Wednesday, May 13, 2009

St. Luke's Methodist Church in OKC

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 1

Bell Tower of St Luke's in OKCSt Luke's United Methodist Church is located just north of downtown Oklahoma City at 15th and Robinson. The church sits at the edge of an area where low-rise commercial and brick apartment buildings give way to a residential neighborhood. A round chapel and unique bell tower command a dominating view of these nearby homes.

The striking lines and choice of materials offer clues to the building's age. But step inside and there's no doubt about it. The pendant lamps and marshmallow chairs confirm this is a Mid-Century Modern!

Mod church in Oklahoma CityTruett Coston was the principal architect and an active member of the church. Dedicated in 1956 the church has been well maintained, and additions or improvements have kept in step with the original design. Even the Fifties lighting in the lobby is still intact.

Entering the main lobby I was struck by the ORU-ness of the detailing. Maybe it's just a natural reaction I have to gold anodized aluminum? But my favorite details were the blue "swimming pool tiles" that are sparingly used throughout the building.

Futuristic 1956 sanctuary of St. Luke'sThe main sanctuary seats 1800 and takes full advantage of its circular container. Originally the choir was veiled behind a sheer fabric that must have given the whole place an ethereal feel. Looking up the ceiling first appears to be shag carpet- but looking closer it's actually some sort textured aggregate material. The immense stained glass windows, which are full figures from outside, show a totally different detail view from inside.

Welcome!
Overall the building was quite impressive. Not only is it aesthetically impressive- but the flow and efficiency rival anything built since. It was a treat to see such an excellent example of timeless design- especially one that is obviously so appreciated by its tenants.

Next stop: State Capitol Bank
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Postscript.