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