Friday, January 9, 2009

Patrick Henry Apartments Come Down

Whenever you widen an interstate highway originally built in 1957, you're going to have to mow down some mid-century architecture. The latest victim of the I-44 widening in Tulsa is the Patrick Henry Apartments complex, until recently located on the west side of Harvard just south of Skelly Drive.

Patrick Henry Apartments, with Harvard Tower visible in the background.
In their heyday the Patrick Henry was quite fashionable.

Looking along the curved side of a mid-century apartment complex in Tulsa.More recently these units had become Section 8 housing and suffered badly at the hands of uncaring tenants. I snapped these photos while the demolition was ongoing. Considering this, the relatively good condition of the structure and interiors was actually quite amazing.

The two-story complex was comprised of two semi-circular sections that formed a football shape. A circular clubroom building in the center connected the two halves and served as laundry room, post office, etc. Even the stairways going up to the second story landings were circular.

The rotund theme was also carried into the living space. Kitchen areas featured round pantries (see photo below) and interior walls were curved as a matter of necessity. It's a shame the demolition company wouldn't allow some architectural salvaging to take place before the sledgehammers started flying.

Modern apartment with round closet!

Looking north from inside the complex.
My first exposure to these buildings was in the late Seventies when I held a summer job at the Trade Winds Hotel, who owned the complex at the time. I did light maintenance work at the hotel and was asked to check the toilet for one of the tenants at the apartment complex next door. My jaw dropped when I walked in and saw the round closet just inside the door!

I have no idea who designed these unique apartments. I'm pretty sure they're mid Sixties. If anyone can shed some light on their origin please click Comments below and share your insight!
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Postscript.