Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Casa Bonita Surviver's Guide

Denver's Westword (think Urban Tulsa, but better) posted this humorous list aimed at preparing and informing those interested in visiting Casa Bonita, "the world's weirdest Mexican resturant". Just like the old South Park episode, this article leaves me wishing our Casa Bonita was as cool at the one in Denver. Still, they list some decent pointers and tips that could apply to both locations (e.g. "the fried ice cream is for suckers.")

Mmmm...sopapillas...powdery pillows of goodness!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Future of Temple Israel Looking Brighter Bleak

Update: 01/28/09 - NewsOn6 has an update on the building and it doesn't sound good.
"...investigators visited the scene Wednesday and determined the building has no internal structural components in tact or reliable enough to prevent a collapse of the exterior walls."

Update: 01/27/09 - On 01/27/09 at 3am, the former Temple building caught fire. It's suspected that some homeless started a fire to keep warm during the ice storm last night, and it got out of control. Firefighters at the scene say that it's too dangerous to enter the building. No one is believed to be hurt.
[Ch 2 News]
[Tulsa World]
My heart goes out to the developer who was attempting to restore this building and to all the Tulsans who were looking forward to seeing it finally happen.

Still burning around 4pm 01/27/09. Photo by Gold from TulsaNow Forum.


According to this NewsOn6.com article, the long vacated "Temple Israel" building is to be restored and turned into a community arts center. Sitting on the corner of 14th and Cheyenne since 1910, Tulsa's first synagogue has been abandoned for years. It's the last of the early synagogues left standing in Tulsa. The new owner, Kevin Stephens, has hopes of having the building placed on the National Historic Registry and using it's auditorium for dance, theater and visual arts performances. This project could really bring new life to this neighborhood and rescue a decaying Tulsa landmark from demolition. Win/Win.

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Top photo copyright Dan Watson.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oklahoma Modern Captures I-44 Victims

Oklahoma Modern has this new entry on the demolition of Tulsa's uniquely circular Patrick Henry Apartments. Some very interesting information on the complex's design (round closets?!) and a handful of wonderful photos of the buildings as they were being torn down to clear the way for the widening of I-44. The photo of the round pantry alone is worth the jump. They took the curved theme even further than the University Club Tower.

Also in the path of the I-44 expansion was the former Osborn Ministries (a.k.a. World Museum) building. Oklahoma Modern was there late last year and posted this World Museum entry that includes some nice interior shots. I've had a lot of people ask about "that museum off 44 with the shrunken heads", so I'm quite happy to see these.

Great catch, Rex and Jackie! Thanks for sharing.

Above photos: Patrick Henry Apartments Circular Clubroom Building and Osborn Ministry Building from Oklahoma Modern.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Lost Bartlesville

It's been over 5 years now that I've been commuting to/from Bartlesville for my job. Although I prefer to live in Tulsa, I am quite fascinated with Bartlesville's history and structures. I finally got out and took some new photos of the places that interest me the most. With the new pics added to old photos I've been holding onto, I realized that I've got a pretty huge collection of Bartlesville-related stuff. So, breaking from the strictly Tulsa-centered sets, I present Lost Bartlesville [flickr].

Bartlesville in many ways mirrored Tulsa's growth in the 20th century, with a large oil-driven surge early in the century, then explosive growth after WWII. They managed to keep many of their downtown structures preserved from a fate as surface parking. There are many excellent examples of varied architectural styles, including some wonderful art deco and mid-century buildings.

Some items of interest in this set:

Downtown Bartlesville
with all of it's great brickwork, fading advertisements and fire escapes. Top photo: May Brothers Apparel is going out of business after almost 100 years of service to the area.

Murphy's Steak House Neon Sign
- If you're going to hurt yourself, you have to do it right with a wonderfully decadent Hot Hamburger!

Frontier Pool
- A 1969 two pool former Olympic platform diving tryout location (10m). It's now being torn out to be replaced by a splash pad park.

Travelers Motel
- Fantastically preserved mid-century neon sign.

Bartlesville Downtown Tunnels
- Follow the tunnel network beneath downtown Bartlesville.

Hotel Phillips
- 1950 luxury hotel threatened by new modern facilities opening in Bartlesville.

These and much more are in the Lost Bartlesville photoset for your browsing pleasure. For those of you who don't care about Bartlesville will just have to wait a bit longer for a new Tulsa entry.

Thanks for all the kind words and excellent memories in your e-mails and comments. Please keep them coming. It's your recollections of these places that bring these inanimate buildings to life.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Tulsa Union Depot

Digging deep through the Tulsa City-County Library's Beryl Ford Collection today, I tripped across some great pics of the Tulsa Union Depot. This is one of my favorite Art Deco buildings in Tulsa, and I have some old shots from 2004 that I've been wanting to share. This was just the excuse I needed.

Completed in 1931, Tulsa's Union Depot is a PWA Moderne style building that barely escaped demolition after years of vandalization and decay.

The depot was planned by architect Frederick Kershner. He was responsible for accommodating the three separate railroads that would serve Tulsa with 60 trains arriving each day. The building was designed by R.C. Stephens, an architect for the Frisco Railroad. It was originally built by Manhattan Construction through the Public Works Administration program. During the Great Depression, the PWA created jobs for architects, designers, and builders by putting them to work creating government and public buildings.

The station was used for passenger rail service until 1967 when it was closed and left abandoned for well over a decade. During this time, it was ransacked by thieves who took marble, chandeliers and etched glass. Anything left below eight feet was stripped bare.

The Williams Companies bought the building and financed the life-saving renovation of the structure for use as office space in 1982. Using the original builders, Manhattan, they managed to make the building look better than new. Compare the modern pics to the archive photos and I think you'll agree, the restoration they performed is remarkable. The ongoing maintenance of this historic building is impressive as well.

The former depot is now home to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra as well as office space for Level 3 (formerly Williams subsidiary Vyvx).

Considering all of the lost depots around the nation, we're lucky to still have such an impressive structure downtown.

Additional information on the history and details about the architecture can be read in this BNET article that I borrowed from (among other internet sources) for historical reference.

As always, clicking the top image will take you to the [flickr] photoset.