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

Philtower Building

One of the most striking additions to Tulsa's landscape was the Philtower Building that opened in 1928 at the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Boston Avenue. The skyscraper was built by Waite Phillips, who also built other downtown structures including the Philcade, across from the Philtower and the Beacon Building.

The building represents the late Gothic Revival style embellished with Art Deco details. Among its notable features are its sloping, unusually colorful tiled roof; two gargoyles above the Boston Avenue entrance; a magnificent first-floor lobby with unique chandeliers; and a broad second-floor mall. The generous use of mahogany throughout the building is also striking. Another interesting feature is the carefully preserved office occupied by Waite Phillips. Its beamed ceiling extends upward in an A-frame manner to a height of twenty feet. It boasts richly paneled walls, a small fireplace framed in blue tile, and a private bathroom.

"Queen of the Tulsa Skyline," the Philtower was considered strategic in both time and location. It was to have been the link in architectural magnificence between the then-proposed Union Train Station at the north end of Boston Avenue, and the soaring Boston Avenue Methodist Church on the south. The building stands much as when it opened in 1928. Its strikingly colorful, sloping, shingle-tiled roof still spots the blue night with checkers of yellow.

The Philtower was listed in the National Register on August 29, 1979.


As featured in “Tulsa: Oil Capital of the World" written by James O. Kemm and published by Arcadia Publishing, best known for its iconic "Images of America" series, which chronicles the history of small towns and downtowns across the country.