Tulsa has an interesting history. Many of the places that figure in our history are still standing. Here is a look at some of these places then and now.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Brook Theater/Restaurant
3307 South Peoria Ave - The Brook Theater in the 1950's
The same view today
The grand opening of the Brook Theater in 1945 as reported in the Tulsa World.
The Brook Restaurant and Bar
The Brook Theater, located in the Brookside District was designed by William Henry Cameron Calderwood in the Streamline style of Art Deco architecture and opened in 1945. It was a 600 seat movie theater famous for its "Saturday afternoon matinees" and the longest run of the movie "South Pacific" in a single theater in Oklahoma—over one year! Since that time, it served as the home of the American Theater Company for about 15 years and then was transformed into The Brook Restaurant and Bar which operates today. One of the mementos of its history as a movie house is an enormous projector just inside the door.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Fleeger Residence, 1937
2424 East 29th Street
This residence was designed by Frederick V. Kershner. As the first monolithic concrete house in Tulsa, this Streamline style residence has walls of reinforced poured concrete, 12-14 inches thick, which were engineered by the Portland Cement Company. The exterior is striated with narrow horizontal bands and the wings are composed of intersecting rectangular blocks. The house is situated on an uneven lot, massed to the highest point above the entry, with banded, flat roof levels stepped down like a series of stairs to the garage. The front location of the garage was very unusual for its time.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Riverside Studio aka Spotlight Theatre, 1929
1381 Riverside Drive
Built in 1929 as the Riverside Theater, since 1953 as the Spotlight Theater and home of The Drunkard melodrama and Olio of amateur talent. Link HERE
Patti Adams Shriner was a musician and teacher who received her training in the United States and Europe. She was also a scholarship pupil of the world renowned Maurice Moszkowski. Like her fellow artist (and designer of the Boston Avenue Church), Adah Robinson, Patti decided to build a residence to reflect her profession. The result was a combination studio and recital hall for her music students. Like Robinson, Patti selected Bruce Goff to be her architect. The Riverside Studio, as it was called, was built at 1381 Riverside Drive on a magnificent site overlooking the Arkansas River. The Art Deco structure is similar to the Robinson studio in both plan and material. The high ceiling lobby is reminiscent of the living room studio in the Robinson home. The stage acts as a link between the studio and residence, and the kitchen and dining facilities served both residential and studio functions.
The front elevation is dominated by an enormous round window patterned with sand-blasted designs. On each side of this window there are smaller rectangular windows connected by black glass inserts to form a diagonal pattern. It has been suggested that these windows resemble the black keys on a piano keyboard.
Eventually, Patti Adams Shriner was forced to give up her studio in 1933 and various lending institutions maintained possession until 1941 when Richard Mansfield Dickinson, a former New York City actor, purchased the property. He used the building as a residence and speech-drama studio. In 1953, Dickinson and a small group of performers known as the Tulsa Spotlighters, gave their first performance of a melodrama called "The Drunkard". Since that performance, the troup has performed the melodrama and Olio each Saturday night in what is now known as "The Spotlight Theater". The Drunkard and Olio has been a Tulsa fixture for quite a long time. In 1969 I was part of a Barbersop Quartet that sang on the Olio. We were the Sooner Statesmen.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Washington Irving Monument, 1915
Intersection of West Easton St. and Vancouver Ave near Owen Park
In 1832 a group of U.S. Rangers with civilian observers came through this area. Among them was Washington Irving, perhaps the best known American author of the time. On October 14, the party was traveling to their camp destination at the convergence of the Cimarron and Arkansas Rivers. Pausing briefly at a lookout point, Irving enjoyed the panorama from the hilltop in the Owen Park neighborhood. The descriptions of the view can be found in his book, Tour of the Prairies. A monument to this event stands at the corner of Easton Boulevard and Vancouver Avenue. This monument was erected and donated to the public by Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel Norman Wright in 1915.
The Oldest House in Tulsa, 1885
Located in Owen Park, Maybelle and Edison
This simple rectangular plan, side-gabled house is of the National Folk style predominant during the late nineteenth century. A centered entry door is flanked by two single-frame windows and covered by a colonnaded, open porch with a shed roof.
Originally located on the 400 block of North Cheyenne Avenue, this was the parsonage home of Reverend Sylvester Morris, a Methodist missionary, who founded many churches in and around Tulsa, including St. Paul's Methodist on Cherry Street.
The house was moved to the present location in 1976 after intruders set fire to it. The fire brought the house to the attention of historian Beryl D. Ford, who found within its plaster walls letters to Morris dated in 1895 and a photograph of the house. Reverend Morris, a Methodist minister, was reportedly shot and killed by lawmen who had mistaken him for a whiskey peddler. His horses continued on home, bearing his body in the carriage.
Although 1885 may not seem that old to some, it pre-dates the first Land Rush of 1889 when the first of the Unassigned Lands were available for settlement. The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 km²). Initially known as Indian Territory, Oklahoma only became a state in 1907.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tulsa Garden Center/Donald Travis Mansion, 1920
2435 South Peoria Ave.
The Italian style villa was designed by Tulsa architect, Noble B. Flemming in 1920. It has twenty-one rooms and ten bathrooms. It was built by David R. Travis (originally known as David Rabinowitz) an immigrant originally from Czarist Russia. The ballroom in the lower level was the location of the first Jewish services during the Travis residence since there was no synagogue or temple in Tulsa.
Samuel Travis built the house immediately south, which is now owned by the Tulsa Historical Society. In 1923 J. Harthur Hull purchased the home and built the Lord Burnham greenhouse and sunken garden. During the Depression the house and 10 acres was offered for sale for $25,000 with no buyer coming forward for several years.
The Snedden family finally purchased the mansion and property in 1934 and lived there until 1950, when oil man W.G. Skelly purchased the home. Mr. Skelly sold it in 1954 for $85,000 including ten acres to the City of Tulsa. Since then, the Tulsa Garden Center has operated the city-owned facility providing educational resources and meeting places for horticultural and environmental organizations.
Woodward Park with its beautiful Azalea Gardens, the multilevel Municipal Rose Garden, and the Tulsa Garden Center are all located on this 10 acre plot. This is a municipal treasure.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Creek Council Oak Tree, Prior to 1836
1750 South Cheyenne Ave.
The Creek Council Tree, a mature burr oak, marks the traditional "busk ground" chosen in 1836 by the Tulsa-Lochapoka clan of Creek Indians. They built a fire here and scattered the ashes brought from their last campfire in Alabama. In late 1834, they had begun their involuntary migration from Alabama under the control of the U.S. Government. It was a slow and painful trek; of the original group of 630, 161 died in route.
Their 1836 arrival was marked with a solemn and traditional ceremony. A "busk" site was chosen on a low hill overlooking the Arkansas River. Here, according to their traditions, they deposited ashes brought over the trail from their last fires in Alabama. The Tulsa-Lochapoka, a political division of the Creek Nation, established their "town." As late as 1896, the Lochapoka gathered here for ceremonies, feasts, and games.
The site was probably not used by the Indians after about 1900. Gradually it became a solid residential area for the growing city of Tulsa. The Creek Council Tree itself, however, survived. The oak, standing in its small, well-landscaped city park, serves as a meaningful memorial to the proud Indian tribe that brought law and order to a new homeland 173 years ago. I know of nothing in Tulsa history that is any older than this.
The Creek Council Tree was listed in the National Register on September 29, 1976. It was listed under National Register Criteria A, and its NRIS number is 76001576.
This historic old tree has its own little corner park.
Acorns from a Burr Oak tree. These are the largest acorns of any oak tree.
Boston Avenue Methodist Church, 1927
1301 South Boston Ave.
The soaring modern design of this magnificant downtown Tulsa church can be seen from all directions. It is art deco influenced by gothic cathedrals. Construction began in 1927 and was completed in 1929. Click to enlarge and see detail.
The inside is very interesting too, but I don't have any photos inside. The only time I was inside was for a funeral and that was not a good time for taking pictures. I do remember that the organ was magnificent. As usual an excellent article about it can be found in Wikipedia. You can read it HERE.
There are several versions of the story of how the distinctive architecture was created. Here is the version from the church's own web site.
Miss Adah Robinson, a University of Tulsa art instructor, was asked to sketch an initial design for the church. The sketch Robinson produced a few days later was a real shock to committee members, but her idea gradually caught on. The design was done in a new art deco style rather than the then-popular Gothic architecture, and included a round sanctuary and a slender 15-story tower. With the 1920's oil boom at its peak, church members were optimistic enough about the future to embrace both the new look and the $1,500,000 commitment. Robinson's design was approved, and Rush, Endacott, & Rush architectural firm was hired. A young man named Bruce Goff , one of Robinson's students and an employee of the firm, did the drafting and another former student, Robert Garrison, created the sculptures. Robinson supervised the project, working closely with church members and construction workers through the building's completion. Construction took over two years, and finally on June 9, 1929, church members moved into the twentieth-century art deco masterpiece that still houses the Boston Avenue congregation today
Frank Lloyd Wright's "Westhope", 1929
3704 S. Birmingham Avenue
This 10,000 square foot home was built for his cousin Richard Lloyd Jones in 1929 when Jones was editor and publisher of the Tulsa Tribune. This view looks West towards the long axis of the house. The trees surrounding the house make it difficult to get a photograph which does justice to the interesting design. For some vintage photos see HERE , or current exterior photos see HERE . Some interesting biographical information relating to this house can be read HERE CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO ENLARGE.
A view from the front (looking South). The estate includes a guesthouse, workshop, and a nice garden area with pool in the back. I would love to see the interior but I do not know who is living there now. This is one of only 3 Oklahoma buildings created by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Warehouse Market Building, 1938
925 South Elgin Ave.
The facade on the entry of the Warehouse Market Building is an excellent example of Art Deco.
In July 1938 Clint V. Cox and his son Clint V. Cox Jr., opened the first Warehouse Market store in this building considered one of Tulsa's most notable landmarks.
Carlton Place - Old Tulsa, 1910 to 1915
East 14th St. and South Cheyenne Ave.
The area near downtown Tulsa around 14th and Cheyenne was called Carlton Place when it was developed about the time of statehood. Recall that Oklahoma only became a state in 1907. This photo was taken in 1913. The brick pillars and wrought iron arch were built in 1909. A good article is found HERE.
The pillars are still standing but the arch is gone. Most of the old houses are still here. Because it is so close to the center of Tulsa it is a very desirable place to live if you work downtown.
This lovely old residential area is almost in the middle of downtown Tulsa. It is typical of neighborhoods built prior to 1920 with solid homes on tree lined streets.
Big front porches, flags, and sidewalks are of an older time when prople walked around after dinner and visited with their neighbors.
Tulsa Fire Alarm Building, 1931
1010 East 8th St.
The Tulsa Fire Alarm Building is a historic Art Deco building in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was built in 1931 and served as the central reporting station for the Tulsa Fire Department. Fires were reported from alarm boxes spread around town to this building and the firemen in this building would alert the fire station closest to the fire. At the time of its construction this system was the best available alarm system.
The building was used by the Tulsa Fire department from its construction until 1984 when it was left vacant and fell into disrepair. In 1994, it was purchased by the Tulsa Preservation Commission. In 2000, the The American Lung Association of Oklahoma purchased the building as its new headquarters. After a $5 million fund-raising campaign, the renovation of the building was completed in 2005. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
The building was designed by architect Frederick V. Kershner and inspired by a Mayan temple design. The building has an extensive terra cotta frieze program, with several fire-related motifs. A recurring theme on the front facade is a double-headed dragon. The large frieze over the front door has a male figure holding in his hands Gamewell alarm tape (part of the first alarm system used in this building) who is flanked by two helmeted firefighters. (History courtesy of Wikpedia)