Red Ridge Estate
Red Ridge Estate, the storied manor in northeast Oklahoma City was built in the 1920’s by R.J. Edwards.
Edwards founded R.J. Edwards Inc., purportedly the first municipal bond house west of the Mississippi, in 1892. The firm closed in the late 1980s. Some of his heirs, most of whom live far away, see Red Ridge as a place that time has passed by.
The Red Ridge compound passed decades with dignified charm as the once-rural section of the city and marched forward with development, then lurched back with decline.
The boarded-up 27-room, two-story Spanish-style mansion, and the remaining 90 acres of the estate went up for auction on Feb. 27th 2001, and was aquired by Duncan Equipment Co. and CJW Family LP, which formed a company called Red Ridge Development.
George Edwards, who is one of the heirs, said he was sad about seeing his grandparents property sold. He is full of memories about his grandparents. How his grandmother rode to the property in a chauffeured limousine, tossing daffodil bulbs, and having a gardener plant them where they fell. “The place is an explosion of springtime yellow to this day”, he said.
How in the 1960s, teen-agers called Red Ridge “the haunted house.” But no ghosts kept them from necking in cars pulled onto the lonely fields.
The Edwards mansion itself, which cost a modest $35,000 in 1934-1935 – about $450,000 in 2001 dollars – was named ” Red Ridge ” for the red sandstone ridge upon which it was built.
Each of R.J. and Sadie (Handy) Edwards’ children was offered a house and 15 acres “free and clear” upon their marriage, said Sarah (Edwards) Baltzell of Philadelphia, sister of Archibald Edwards Jr. Their father was Archibald Cason Edwards, an investment banker with R.J. Edwards Inc. and arts supporter who died at 91 in March 1998.
R.J. Edwards came to Oklahoma from Missouri before statehood, said Archibald Edwards Jr., who also provided the following information about his grandfather and the property:
Robert J. Edwards, a lawyer, was appointed as a judge at age 26. He later was a regent for what is now Oklahoma State University. Eventually, he became successful as an investment banker, specializing in the sale of municipal bonds and as a fiscal consultant to cities across Oklahoma and the Southwest. He died in 1946.
The house has stucco walls and a red tile roof. It was built by Raymond Smizer under the direction of Norman architect Harold Gimeno. Gimeno’s influence was seen in many Spanish-Style structures in Oklahoma City, including several of the houses on the Edwards estate .
During the 1960s and 1970s, Red Ridge was the home of what is now the Oklahoma Museum of Art.