Friday, November 18, 2005

Abundant Life Building
16th and Boulder

Originally build in 1957 by and for Oral Roberts ministries. When they moved south to 71st and Lewis, Southwestern Bell converted and used it for a central office. It was abandoned sometime in the mid-'80s and has been empty since. This building has also been covered by Abandoned Tulsa, including a great postcard photo of how it once looked during the day and night. At night, it was surrounded by lights displaying the unique diamond pattern covering the upper portion of the building. It also had a large spire forming a cross across the front. I have been reading some older guestbook entries at Tulsa TV Memories and saw some things I hadn't heard about it such as:

Jim Hartz said "I remember the Abundant Life building on South Boulder very well. In its day, the early 60s, there was nothing else like it in the southwest. Oral Roberts had a network-quality video and audio studio in the basement. There was a set that matched his tent stage. He used this to film the open and close to each of his weekly shows, plus his pitches for money. It was an exact match for film that had been shot in his road campaigns. He did this at least four times a year in Tulsa. He brought in NYC cameramen and a network directors. It was all filmed on 35mm cameras. There was probably no production like it in Tulsa before or since."

John Hillis did a deep memory purge and said "Thought the Diamond Towers was where the envelopes for Oral were opened. Since most contained contributions, and many contained cash, the windowless building was part of security. I also heard that employees who opened the envelopes were forced to wear smocks that were pocketless and that there was a hi-tech (then) system that vacuumed the cash into the vaults within seconds of the envelopes being opened, but all that may be aprocryphal."

All these comments led me to a link for David Horton Ministries, where they say
"DHM is currently restoring Oral Roberts former headquarter building in downtown Tulsa as an evangelistic world headquarters. The seven-story tower will serve as the base of opportunities for all DHM outreaches worldwide.", the discussions and the DHM info came out in 2003, so I'm not sure if they've made any progress since then. I'll try to make a point to check it out soon. In the meantime, here's the pics I took a couple of years ago, when I had no idea what it was.

Update: David Horton Ministries bought the building from George Nerhan, a struggling property manager. According to the Hutchinson News website article,

"In 1997, Nerhan bought the Diamond Tower in Tulsa, Okla., a windowless, seven-story office building that served as the headquarters for evangelist Oral Roberts in the 1950s and '60s.

A few months after purchasing it, he sold the building to a group run by the Rev. David Horton, which wanted to turn the building, once called the Abundant Life Building, into a center for Horton's evangelical ministries.

But Nerhan said he never was paid for the building and the land it sits on, which now are valued at $1.6 million. He said he is allowing Horton, whose organization is tax exempt, to keep the building - and possibly try to sell it - so Nerhan won't have to pay property taxes on it.

So, it sounds to me like nothing has happened with the building. DHM isn't paying for it, but Nerhan doesn't want to pay taxes on it, so he's willing to let DHM just sit on it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Eastland Mall Update

I noticed today on my way home that the Mervyn's in Eastland Mall has large "Store Closing" signs on the side of the building, and large posters announcing their closing sale at the entrance. All three Mervyn's in Tulsa are being closed as part of a effort to cut non-productive stores and concentrate on a geographically smaller area. The closure will leave Dillards as the only anchor remaining in Eastland Mall.

I took the bulk of these pics in late Sept. It was just at sunset, but not closing time yet. The interior of the mall was eerily dark. People shuffled about in the shadows...mall walkers...teenagers coming out of the movies...laughter echoing against the empty spaces. I noticed that the Bath & Body Works is dark and empty. That didn't last long. But wandering around, I noticed something new. The spaces formerly occupied by retail stores were now being used for martial arts classes, live country music for elderly people, and belly dancing lessons for both young and old alike. It was heartening to see some of the spaces being used. Still, the loss of Mervyn's causes me great concern for this mall, and I hold out little hope for its future as a retail shopping center.

update 11/30/05: Here's one of the misleading banners that led me to believe that (now closed) Bath & Body works had only recently opened in Eastland Mall.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Still Standing - Rose Bowl Lanes Update

An entry at Roadside Peek the other day, along with several comments on Flikr regarding the status of the Rose Bowl Lanes prompted me to go over this morning and see what was up. What I found was a complete Rose Bowl Lanes building still standing. They've done a bit more boarding up, and have lots of signs advertising it's availability.

I took a few pics for good measure, and added them to my Rose Bowl Lanes photoset.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tulsa Tunnels and Historic Buildings

Around the same time I took the pics of Bartlett Square in April of 2003, I found out about the tunnels that connected many of the historic buildings in downtown Tulsa. The first of the tunnels was started in 1929 by Waite Phillips, who originally connected his Philcade to the Philtower. This made him more secure moving from building to building amid a time when a there was a rash of kidnappings of wealthy businessmen. Unfortunately, that leg of the tunnel is no longer open to the public. At one point, there was a radio station that broadcast from underneath the city, and the tunnels were said to be used during prohibition to discreetly supply the oil barons plenty of booze.

In reality, the tunnels aren't really much to speak of. There's only a few relatively short stretches underground and most are interior concourses (read: you walk through the buildings). Regardless, this is a short trip you can take on foot in downtown Tulsa that exposes you to some of the most beautiful art deco architecture this country has to offer.

After several years of sitting on my hard drive, I invite you to view my latest assembled collection of pics, the Tulsa Tunnels photo set. I've also heavily notated a Google Earth map of downtown, showing the paths of the tunnels, concourses and ped. bridges.

Credits: I've "borrowed" liberally from a .PDF map of the "Downtown Tulsa Tunnels and Sky Bridges" (Apr 2003) of unknown origin, as well as historic comments from another source identified only as "SCR Seminar 2005".

Sorry for the inconsistancy of my posting frequency. I still have lots I want to get done, and some that I still just need to compile. Thanks for all the encouraging comments!