commemorates the historic land run into Oklahoma Territory on September 16, 1893. Jo Saylors created this masterpiece, which was a gift to Ponca City through donations from citizens.


Before you start your indoor City Hall tour, take a look up at the west tower...

Tower Clock and Singing Tower Carillon
The original architectural plans for the tower included a clock; however, lack of funds prevented the plans from becoming a reality. The clock and carillon were installed in 1998 with funds donated in the name of Larry T. Hughes, a beloved and respected community leader. The carillon music, romantic, nostalgic and comforting to hear every day all over downtown, is a fitting memorial to a man born on West Grand Avenue who was devoted to his home town, loved the pride people took in it and believed in giving to his community. When the music plays, citizens remember Larry Hughes.

The original building was a Civic Auditorium, designed by Layton and Smith, the same architects of the Oklahoma State Capital. Built in the Spanish Colonial style in 1917, City Hall sets the architectural tone for the rest of the city.

Following the completion of the building, the citizens voted approval for a bond to pay for the east and west wings to connect to the Civic Auditorium. Layton, Smith and Forsythe were the architects for these wings, and the project was completed in 1924. The finished wings, plus the auditorium, housed the Civic Center Complex with the civic auditorium in the center building and fire, police and city administration in the wing buildings. The auditorium was the center of community theater activities with many famous performers of the day gracing its stage.

In 1992, the Ponca City Fire Marshall declared the Civic Auditorium a fire hazard, and the facility was closed. City departments continued to operate in the east wing, and Fire Station No. 1 was housed in the west wing.

Voters approved a 2-year sales tax to renovate Fire Station No. 1 in 1997. Once completed, voters approved a 3-year sales tax to renovate the remainder of the Complex. The new City Hall complex was completed in 2003 and was designed by Richard Winterrowd and Troy Lewis of Lewis Associates Architects of Ponca City.

The first floor contains all of the most commonly used functions of city government. This allows great access for the citizens of Ponca City to pay their bills, visit the city clerk, apply for a job or work with community development services.

Everything in the building is new except for the brick structural walls, the roof structure and the original vault door. The interior of the building was designed to match the historic exterior. Many materials, colors and arched openings were designed as a complement to the Spanish Mission Style from the 1920's.

The entry vestibule is a new addition to the building and is the dramatic front door to city government. The design was based on the awning that was originally designed for the building but was never installed. The copper barrel vaults blend perfectly with the facade of the building in scale, proportion and materials. Copper was selected as the cladding material because of its timeless quality and its natural finish. Copper is easily molded to the curved shapes of the entry and can be allowed to gracefully age to a natural patina. The copper on the interior was protected to maintain the new shiny copper penny look as a contrast to the natural patina of the exterior. In addition, the pebbled copper ceiling is contrasted with the smooth copper battens and is highlighted by indirect cove lighting.

The lobby area was enlarged from the original ticket lobby into a grand civic gathering space. The original brick was intentionally exposed to contrast with the new highly finished materials of wrought iron, cast stone, copper coves, terrazzo floors, granite countertops, glass blocks and painted gypsum board walls. New openings were created in the existing brick walls to visually expand the space to two stories and connect with the upper and lower promenades. The stone wainscoting serves two functions. It provides human scale to the tall brick walls while also covering the portion of the wall that used to be below the old floor line. The awning over the reception counter is a replica of the awning that was originally designed for the front entry.

The two grand staircases were added on either side. The wrought iron railings tie visually with the cast iron structural columns. The floral panels in the stair railing match the floral pattern of the pressed metal wall panels located high above the stairs. The pressed metal wall panels, light coves, and crown moulds reflect materials common to many downtown retail buildings of the era and were a perfect fit for the new building.

The color schemes of various shades of gold and cream on the walls and ceilings tie the building to the past history of bold civic architectural spaces. The lighting throughout the building is coordinated in style and function and sets a dramatic ambience for the space.

An information desk is located at the main entrance to provide assistance to citizens and visitors. The City Clerk's office is on the east side of the lobby, and the Utility Billing/Accounting window is on the west side. Customer Service is located beyond the Utility Billing window on the west side. There are public restrooms and an elevator to enhance accessibility for public use of the building and Centennial Plaza

Display cases on the east side of the lobby contain the City's honors and awards.

The city departments most used by the public. Community Development (Planning and Code Enforcement) and City Engineers are conveniently located in this area.

The City of Ponca City has a sister city in Baiyin City, Gansu Province, People's Republic of China. The agreements and gifts because of that relationship are housed in this display cabinet.

Environmental Services, Information Services and Ponca City Main Street offices are located in this wing.

The grand piano is an 1885 Steinway. It is a gift to the City of Ponca City from the heirs of the late Sam and Dorothy Leonard, who were long-time residents of Ponca City.

The design of the Commission Chamber pays homage to the history of the auditorium. The proscenium arch was recreated on the face of the original fly-loft, complete with velvet waterfall curtains as a backdrop for the commission dais. The grand volume of the original space was maintained. The dramatic coffer ceiling is in the same location as the original ceiling. The interior walls are stair stepped up to a service level to reveal the original window walls above. The commission dais is clad in the same cast stone found in the lobby. The walls are covered with sound dampening silk fabric panels, and the ceiling has a sound absorption plaster finish. Dramatic lighting sets the mood for this multifunctional room.

The room is designed as a full production television studio for broadcasts of commission meetings on public television and boasts state of the art audio/visual capabilities. It seats 154 people.

Located directly behind the commission chamber in what was the stage/ fly-loft area are public meeting rooms and support areas. New window openings in the rear wall of the fly-loft area provide daylight and views for the meeting rooms and offices.

The hallway leading to the community meeting rooms is homage to the Ponca Playhouse productions staged in what is now the Commission Chamber from 1959 to 1994. The actors were community residents.

This is one of 2 community meeting rooms available to the public free-of-charge. Named after the founder and first mayor of Ponca City, the room holds photographs of Grand Avenue in the early days. It seats up to 16 people.

The larger of the 2 community meeting rooms is named for Mayor W.H. McFadden, who called for the first bond election to construct this building in 1916. Photographs in this room provide a visual history of the building facade. It seats up to 24 people.

As you return down the West Hallway, turn left at the opening. On the South wall is a remnant of the Ponca Playhouse drape donated by the Playhouse. The east wall of the hallway honors the many citizens who have served as Ponca City's mayors and city commissioners.

The West Wing holds the City Administration offices, including the Mayor, City Manager and City Attorney.

As you head toward the staircase to return to the 1st floor lobby, notice the souvenirs of the building's theatre background in this display case.

Ponca City will surprise and delight you with the variety of events and activities. You can get a tantalizing glimpse of each one by checking out this display.