Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tulsa and its Art Deco

We first came across a town with a substantial amount of Art Deco when we were in Napier on New Zealand’s South Island. There the reason for so many from that period was because the town had been destroyed in an earthquake / fire and a total rebuild had been needed.

Tulsa also has a substantial number of Art Deco buildings but these date from the building of the town and result from the ambitions of the wealthy to show how much money they had rather than a disaster of some sort.

So we wandered around a very eerily nearly deserted downtown Tulsa one Sunday morning and as we followed a self guided walking tour, took as many photographs as we felt we could before we started to feel uncomfortable with the attention we were getting from a few of the small number of people about town.

There are no longer passenger trains to Tulsa

Union Depot

but when there were, this was the Art Deco station

Union Depot-1

with its absolutely characteristic art-deco typeface stating that it is the Tulsa Union Depot

Two Main Plaza

One Main Plaza

I know nothing about these two buildings (One and Two North Plaza) but their Art Deco origins seem plain but they also seem to show signs of an unsympathetic adjustment  - parts of the front facades do not look correct. 

Reunion Centre 1919 1925

This building is known as the Reunion Centre and was built in 1919 and 1925.

Pythian Building 1930

The Pythian Building was originally supposed to have a 10 storey hotel on top of it and it has an elaborate art deco inside which we could not see, it being a Sunday.



In 1927 the Philtower was the tallest building in Tulsa. Its owner donated the building to the Boy Scouts to endow a ranch in New Mexico. Its lobby (closed on a Sunday) is pure Art Deco and its roof of red and green tiles is regarded as a Tulsa landmark.

Philtower Roof-1

The Philtower (1930) has got interesting foliage and animals concealed in the designs above the door and windows

Philcade Building doorway detail

Philcade building detail 

and the lobby is an ornate Art Deco masterpiece.

Philcade Building DoorwayLobby Philcade 

National Bank of Tulsa

The National Bank of Tulsa is in a building which has housed banks since it first opened in 1927.

National Bank of Tulsa Lobby

The lobby (only viewable through a glass door on a Sunday) is said to be a superb example of hand painted art deco design.

Mincks Adams Hotel 1928  

This building was the Mincks-Adams Hotel (1928) and has an elaborate and ornate rococo terracotta facade. The owner lost it during the recession.

Facade Mincks Adams Hotel

Unnamed AD Cafe on Cheyenne

This building was sandwiched between two prominent Art Deco buildings and does not seem to appear in any guide (except a culinary guide which comments on the quality of the Coneys which can be purchased here). Never-the-less, we like its lines and simplicity.

Atlas Life Building

The Atlas Life Building has been built in the form of an upside down letter T. The pink and green neon “Atlas Life” name on the front of the building is a landmark in the town. On the top of the building is a freeze with Atlas supporting a globe.

Atlas Life Building - Atlas

There are many more Art Deco buildings, we just did not have time to see them all.

And just to show that architects and town planners are just as able to make planning and design mistakes in Tulsa as they can anywhere else in the world, here is a multi-storey car park right in the middle of the Art Deco District – an area with many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places or listed as an Oklahoma Landmark or for its Art Deco significance and design.

Art Deco District Architects Mistake

This “lovely” car park is adjacent to a superb Art Deco building and directly opposite another.

I wonder how it got planning permission. (Pat says that I am off on my rampage again!)

And are you still wondering what a Coney is?

It is a beef hot dog topped with all meat chilli, onions and mustard…….

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