403 S. Cheyenne Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
The Adams Hotel is located on a lot in the heart of the Central Business District of Tulsa. Built by I. S. Mincks to capitalize on the 1928 International Petroleum Exposition, the building has 13 floors, with a full basement and penthouse. When the hotel opened, it advertised itself as the "Address of Distinction" and boasted 50 air conditioned rooms. A 1935 liquidation sale gave it new owners and a new name: the Adams Hotel.
The Adams facade is widely recognized as an excellent example of glazed terra-cotta veneering. Produced by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company, the terra cotta pastel blues and reds are still quite noticeable, and the individual tile units are sound, with tight mortar joints. The architectural style of the facade is eclectic, in the mood of the 1893 to 1917 period when architects felt free to use any and all decorative motifs as they saw fit. Its highly ornate facade is an imaginative combination of Gothic, Italian Renaissance and Baroque decorations. Terra cotta is also used extensively in the interior of the building in the lobby, coffee shop and stairwell.
The building was renovated into the Adams Office Tower in the early 1980s and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. —Courtesy, "Tulsa: Where the Streets Were Paved with Gold" by Clyda R. Franks
404-406 S. Boulder Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
The red-brick building with its ornate and Art Deco moldings was built in 1923 and got its name when it housed the Beacon Insurance Co. The building was originally owned by an investment group that included James M. Gillette, Carl W. Gillette, Patrick M. Kerr and Elliott L. Mills. A flashing 65-foot lighthouse originally topped the northeast corner of the building. The beacon was diffused in the 1950s when air conditioning was installed and the building's electrical system couldn't handle both features. The spire was removed during the 1970s.
In its earlier days, the building went through a series of owners (including Waite Phillips) and name changes. It was renamed in 1927 as the Security National Bank Building and renamed the Tulsa Trust Building the following year. The Beacon name has stuck since 1929, even though Beacon Life Insurance moved after being the building was purchased by Atlas Life Insurance Co. In 1986, First National Bank and Trust Co. of Tulsa took title to the property. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
9 E. 4th St., Tulsa, OK 74103
The facade of the refurbished Reunion Center (1919-1925) reflects its 1925 appearance.
Two-story stone arches, brick pilasters and paired double hung windows with stone spandrels provide the building's vertical emphasis. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
321 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
Built in 1915 by St. Louis developer S. Gallais, the Kennedy Building stands at 321 South Boston. Pioneer Tulsa doctor Samuel Grant Kennedy purchased the structure and tripled its size. He left the word "Gallais" over the south entry.
Kennedy was a charter member and the first director of the Commercial Club, a precursor to the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the city council and on bodies that helped to secure a railroad service and spearhead the Spavinaw Water Project. Kennedy's signature graces the original charter for the City of Tulsa.
The lion-headed gargoyles above the doors once held rings in their mouths to support the original canopy. The 1980 renovation enclosed the original "C" shaped building creating a 10-story atrium and dramatic new lobby spaces, although leaving the lobby's original Italian and Vermont marble floors and walls. —Courtesy, "Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District" by Hannibal Johnson
3 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
The Tulsa Union Depot is an impressive example of Art Deco architecture and reveals the inspiration of machinery as a theme for the exterior geometric designs. The Union Depot was built as a joint venture by three railroads during the Great Depression. Passenger trains continued to stop at the landmark until 1967.
Innovative renovation for reuse of the structure for office occupancy was completed in 1982 after the building had stood empty for 14 years.—Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
401 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
The Cosden Building (now called the Mid-Continent Building) was constructed in 1918 on the site of the first Tulsa schoolhouse, which was a mission school established in 1885 on Creek Indian Nation land. Built by Joshua Cosden, Tulsa's "Prince of Petroleum," the 15-story building was Tulsa’s first skyscraper. It was also one of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings in the United States.
The basic design was Sullivanesque, but a Venetian Gothic terra cotta skin was applied to the building. The building was a gesture toward progressive design in a young city, and an interpretation of the “commercial cathedrals” of the age. The Cosden Building is the cornerstone of Boston Avenue’s older financial and corporate office buildings. This million-dollar building symbolized the flamboyance of Tulsa’s oil barons during a period of enormous growth and prosperity.
The Tulsa landmark was restored to its original grandeur in 1980 to meet the needs of a modern corporate environment.
Soon thereafter, work began on a dramatic addition that would more than triple the building's size. Because the original structure was not strong enough to support the weight of 20 additional floors, a "cantilever" design was used to suspend a new tower over the older building. The two structures do not touch. The tower rises 20 stories above and extends 40 feet horizontally over the original 15-story building, creating the appearance of an upward continuation of the first structure. Deeper and wider steel trusses in the construction of the 16th and 17th floors of the tower, and a 120’ deep foundation, carry the burden of the cantilevered floors.
In order to sustain continuity of the original Tudor-Gothic design, more than 85,000 pieces of terra cotta panels, spires, cornices and moldings were produced for the exterior façade. At the time of the tower's construction, the only manufacturer of terra cotta in the United States was located in California. Terra cotta is fired, glazed clay material similar to ceramic tile. Elaborately ornamental, each handcrafted and hand-cast piece is a work of art.
Three different types of marble were imported from Italy to match existing interior wall panels. Calcutta Vagli Rosatta marble graces the walls and columns. Roman Travertine covers the restroom walls. Accents and trim are Verde Antique. Two colors of marble from Tennessee - Craig Rose and Rose Gray - make up the lobby's floor.
The project’s artist used the design motif, true to a neo-gothic approach, in various stained glass pieces throughout the tower. In the lobby, an exquisite stained glass panorama recreates the Tulsa skyline from the Boston Avenue Methodist Church to the Bank of Oklahoma Tower. A stained glass dome, resembling a giant Tiffany lamp, forms a ceiling over the three-story spiral staircase, connecting the top three floors of the tower and a two-story high "colonnade" entrance is formed by four terra cotta arches.
Completed in 1984, 66 years after the original construction, the building was renamed “Mid-Continent Tower.” The Cosden Building was listed in the National Register on February 1, 1979. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
124 E. 4th St., Tulsa, OK 74103
The old City Hall, first occupied in 1917, served Tulsa all of the years that it was energetically building its claim as “Oil Capital of the World.” Ironically, Tulsa succeeded in establishing this claim, eventually outgrowing the handsome old Neo-Classic building. In 1969, it was vacated.
Tulsa’s old Municipal Building has a generally Greek Classic facade. Its principal elevation features two-story, fluted Ionic columns. The simplified columns on the east and west elevations are modified Tuscan. Walls of the four-story building are of gray, 36-inch cut stone. Interior walls in public areas are faced with marble. A significant mural in the lobby depicts a Tulsa street scene in 1919.
The exterior has been left virtually unchanged, though doors and windows have been changed. The major addition is a new red-brick plaza, keeping with the old brick streets of the period in which the building was erected.
The Tulsa Municipal Building was listed in the National Register on July 18, 1975. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
115 E. 5th St., Tulsa, OK 74103
Built in 1927, the 11-story Tulsa Club Building was designed by Bruce Goff. It was built through the joint effort of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Club. The first five floors of the building were occupied by the Chamber and other business organizations while the top six floors and the roof garden were inhabited by the Tulsa Club. The Tulsa Club contained dormitory rooms on the sixth floor and a men’s lounge on the eighth floor. The club also had a gymnasium and barber shop.
The club’s interior had Art Deco ornamentation including fireplace tiles. Built of Bedford stone, the original 5th Street entrance was designed with abstract detailing above the doorway.
After falling into disrepair, the Tulsa Club was beautifully restored (at great cost) and reopened in April 2019 as the Tulsa Club Hotel. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission with contributions by Root staff
E. 5th St. and S. Detroit Ave., Tulsa, OK 74120
The first two floors of this well-maintained building were built in 1924 when the Gothic Style was popular. They were erected to house the new telephone dial equipment which was first used in Tulsa in November of 1924. Six years later, in 1930, when Zigzag Art Deco had supplanted the Gothic style, a four story addition was made. The addition held the division offices and the toll terminal equipment for the Oklahoma City-Tulsa underground cable.
The facade of the first floor of this light brown brick building is broken by a series of large, arched windows. These windows are framed in terra cotta, matching the color of the rather narrow terra cotta quoins and foundation of the building. The second floor windows are rectangular and separated by brick panels decorated with ornate terra cotta torches. A vertical pair of terra cotta shields is located above the torches. Above the second floor the building facade is broken into a series of stepped-back panels terminating in pinnacles above the roof line. The windows appear to be recessed panels. The spandrel area, constructed of buff-colored terra cotta tile with art deco designs, has strong vertical lines. The pinnacles are also faced with terra cotta tile, as is all of the building’s ornamentation. Northwestern Terra Cotta Tile Company of Chicago, the leading manufacturer of these tiles, was the supplier.
The Southwestern Bell Main Dial Building was listed in the National Register on June 22, 1984. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
320 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
The 320 South Boston Building, formerly known as the National Bank of Tulsa Building, is a 22-story high-rise building built by architect George Winkler, who also designed the Mayo Hotel. It was originally constructed as a 10-story headquarters building for the Exchange National Bank in 1917 and expanded to its present dimensions in 1929.
Covered in brick with terra cotta trim, the architectural style is Beaux-Arts. The central tower is stepped at the 20th floor with a two story arcade section, which is topped by a temple fronted section. A cupola tops the section. For many years, the cupola was illuminated by floodlights whose color changed according to the latest weather forecast. Green light meant a fair weather forecast, while red lights signified an approaching storm.
In 1933, Exchange National Bank reorganized and renamed itself as the National Bank of Tulsa. Thereafter, the building was known as the National Bank of Tulsa Building, until the bank renamed itself as Bank of Oklahoma (BOK). The BOK moved to its newly constructed BOK Tower in 1977. The NBT Building reverted to its former 320 South Boston Building name and became a general office building. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
427 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74120
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. —Courtesy, "Tulsa: Oil Capital of the World" by James O. Kemm
511 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
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. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
502 S. Main St., Tulsa, OK 74103
The illuminated dome of the Thompson Building (finished in 1923) was known as one of Tulsa's "three skyline musketeers" in the mid 1920's.The original structure was only as tall as the lighter colored band in the building's midsection. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
415 S. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
After its founding in 1918 as the first life insurance company in Tulsa, Atlas Life Insurance began constructing a high-rise building in the shape of an inverted "T." The company occupied the building from 1922 until it was sold in 1991.
Above 12 stories done in a Classical Revival design, the building’s façade features a statue of Atlas—the Titan of ancient Greek mythology—holding the sky on his shoulders. The four-story, pink and green neon sign hanging above the entrance was added in 1946, and is a prominent landmark on Boston Avenue from the north and south.
Today, the bottom floor is home to several businesses—including the New Atlas Grill and the Tulsa Press Club—and the former office space above has been converted into a Courtyard Marriott Hotel.—Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
600 S. Main St., Tulsa, OK 74119
Built in 1929, the Public Service of Oklahoma Building was an early Art Deco construction in Tulsa. The selection of this style by a generally conservative utility company established its acceptance and paved the way for the host of Art Deco buildings which were to follow. This building is also significant historically because it reflects the tremendous growth of Tulsa from 1920 to 1930. By 1927, construction costs in downtown Tulsa were averaging one million dollars a month. By 1930, Tulsa had more buildings of ten or more stories than any city of its size in the world.
The building is constructed of reinforced concrete, with a steel structural frame, and steel window frames covered by light grey Bedford limestone. The company was also in the retail business in 1929, and the windows on the ground floor are large enough to accommodate displays of merchandise. The stylized arch design of these windows reflects the Gothic predecessor of Art Deco. One of the most unusual features of the building is its beautiful nighttime illumination by a series of strategically placed lights.
The architect, Arthur M. Atkinson, who was also a professional engineer, implemented this feature to showcase the client’s product which, of course, was electricity. The torch shaped, light fixtures are decorated with Art Deco motifs of chevrons and stepped-back geometrical patterns. The building continues to be a viable part of downtown Tulsa and provides a visible and tangible link to an important period in its past. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
507 S. Main St., Tulsa, OK 74103
A cartouche with a carved "S" at the roofline of the Sinclair (Thurston) Building is the clue that this structure was built by oilman Harry F. Sinclair.
Built in 1919, it was the original headquarters of the billion-dollar oil company he founded. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
423 S. Boulder Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
Built in 1930, the Pythian Building was originally known as the Gilette/Tyrell Building. The three-story structure was to be crowned by a 10-story hotel, which was never built. The banded rock along the base is rainbow granite, which is a metamorphic rock called gneiss and was mined in Minnesota.
The lobby's intricate plaster-work, wrought iron, colorful tile work and mosaic floors combine to create one of Tulsa's most elaborate Art Deco interiors. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
11 E. 5th St., Tulsa, OK 74103
Built in 1918, the McFarlin Building is significant architecturally and is one of two Tulsa buildings associated with Robert M. McFarlin, oil man, banker, philanthropist and civic leader.
Designed by St. Louis architects Barnett-Haynes-Barnett and constructed by engineer Brussel Viterbo, the McFarlin Building is a 19th century building in concept and Florentine in style. The dark red brick upper stories of the exterior on the south and east elevations remain unaltered. Ornamentation includes three stone balconies, stylized lions and urns. The building is topped by a large cornice supported by Victorian brackets. The building’s interior has been substantially altered and has not retained its integrity.
The first tenant was the Halliburton-Abbott department store. The McFarlin Building was listed in the National Register on December 6, 1979. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
420 S. Main St., Tulsa, OK 74103
The blonde-brick Mayo Building is the oldest of Tulsa’s existing oil business buildings. Constructed just as oil fever hit Tulsa, the Mayo Building is a good representation of the many moderately-sized office buildings that were essential to large and small companies needing office space in the Oil Capital of the World.
Completed in 1910, the Mayo Building was two blocks south of their original store locations and stood five stories tall, only one of a few at this height, then called “skyscrapers” in Tulsa. This was the brothers’ first venture outside of the furniture business, as they divided the building’s use between their furniture business and office space for oil companies.
The Mayos responded to the increasing demand for office space by doubling their original five-story building in 1914, and by adding, in 1917, five more stories to the 1910 and 1914 buildings. At 10 stories, the Mayo Building became one of the taller buildings in the Tulsa skyline.
While the Mayo Hotel is probably the most famous of the Mayo properties in Tulsa, it was the Mayo Building that produced the seed capital the brothers needed to build their real estate and investment empire. Beginning with borrowed money, the Mayo brothers worked together to build their first building, which in turn financed other real estate endeavors including the 1921 Petroleum Building, the 1925 Mayo Hotel, and the 1950 Mayo Motor Inn, none of which could have existed without the Mayo Building.
The Mayo has retained its three-story-high vertical advertising sign and typifies major office construction of the time. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission
115 W. 5th St., Tulsa, OK 74103
When The Mayo Hotel was built in 1925 it featured 600 rooms and was the tallest building in Tulsa. The hotel’s founders, Cass A. and John D. Mayo, were real estate pioneers in Tulsa and The Mayo was their most ambitious and elegant contribution to the city's development. The Mayo was the residence of many oil barons during the Second Oil Boom, and has subsequently accommodated prominent politicians and entertainers.
The hotel was designed by architect George Winkler, who also built the 320 South Boston Building, in the Sullivanesque style of the Chicago School. Fourteen floors of red brick with false terracotta balconies are supported by two-stories of Doric columns, and the building is capped by two more stories of stone with a dentiled cornice.
At night, the Mayo’s iconic red neon sign can be seen from the downtown area. The hotel was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1980, though it closed its doors in 1981 and fell into disrepair. After a $42 million dollar renovation, it was in 2009 when the Mayo reopened its doors to the public.
Presently, the Mayo offers a restaurant, coffee shop, contemporary rooms and the Penthouse Rooftop Lounge. From its lobby to the Crystal Ballroom, the hotel continues to accommodate parties and weddings—just as the hotel was known for in its glory days. —Courtesy, Tulsa Preservation Commission