About the Lawton Heritage Association

The Lawton Heritage Association, Inc. was organized in July 1973 for memorial, historical, educational, charitable, and patriotic purposes. Its purpose is to foster a love for local history; to revere the memory of those pioneers who blazed the way for present civilization and progress; to promote historic preservation in the community and revitalization of surrounding neighborhood; and to provide a public facility for civic and social activities. The Lawton Heritage Association is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Oklahoma.

A Brief History of The Mattie Beal Home

In the land lottery of 1901, in which the federal government opened southwest Oklahoma for settlement, the second name drawn was that of Mattie Beal. This determined young woman from Wichita, Kansas chose her 160-acre allotment south of the Lawton town site. Instant fame was hers and she received hundreds of marriage proposals, but it was local lumberyard owner, Charles Payne, who stole her heart. They were married in 1902.

After considerable soul-searching, Mattie Beal agreed to commute her property, so that frustrated settlers who had failed to acquire a townsite lot could purchase affordable homesites and remain in the area. She donated land for two parks, a school, and a church and was benevolent in promoting culture in the city. Mattie Beal's generous spirit and gregarious personality made her the belle of early Lawton society.

Three daughters were reared in the stately Payne home located on the summit of her property. This was the scene of many bridge parties and social events in early Lawton. The ballroom was often alive with music, dancing, friends and neighbors.

Charles Warren Payne held an interest in several business ventures, among them the Payne Lumber Company, a coal delivery service, Payne-McGee Grocery Store, and a wholesale grocery supply. In keeping with his compassionate spirit, Charles Payne continued to sell to his customers "on credit" during the years of the Great Depression which struck in 1929. Many of these debts were never repaid. Financial difficulties and Mattie's death in 1931 took its toll on him. The home was sold in 1939; Charles Payne died eight years later.

Ownership of the home changed hands several times from 1939 through 1974. During World War II, the home was divided into apartments for wartime housing. By the late 1960's, neglect and vandalism had taken their toll, and the Mattie Beal Home was scheduled to be demolished. The Lawton Heritage Association, with the help of the citizens of Lawton, raised funds to purchase the Home in 1974. The following year it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lawton Heritage Association has sponsored a series of restorations of the Home. The latest, funded by the McMahon Foundation and a federal grant through the City of Lawton, returned the Home to its 1923 appearance.