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Photo: The Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.

Philcade Building

Built in 1931, the Philcade Building is significant for its interior art work, its architectural design and its association with the developing oil industry. The interior ground floor arcades of the building are surprisingly lavish. Pilasters of fluted and polished St. Genevieve marble support an ornamental plaster frieze covered with gold leaf at the mezzanine level. From this plaster frieze, arches form a ceiling that is also covered with gold leaf and hand painted with geometric designs executed in muted tones of red, blue, green, purple and brown, the favored colors of the Art Deco period. These designs display the Zigzag Art Deco style of this era. An elaborate, bronze-filigreed chandelier is suspended from the center of each design. The ceiling treatment is complemented by the mahogany, glass and bronze detailed store front units and the tan and black terrazzo floor.

The ground floor, mezzanine, and the second floors were originally arcades supporting commercial activities. This area of the facade is covered with a richly carved terra cotta and cast iron veneer. The terra cotta detail at the second level and at each corner reveals a passion for stylized flora and fauna. Each entrance to the building is flanked by fluted Egyptian Revival columns which terminate at a papyrus-reed inspired terra cotta beam. The large, ground-level showcase windows and entrances are very formal. The veneer for the office areas of this building, starting at the third-floor level and ending at the roof line, is a very rhythmic treatment of brick and large steel double-hung windows. The building is a prime example of the Art Deco movement in Tulsa which ended, for the most part, with the start of the Great Depression. Its durability is now unquestioned, and its excesses continue to delight the eye.

Waite Phillips, the building’s first owner, played a very important role in the history of Oklahoma oil. The building also served as headquarters for many developing oil companies and individuals connected with the oil industry. Many of these companies and their descendants are still active in the Oklahoma oil industry today.


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