Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Bank at 320 South Boston

320 South Boston Building today.
Artist's rendering of completed building prior to expansion.

This handsome 22-story high rise building with 10 story wings on each side is known simply as the 320 South Boston Building. In the past it has had several names.  

1927 photo.  New addition on the left, old on the right.
The Exchange National Bank of Tulsa, Oklahoma was organized in 1910, when four young men purchased the failed Farmers National Bank of Tulsa. Business men Eugene Frank Blaise, Charles J. Wrightsman, William Connelly, and Harry F. Sinclair became the new owners.

A new 10 story building at 320 S. Boston was completed in 1917 to be the home of the Exchange National Bank. It stood ten stories tall and at that time was the largest bank in 
Revolving Brass door and Gilt carved trim.

Amidst a downtown building frenzy in 1929, the bank was expanded by adding the left wing and a 22 story central tower. The addition brought the building's height to 400 feet (122 m), making it the tallest building in Oklahoma at the time. 

The architect was George Winkler, who also designed the Mayo Hotel. One of the bank's major investors was Harry Sinclair who became the bank's president.

In 1948 these were the only escalators in Oklahoma
Bank of Oklahoma was placed into FDIC receivership in 1990, and a year later was bought by Tulsa businessman George Kaiser.   

At the time, it was a $2 billion bank with 20 branches in Oklahoma. Under Kaiser's ownership, BOK began an aggressive expansion effort. BOK's expansion strategy is to locate in growing markets near Oklahoma. 

  (Older photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.   Text from Wikipedia, mostly) 
Old Main Lobby
Main lobby today
Decorative stone trim
Ceiling and decorative stone work

The Vault.  Very strong.  A safe place to keep your treasure.


  1. I believe the Inner Atrium and guy statue pictures are from the Kennedy Building across the street, 321 S. Boston Ave.

  2. Sidney - You are correct. Thank you very much for pointing that out. I would appreciate it if you would check my future posts for sanity. No doubt this will not be my last error.

  3. Thanks for lurking! Enjoyed your comment. And enjoy your shots of your beautiful city.

  4. If I'm not mistaken, this bank also connects to the tunnel that runs underground at 4th and Boston, correct? It's gorgeous.

  5. What a BEAUTIFUL building! Great photos of it also! Thanks...

  6. I am thinking at one time the light on top of the old NBT Building had colored lights and when storms where turning bad you could look at the color that was on the building. I know several times it had saved many people from being caught in storms. Then when the weather was normal you could see the white light on top of our building. You knew all was well.

  7. Actually, when all was well, the NBT building displayed a solid green light on the panels. Flashing green for possible rain, flashing red for possible bad storms and solid red for "get in the cellar Mom!"
    Also, a little known factoid about this structure is that it was proposed as a destination for docking Zeppelins. Look at the metalwork still extant at the very top - yep, a moor. And note too the fancy doorway that faces north there on the north side of the building leading to, apparently, nowhere. As prevailing winds were from the south during "flying season" , the entrance to the building was facing north. The idea was to disembark from the airship, walking a gangplank from the gondola into the building. There, a small [N gauge as I remember] tram would take passengers to the Union depot and 'air freight' to the Katy. Some of the narrow tracks are still visible in a couple of alleys last time I looked.
    Coolest building in Tulsa...

  8. Thanks for this site.

    About that mooring mast: I read that from 1949 through 1954 the building broadcast TV,

    but I have never seen a photo of the building with the 400? 100?-foot antenna on its top, nor do I know when it was taken down. Many web pages cadge the line, "KOTV's transmitter, built in the backyard of Chief Engineer George Jacobs, was eventually hoisted to the top of the National Bank of Tulsa Building..." and so it would seem likely to have been modest in height. The only indication I have found is on the stationery pictured in the first link, above. And, yet, who knows if that is what would fit on the page?

  9. That is a grand looking bank. ANd those doors!

  10. It was a great post and I was impressed with the features. You did a simply amazing post. Big thanks.

    Charles A

  11. Wow! It was very gorgeous and fantastic. Hope to see that wonderful property soon. Thank you for sharing.

    Charles A

  12. Intriguing, imposing building and great background notes.

  13. What a spectacle of architecture! Photographs that show! I like what you do. hug

  14. I'm loving that shiny brass door. They just don't make them like that any more.

  15. Kaiser did not purchase this building in the 90's. When the Williams companies down sized their portfolio the Bumgarner family took ownership and continues to today

  16. Thanks for visiting my blog and I decided to visit your other blog. Very interesting! Yes, being in a chair has it's ups and downs but my husband and I have some fantastic friends. We vacation on Grand Lake every year and have for 20 years in the Grove area. We are hoping to go back this July but Dennis is struggling with some stomach problems so We are going to have to let God be in control of that. I'm so glad I found your blog, I'll keep tuning in!

  17. Great building, love the architecture!

  18. Hi Bill, thanks for your comment on my blog :) !

  19. Such a historical place. I want to see that myself someday.

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  22. Long before the flashing weather teller was installed, the original lighting on dome came from three sets of, orange, and white, Each color stayed on for about 30 seconds and then changed to next color. It was far more attractive than the weather teller. The KOTV tower on top was added in 1949 and taken off via helicopter in the 70's.

    1. Yes! When my brother and I were kids, every time our parents drove downtown and we could see the tower, my brother and I used to sing repeatedly, "National Bank of Tulsa's green, National Bank of Tulsa's green, ..." until it changed color and then continue with the next color. We probably drove our parents to distraction with our constant singing! We called the colors green, red, and white.

  23. Long before the flashing weather teller was installed, the original lighting on dome came from three sets of, orange, and white, Each color stayed on for about 30 seconds and then changed to next color. It was far more attractive than the weather teller. The KOTV tower on top was added in 1949 and taken off via helicopter in the 70's.


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