Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1909, 1921, 1952

In 1909 a group led by Reverend Sandy Lyons organized themselves as the Second Baptist Church in a one room schoolhouse in the 300 block on North Hartford. They soon decided that they did not care to be second in anything and changed their name to the Mount Zion Baptist Church. It was said that Mount Zion was the highest point in Jerusalem whereupon the city of God rested.

In the early days of the fledgling congregation a property was purchased as 419 North Elgin with plans to raise money for a new church. In 1914 Reverend R. A. Whitaker Assumed the duties as Pastor and very soon faced a serious challenge. The school building they had been using ceased to be available and they were forced to move with only 3 days notice. They temporarily moved in what had been a dance hall on North Greenwood. As soon as possible they built a frame tabernacle adjacent to their new property at Fourth and North Elgin and began to make plans for a permanent home.

Several anxious years of planning went into the construction of a permanent home for Mount Zion. Under Reverend Whitaker some $42,000 was raised but the cost of the proposed building was $92,000. Just when it appeared that plans would have to be abandoned a Jewish contractor came forward with an unsecured loan for $50,000. His faith and confidence in the new congregation was soon to be justified.

In 1916 construction on the new church was begun and five years later the $92,000 edifice was completed. An enthusiastic congregation held its first services on April 4th, 1921 while assuming a $50,000 loan in doing so. Their joy was short lived, as soon the "Church that Faith Built" was heading for more dark days.

In two months time Tulsa would experience the worst race riot in US history. At this time Tulsa had a very prosperous black business community. The financial strength of what was known as the "Black Wall Street" was second in financial dealing only to New York City.

It was during this time that a young black man was accused of assaulting a young white girl working as an elevator operator in the white business district. Before any real sense of the incident could be made the incident quickly escalated into a white lynch mob and an effort by the black community to protect the accused. This quickly escalated into an all-out but one sided war. Within 24 hours the once prosperous black community was ashes and rubble. Most homes and businesses and no less that 23 black churches including Mount Zion were burned to the ground.

Reverend Whitaker organized what relief he could. Members of Mount Zion set up a distribution center for what food and supplies they could gather for use of the devastated community. The pastor and members of the church gathered within the ruins for prayer and discussion. They were relieved to learn that they did have insurance, then dismayed to find that it had a clause that excluded an act of riot. The only way they could avoid obligation for a $50,000 mortgage on a pile of smoking rubble was to declare bankruptcy.

After considerable discussion the decision was made that the debt was a matter of honor made in good faith by the lender. They would pay off the mortgage as best they could. Some members did leave, but most stayed and spent evenings and weekends clearing away the debris, readying the site for rebuilding.

Exhausted and in ill health, Reverend Whitaker resigned as pastor. A series of ministers lent service for brief periods of time. Sometimes there was no pastor but the members pressed on. For the next five years the church struggled with the issue of the debt. At times it looked like they were facing foreclosure. The burden of debt made it difficult to call a pastor.

In 1928 Reverend Hamilton came and became involved in a fierce debate regarding the unpaid mortgage. He led a group who felt that the mortgage was not a legal debt because much of it was made up of "Good Faith" lenders. Money had been lent with no hard assets to secure it. Because it ws lent to a church it was a matter of good faith that the debt would be honored without security. This debate split the church. Pastor Hamilton resigned and withdrew with a large number of the members to start another church called New Hope Baptist. Those who remained continued to slowly pay off the old debt. By late 1937 they were holding services in the dirt floored basement of the ruined church and had paid off about three-fourths of the mortgage.

In 1937 Reverand J. H. Dotson was called to be pastor. Within 6 months 60 new members joined Mount Zion and $3,000 had been raised. Using several effective fund raising techniques Reverend Dotson continued to bring in new members and to chip away at the remaining mortgage. On November 23, 1942 the mortgage on the first structure was paid in full.

As soon as the first mortgage was paid Reverend Dotson began an aggressive building fund to pay for a new church. The story of how this small congregation managed to survive great hardship with honor was retold widely in papers and magazines all over the nation. As a result, contributions towards a new church came in from people who were moved by the story of the struggling congregation.

W.S. and J.C. Latimer were trained architects and members of Mount Zion. The two brothers drew up the plans for the new Mount Zion. It was to be larger and more expensive that the old church. It is this design that Rev. Dotson is so excited about in the photo above.

Once the construction began Rev. Dotson could be found at the construction site every day, watching, checking, handing bricks to the workman, providing encouragement. Finally in November of 1952 the fine new church was dedicated.

In a few years Pastor Dotson's health began to fail and he asked for permission to call Reverend G. Calvin McCutchen to be his assistant. In 1957 Reverend McCutchen was installed as the Pastor for Mount Zion.

Reverend McCutchen was to serve Mount Zion for 50 years. During his tenure the mortgage was retired, a number of improvements were made to the property, and the membership increased. In 1985 ground was broken for a large Family Life Center adjacent to the church which was completed one year later on Palm Sunday 1986.

There were difficult times when the I-244 Expressway was completed very close to Mount Zion, and Urban Renewal took out a large section of old business and residential building just south of the church. This caused a decline in attendence as prople were displaced from the area. Less than 1% of the membership is within walking distance of the church. Members now come from all over Tulsa, some as far away as Bixby, Glenpool, and Broken Arrow.

Since building the Family Life Center, other facility improvements include the remodeling of the Sanctuary, the J. H. Dotson Study Hall, the R. A. Whitaker Annex; development of "Faith Park;" and the establishment of a Computer Lab. On November 8, 1998, the Family Life Center was renamed "G. Calvin McCutchen, Sr. Family Life Center" in honor of Pastor McCutchen.

On Sunday, August 15, 1999, there was another fire at Mt. Zion. This time it was a joyous celebration of God's blessings with the burning of the mortgage on the G. Calvin McCutchen, Sr. Family Life Center.

After 50 years of faithful service Reverend McCutchen retired in 2007 and continues to be active in the ministry of Mount Zion. The baton has been passed to Dr. Leroy M. Cole who serves as the current Pastor of Mount Zion.

The only thing remaining from the church that burned is this basement room that served as sanctuary for a time. On August 16, 2009 Mount Zion Baptist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary celebration. The theme was "We Have Come This Far By Faith".

Mt. Zion Baptist Church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 5, 2008

  (Older photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society, and Mount Zion Baptist.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Parriott Mansion, 1929-1930

2216 East 30th Place (older photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

This elaborate Colonial Revival style residence was owned by oilman Foster Brooks Parriott. Designed by the Kansas City, Missouri, architectural firm of Boillot and Lauck, the house exhibits many of the characteristics of the style, including a hipped roof with gabled dormers, dentils, modillions and a simple frieze. It has an elaborate entry surround, including a swan-neck pediment. The house and outbuildings are situated in a fenced lot of 50 acres and the overall estate is most impressive.

The black and white photo was taken not long after the house was built. Since that time the grove of small trees has been cleared and an elaborate street side entry has been added. The Christmas decorations are in place for the season.

Parriott, a Standard Oil employee in 1898, was later involved with Leader Oil Company, Carter Oil Company, and was elected a director of Sunray Oil Company in 1937. He was elected chairman of the board of Sunray Oil Company six years later.
(Excerpted from Tulsa Preservation Committee)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Moore Manor, 1918

228 West 17th Place (older photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The Moore Manor, built only eleven years after Oklahoma’s statehood, is significant for its association with the oil boom of Tulsa. Frank L. Moore started business as a small drilling contractor and parlayed a few drilling interests into an oil empire. With his new-found wealth, he purchased a prime lot within the new Buena Vista Park Addition and built Moore Manor. Such oil industry giants as the Sinclairs, Cosdens, Roesers, and the McFarlins resided in this addition.

The house is the finest example of Colonial Revival residential architecture constructed during those early oil boom years. It is also an outstanding example of excellence craftsmanship and detailing. Its four stories consist of a full basement, first and second floors and a finished attic. Brick veneer is of rough red-brick, laid in very light gray mortar, with coursing of a common running bond. Building corners are done with brick quoins while all trim is of light gray limestone. The four-way hipped roof is covered with slate shingles, pierced with wall dormers on the entire perimeter.

This tract of land includes the famous Creek Council Oak Tree. Of the many opulent homes built on the block containing the Council Oak Tree, only the Moore Manor remains today to remind us of a glorious episode of American history. (Excerpts are from Tulsa Preservation Committee)

The Moore Manor and the Creek Nation Council Oak are on the same block of land. Moore Manor on the northwest corner and the Council Oak on the southeast corner. To see my earlier post on the Creek Nation Council Oak click HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Phoenix Cleaners, 1947

125 East 18th Street

Built in 1947, this white, two-story, brick building features a curved front corner and a smooth black metal canopy extending across the front facade and around the corner. Various window sizes adorn the upper level which is bordered above and beneath by bands of projected brick courses. An unusual curved-front window bay composed of fitted, flat-glazed frames is bordered by glass block "sidelites." (Excerpted from Tulsa Preservation Committee)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Carl K. Dresser House, 1919

235 West 18th Street

Designed by New York City architect Albert Joseph Bodker, the Carl K. Dresser House is a multi-story, stucco dwelling. Constructed in 1919-1920, the house is an excellent representation of the Spanish Eclectic style in Tulsa.

Located south of downtown Tulsa, the Dresser House is located in the historic Riverview neighborhood and was historically one of two houses on the block. Originally an exclusive neighborhood for Tulsa’s society, primarily oil tycoons, the neighborhood has been built up in modern times with apartment and condominium complexes.

Privately held, the Dresser is available for weddings and elegant receptions. Their website is HERE. (Excerpts are from Tulsa Preservation Committee) (older photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tribune Building, 1924

20 East Archer Street

The Tribune Building, at 20 East Archer Street, was built in 1924 and housed Tulsa's evening newspaper the Tulsa Tribune until 1942. It was the first building in Oklahoma built as a newspaper plant. Built in Tulsa’s original business district, the Tribune Building is similar in style, scale, and materials to other 1920s buildings that were constructed several blocks to the south in what was to become the central business district. Designed as an efficient newspaper plant, its large, elaborately detailed interior also reflected the Tribune’s importance to the growing community.

In 1942 the Tulsa Tribune became part of the Newspaper Printing Company and was printed at 315 South Boulder along with the morning newspaper the Tulsa World. Following the trend of most evening newspapers the Tribune's subscribers declined causing it to be unprofitable and it ceased publication in September, 1992.

The Tribune Building subsequently served as a storage facility and as a mission for the homeless. The photograph above was taken in about 1945 when it was a warehouse for The Aldridge Moving and Storage company. Notice the streetcar rails turning the corner of Boston and Archer.

The building lay largely vacant from 1971 until 2001, when it was renovated and converted into loft apartments under the name Tribune Lofts.

In the early sixties until its abandonment in 1971, the building housed John 3:16, a mission and shelter for homeless men. Notice that statues of two small owls originally sat perched above the entrance. The owl being a symbol of wisdom and appropriate for a newspaper.

The main lobby retains its terrazzo floor, marble wainscoting and stairway, and dentiled molding. Original elevators, call buttons, and brass mailbox remain, as does the iron catwalk that surrounded second floor presses. The Tribune Building has become the cornerstone for revitalization of Tulsa's oldest commercial district.

(Excerpts are from Wikipedia and Tulsa Preservation Committee) (older photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gypsy Oil Company 1920 / Gypsy Coffee House 2009

303 North Cincinnati Avenue

The Gypsy Oil Company was an affiliate of Gulf Oil and was in business before 1910. This building housed their Tulsa Offices until the early 1930s.

For the past 10 years Gypsy has been reincarnated as the Gypsy Coffee House and Cyber Cafe. I have not patronized them but the fact that they have been in business for 10 years tells me they are doing something right. I like to see old buildings turned into new businesses. This one not only provided space, but a catchy name.

They have a website in progress, look HERE. A satisfied customer has a blog post HERE.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ambassador Hotel, Tulsa 1929 / 2009

1324 South Main Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Opened in 1929, this elegant hotel catered to the leaders of Oklahoma's early oil industry.

n 1929, General Patrick Hurley introduced the Ambassador Hotel to Tulsa. One of the first "extended stay" hotels, the Ambassador was created to provide upscale temporary housing for oil barons and their families while their own mansions were built. The ten-story Mediterranean style building is one of Tulsa’s most beautiful structures, graced with Italian terra cotta relief panels and limestone cornices. Hurley never got to bask in the elegance of his hotel. About the same time as the opening, Hurley was appointed to the Secretary of War post, the first Oklahoman cabinet member.

Tulsa’s oil business continued to grow. In 1960, Kewanee Oil and its subsidiary Delbert Development Company purchased the Hotel Ambassador. A $1.25 million overhaul was undertaken to create an apartment hotel, primarily targeting commercial occupancy.

After the oil business decline, the hotel became senior retirement housing, and closed entirely in 1987. In 1997, developer Paul Coury and a group of civic-minded citizens purchased the property to begin the $5.5 million renovation to restore this historic structure to its early day elegance.

The Ambassador is also the location of The Chalkboard, one of Tulsa's finest restaurants.

For more information see the website for the Ambassador Hotel

Here is Patrick Hurley with Oklahoma's favorite son Will Rogers.
(photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 9 - Home Again, Home Again

Today we drove back home to Tulsa. We had a great week and I tried to sum it up in this last post from our trip to Santa Fe. To join us and look at today's photographs, please link to my other blog.

Please visit TulsaGentleman