Friday, October 23, 2009

Sixth Annual Foundation Awards

The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture will host the Sixth Annual Foundation Awards on Thursday, October 29th from 5 - 7 PM in the Penthouse at the Mayo Hotel and Luxury Residences, 115 W. 5th St, 18th Floor. There will be free street parking available and valet parking at the Mayo Motor Inn for a nominal fee. The Mayo Hotel and Luxury Residences is the receipent of this year's Foundation Landmark Award and Jack Frank is the receipent of this year's Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. Due to space limitations, please RSVP at 583.5550. You may also purchase tickets online here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Third Annual Downtown Living Tour

As part of its mission to enhance Tulsa's livability and revitalize downtown, the TFA will host its Third Annual Downtown Living Tour, June 27 and 28, 2009. Five unique sites will be featured on the weekend tour and the T-Town Trolley will provide transportation to each site and is included with each tour ticket purchase. Tour hours are Saturday: 11 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Sunday: 1:00-5:00 p.m. Single ticket: $20 or Two tickets for $35.

To kick off the weekend tour, the TFA will host a Patron Party on Friday, June 25, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at a private residence near Third and Kenosha. Each Patron Party ticket includes two (2) tickets to the weekend Downtown Living Tour; food from local restaurants including Blue Dome Diner, Daily Grill, Elote Cafe and Catering, Impressions, Joe Momma's, and F.B. Oscar's Gastropub, with select wines from Girouard Vines and an assortment of beers from James E. McNellie's Public House. Patron Party Ticket: $50.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Living in HiFi: Lortondale Home Tour

"Living in HiFi" will be an annual modern home tour hosted by the Modern Tulsa committee of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. Focused on mid-century modern residential architecture, the tour will seek to promote an awareness and the preservation of this oft-overlooked and dismissed style of architecture. 

"Living in HiFi" will premiere June 13th in the historic Lortondale Neighborhood
Designed and built in 1954 by Tulsa duo Donald Honn (architect) and Howard Grubb (builder), the Lortondale Neighborhood was the recipient of a multitude of national design awards. The neighborhood was featured in an array of magazines including House and Home and Better Homes and Gardens. 

In recent years Lortondale has experienced something of a rebirth. A new generation of homeowners, interested in modern design, are snapping up the houses just as fast as they come on the market. After decades of neglect, many of the houses in the neighborhood are being restored to their former modern glory. Most importantly, the Lortondale Community is experiencing the same restoration. 

This year's tour seeks to convey the energy that is the Lortondale Neighborhood today. Featured are 6 houses in various stages of completion. From the beginning stages of a restoration to a virtually complete example of HiFi-modern bliss, this tour of Lortondale will show you what all the buzz is about. 

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 day-of. The tour will take place from 5:30 - 8:30 with an after party lasting from 8:30 -? 

Tickets are available for purchase at the following locations: 

Dwelling Spaces 
119 South Detroit 

Urban Furnishings 
3636 South Peoria 

Ida Red 
3346 South Peoria 

TFA Architectural Archives 
321 South Boston, Suite #LL01 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Old City Hall Update

In this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly, there is an article about the future of the Old City Hall.  There are a few interesting comments about the site, but nothing too shocking.  Like I mentioned in the previous post about the Old City Hall, city officials are hoping the site will be developed into a "convention-class hotel."  I don't know what a convention-class hotel is, but I am guessing it's a hotel designed around hosting conventions?  Anyway, the City did not receive any official proposals by the March 31 deadline.  Given the size of the proposed project, it is no surprise that the current economic situation is cited as one of the reasons for lack of interest in the site.  Although, a few City Councilors believe the lack of interest is also due to the difficult nature of developing a site with the Central Library and the County Courthouse in close proximity and the deterioration of the plaza.  While there is more bad news, there is also some good news; Mike Bunney, an economic development officer with the City, is quoted as saying that the City is open to adaptive reuse possibilities, meaning that the developer would reuse the existing building.  The bad news is that Bunney also states that all the developers interested in the site have commented that the building will have to be razed.  I suppose the positive side of this is that the City isn't planning on demolishing the building on the hopes that someone will develop the site, which is what often happened with urban renewal in the 1970s.  Now, they are at least giving the developer the opportunity to use the existing building.  Maybe someday the City will make adaptive reuse mandatory for redevelopment downtown.                

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Meadow Gold Sign

Tulsa's historic Meadow Gold sign is finally going back up.  For those that may not know, the Meadow Gold sign was a neon sign put up in the 1930s at 11th & Lewis by Meadow Gold Dairy, which is a brand that at one time was owned by Beatrice Foods.  This project started back in 2004 when TFA was awarded a grant from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor to restore the Meadow Gold sign, which was mounted on top of a small one-story building.  Soon after the project began, ownership of the building (and sign) changed.  The new owner soon made it clear he planned to demolish both the building and the sign.  Through the efforts of the National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, and multiple articles about the endangered sign, funding was sought and awarded from the City of Tulsa's Vision 2025 initiative to save the historic sign.  Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor will officiate the public dedication of the sign on May 22, lighting the sign for the first time since the 1970s.  Here are a few pictures of the sign going back up.  


Monday, March 9, 2009

Oklahoma's Endangered Places

Preservation Oklahoma has released their list of Oklahoma's most endangered places for 2009. Sadly, four things from Tulsa made the list; the Tulsa Club (5th & Cincinnati), Midtown Tulsa (teardowns), the Downtown YMCA (6th & Denver), and the Ponca City Savings Building (7th & Boston). The YMCA and Ponca City Savings Building are listed as examples under the Mid-Century Modern Architecture. I guess this is an improvement over the list from a couple of years ago when downtown Tulsa as a whole was listed. Click here, for the story in today's Tulsa World about the list.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Old City Hall

In this month's Preservation magazine, there is an article about Boston's brutalist-style City Hall that reminded me of Tulsa's out of favor City Hall, the old City Hall that is. Out of all the buildings in downtown Tulsa, the old City Hall building, perhaps more than any other, will elicit strong opinions, almost all being very negative. When we had the White Glove Open House back in January, I purposefully put a drawing of the building out wanting to see the reactions. I think I heard 3 (maybe) people say that they liked the building. Numerous people commented that it looks much better on paper than in person. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people who upon first glace mistook the old City Hall Building for the Warren Petroleum Building. I won't tell you what I think of the building, only that it (and the entire Civic Center) is a very important part of Tulsa's architectural heritage. The Civic Center is representative of Tulsa's (and the nation's) post-war optimism that was so strong in the 1950s and 1960s. It was Tulsa's second major building boom (the first being the 20s and 30s when we built deco instead of modern) and a time when people took great pride in their city and its built environment. The post-war era was a time, like today, when people cared about downtown and wanted to see the area flourish.

Whether you like the building(s) or not, they are a part of Tulsa's architectural history and we would lose a significant piece of history if the building is demolished, not to mention the enormous amount of material that would go straight to a landfill. I had a professor in grad school that was constantly reminding us that 'history isn't always pretty' and I think that is applicable in this situation (not that I'm saying Old City Hall isn't pretty, but I know most people don't think so). I hope that people will recognize the cultural significance of the Old City Hall and realize how shortsighted it would be to demolish such an important piece of Tulsa's architectural history just because some people don't like the way it looks. Sure some may think it's 'ugly' now, but there was also a time when people hated Art Deco; I know some may have a hard time believing it, but it's true. By the time people started realizing how important the Deco buildings from the '20s and '30s were, almost half had already been demolished. Thankfully, people stopped before all of our deco buildings were gone. I really hope that we don't have to demolish half of Tulsa's iconic mid-century buildings before we realize how important they are.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jones House

As I mentioned in the previous post, one other Tulsa residence, the Jones House, was featured in Arts & Architecture. Robert Lawton Jones designed the house, which was featured in the July 1960 issue of A & A, as his personal residence in 1959. Jones was the 'Jones' in the Tulsa architectural firm Murray Jones Murray that designed many of Tulsa's iconic mid-century buildings such as the Tulsa International Airport, the Civic Center (as well as the unbuilt Civic Center), Central Park Apartments (7th & Frisco), First Place Tower, and were the associate architects on the Edward Durrell Stone-designed Assembly Center (convention center).

In addition to being featured in A & A, the German publications of Bauen + Wohnen (Jan. 1961) and Schoner Wohnen (Sept. 1963) also featured the 2800 square foot house. According to the Tulsa Preservation Commission, the Jones House was the first International Style residence built in Oklahoma (anyone know of the second?), which makes sense because Jones studied under Mies van der Rohe while attending graduate school at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The TPC also states that other than Goff's Bavinger House, the Jones House is the most recognized Oklahoma residence built in the last 50 years. Personally, I much prefer the Jones House. The house's listing in the National Register of Historic Places confirms the house's importance in a few ways. First, the house's listing is not part of a historic district, but is individually listed. Secondly, the house was listed in 2001 when it was only 42 years old. This is significant because generally, properties less than 50 years are not considered eligible for listing in the register. There are a few exceptions, one of them being, "a property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance" (from the SHPO's NR criteria). So there you have it, the Jones House is of exceptional importance. Here are some of the scanned pages from the various magazines.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kershner Vacation House

Going through the newly acquired Arts & Architecture, I came across a vacation house that Frederick Vance Kershner designed for himself located somewhere near Keystone Lake that was featured in the April 1953 issue. I knew that the Jones House was featured in A&A (more on that later), but I had no idea anything else from Oklahoma was featured, so this was a nice surprise. I had seen photos of the house in a couple of different places, John Brooks Walton's Many More Historic Tulsa Homes and an exhibit brochure from Philbrook that featured the house, but had not been able to find out much more about the house. Sadly, the magazine did not provide much more information.

First, a little background on Frederick Vance Kershner; he was born in 1904 in McCurtain, Oklahoma (then Indian Territory), he attended Oklahoma A & M (Oklahoma State) and graduated in 1926 at which time he attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Fountainebleau, France. After returning from France, Kershner worked for Arthur Atkinson where he, along with Joseph Koberling, would help design the Oklahoma Natural Gas Building. He next joined John Duncan Forsyth's firm and worked on the Marland Mansion in Ponca City. In 1928, he briefly joined Stanley Simmons and Horace Peaslee in Washington, D.C. Returning to Tulsa, Kershner joined the firm of Smith & Senter, where he would help design the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building, Tulsa Municipal Airport Building (demolished), and the Union Bus Depot (demolished). In 1935, the briefly worked for Donald McCormick before starting his own firm. Additionally, Kershner designed the Burtner Fleeger Residence at 2424 E. 29th St. and the Sanditen Residence at 1702 E. 37th St. (one of my favorite houses, located on the corner of 37th & Utica).

Here is the text from the article:

"The site is a 540-acre tract of land overlooking the Arkansas River Valley, in Oklahoma, and the cabin, placed on the highest point, has a sweeping view of the valley. The problem of maintaining a vacation house, which is closed nine months of the year, has determined the materials. The outer shell is three walls of 16-inch thick untrimmed sandstone from the site, with projecting cage of cemesto sheets set on stilts. Insects make unscreened living areas uninhabitable in vacation season, so the porch is designed as part of the house, on the same four-foot module. Glass doors opening living area to porch move on a barn door track. The stone shell, with raised living quarters, is used here because the vacation house is easily victimized by brush fires in the fall. Two upper floors of minimum area have been preferred to a larger partitioned one."

If anyone has any more information on this very cool house, leave a comment or send me an email,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Arts & Architecture

TFA received its second donation of the year only a few days after the open house; board member George Kravis generously donated Arts & Architecture 1945-1954: The Complete Reprint, which is a ten-box set of all 118 issues from 1945-1954 reprinted in facsimile by TASCHEN (ours is # 3,538 of 5,000). If you're not familiar with Arts & Architecture, it was a magazine published from 1938 to 1967 that is best known for its Case Study House Program, which commissioned prominent architects such as Richard Neutra, Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Raphael Soriano, and Pierre Koenig to design innovative and inexpensive homes for the post-war housing boom. In addition to the Case Study program, A & A regularly featured commentary on current art, music, cinema, culture, and society in general. If you are interested in modern architecture, or the post-war period in general, you should definitely give A & A a look. For more information on Arts & Architecture visit where you can view, and purchase, the very cool A&A magazine covers (my favorites are Aug. 1946, Sept. 1946, Aug. 195o, April 1958, and May 1961).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Catching Up

Because we're already over a month into 2009, I thought I'd take a few minutes and recap what TFA has been up to thus far. The first major undertaking of the year was removing the "If Buildings Could Speak" exhibit that TFA, in conjunction with the Oklahoma Historical Society, put together for the National Preservation Conference in October of last year in the Philcade lobby. If you didn't get a chance to see the exhibit, we had a wide variety of items on display from the 1910s all the way up to the 1960s. Some of the items on display were numerous pieces of terra cotta from the Halliburton-Abbott Building, a terra cotta owl from the McBirney (Parker Drilling) Building, various items from the Mayo Hotel, the model of the Warren Petroleum Building, as well as many historic photographs, architectural renderings and drawings.

Only a few days after removing the exhibit, TFA received its first donation of the year from Russel Burkhart; approximately 60 pieces of terra cotta from the Halliburton-Abbott (HA) Building and the Hunt-Murry (Streets) Building, eight pieces of an iron railing from the interior of the HA Building, a plaster air-return cover from the HA Building, a plaster detail from an interior column of the HA Building, two interior light fixtures from the HA Building, and an elevator light and button from the HA Building.

The first TFA event of 2009 was the 4th Annual White Glove Open House, held at the TFA Archives. The theme for this year's open house was "Downtown Tulsa, Past and Present," which featured numerous drawings and renderings of downtown buildings dating from the early 1920s (Mayo Hotel) to the early 1970s (First Place Tower). Additionally, we had a large portion of the newly acquired terra cotta on display. Here are a few pictures of the terra cotta on display at the open house.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hey! We've got a blog!

First, some explanations: this is a blog for the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture (TFA) intended to keep anyone interested in TFA and Tulsa's architecture up-to-date. (For more information about TFA, visit Most of the posts will be done by me, Derek. I am the archivist at TFA and one of two employees, the other being the executive director, Lee Anne. I'm hoping to post updates a few times a week, or whenever there is any new TFA-related news, news about architecture in Tulsa, etc. It would also be great if we could get more people involved and generate some discussion. Thanks for stopping by and check back often