The first time Joel Slaughter walked into the Crystal Ballroom, chunks of plaster were falling off the walls and the floor was carpeted with pigeon droppings.
“The stench was so nauseating, you couldn’t even breathe,” remembers Slaughter, a Tulsa architect who toured the abandoned Mayo Hotel in 1997, not realizing that he would someday design the historic building’s renovation.
Twelve years later, on Sept. 14, 2009, Slaughter walked into the ballroom again to show it off the way Will Rogers would recognize it — every centimeter of intricate plaster molding restored to the original 1925 appearance. And the floor looks sparkling clean, of course.
“If you had a time machine and could go back and look at it,” Slaughter says, “the untrained eye would have a hard time spotting any difference.”