Where is the Tulsa Art Deco Downtown Walking Tour?

The Oklahoma Natural Gas Building, Downtown Tulsa Oklahoma

Tulsa’s downtown Art Deco Walking Tour is an 18 block long walk that should take about 2 hours. It is located in Tulsa’s historic Art Deco District of downtown. A good place to begin Tulsa Art Deco Walking Tour is at the corner of sixth and Boston Avenue in front of the downtown Decopolis store and across the street from the art deco Philcade Building.

In the late 1920s, Tulsa Oklahoma was a booming business center for the newly emerging oil industry. Tulsa was known for its beautiful examples of Art Deco architecture. Tulsa offers a self-guided walking tour of its Art Deco Landmarks that teaches you about the downtown architecture and architects who built them. Many of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


1. Decopolis Store      
502 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103

I can think of no place more appropriate to start the Art Deco tour of downtown Tulsa than from the Decapolis store at 502 South Boston Ave.  It is an artsy store with an Art Deco theme.

Consider the Tulsa Downtown Art Deco tour a stroll through on outdoor museum with the buildings as the pieces of art.  Decapolis could be considered the museums gift store. The store features deco inspired furniture and accessories.  Owners William Franklin and Dr. Christopher McDaniel are the premier promoters of Tulsa Art Deco, located accross the street in the Philcade building.  They are founders of the Annual Deco Ball, Art Deco Museum and window displays at the Philcade.

2. Day Building
514 South Boston
Zigzag, 1926, Bruce Goff

Day Building 514 South Boston Ave. Tulsa, OK

3. Fawcett Building
521 South Boston Ave.
Zigzag, 1934, Leon Senter

The Fawcett Building, also known as the Stanolind/Amoco building is located south of the Philcade.

 
 4. SERVICE PIPELINE BUILDING
520 S. Cincinnati Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma
PWA -Streamline, 1949, Leon Senter and Associates

5. Central High School – NRIS:75001575

600 S. Cincinnati Ave. ,Tulsa, Oklahoma

Zigzag, 1929, Authur Atkinson, Joseph Koberling Jr.

Until 1938, Central High School was Tulsa’s only public white high school. In the 1930s, it was the second largest high school in the country with enrollments over 5000. Later Will Rogers High School (1938) and Daniel Webster High School (1939) were built in the Art Deco style.

6. Oklahoma Natural Gas- NRIS:84003458

624 S. Boston Ave. ,Tulsa, Oklahoma

1928, Zigzag, Atkinson & Kershner,

Tulsa had great financial growth in the late 1920’s.  This led Oklahoma Natural Gas to move its offices from Oklahoma City to Tulsa.  They chose to build a ten story Art Deco structure that set a benchmark  for future Art Deco buildings in Tulsa.   Notice the four piers that run the entire length of the of the building vertically, giving it  a strong art deco zigzag style features.  The south portico shelters the main entrance to the building and features an art deco styled “ONG”  (Oklahoma Natural Gas) over the door.

Oklahoma Natural Gas Building, 624 S. Boston Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa had great financial growth in the late 1920’s.  This led Oklahoma Natural Gas to move it’s offices from Oklahoma City to Tulsa.  Although being a typical conservative utility company they chose to build a ten story Art Deco structure that set a benchmark for future Art Deco buildings in Tulsa. Notice the four piers on the face of the building that run vertical the entire length of the building.  Notice the telephone receivers inlaid in the tiles at the pop of the building. The interior design and materials are lavish.                     

7. Public Service Co. NRIS:84003443
600 S. Main St. ,Tulsa, Oklahoma
1929, Zigzag, Atkinson & Koberling

The Public Service Company building was designed by the same company as the Oklahoma Natural Gas.  It again was a conservative utility company trying to impress it’s customer base with an impressive Art Deco Building.  The building features special exterior lighting designed to accentuate the fact that it was the electric companies building. and present their expertise in lighting. 
 

8. GILLETTE-TYRELL BUILDING    NRIS:82003703

423 S. Boulder Ave. ,Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pueblo Deco – Zigzag, 1930, Edward W. Saunders

Gillette-Tyrell Building 600 S. Main St. Tulsa, OK

The Gillette-Tyrell Building (often referred to as the Pythian), was originally designed to have thirteen floors but due to budget limitations was reduced to three floors.  The building is one of Tulsa’s most impressive Art Deco examples with a unique décor both inside and outside.  Strong vertical zigzag motifs are expressed on the exterior walls of the building. Edward Saunders, the building architect, describes the building as integrating several styles of architecture including Italian, Spanish, and American Indian motifs.                                                                             

9. Mayo Hotel NRIS:80003303            

498 S. Cheyenne Ave.Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sullivanesque, 1925,  George Winkler

The 1925, Mayo Hotel was Tulsa’s most prominent hotel came into disrepair around 1981. Early guests to the hotel included celebrities like: President John F. Kennedy, Bob Hope, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Will Rogers,[4] Charlie Chaplin,John Paul Getty and Mae West.

The building was bought and restored to its original grandeur in 2001, by Tolleson trawls Snyder. The building has been fully renovated while maintaining its original architectural and aesthetic features.Recent guests at the Mayo include such celebrities as Britney Spears, OneRepublic, Lady Gaga, James Taylor, Justin Bieber, Bob Seger, Fleetwood Mac, and Josh Groban.

10 Mayo Motor Inn NRIS:82003703

416 S. Cheyenne Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Streamline, 1950, Leon Senter &Associates

11 Mincks-Adams Hotel  NRIS:78002273   
403 S. Cheyenne Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma
1927-1928, Pueblo Deco, Alfred C. Fabry

I. S. Mincks had the building constructed to capitalize on the 1928 International Petroleum Exposition.  It is a thirteen storied building, with a full basement and penthouse. 
 
Previously the Mincks-Adams Hotel was not classified an Art-Deco structure.  In my opinion the exquisite, glazed terra-cotta exterior and the exquisite Spanish, Italian Renaissance, and Baroque decorated interior qualifies it as a Pueblo Art-Deco structure.  

12. Irving Building

110 W. 4th St.

Zigzag

13. Tulsa Downtown Bus Terminal

301 S. Denver Tulsa, Oklahoma

1999, Retro Deco,HTB Inc.

Many architects and designers are creating new building utilizing the Art Deco principles.  These building are call retro deco, since they are retro fitting the old design principles into today’s new building designs.  This style utilizes features from the all the Art Deco styles and sometimes mixes features different Art Deco styles.  This gives new buildings nostalgic appearance.

Downtown City Bus Terminal 301 S. Denver Tulsa, Oklahoma

15. NBT (320 South Boston) Building.

320 South Boston Ave.

1916-1928, Beaux Arts, Oscar Wenderoth & George Winkler

NBT Building 320 South Boston Ave. Tulsa OK

16. Cosden / Mid Continent Tower   NRIS: 79002029                                   

409 South Boston Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma

1918, Sullivanesque &  Venetian Goth

The Cosden Tower, also known as the Mid-Continent Tower, has a distinctive oxidized green copper roof. The building is located on the former site of Tulsa’s first school. The building was built for Josh Cosden‘s oil refining business offices.  Cosden had his personal residence on the top floor of building and used to joke about keeping an eye on his west Tulsa refinery from his apartment.

The building is a Sullivanesque architectural style, but has a Venetian Gothic terra cotta cover on its facade. The building is an example of Tulsa’s oil barons flaunting their prosperity. In 1980 the building was expanded from 15 to 36 floors. The top 20 floors are independently supported by cantilever system added to original building.

The interior of the Mid-Continent tower Art Style and I highly recommend you visit it.

Tulsa Atlas Life Building

17. Atlas Life Building  NRIS:09000358      

415 S. Boston Ave.

1918,  Classical Revival, Rush, Endacott and Rush                                                    

View Lobby

Tulsa Philtower Pinnacle

18 Philtower NRIS 79002032 

427 S. Boston Ave..  ,Tulsa, Oklahoma

1928, ,Edward Buehler Delk, Gothic Revival

In 1927 the Philtower was the tallest building in the state. It is a Gothic Revival styled building but has a 40-foot-tall pyramidal pinnacle that is distinctly Art Deco in style.

The Philtower was financed by oil baron Waite Phillips at a cost of 2.5 million dollars, which in today’s dollars would be over 36 million.    In 1941, Waite Phillips donated the Philtower to the Boy Scouts of America. 

In the early years

During the 1930s, KVOO Radio broadcast from top floors of the studios located on the 22nd and 23rd floors of the Philtower. It is there that famed radio commentator Paul Harvey had his first broadcast. In 2004, floors 12-20 were converted into private residences. 

                                                                                  View Lobby

19. Tulsa Club 

115 East 5th St.  ,Tulsa, Oklahoma

Zigzag, 1927, Rush, Endacott & Rush, Bruce Goff

Construction of the Tulsa Club was a collaboration between the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Club. Floors one through five were occupied by the Chamber while the top six floors and the roof garden were the domain of the Tulsa Club.

The Tulsa Club , organized in 1923 was the most prestigious social and athletic club in Tulsa.  The wealthiest Tulsans including Waite Phillips were members used it’s facilities.  They had dormitory rooms, a men’s lounge, a gymnasium a barber shop and gardens on the roof.

The distinctive black tiles were added some time after the original construction are not scene in earlier picture.  The building was abandoned for several years but currently has been restored and is

Construction of the Tulsa Club was a collaboration between the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Club. Floors one through five were occupied by the Chamber while the top six floors and the roof garden were the domain of the Tulsa Club.The Tulsa Club , organized in 1923 was the most prestigious social and athletic club in Tulsa.  The wealthiest Tulsans including Waite Phillips were members used it’s facilities.  They had dormitory rooms, a men’s lounge, a gymnasium a barber shop and gardens on the roof.

The distinctive black tiles were added some time after the original construction are not scene in earlier picture.  The building is currently abandoned and in disrepair.

Construction of the Tulsa Club was a collaboration between the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Club. Floors one through five were occupied by the Chamber while the top six floors and the roof garden were the domain of the Tulsa Club.

The Tulsa Club , organized in 1923 was the most prestigious social and athletic club in Tulsa.  The wealthiest Tulsans including Waite Phillips were members used it’s facilities.  They had dormitory rooms, a men’s lounge, a gymnasium a barber shop and gardens on the roof.

The distinctive black tiles were added some time after the original construction are not scene in earlier picture.  The building is was abandoned for many years but has been restored and today is the Tulsa Club Hilton Hotel.

20. Southwestern Bell Main Dial NRIS: 84003445

424 South Detroit Ave.

Zigzag, 1924, 1930, I. R. Timlin

The first two floors of the building were constructed in 1924 in the Gothic architectural style. The purpose of the building was to house the switching boards and  telephone operators required to make phone  call connections.

In 1930 the building was expanded and an additional 4 floors in the Zigzag Art Deco style were added.  A vertical pair of terra cotta shields is located above the torches. Above the second floor the building’s facade has stepped-back panels that run to the roof line. At that point terra-cotta ornamentation completes the building’s pinnacles.

21. Philcade    NRIS:6002196                     511 S. Boston Ave. ,,Tulsa, Oklahoma

1930, Zigzag, Smith & Senter

The Philcade Building was constructed to protect the business intrest of Waite Philips, owner of the Philtower (just to the Nort of the Philcade).  At that time the principle merchant area in Tulsa was on Main Street between 4th and 5th Street.  Several merchants were planning to move there stores to locations on South Boulder which meant the direction of growth would be directed away from the Philtower decreasing it’s value.

To abate this prospect Waite Phillips planned to build the 9 story Philcade with the lower two stories housing an Arcade of 28 retail shops.  The upper floors were office space for the expanding Tulsa Oil industry.  The buildings structure was overbuilt to allow the 1930’s addition of 4 more floors .

The ground-level highlights store showcase windows and very decorative entrances. The building entrances are flanked by Egyptian Styled columns terminated by terra cotta beams. From the third floor to the roofline is a combination of exterior veneer, patterend brick and large steel double-hung windows.

The terra cotta heavily utilizes a stylized flora and fauna. There is an 80-foot brick tunnel between the Philtower and Philcade that caused considerable construction problems but functionally connects the two buildings.

Tulsa Art Deco Museum

Along the north-south hallway are a series of mahogany framed store display windows.  These provided a 1920’s version of modern shopping malls. Today most of these windows are used by the Tulsa Art Deco Museum to display art deco artifacts.

Windows include displays of: 

· Apparel & Accessories, · Appliances & Household Items, · China, · Decorations, · Ash trays, · Artwork, Statue 

The Deco Museum and gift store is the realization of a vision of artist William Franklin, proprietor of the Decopolis Studio.  A special thanks to William Franklin, Chris Mc Daniels, Charla and Mike Lowry, Debbie Kelsey, Jennifer Butler and John Eakins without whose efforts this unique museum would not exist.