Monday, March 26, 2012

Downtowner Coming Down

Tulsa's skyline lost another Mid-Century Modern element this week.

Demolition began at the Downtowner Motor Inn this Saturday. The motel at 4th and Cheyenne had been vacant for many years– save for the Coney Island in the ground floor. Oh, it's moving back across the street where it belongs by the way.

It was somewhat surprising to see this boxy example of Sixties roadside Americana coming down after some of the recent developments in Tulsa. The BOK Center has breathed new vigor into the west side of downtown, and two new hotels are currently in the works. Up the street on Boulder Avenue, the Holiday Inn has reopened after teetering close to the edge of seediness for several years. Then just last August the badly neglected Downtowner was one of two buildings featured on a Tulsa Preservation Commission training course on redevelopment tactics for preservation junkies!


Alas, all hopes of seeing the colorful Mondrianesque panels returned to their former glory were dashed by a backhoe this weekend.

Tulsa Downtowner Motel
Photo by Shane Hood

The boutique hotel trend is so popular right now it seemed like great timing for a restoration. Properties like the Orbit In in Palm Springs, the Hotel San Jose in Austin, or the Wild Palms Hotel in Sunnyvale, California offer savvy travelers hip accommodations at a variety of price points. Even the lowly Motel 6 chain has jumped on the Ikea Cabin decor bandwagon.

The Bamboo Courtyard
at the Jupiter Hotel
One of the West Coast's hippest of these rejuvenated destinations is the chic Jupiter Hotel. In 2004 this Sixties motor lodge on the edge of downtown Portland was transformed into an 81-room social gathering place along the Willamette River. Complete with a night club, art gallery and hair salon the Jupiter has made the hot lists of numerous travel magazines and websites.

But the demolition of the Downtowner ended my fantasy of having our own version of a Jupiter Hotel in Tulsa. Maybe now our best shot at a swinging motor court is the old Trade Winds East on Skelly Drive.

Would you prefer a guest suite or cabana?

More Views of Portland's Jupiter Hotel

Jupiter Hotel Interior


Motorcycles on display at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland
Photos courtesy Jupiter Hotel
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Postscript.