The second-largest city in Oklahoma is one that predominantly sits on layers of history and design. With the discovery of oil, Tulsa transformed from a small frontier town to a boomtown growing in wealth paraded through the display of the Art Deco style that dominated bigger cities from which the designers then took a cue.
The city found its identity by a collaboration of the culture of its people with a unique take on art and architecture, thus, setting the foundation for an appreciation of arts and heritage for centuries to come which is evidently seen today through the numerous well designed Art Deco treasures that have become living symbols of the past essentially linking it to the present and is highly appreciated today.
Here is the list of 15 such places for Architects:
1. Philbrook Museum of Art
The Philbrook Museum of Art is an enormous art museum with expansive formal gardens situated in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The museum was originally built as an Italian Renaissance villa. The museum is sited on 25 acres of formal and informal gardens. The expansive grounds contain elaborate gardens inspired by Villa Lante, an Italian country estate north of Rome, and were originally designed by Hare & Hare.
This vast art museum, housed in an Italian style villa, has various exhibits from European, American, Asian, Native American, and African artists and spanning various artistic media and styles.
2. Gathering Place
Gathering Place is a public open park located alongside Riverside Drive in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Named as one of the greatest places in the world by many awards the Gathering place was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh.
Spanning over 100 acres, Gathering Place offers guests with main attractions such as the Williams Lodge, the Chapman Adventure Playground, a boathouse, splash playground, outdoor sports courts, a skate park, a wetland pond and garden, and numerous trails with plenty of activities for both adults and kids.
3. Boston Avenue Methodist Church
Considered to be one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical Art Deco architecture in the USA is Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa. The unique design of the structure is credited to Adah Robinson and Bruce Goff. The Boston Avenue Church revels in the use of various building materials such as metal, glass, terra cotta, Indiana limestone, and Minnesota granite.
The exterior is ornamented with various terracotta sculptures that comprise several groups of people at prayer representing spiritual life, religious education, and worship. The structure soars into the sky linking the physical, visual, and theoretical connection to the Gothic Cathedrals with the vertical celebration of the Art Deco.
Westhope is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed residence that was constructed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1929 for his cousin Richard Lloyd Jones. It was regarded as a Textile Block within the Prairie House style, a work of art far ahead of his time. This house was built with concrete blocks and large glass surfaces with large windows mounted in steps, forming numerous rectangular windows with iron-framed glasses.
The spaces were divided into two open floors, the style Prairie School, with the public sector on the ground floor and private on the first. Other spaces include a large garage, garden room, workshop, four courtyards, a pool, fountain, pond, gardens, and a covered entrance.
5. Tulsa Spotlight Theatre
Originally known as the Riverside Studio and designed by the acclaimed architect Bruce Goff, the Tulsa Spotlight Theatre is listed on the National Historic Registry. Built in 1928 as a two-story house with a studio wing for music, it has a flat roof and stucco exterior. The theater is also home to award-winning children’s theater productions since 1997 and was designed to introduce young patrons to live theater in the coming years.
6. Philtower Building
One of the several Art Deco buildings in downtown Tulsa, the Philtower designed by Edward Buehler Delk is Tulsa’s first mixed-use high-rise tower. With 24 floors, a lobby that is exquisite with its beautiful lighting fixtures and painted ceilings, the building captures the Art Deco style indicating the wealth and power of that time in Tulsa’s oil history.
A notable feature of the building is the illuminated, sloping tiled roof representing the Gothic Revival architecture style.
7. Tulsa Fire Alarm Building
Built in 1932, the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building served at the height of the Art Deco boom as the central reporting station of the Tulsa Fire Department.
This was the building where fires throughout the town were reported to, and the firemen would alert the respective closest fire stations. Since this system became obsolete within a few decades, it has then been abandoned.
Inspired by Mayan temple design, the building has a structural steel frame with masonry walls featuring an extensive terracotta frieze program and many fire-related motifs. The double-headed dragon on the front façade is a recurrent theme. The building also formerly had two large art deco style lanterns above the front doorway and four gargoyle-like figures at the backside. Since 2015 the building has served as a museum for the Tulsa firefighters.
8. Tulsa Art Deco Museum at Philcade
The lobby of the Philcade, one of downtown Tulsa’s skyscrapers, is home to the Tulsa Art Deco museum dedicated to preserving all things Art Deco. Home to first-class art deco architecture, this museum houses a breathtaking collection of artifacts from this era ranging from functional pieces for the home to promoting artwork from the period.
The lobby is heavily exquisite with its lighting fixtures and hand-painted floral designs on the ceiling complimented by the mahogany, bronze, marbled walls, and the terrazzo floor. This museum is one of the greatest examples that show the widespread influence of Art Deco within the building and the city.
9. Christ the King Church
Dedicated by Bishop Francis C. Kelly in 1928, this was the first church in the world to be dedicated with the name “Christ the King”. The architecture of the church was drawn to symbolize the direction of the Roman Catholic Church, merging the old and the new, preserving tradition and adapting to modern needs, thereby, resulting in a combination of Gothic spires and popular art deco adornments.
The semi-octagonal shape of the sanctuary, communion rail, and elevated altar all correspond to the Turner’s Cross design. Its stained glass windows continue to stand as the premium examples of stained glass in the country. The brick exterior is accented with the use of beveled piers and ornamented with terra cotta spires and statues.
10. Praying Hands
At the entrance to Oral Roberts University rests the bronze sculpture known as Praying Hands. Originally called the Healing Hands, the sculpture consists of two massive hands gently pressed in prayer comprise and is reported to be the largest bronze sculpture in the world that can be even seen clearly from the airplanes flying in the Tulsa skies.
The ultra-detailed hands are each a casted replica of the hands of Oral Roberts and his son Richard forever locked in prayer. Inscribed on the base is a Bible passage and signifies one’s need for God in this world.
11. The Boxyard
An assorted mixture of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, the Boxyard is not any ordinary shopping experience. Built into a base of shipping containers, local small businesses, retail, food, beverages ranging from skate shops to Mexican restaurants can all be found here in the heart of downtown Tulsa. This entrepreneurship hub is shaped on a neat concept with plenty of places and patio seating.
12. The Cave House
The Cave House is a popular roadside attraction in Tulsa with a varied past. Its curving stucco walls, a maze of rooms, underground tunnels, jagged bumps on the walls, and ceilings certainly make the house seem like a cave.
Built in the 1920s as a restaurant, it is now turned into a residence where private tours are available through which the owners will guide one through the rooms full of collections and artifacts with great historical facts about the house and its amazing stories.
13.Tam Bao Buddhist Temple
The Tam Bao Buddhist temple was established by the Buddhist members of the Vietnamese community of Tulsa, in 1993. The temple, a work of art, is open to all people. The outdoor gardens have various statues of Buddha, each a unique piece of art. The well-maintained temple instills a feeling of calm and peace and is a great place to learn about the Buddhist faith.
14. Atlas Life Building
Another striking Art-Deco tribute in downtown Tulsa is the historic twelve-story Atlas Life Building. The red brick, white marble ornamented façade was designed in 1922 for the Atlas Life Insurance company. The company’s logo, a crouching statue of Atlas, the Greek titan, carrying the world on his back, is installed on the ornate corniced top of the building.
The building’s most recognizable feature is the neon sign above the main entrance that rises to four-stories making the Atlas Life Building a phenomenal landmark in the Art-Deco sector.
15. The Warehouse Market
An excellent example of Art-Deco is the Warehouse Market with decades of history. This art-deco style market built in 1929 has its unique, historic significance from hosting baseball to the riots, and from where farmers sold their fresh produce to where dancers danced for the dukes. It was built as a long, flat-roofed, one-story building with evenly spaced pinnacles and a dramatic tower at the entrance.
Vivid polychrome terracotta ornaments, neo-classical medallions, and geometric designs decorate the building. The art deco elements extend upwards to the banded parapet and tower, with fans, rosettes, arcs, diamonds, and vine motifs. Today only the tower and the facade remain and currently houses Home Depot and a pizza store.