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About a month ago the community seemed on the verge of losing one of our coolest assets; The Boarding House (TBH) game lounge and snack bar. Kailyn and Timothy Swonger had made their concept a reality in late 2015 when their son and daughter were tiny and time was abundant and flexible. Fast forward to 2019 and more demands on their time and resources necessitated a shift in priorities. That is why they had decided that someone else might have to take the reins of TBH, or it would have to close.    When their loyal friends and customers learned about the impending changes they were stirred into action. Ideas and offers poured through the TBH brain trust and one, in particular, stuck. A co-working space was something that had always been on the plan, but the implementation of it wasn’t clear. Enter the visionary Jill Castilla, president of Citizen’s Bank of Edmond, who sat down with the couple one day.

“She told us about ways we could do it without needing more staff or working more hours ourselves. We had known about coworking spaces for years, and had multiple people ask us if we would offer one. We just didn’t think it was possible for us until we met Jill. God bless her,” Kailyn said.

Since that revelation things have been going full speed ahead! Within a few days, the co-working space came together offering membership levels to access the space and amenities 24/7 (more on this to come!) A partnership with Manna Eatery provides fresh homemade pies of tantalizing variety twice per week. Strategic partnerships with local entities such as the Masonic Lodges provide free access for Guthrie’s youth. The game space is also available for private parties and events.

As a recognition that they are here to stay, they just commissioned a mural to be painted on the walls by local artist, Gabriel Hancock!

Swonger explained, “We wanted a piece to fill that wall that reflected our business, the community, and the city of Guthrie, and we wanted a local artist to do it. I’ve enjoyed Gabe’s line art for years and have commissioned him for other projects. Hiring him to do this mural was a no-brainer! To us, this piece showcases the beauty and power of theme in large pieces of art in abstract or non-traditional mediums. I would love downtown Guthrie to embrace more public art! The piece incorporates people playing cards and chess, fun details like a cup of coffee, and is framed by Guthrie’s recognizable historic skyline including buildings such as the Publishing Building and the Gray Building (corner of Oklahoma and Division)”

    What may be most striking about the mural is that everything is connected just as each business, building, or individual in our community is interconnected. Symbolically, this mural is representative of our dependence on each other to maintain the fragile economy which is Guthrie. The loss of The Boarding House may not have directly affected the tire company down the road, but it would have shown an inability of our town to support an out-of-the-box (pun intended) retail space, and that speaks volumes to potential investors and residents. The tire company would ultimately feel the consequences of the lack of vitality in our core.

The salvation of TBH is a step toward building Guthrie’s economy. People like the Swonger family are creating our future. Support them, support Guthrie, support generations to come.

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