Saturday, March 07, 2009


I'm learning so much about Tulsa and meeting so many nice people! I spent some time with Alice Froeschle, owner of Bandana Tours, the other afternoon. She gave me a taste of her Art Deco walking tour (plus an extra favorite off the beaten path). Tulsa is noted for a wealth of Art Deco buildings and I saw several amazing examples. First she took me by the 1934 Fire Alarm Building. A Frederick Kershner design, the building has a Mayan Temple theme with an iconic combination of mythic and industrial motifs. This is the place where all the fire alarms in Tulsa were reported -- a state of the art system at the time. A Greek-god-type figure holds alarm tape. Now cut of from the downtown area by Highway 75, the building stands,renovated but out of the limelight it deserves.

It's hard to pick a favorite building, but the Boston Avenue Methodist Church has got to be close to the top. Designed by Adah Robinson who founded the art program at the University of Tulsa, its soaring tower punctuates the SoBo (South Boston) landscape. The stained glass windows are as delicate as dragonfly wings and everything directs visitors toward heaven.

Waite Phillips twin downtown towers, the Philtower and the Philcade, are also of prime importance. The Philtower was built first and while it has definite deco touches, it tends to Gothic extravagance. Notice the elaborate fan vaulting.

The Philcade glows like a Midas treasure. The ceiling of the ground floor arcade is covered with gold leaf.

We stuck our heads in the Atlas Building, cut through the Mid-Continent Building and ended with the 320 Boston Building -- originally the National Bank of Tulsa. The first ten floors were built in 1917 but the building was added on to later.

Alice's tours generally cover a larger area; there were several important buildings we didn't see. I simply ran out of time and energy. But, fortunately, I will be back many times and I plan to see lots more of Tulsa's architectural treasures.

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