Monday, September 28, 2009

Weber's Root Beer Stand, 1933

3817 South Peoria Avenue

Home Made Root Beer, and the World's First Hamburgers.
Weber's is a family-owned and operated restaurant that was started in June of 1933. Located in the heart of Brookside at 3817 S. Peoria, the oldest and longest-running business of any kind located in Brookside. Weber's Superior Root Beer was the creation of Oscar "Weber Bilby" back in the late 1800's. Oscar and his wife Fanny moved to Oklahoma from Missouri to a 640 acre farm just north of Sapulpa to an area now know as Bowden, Oklahoma in 1884. Oscar was a farmer but he enjoyed experimenting with different soft drink condiments. Through trial and error, he put together a secret recipe consisting of 14 natural ingredients which were "fire brewed" then stored and aged in birch bark barrels. His famous Weber's Superior Root beer was then served at the peak of the flavoring cycle. Oscar used yeast to carbonate his root beer.

On the fourth of July, 1891, Oscar probably made his most significant contribution to society when he forged a piece of iron into a 3' x 4' grill. He then built a pit and heated the grill with hickory wood. His wife, Fanny, made sour dough buns while Oscar pattied up some black angus all-beef-patties and proceeded to grill the patties on his new hand-made grill. When they were cooked to perfection, he placed the patties between the buns...thus, the first real hamburger was made. He then served them (along with Weber's Superior Root beer, of course) to more than 100 people who were the Bilbys' friends and family. Oscar continued this 4th of July tradition every year for the rest of his life.

His hamburgers and root beer were the hit of the community. Decades of encouragement later, Oscar opened the first Weber's Superior Root beer Stand at 3817 S. Peoria. Oscar felt that the original stand should remain in the Bilby family forever. At the present time Oscar's great grandson Rick Bilby and his wife Jennifer own and operate the original Weber's Superior Root Beer Stand. It is with great pride that they cook their burgers on the original grill, made the same as they were in 1891, every day.(Excerpted from Weber's of Tulsa)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Baptist Church, 1897, 1926, 1942

East Fourth Street and Cincinnati Avenue

First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa has a history that coincides with the earliest days of the city, when Tulsa was a small Indian Territory trading post on the banks of the Arkansas River and known affectionately as “Tulsey Town.”

Today, the church is situated at Fourth Street and Cincinnati Avenue in a complex of several buildings and has a congregation of over 3,000. It originated as “Missionary Baptist” in May of 1897. The Reverend W.A. King, district missionary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, a revival team and 12 others were the founders and first members. In her book about First Baptist’s history, “The Story of a Church: Highlights of the First Hundred Years,” author Alice Heath describes the church’s first services, which were held in the Mowbray Furniture Store and Undertaking Parlor on South Cincinnati Avenue between Second and Third Streets.

Within four months, the congregation had grown to 76 members. A year later, the church members had managed to construct their own building on Cincinnati Avenue between First and Second Streets, thus allowing the members to relocate from the furniture store and undertaking parlor. Although they had a new building they did not have baptizing facilities, so new members continued to be baptized in the Arkansas River.

As the town grew so did the church and by statehood in 1907, according to Heath, “Tulsa Baptist” as it was then called, began steadily evolving into First Baptist and the church it would become today.”

The first few decades of First Baptist’s history were punctuated by financial difficulties, a common problem among new and growing churches. Despite initial struggles in the beginning years, the church continued to grow steadily and in 1927 opened a new sanctuary with enough seating for 2,200 people. Things were rosy until January 1929 when Pastor Dr. William Anderson tendered his resignation in order to follow a calling to a church in California. Anderson was succeeded by Dr. Robert Bateman, whose first year as Pastor coincided with the Great Depression. (photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Though presented with a series of challenges over the years, First Baptist continually developed its outreach programs and by 1942 opened a new education building. By the church’s 50th birthday in 1947, church membership numbered 5,000 and at least 2,000 worshipers a week were attending services. Church programs continued to grow. The Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) was the largest in the Southern Baptist Convention with projects including a scholarship to Oklahoma Baptist University, support for a Children’s Home, a missionary in China and Hillcrest nursing students. Students in Vacation Bible School numbered over 600.

In April 1957 Dr. Warren Hultgren of Trinity Baptist in Lake Charles, La., arrived in Tulsa to succeed interim pastor Dr. Boyd Hunt as pastor of First Baptist. Dr. Hultgren would serve as pastor for 35 years, retiring in 1992. Deron Spoo, today’s pastor, says, “Warren Hultgren was a fantastic pastor and much loved in the community. Part of the strength of the foundation we are on is due to his leadership, integrity and pastoral care of the church.” He adds, “When Warren Hultgren retired he was replaced by Sam Shaw. He was also a wonderful pastor. We have been fortunate to have excellent, committed leadership. This is evident when you consider that over the past 70 years First Baptist has had only four pastors.”

(Excerpted from the GTR News)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Looking North from 31st Street on Riverside

Looking North from 31st & Riverside, 1928
(photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The fertile riverbottom soil makes a good cornfield. The road north is a dirt wagon trail. Rail road box cars stand just east of the field.

Looking North from 31st & Riverside, 2009

The dirt wagon trail is now a 4-lane Parkway connecting the heart of downtown Tulsa with the southeast part of Tulsa, and the communities of Jenks and Bixby, Bridges span the river at 21st, 51st, 71st, and 101st via the Creek Nation turnpike, providing easy access to I-44, I-75, and the Broken Arrow Turnpike.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tulsa Fire Station No. 3, Old 1909, New 2009

1013 East 3rd Street
One of Tulsa's oldest oldest fire stations, this was built in 1909 and remodeled in 1948. It has since been converted into a commercial property but seems to be vacant at the moment.

62 North Utica
The new station number 3 is a far cry from the old one. Sorry but I could not find the year it was built. The photo is from September 2009.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Southwestern Bell Main Dial Building, 1924, 1929

424 South Detroit Avenue (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The first two floors of this well-maintained building were built in 1924 when the Gothic Style was popular. They were erected to house the new telephone dial equipment which was first used in Tulsa in November of 1924.

Six years later, in 1930, when Zigzag Art Deco had supplanted the Gothic style, a four story addition was made. The addition held the division offices and the toll terminal equipment for the Oklahoma City-Tulsa underground cable.

The facade of the first floor of this light brown brick building is broken by a series of large, arched windows. These windows are framed in terra cotta, matching the color of the rather narrow terra cotta quoins and foundation of the building. The second floor windows are rectangular and separated by brick panels decorated with ornate terra cotta torches. A vertical pair of terra cotta shields is located above the torches. Above the second floor the building facade is broken into a series of stepped-back panels terminating in pinnacles above the roof line. The windows appear to be recessed panels. The spandrel area, constructed of buff-colored terra cotta tile with art deco designs, has strong vertical lines. The pinnacles are also faced with terra cotta tile, as is all of the building’s ornamentation. Northwestern Terra Cotta Tile Company of Chicago, the leading manufacturer of these tiles, was the supplier. (Excerpted from Tulsa Preservation Commission)

PS. I added some information to the previous post Cherry Street at Peoria

Friday, September 18, 2009

Home Federal Savings (BOK), 1956

East 31st Street and Harvard Avenue (Northeast Corner)

Built in Art Moderne style in 1956 by Koberling and Brandberg, the same architects that built the KVOO television studio.

Initially built as Home Federal Savings and Loan, it is now one of the Bank of Oklahoma locations in Tulsa.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tulsa Little Theater, 1932

1511 South Delaware Avenue (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The Tulsa Little Theater was organized in 1922 and performed plays in a variety of locations; large canvas tents, movie theaters and even at the American Legion. By 1925, the Little Theater group numbered over 300 members and began to perform at the Alhambra Theater at 15th and Peoria.

In 1929, the Little Theater purchased the property at 15th and Delaware, which would be its home for the next 60 years. East Lynne, the first production at their new location was performed in a tent. Despite the depression, the Tulsa Little Theatre continued its performances and in 1932 completed its permanent building.

In 1932 a theater was built in a plain art nouveau style. The first show produced in their new building was the Cradle Song. During the 1930's and '40's, the Delaware Playhouse, as it became known, was the epicenter of Tulsa's arts and entertainment scene. Over the years, the theater hosted hundreds of plays and entertainment events as it went through multiple directors and saw actors come and go.

Over the years the theater suffered a series of fires and other disasters as it changed hands several times. By 2004, the building had fallen into serious disrepair. It was at this time that Tulsa attorney Bryce A. Hill was looking for a midtown location for his law office.

In 2004, Bryce and Sunshine Hill purchased the property and began a massive restoration process that took 14 months to complete. Today, The Tulsa Little Theater is a modern, state-of-the-art facility with a capacity of 260 people. During the restoration process, great care was utilized in maintaining the historical ambience as well as adding many new features for the Tulsa Little Theater. In addition to the theater, the law office of Bryce Hill is located in the front portion of the building.

There is a nice web site with additional information about the Tulsa Little Theater. It has an interesting history, and even a few ghosts. You can find this story HERE.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking North at 15th and Boston

East 15th Street and South Boston Avenue, 1954 (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

East 15th Street and South Boston Avenue, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Century Geophysical Building, 1946

1333 N. Utica Avenue (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

It was hard to find specifics on this Streamline Art Deco building. It was originally built for Century Geophysical in 1946.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Residence at 15th and Norfolk, Then (1956) and Now (2009)

East 15th St and South Norfolk St (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

A photograph of this comfortable looking home is part of the Beryl Ford Collection. It has no information other than the note 15th and Norfolk. But if it is interesting enough to be in Beryl Ford's collection in 1956, I am interested in checking to see how it looks today.

When we look at it from the same angle as earlier we see it is looking in good repair. The major change from the outside is a change of paint from white to green with smart white trim, and some healthy looking trees; a Catalpa on the north side, and what I think is a Bradford Pear in the front.

When we slip around towards the side to peek behind the trees we see very much the same house with what looks like it might be a porch swing on the south side of the front porch and flowers planted along the planter which flank the front steps. A very nice house which has been cared for and still looks very inviting.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Colonial Building and Inn, 1927

1325 East 15th Street (Cherry Street)

The Colonial Building and Colonial Inn at East 15th and South Quaker Avenue in 1927. (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

With the exception of the smart red awnings, the weathered bricks, and a bit of shrubbery, the old Colonial building is remarkably unchanged in this September 2009 photograph. The handsome design has withstood the test of time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fifteenth and South Boston, Looking East

15th and S. Boston looking East in 1956.

It looks like the Tulsa police are working a fender bender involving what, at that time, would have been a new Buick. A crowd has gathered to kibitz and the street looks busy with parked cars and traffic. The men on the street are in shirtsleeves and the trees are leafed out so I assume this is summertime. (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

15th and S. Boston looking East in 1962.

There are fewer buildings on the left side of the street and less traffic. The trees are bare and garlands are strung on the buildings on the Southeast corner so I assume this is in December. The railroad overpass is still seen in the distance.

15th and S. Boston looking East in September 2009.

The service station and other businesses on the north side of 15th Street have all disappeared and a parking lot for a new medical clinic are in their place. On the southeast corner the same buildings are in place, now housing The Gadget Company and Mrs. De Haven's Flower Shop. The flower shop claims to have been business since 1905, although I rather doubt at this same location. The railroad trestle is gone and an overpass for South Cincinnati crosses 15th in the near distance. The rail right-of-way is now a bicycle path that runs to the pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas river.

The only things that appear in all 3 pictures are the southeast corner building that's now the Gadget Company, the small building beyond it, and a pair of manhole covers on this side of the street.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sipes Grocery / Camille's, 1948

1342 East 15th Street

This was one of several Sipes stores in Tulsa. I don't have the date it was built but this photograph was taken in 1948. Although the Sipes stores were bought by Hale-Halsell in 1955, they continued to operate under the Sipes name for a number of years. The design is clearly along the lines of the Streamline Modern Art Deco. (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The Remodeled building is now one of the 6 Tulsa locations for Camille's Sidewalk Cafe.

The store is large enough to house more than a coffee and sandwich shop. The remodeled structure makes up the Cherry Street Market and is looking for additional tenants.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oak Lawn Cemetery Gates, 1930

1120 East 8th Street

The Oak Lawn Cemetery gates are listed as art deco treasures by Wikipedia but there is no information about the designer. Neither is it clear where they are located. Oak Lawn Cemetery is north and west of the intersection of East 11th Street and South Peoria Avenue. The gates are on the north side of the cemetery where the American Legion Post One is located. The address given here is that of the American Legion. Go north of 11th Street on Peoria and turn left (west) on 8th Street to the American Legion and look back south to the gates. If you go a little farther to the end of 8th street you will be at the Fire Alarm Building.

The gates are striking in their design. They have a "Frank Lloyd Wright"ish look about them that is clearly of an art deco influence. They are in good repair. When I first went to look at them a month ago they were being tuck pointed. I would like to know more about them and hope that a reader can add to the discussion.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Claude's / Van's Hamburgers, 1950

3834 South Peoria Avenue
(photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Claude's old fashioned hamburgers may boast that they have been in business since 1954, but before it was Claude's it was Van's. For a time there were several Van's hamburgers in Tulsa. Van's is long gone but Claude's still grills them up and serves them with that little dab of grease on the bun from being warmed up on the griddle. Just like they used to make.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Belleview/Lincoln Elementary School, 1909

1330 East 15th Street

Built in 1909, Bellview School sits at the northwest corner of the Swan Lake Historic District. Until its closing in 1990, this elementary school was the oldest operational school in the city of Tulsa. (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Originally named Bellview, the name was changed to Lincoln in 1914. The original three-story building was built outside the city limits and had no running water or rest room facilities. Perimeter buildings were added between 1916 and 1922. Patio areas originally extended off each classroom. These were later enclosed to make hallways. The bell tower in the original building was taken down in 1967 after being struck by lightning. (Post card from

The west side is The Gray Snail Saloon.

Notable graduates of Lincoln Elementary School include Tony Randall (known to his classmates as A. Leonard Rosenberg), Bill "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd, and Moscelyne Larkin, co-founder of Tulsa Ballet Theater.

The entrance on the south (back) side still has the Lincoln school name.

The old school was converted into a retail/office complex in 1993 and renamed Lincoln Plaza on Cherry Street. A groundbreaking was held on July 9, 1993 by the developers, Orcutt Development Company (named in honor of the area’s founders). Architect Michael Dwyer developed the plans for the new center."

The north side faces Cherry Street and is Jason's Deli.

Today, Lincoln Plaza's shops and restaurants remain a busy and lively focal point of the neighborhood, enjoyed by people from all over the greater Tulsa area. This is also the site of the Cherry Street Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings from April to October. (Excerpted from Tulsa Preservation Commission)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Booker T. Washington High School, 1913

507 E. Easton Street

Legally segregated schools for African-American students began shortly after Oklahoma became a state in 1907. In 1908, a two-room frame school building was constructed on Hartford Avenue between East Cameron and East Easton Streets. The small school served grades 1 through 8. In the fall of 1913, Dunbar Grade School began operation in an eighteen-room brick building and a two-room frame building located at 326 N. Hartford Avenue. That first year’s enrollment included 241 lower grade students and 7 high school students. That same year the original Booker T. Washington High School was constructed. Its four-room frame building, designed by Leon B. Senter, was located at 507 E. Easton Street. Its first principal was E. W. Woods. This is now the center of the OSU Tulsa campus just north of Greenwood and Archer.

507 E. Easton Street

As Tulsa grew the four-room school soon became inadequate. A larger 3 story brick school was built on the same location in 1920 which served Tulsa's African-American community until 1960.

Booker T. Washington High School number two.

1631 East Woodrow Place

The third Booker T. Washington High School at 1631 East Woodrow Place began serving students in 1958. The first class to graduate from this school was the class of 1961.

The Tulsa Public Schools district was slow to react to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that de jure racial segregation was unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed all racial segregation in the United States. However, in 1973 Booker T. Washington was chosen to be the vehicle for Tulsa's school desegregation program. At that time in Tulsa, most Caucasians lived in south Tulsa, whereas most African Americans lived in north Tulsa. As Booker T. Washington was built during American Segregation, it was in north Tulsa. The Tulsa School Board chose to bus in primarily Caucasian students who did not live near the neighborhood that Booker T. Washington had served, while continuing to accept students who lived near the school. This method was used by several school districts, and is called desegregation busing.

Although a fourth Booker T Washington High School was built in 2003, the front section of the previous school was retained for its historical significance.

After 1973, Booker T. Washington became a magnet school; it no longer had a home neighborhood from which students were accepted, instead, students had to apply for admission to the school and came from all over Tulsa. A racial quota system was established; until the 2004-2005 school year, 45% of the students accepted identified themselves as "white," 45% identified themselves as "black," and 10% came from "other" ethnic categories. However, because of the 2003 Supreme Court Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger decisions Booker T. Washington was forced to accept students using a different method. The school now uses a system that accounts for the geographical location in which a student resides. Because Tulsa remains rather segregated, this method maintains the ethnic diversity created by the old quota system.

Today, the student body of Booker T. Washington boasts championship basketball, football, and soccer teams, a nationally ranked academic bowl team, a physics team, a nationally competing science bowl team, a robotics team, a forensics team, and a competitive cheerleading team. Booker T. Washington was the first Tulsa Public High School to offer Advanced Placement courses and began offering the International Baccalaureate in 1983. The 2003-2004 school year marked the 90th anniversary of Booker T. Washington and the dedication of a new school building.

Booker T. Washington High School’s new 213,000-square-foot building was completed in the fall of 2003, as the school began its 90th year. The new high school is an unique achievement; a state-of-the-art, expansive, and technology-rich facility that also celebrates a distinctive heritage within the Tulsa community. The top public high school in Oklahoma, Booker T. Washington is also one of the top-rated schools in the nation. The 1,250-student school is considered a cornerstone of north Tulsa’s African-American community: it began as a one-room segregated schoolhouse in 1913, and in 1973 it served as a model for Tulsa Public Schools’ voluntary desegregation program.
(photos courtesy of Robert Hicks and the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society) (Excerpted from Wikipedia and Tulsa Preservation Commission)