By: Roseanne McKee
Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
The late Eva Payne Glass, wife of oil business magnate Julian Wood Glass, was an art aficionado with a gift of hospitality who lived in Nowata. She was a founding member of the Tulsa Opera.
Also, a founding member of the Tulsa Ballet, Eva Payne Glass paid to bring the “Nutcracker Ballet” to the Nowata Public School to be performed by the Tulsa Ballet at Christmas, said Nowata Historical Society President Carroll Craun.
Glass enjoyed sharing the arts with her neighbors and so she brought the Tulsa Philharmonic to her outdoor backyard balcony to play on a number of occasions, Craun said. She was a founding member of the Tulsa Philharmonic as well.
“She loved Halloween. She’d sit at the front door on what they called her throne and she’d invite the children in and give them large-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars,” said Craun.
As an extrovert, Glass loved people and young people.
“She would make egg or chicken salad sandwiches for the kids who visited and sit with them on the patio,” Craun said.
Glass was also a co-founder of a Nowata chapter of an international women’s service organization, General Federation of Women’s Clubs known as GFWC La-kee-kon. La-kee-kon means “good reading” in the Cherokee language, said Craun, who is the group’s most recent past president.
Glass stood a diminutive four feet six inches tall. Eight of her formal dresses and coats are on display for the Christmas Open House, which continues today from 1-4 p.m. weather permitting, Craun said.
Known as the longest continuous GFW member at the time, Glass became a GFWC Ameritus member for Oklahoma in 1957 and was given the title the “Jewel of Oklahoma,” a title rarely conferred, Craun explained.
As a young woman Glass was married and living in Hope, Ark., when her husband, whose last name was Payne, was taken ill and died from the flu. Glass was then pregnant with her daughter.
While her daughter was yet an infant, Nowata resident Roberta Campbell invited her for a visit. Campbell, who later co-founded GFWC La-kee-kon with Glass, introduced her to her future husband, Julian Wood Glass.
The couple married on Dec. 21, 1904 and went on to have one son, named Julian. After their son Julian was raised, the Glass Mansion was built and the couple took up residence there.
Unfortunately, her husband, J. Wood Glass, died of a massive heart attack in 1952 long before Eva Glass, who lived until 1983, and who died just two weeks shy of her 102nd birthday, Craun said.
Glass enjoyed piano music and hired a local high school student to play for her every afternoon for an hour and a half while she took her nap.
Terry Jordan, a high school student who also did yard work for her, played piano for her for a three to four years time span during the 1970s. When he played, Jordan was instructed to enter through the French doors near the piano so that he would not track mud over the carpet, said Evelyn Jordan, Terry Jordan’s mother.
Terry Jordan recalled that the performer Beverly Sills was invited to have lunch with Glass a year in advance so that the dining room could be repainted in Sills’ favorite color — red.
Glass’s favorite color was pink — of any shade, Craun said.
“Her house is baby’s breath pink because of this. A lot of rooms in the house have a pink tone to them. The kitchen has furniture in a shade of pink. Her bedroom is pink and so is the wallpaper,” she said.
Another quirk of Glass’s was that she did not believe in televisions because she thought they taught bad manners. She did not allow them in the house, and there has never been one in the house, Craun said.
She did allow her nurse to have a TV in the garage apartment as long as Glass could not hear it.
Glass was a good cook. Although for special occasions she had someone come in to prepare food.
“I have some of her handwritten recipes,” Craun said. “We’re thinking about doing a cookbook. A lot of her recipes are older style — beef tongue, egg salad.”
For the holidays Eva Glass and her son, Julian, would sometimes travel to the Glen Burnie Home, an ancestral home of the Glass family in Winchester, Va.
The Glen Burnie home, built by Robert Wood Glass starting in 1794, on property originally surveyed by James Wood Glass in 1735, was renovated by Eva Glass’s son, Julian Glass, and his best friend, R. Lee Taylor.
Craun described Taylor as “an exquisite miniaturist from Winchester, Va., who made sequined Christmas tree ornaments for Glass” on display from time to time at the Glass Mansion.
After the death of Julian Wood Glass Jr. in 1992, and as a condition of his will, the house and gardens were opened to the public on a seasonal basis in 1997. They are now an important part of a year-round regional history museum complex known as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
No doubt Glass would be glad to learn that her tradition of hospitality and appreciation for the arts are being continued at Glen Burnie, which will hold a holiday tea and watercolor exhibit on Tuesday. This year’s holiday tea at Glen Burnie in Winchester, Va., took place on Dec. 11, featuring blended teas, chicken cashew in phyllo cups, tea sandwiches, cookies and brownies.
After the conclusion of the Christmas Open House, the Glass Mansion will be closed except for pre-arranged tours. To schedule a tour or to rent the mansion for a special event, call the Nowata Historical Society Museum at 918-273-1191.