Thursday, December 3, 2009
Gillette Mansion, 1921
1521 South Yorktown Place
This is the home of J. M. Gillette, from which the residential district around it draws its name. It is a three-story, Gothic Tudor building constructed of brick, stucco and heavy timbers. It has rock accents, multi-paned leaded glass windows set within cut stone Gothic arched frames, and a slate roof. This early photograph looks at the house from the north with the prominent windows on the west side.
Outstanding interior features include a winding staircase and cut stone fireplaces. One of the fireplaces has gargoyle brackets on the mantle. Much of the interior is of gumwood with intricately detailed moldings and paneling. It also features a library and a sunroom with a colored glass skylight.
Originally, the mansion’s back yard extended from the house to the lot line where 16th Street should go through. The mansion grounds included a natural stone goldfish pond, a wood and stone screened “summer house” facing the fish pond, a hand crafted (dated and signed) concrete picnic table and benches with inlaid tile tops, concrete garden benches, and a clay tennis court located in the southwest corner of the yard. The property around the mansion is now populated by other houses.
James Max Gillette was an important merchant, real estate entrepreneur and oilman in Tulsa’s early days. Gillette sited his home outside the city limits and raised purebred cattle on this “country place” for several years. The cattle grazed on land south of the mansion, which is currently occupied by four new homes. During the Depression, Gillette lost everything, including the mansion.
(Excerpts from Tulsa Preservation Committee. Older photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.)