Call it Mummer's Theater, Oklahoma Theatre Center, Stage Center- or Tinkertoy Town. The oft-maligned complex at North Walker and West Sheridan appears to be doomed. Recent plans call for a mixed use high-rise office tower to be built on the site.
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!
Earlier this week I got a depressing call from a friend who was watching a bulldozer mow down the Ranch Acres Medical Building. For many years this ranch-style building has been a fixture on the corner of 31st & Harvard in Tulsa.
I knew the building had been empty for a while. But outwardly it appeared to be in solid shape, despite the beautiful brick being molested with paint several years ago. Today the two-story structure is laid bare and it appears it was inwardly pretty solid also. Watching all that nice hardware head to the landfill just makes my heart sink.
Most of the original retail and commercial structures at this intersection were built alongside the residential development of Ranch Acres neighborhood. Principally bounded by 31st and 41st Strreets between Harvard and Delaware, this well-preserved area was built during a time when commercial and residential buildings shared a look and feel. The corner store looked like your house. They matched.
Local modernista may be familiar with Shane Hood, he's quite active with Modern Tulsa, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and the Lortondale neighborhood. He also happens to be involved with another really cool non-profit called Fab Lab.
Rumors began circulating Monday afternoon that the Bavinger House in Norman, Oklahoma had been demolished. Conflicting reports have been circulating today and confirmation has been difficult due to the heavily wooded area where the house is located.
Bob Bavinger, the son and steward of the Bruce Goff-designed house, contacted area galleries and asked them to remove any flyers or brochures related to the Bavinger House.
Shane Hood with Modern Tulsa contacted modernisti in the Oklahoma City area to confirm the rumors. Lynne Rostochil was able to contact Bob Bavinger who claimed the iconic structure was "torn down and hauled away" sometime last week. However, this morning Terri Sadler is reporting she can see the roof and support cables, which would indicate the house is intact.
Late Tuesday reports that indicate the house may have been compromised surfaced on Facebook. We'll continue posting updates on Facebook as we learn more.
Jackie and I visited the round house on a recent trip to the Big D (see Letter from Dallas). Unfortunately we weren't able to tour the home, but we did get a chance to see it up close and walk under the wisteria-covered entrance. At the time that visit was a bit of a letdown- now it's suddenly a cherished memory.
Here are some more photos from that visit (click to view full size)...
That huge mound of green is actually the wisteria covering the steel rods that made up the large trellis.
This smart looking modern house doesn't stand a chance.
I've always liked the house, especially the upstairs deck and railing. It looks like a very sensible size (which means it's tiny by modern standards) and doesn't appear to be very run down.
Unfortunately it's cursed with a prime location that adjoins a large vacant lot. The realtor is so convinced nobody would want this boxy Fifties bungalow they felt the need to add "LOT" to the for sale sign. Seems like we could give the house a chance. Do we really need to point out the oversized lot to would-be developers? Or is the $450,000 price tag not obvious enough?
The house is on on Terwilleger Boulevard just west of Utica. Enjoy it while you can.
We originally told you about the impending demolition of the former T.L. Osborn complex back in November 2008. The former home of the Osborn Ministries, their Interstate Temple and the bizarre World Museum were being razed to make room for the widening of I-44.
This last week the demolition revved into high gear. This photo was snapped just hours before the landmark parabolic roof structure (we always called it the Conch) was leveled.
It was a sad end to a unique building that has been etched into the memories of millions of cross-country travelers.
Shane Hood passed along this graphical nugget from a period trade magazine. Ironic reading the blurb about how quickly the concrete arches were created.
Parkview Baptist Church is located on South Sheridan Road just north of 61st Street. Like many churches it grew in stages. The original sanctuary is a curly roof building from the Sixties (shown in the foreground of this photo). Later a larger sanctuary was built with a pyramid hip roof and a large wooden steeple.
But now that steeple is gone.
Yesterday I noticed workmen and a large crane were busily working on the distinctive box that adorned the rooftop. I was curious so I stopped and asked the pastor what all the fuss was about.
Turns out the structure had caused roof problems for many years. Each corner was a 16" beam and the elements had not been kind to them. Rot had eaten into the massive wooden uprights and allowed rain to get through to the sanctuary below. The congregation had decided to remove the steeple. I couldn't help but wonder if any consideration had been given to repairing it.
Looking up at the commotion I couldn't help but picture the steeple in a park or …
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.
In their heyday the Patrick Henry was quite fashionable.
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 pan…
This unusual landmark near Peoria, once known as the World Museum, is being emptied in preparation for demolition.
The concrete complex was built in 1963 by the Osborn Ministries as a museum and "Interstate Temple." Self-proclaimed minister, T. L. Osborn, and his wife, Daisy, traveled the world as Christian missionaries and collected art and artifacts on their journeys. The unusual La Concha-esque building housed their partial collection and distracted motorists touring along the new Skelly Bypass (aka I-44).
The exterior of the building is adorned with maps of the world's continents. In its heyday there was a good deal more- a giant outline of Jesus was on one wall. The inscription below it, "REX," provided one of my earliest Latin lessons when I asked Dad why that building had my name on it. There was also a large globe that once stood out front …
In 1944 the United States Junior Chamber voted to move their national headquarters to Tulsa. The city even tipped in $100,000 to entice them. There's also a yarn about Oklahoma City losing out because of a poker game- but that's another story.
The Jaycees took up temporary residence in the old Akdar Shrine Temple until their modern new building, the winner of a 1949 design competition, was completed. It was dedicated in 1951 on West 21st Street, across from what was then known as Boulder Park.
The ultra-modern building was classic International Style with clean lines and deep set windows. Originally cool screens were set in front of the west-facing windows. The design is credited to Hideo Sasakietal by the Tulsa Historical Society, but publications from the period credit Morris and Honn. Donald Honn's work will be familiar to anyone that has visited Tulsa's Lortondale neighborhood.
As a youngster growing up in Tulsa this building fascinated me. It had that park-your-heli…