Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meadow Gold is Back

The old at 11th and Lewis. (photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The new at 11th and Quaker

US Route 66 is the historic highway that ran from Chicago through Tulsa and on west to terminate in Los Angeles, California. It is known as "The Mother Road". During the Great Depression nearly 15% of the population of Oklahoma migrated west to Arizona and California on Route 66 looking for employment.

Route 66 went through Tulsa on 11th Street just south of the downtown area, and there is a lot of history there. In 1934 Beatrice Foods put up a large neon sign advertising Meadow Gold milk. It was a landmark at 11th and Lewis for decades. Over the years Meadow Gold went out of business and the sign fell into disrepair and went dark some time in the 1970s. In 2004 the owner of the building on which the sign was installed wanted to tear down the building and the Meadow Gold sign was endangered. The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture led a campaign to save the old sign and it was carefully dismantled. A few months ago it reappeared on the corner of 11th and Quaker on top of a brick pavilion on a parcel of land donated by the city of Tulsa. A landmark restored.

The "Route 66 News" blog has a nice article about the dedication back in May and some fine pictures showing it lit up at night. See it HERE.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Burtner N. 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.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oklahoma Department of Transportation, 1940

1709 East King Place

Built in 1940 as the Tulsa headquarters of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation this has been the home of Empire Roofing for a long time. Other than the stone work around the front entrance there is not a lot of Art Deco to it but it is an attractive functional design.

I searched the internet for the architect and some information about the design but could find nothing. If you know more about this building please leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

William D. Whenthoff Residence, 1935

1142 S. College Avenue

The building is constructed of bricks over tiles blocks, and then painted to look like stucco. This house at 1142 South College Avenue, built in 1935 for William D. Whenthoff by Joseph R. Koberling, architect, was designed in the streamlined ship style with two-stories of brick laid over tile blocks and painted to look like stucco.

A second story balcony serves as a canopy for the entry and wraps around the house. Its triple railing creates the illusion of a ship’s bridge with an exterior ladder running from the second floor to the flat roof. There are two porthole windows, one on the first floor by the entry and the other above the second floor entry. (Excepted from Tulsa Preservation Commission)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Big 10 Ballroom, 1948

1632 East Apache Street, Art Deco Streamline

The Big 10 Ballroom is a very large open structure originally built in an Art Deco Streamline style in 1948 by Lonny Williams. Mr Williams was only the second black officer on the Tulsa police force. It was created to be a venue for black entertainers to perform in North Tulsa.

The Big 10 Ballroom after 50 years of neglect. The front has recently been given a fresh coat of paint.

The interior looking south to the stage.

Plans are in place to restore it to service to the community.

In its day the Big 10 Ballroom was the venue for some of the hottest music of the day. It was a stop on the what was known as the "Chitlin Circuit" that provided safe venues for black singers and musicians to perform as they toured across the United States. A venue where crowds once packed the house to watch legendary performances from artists that are now part of the canon of American music.

Some of the artists to perform at the Big 10 during the 50' and 60s were Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, James Brown and Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, B.B. King, Fats Domino, Count Basie, Jackie Wilson, Dinah Washington, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Sam and Dave, Ike and Tina Turner, and the Temptations. All good things come to an end, and it closed in the mid-1960s.

When the ballroom closed the building was used as a supply warehouse for American Beauty Products for many years and then stood vacant for another two decades. The property has changed hands several times since then but is now in the hands of a group that plans to restore it to its former function as a performance center.

Lester Shaw, founder and executive director for the nonprofit A Pocket Full of Hope, said the organization is dedicated to introducing the arts as a character-builder into the lives of Tulsa youth. The Big 10 Ballroom Auditorium, as it will be called, will be the venue for the organization's theater productions and other events meant to lift the north Tulsa community surrounding it.

Shaw said the organization will apply for a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and seek help from charitable foundations to cover the restoration, which will begin with closing the massive holes in the roof that once served as a secondary dance floor. Then work will be done to clean the interior, extend the stage, add exits, create a coffee shop area and construct a corner to house photos and other memorabilia of the ballroom's and neighborhood's past. (from NewsOn6.com)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Holland Hall, 1923

1850 South Boulder Avenue - Boulder on the Park

The Student Body in February 1924, Grades 1 through 12

This was the original building for Holland Hall, a private Episcopal school now located at 5666 South 81st Street, Tulsa. (photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Charles A. Sanderson and Roy Wesley Sanderson originally constructed this building for Holland Hall School. Waite Phillips, W.G. Skelly and George S. Bole, along with several others, backed the project financially. The building was originally constructed with 9 classrooms, a shop, gymnasium, assembly auditorium, offices, and a chemical laboratory. The property was purchased by aerial cartography business Aero Exploration Company in 1938. It was later sold to KTUL Radio, a CBS affiliate, and Tulsa Broadcasting Company. KTUL remodeled the building internally and externally in 1947, converting the appearance to its current “Art Moderne” theme. (Tulsa Preservation Commission)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tulsa National Guard Armory, 1942

3902 East 15th Street

Like most of Oklahoma's National Guard Armories Tulsa's was a WPA project. It is the second largest armory in the state and was built from native stone. The Oklahoma National Guard has a newer facility on North Mingo and no longer uses this facility. The ownership went back to the city of Tulsa and it has been used for a number of things. There was an earlier plan to demolish it to clear fairgrounds space for something else. The resulting public outcry has persuaded the city council to cancel those plans and a number of possible uses are being considered. The cavernous open space of the main structure could be host to any number of events. I remember taking my dog there for obedience training back in 1966.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arnold Ungerman Residence, 1941

1718 East 37th Street

This Streamlined Art Deco house was designed by Leo Clark for Arnold Ungerman. Ungerman was a doctor who once worked for the U.S. Department of Indian Affairs on a Hopi-Navaho reservation. He and his wife fell in love with the Southwestern style of architecture and intended this house to be a blend of Mexican-Southwestern and contemporary modern styles. It is a two-story, concrete block structure on a concrete slab foundation. The house features a flat roof, corner windows, and a curved bay composed of glass block. Horizontal bands above the entry and at the roof line add to the Streamline effect.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Clinton Middle School, 1925

2224 W. 41st Street - New in 1925

Being demolished in 2009

New in 1925 (Photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Being demolished in 2009

No doubt it is all for the best; still, it is sad to see an old friend go.
When the original cornerstone was opened a Time Capsule was discovered with papers and momentos from 75 years ago. Read about it HERE.

The new Clinton middle school being built adjacent to the original. View from the south.

The new Clinton Middle School next to the old. View from the north.

Clinton was first built as a high school for the Red Fork District in 1925. When Daniel Webster High School opened in 1938 it became Clinton Junior High School, then later Clinton Middle School. I taught 7th and 8th grade mathematics and general science at Clinton in 1966 and 1967 and wanted to see what it looked like now. I arrived just in time to see some large machines tearing down the walls. I felt a little sad but then looked at the large new school being built to replace it.

That is what we do in this country, rather than try and preserve the old, we tear it down and build over. It will be a nice facility for the youngsters who attend school here. Perhaps in 75 or 80 years from now someone will see this new one torn down and be sorry to see it go.

Monday, July 13, 2009

McBirney Mansion, 1927

1414 South Galveston Avenue

The McBirney Mansion is a brick, stone, and stucco house built by John Long of Kansas City in 1927-28. It is proportioned on a grand scale, befitting its Gothic Revival style, and is meticulously crafted. Landscaping features fine magnolias and cedars, a grotto, and a rock-lined walk that make effective use of the spring that gave the site its original importance.

McBirney Springs has its source in an underground stream that surfaces here near the Arkansas River. The site was used by pioneers and early residents of Indian Territory Tulsa for watering stock before crossing the river. A ferry replaced the ford at this point, serving travel between Tulsa and Red Fork until the advent of bridges. In 1832, Washington Irving stopped at this spring and was so impressed by its beauty that he wrote about it.

James H. McBirney and his brother formed the Bank of Commerce in Tulsa in 1904. He soon built two of Tulsa’s early skyscrapers: the 10-story McBirney office building and, adjacent to it, the first 8-story home for his bank. By 1918, he and two associates were developing the Childer’s Heights subdivision along the Arkansas River. Many of Tulsa’s first mansions were erected on the downtown’s perimeter by some of Tulsa’s early builders and developers. McBirney’s home is one of the last still standing. (Historical text courtesy of The Tulsa Preservation Commission)

The McBirney Mansion is currently operated as an upscale Bed and Breakfast and is available for special events. This would be a beautiful place for a wedding reception. Look Here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tulsa Fairgrounds Pavilion, 1932

Tulsa Fairgrounds (South Louisville Ave., and East 17th St.)
Photo courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society

Built in 1932, the Fairgrounds Pavilion is an Art Deco treasure. An extremely flexible arena, it can go from ice floor to basketball court to concert seating in a matter of hours.

Designed by architect L. I. Shumway, the arena was built as a WPA project during the great depression. It seats about 6500 in a variety of configurations and hosts ice hockey, rodeos, basketball games and rock concert

The Art Deco ornamentation reflects an agricultural motif as is appropriate for a fairgrounds. The interior also contains Art Deco decoration. With the Great Depression came PWA Art Deco. The Public Works Administration, part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, provided construction jobs that included government and public buildings. Tulsa is noted for its many Art Deco Buildings.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Midwest Equitable Meter Building, 1929

3130 Charles Page Boulevard

This one-story, commercial warehouse was designed by Bruce Goff. It has corbeled brickwork with tan bricks laid in soldier courses. Glass block was utilized on the sides of the building.

The building is curently occupied by the Oklahoma Gage and Supply Company. At one time the stone with the building name was covered with another sign. The sign is gone but the metal frame it was fastened to is still there.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

S&J Oyster Bar / Leon's, 1945

3301 South Peoria Avenue

What was the S&J Oyster Bar is now Leon's

The old S&J Oyster Bar featured a lot of black and white tile, on the floor and on the wall.

The tile has been replaced with red brick and varnished concrete floors.

The curved glass block windows go back to the original Streamlined Art Deco origins. The north side dining area is now a game room.

This is what I remember from the S&J, a lot of chrome and black and white tile.

Quite a different look now.

The wash rooms still feature art deco glass blocks although I don't remember the doors.

Wash room walls and floors are still tile. This could use a good scrub and some polish on the brass fixtures.

The main bar area is open and spacious. The sky lights fill the room with soft light.

In 1945 the Town and Country Restaurant opened in this building built at 3301 South Peoria Avenue in a Streamlined Art Deco Style. Other than this simple fact, I was unable to find any other mention of the original restaurant. I know that the S&J Oyster Bar was here for a number of years followed by En Fuegos and then Ford's Filling Station, but have not been able to learn its earlier history. A few days ago my wife Susan and I ate lunch at Leon's which is currently located in this building.

In 1983 the building was remodeled by Howard and Sandy Smith and opened as the S&J Oyster Bar. The decor featured a lot of black and white tile and chrome rails. The restaurant's hard surfaces of black and white wall tiles resulted in a high noise levels during busy times which gave the place a lively feel. This proved to be a very successful restaurant and Smith opened a second location in 1984 and a third in Kansas CIty in 1985. The S&J did business in this location until it was sold to Greg Hughes in 2002.

Greg Hughes did a lot of remodeling, replacing the black and white tile motif with exposed red brick. The original flat roof over the front bar area was replaced with a high curved sky light which gave the place a more spacious open feeling. In December 2002 it opened as En Fuego which was an upscale Mexican restaurant.

In early 2005 Hughes teamed up with Benjamin Ford who was Hughes' fraternity brother at USC in California. Besides being the son of actor Harrison Ford, Ben had made a name for himself as chef in noted west coast restaurants. Their joint effort opened in June 2005 as Ford's Filling Station.

J. J. Lewis worked for Greg Hughes when En Fuegos was just starting and ended up managing several enterprises for Hughes. In the summer of 2008 he leased the location and started his own restaurant and bar, Leon's, which he describes as an upscale casual restaurant and sport's bar. In its present incarnation the restaurant at 3301 S. Peoria is very attractive and probably headed for success. My only question is, who the heck is Leon?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tulsa Association of Pioneers, 1935

Owen Park, Maybelle Avenue and Edison Street

This monument was erected by the Tulsa Association of Pioneers in honor of the charter members of the association living in Tulsa, Indian Territory and vicinity for thirty years from 1881 to 1921 and other pioneer families.

The monument was moved from its original location on the Dr. Sam G. Kennedy farm to the north entrance of Owen Park in 1950. Dr. Kennedy was the first president of the Tulsa Association of Pioneers. In 1947, his heirs donated five acres to the Owen Park grounds. The monument bears the names of scores of pioneer families.