On Cherokee Avenue in Claremore, just south of Blue Starr Drive, a two-story gray farmhouse stands proudly. The orange screen door is warm and friendly, inviting both strangers and friends alike to have a seat on the refurbished porch to sit for a spell.
The home was built in 1898, when Claremore was still the Cooweescoowee District of Indian Territory. Known for decades as the “Murphy house”, it was purchased in 2010 by Sarah and Andy Fiegener.
Sarah is from Newcastle and Andy hails from Clinton. The couple met in college at Oklahoma State University. Both are from small towns, and so it was natural that they’d choose Claremore to be their home. They felt comfortable with the size of the town, and they enjoyed the historical aspect. According to Sarah, “We’re both from small communities, but the houses there aren’t old like this. Claremore has a cool history with the railroads and all; you don’t find history like this just anywhere.” On a whim one day, they took a drive and spotted the For Sale sign in the yard, even though they weren’t in the market. Sarah said, “We walked in the house and the radio was on. The floors creaked, and I thought, ‘Great-grandma’s house.’ That’s all it took.”
The original owner of the home was Mrs. R.F. Murphy (nee Jessie Cora Wyche). She was 1/8 Cherokee, and was born near Belleview, Texas, in 1860. Her husband, Robert, was the local postmaster, and also owned a general store. Jessie later traveled with her six small children to what would later be known as Muskogee in the Indian Nation. She came to the area ahead of her husband, so that she could qualify for her allotment and Indian payments. Because of the Indian laws, Jessie and Robert had to be married again in Indian Territory so they could take ownership of their land. They ended up in the Claremore area in 1893, and built the two-story home near 13th and Cherokee in 1898. The lumber came from the Murphy sawmill in Texas. It should be noted that the Murphys also had cattle; if you’ll notice, the nearest homes of the same vintage in town are located near downtown, so it’s easy to surmise that the Murphy homestead had quite a bit of land.
The Fiegeners moved in during January of 2011. They had a lot of work to do. They loved the style of the house, which Sarah describes as Victorian, but not intricate, like the dollhouse style. Plus, it has a great wraparound porch. The porch was one of Andy’s first projects. The original flooring was painted tongue and groove, which isn’t ideal for outdoor use. Andy replaced it with new cedar decking.
On the inside, the couple removed the old plaster and was rewarded with shiplap. (Joanna and Chip would be so proud!) The original door that we mentioned? It had layers and layers of paint that had to be scraped. As a matter of fact, all of the walls were covered with layers of wallpaper, paint, more wallpaper, plaster, and more. During the renovation, several artifacts were found, including a broken china cup. Sometime since the Murphys owned the house, a mudroom was added, where the original cedar exterior walls are still visible. A side porch and a bathroom were also added.
Today, the 2,600-sq. ft. house has three bedrooms, two living areas, an office, and three bathrooms. The Fiegeners have poured a lot of sweat and love into their home, and it shows. The front living room holds an antique chest and chair that belonged to Andy’s grandmother. Both pieces survived a Piedmont tornado. The den is home to a 1920s player piano from Sarah’s grandmother.
The style of the house is a cozy, eclectic mix of Victorian charm and modern farmhouse, which is so popular these days. When I asked Sarah and Andy if they watch a lot of Fixer Upper, they informed me that they don’t watch it, as they don’t have cable. They keep busy with their two Catahoula rescue dogs, Annie and Belle, as well as a variety of outdoor pursuits, like biking, camping and backpacking. The Fiegeners own and operate Rye Design, an engineering firm in Claremore. They also run Musician’s Haven, which is a nonprofit that focuses on promoting local musical talent.
The Fiegener home was on the 2016 Historical Home Tour. If you missed it, you can watch our first episode of Claremore Home HERE and take an insider look at this Claremore gem.
-by MCM Staffer Ashley,
who loves looking at
other people’s houses