MIAMI – The historic colonial-style Ray Home on 30 G SW will be open for the first time to the public during a Christmas Open House from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Entry will be $5 and refreshments will be provided. Christmas music will be played by pianist Drew Crane and harpist DeMaris Gaines.The proceeds will help benefit Crane, a senior piano performance major at the University of Tulsa, with graduate school expenses.
An aspiring orchestra conductor, Crane serves as the Assistant Conductor of the TU Symphony Orchestra and holds a conducting internship with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. He has studied with conductors such as Benjamin Zander, Eric Whitacre, Jeffrey Grogan, Gerhardt Zimmermann, Daniel Hege and others.
Caretaker of the house, Steve “Stubb” Whitesell, is a local pianist and organist. He has worked alongside Crane and DeMaris in numerous concerts throughout the years. He owns a travel company where he takes high school choir students across the nation to Hawaii every summer.
Whitesell is also a campus minister at Northeastern A&M College where he works with approximately 150 students a week.
“Stubb” came to Miami at the age of one and has lived in Oklahoma for approximately 55 years. He has been the caretaker of the house for the last four years, which is currently owned by the Ray family.
The historic home is 6,000 square feet not including the basement. There are four bedrooms, five full baths and a fifth bedroom that was once a servant’s quarters.
The colonial-style house was built in 1939 by Frank and Lucille Wormington. Frank was widely known around the Miami community as a skillful physician and surgeon.
The home has been owned by three medical doctors: Wormington, Charles Price and Fred Ray. The Prices bought the house in 1967 and the Rays purchased it in 1974.
Whitesell's ties to the house go back to when he was working his way through college at NEO.
“I helped the previous family move out in 1974, the Price’s, and helped the Rays move in here while I was a student at NEO,” Whitesell said.
A few students helped him decorate the house for Christmas, which took about a week to complete. Across from the staircase sits a 9 foot Christmas tree with a strand of 3,500 lights.
The dining room can seat approximately 20 people and features original tables, chairs and gold mirrors. The kitchen features a sliding door, which was used by the cooks to slide food orders into the dining room.
“There’s even a laundry chute, so you can shoot the tea towels to the basement,” Whitesell said. “There was a servant’s bell underneath the table in the carpet where you can step on the bell to page the servant.”
Mrs. Ray had the original Riverview Park bridge painted on the wall in the living room by an unknown artist.
“She had that painted before they tore it out,” Whitesell said. “It was lower than the one that’s there now, so it flooded frequently.”
The downstairs bathroom boasts original paintings from “Gone With The Wind,” which came out the same year the house was built.
According to Whitesell, there originally was a working elevator that was used by the servants.
“Your servants could use the elevator or their own personal staircase that leads back to the kitchen,” Whitesell said. “It stopped working after the 2007 flood and was never replaced.”
The Neosho River runs right behind the house. Whitesell said the home has only flooded twice.
“The 2007 flood, even though it got in the basement, it did not get on the main floor,” Whitesell said. “The only time it reached the main floor was in 1951.”
Whitesell said the Wormingtons lived down in the basement and entertained on the main floor. There is also a laundry room and a wood burning fireplace in the basement, as well.
“I could remember when the Prices owned the house, they had kids my age,” Whitesell said. “When I was in junior high, we had dances down in the basement. We’d have 100 kids and a live band.”
According to Whitesell, keeping the house preserved holds historical significance, and it is the largest house in Miami.
“It’s sad to see this house, the Farrier house and the Walkers house up for sale and deteriorating because they all hold a big chunk of history,” he said.