Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pulse Check

Just dropping a line to let everyone know that Lost Tulsa still has a pulse, although it's a bit weak at the moment.

I have to mention a new Flikr photoset posted recently by R_Smarte_Pants. He managed to gain full access to the partially renovated Mayo Hotel. He captured both the new and pristine, as well as the old and decaying. Absolutely stunning! Check it out here.

It was a sad year to visit the State Fair and see that Bell's Amusement park had been successfully converted into a 4000 space car lot. I still couldn't find a place to park, and ended up skipping the fair this year. Call it a boycott of inconvenience.

The Camelot had a scare a few weeks back, when a pile of junk caught fire from a welder above. They quickly doused the blaze, returning the I-44 icon to it's regularly scheduled impending doom. Quik Trip will be building a special 500th store on this location, possibly with additional tenants on the property they purchased this year.

The dead mall, Eastland is finally showing new life as re-christened Eastgate Metroplex. New lighted signage has been built along 21st St and the main entrance has been completely renovated. Coca-Cola is opening their new customer service facility in the old JC Penney's section on the West end of the mall. Open house will be next week. They expect have have 300 employees working there by Christmas. Community Action Project opened last week with new classrooms and even a nice new playground built out on the Southeast side. Last month, the partnership that is responsible for the $45 million renovation/repurposing closed on the former Dillard's building and is hoping to close on the former Mervyn's space. This will give the partnership 100% ownership of the facility, including the massive basement beneath the entire mall. The Dillard's building is planned for conversion into a windowed, 3-story office tower.

Thanks to Sgrizzle on Tulsa Now Forum for the following article quote:


Eastland Partners pays $1.8 million for Dillard’s location
October 17, 2007
TULSA – A fine steel gray powder permeated the renovated entryway at what once had been Tulsa’s Eastland Mall. It pooled like desert sands in the waves of the protective plastic sheeting, clung to the bricks and tile, and formed murky clouds in the centerpiece two-story fountain.
Such was the all-prevailing sign of construction that grips the one-time shopping center being remade as the Eastgate Metroplex office environment. A casual inspection uncovered workers busy in the central corridors, inside former outlets, painting exterior signs, even trimming trees.
“We are on track for how we anticipated it would be,” said Director of Development Gerry Chauvin for developer Eastland Partners LLC. “But the truth is, we had two deals in place much sooner than expected. That raised expectations we would be moving faster than we had hoped – including yours truly.”
With their first year on the $50-million-plus renovation project nearing completion, Chauvin said the mixed-use project remains only 15-percent occupied, its reconstruction about 20-percent finished. But the developers will soon complete two key steps to advance their vision.
• As Eastland DP LLC, Tulsa County Courthouse records indicate the developers paid $1.8 million to Dillard’s Inc. for the chain’s former mall location, a 250,000-square-foot, three-story extension that Chauvin expects to transform into a Class A office tower.
• Another arm of Eastland Partners LLC expects to close on the 106,000-square-foot, two-story Mervyn’s location within a month.
These deals will finally give Eastland Partners control of the 1 million-square-foot mall and its 150,000-square-foot basement, expanding its ability to meet user needs even as its first two tenants settle in.
Coca-Cola Enterprises will hold a grand opening Oct. 30 for its 62,000-square-foot customer service center at Eastland’s west end. Chauvin expects that facility to ramp up to its projected 300 employment by the year’s end. The Community Action Program of Tulsa County moved into its 28,000-square-foot Early Childhood Development Center last week at the mall’s southeastern edge, near the former food court and Mickey’s bowling alley and billiards.
Those operations give Eastgate a resident work force of about 350.
“It’s weak,” admitted Chauvin. “But we are on track for how we anticipated it would be when we started.”
With one year down, working from plans by architects Kinslow, Keith & Todd of Tulsa, Chauvin expects primary contractor Hopper Construction Techniques of Tulsa to complete work on the renovations over the next two and a half to four years. He sets the same time frame for getting the complex to a stable leasing foundation of 75- to 80-percent occupancy.
But the work completed pleases Chauvin, from the restored fountain and the new stonework adorning the main corridors to the new roofing, wiring and entryways. With the old chillers replaced, on Nov. 17 the developers will use helicopters to install 19 rooftop air conditioners and heating units, marking another step in the projects development.
Clearing out the many abandoned storefronts also has given Chauvin the opportunity to give away many old tables, chairs, cabinets and other fixtures it otherwise would junk.
He is in negotiations with two potential restaurants to enter the facility. To protect their business base and not cannibalize their market, he doesn’t intend to add more until other potential offices move in.
“Our goal is to finalize a restaurant operator by the first of the year,” said Chauvin. “With our momentum building and the pending deals and exposure, we feel we are right on track.”

My favorite "acoustically perfect" venue, The Brady Theater (aka Old Lady on Brady) is getting closer a really nice renovation herself.

According this oldish article from the OKC Journal Record:

A group of Tulsa music enthusiasts led by Alter, founder of Tulsa- based Matrix Architects Engineers Planners, launched a capital funding campaign to buy and renovate the 93-year-old Brady Theater, scene of legendary performances ranging from Enrico Caruso, Benny Goodman and Fatty Arbuckle to Bill Cosby, Cyndi Lauper and U2.
Having completed a feasibility study of the Brady Theater, the buyout group Historic Brady LLC desires to not only restore some of its celebrated ambiance, such as the Bruce Goff interiors installed in the 1930s, but also to bring needed upgrades, including handicap access and environmental systems and wider, more comfortable 21- inch seats. While that promises to lower its 2,750 seating capacity, the remodeling would take advantage of unused supports made for a third balcony, adding a level to bring its capacity back to 2,500.

This will be a much needed facelift for the Brady that will hopefully bring in even more acts like the upgrade to Cain's Ballroom did.

Thanks for all the comments here on Lost Tulsa. They are both inspiring and motivating. Although it's not frequently updated, LT has become a wonderful time-capsule of places and memories, mostly thanks to everyone else's participation. Please continue to share your thoughts with all of us.

While I'm mentioning sharing, I'd like to make a request to everyone reading. If any of you have old photos or videos from Tulsa's past, please share them with us. I've had so many requests for photos of places that I never managed to take pics of...The William's Center Forum, Southland (and Southroads) Malls, the "shrunken head museum off 44", Malibu Gran Prix...the list goes on. I too would love to see anything that might be out there, sitting in someone's closet, just waiting to be appreciated by all of us. Please contact me if you have anything like this. I'd be happy to help with any digital conversion, if it'd make it any easier.

Enjoy your October!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I recently posted up some new pics on Flickr, but they're not exactly on-subject. There's a new photoset that my wife and I took at this year's Blue Dome Art Festival. The art cars in particular were simply too eye-catching not to post up. This festival coincided with Mayfest, so I also ended up with a few shots of some of the neon signs along Boston Avenue. This includes the Atlas Life Building shown above. As I mention in the comments of this pic, this building was the first to pique my interest in Tulsa's wonderful downtown buildings.

Meanwhile, the vintage John Allen wooden roller coaster, the Zingo is getting very close to being dismantled completely. Last week, I watched a really good quality video from one of the new copter steadicams, showing a crane working on the upper u-turn of the south side. I wanted to link it here, but I can't seem to find it. What I did find was this equally depressing short video clip (.WMV encoded) on showing Bell's in 2001, including a 1st person ride on the Zingo. If anyone has the link to the helicopter footage, please comment below.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rose Bowl Renovation

Although I can't find an online version of the text anywhere, the Tulsa World has a small article about upcoming renovations to this unique Rt. 66 landmark.

From May 27, 2007 Tulsa World:

After well over a year of speculation, things are looking rosier at the historic Rose Bowl.


"We've painted the outside with pink terra-cotta, since we didn't really like the white and purple scheme," said Sam Baker, co-owner of the Rose Bowl along with his nephew, Chris Whinery.

The new paint job marks the first external transformation from a shuttered bowling alley to an event center, which will host an antique auction the first weekend in July. Other potential uses include hosting home and garden shows, weekend flea markets, car shows and motorcycle rallies.

Though the building's purpose will change, Baker, the owner of several nearby automotive businesses, said he wants to keep the building as close to its original architecture as possible. He even stuck with the basic name, calling it the Rose Bowl Event Center.

Baker and Whinery, his partner in the venture and a mortgage broker with Whinery Mortgage of Edmond, Muskogee and Tulsa, purchased the former bowling alley at 7419 E. 11th St. in February 2006 for $295,000.

Baker estimated that it will take well over $1 million to renovate the building.

This is very encouraging news to see such a huge challenge being undertaken. I wish these guys luck with their renovation and I hope their schedule fills up quickly this summer.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

KOTV Gives Update on Zingo

In this KOTV post, they report that Bell's has been given a last minute extension to allow the dismantling of the Tulsa landmark roller coaster, the Zingo. After having their work severely impacted by all of the rain we've received in recent weeks, the original May 15th deadline was simply not going to give them enough time. The expense of dismantling park is estimated around 1/2 million dollars. Anything left behind after the deadline will be forfeited to the county. Still unknown is whether Bell's will ever reestablish the amusement park at a new location.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Phillips Petroleum Museum Grand Opening

In an effort to reaffirm their Oklahoma roots, ConocoPhillips is opening a new museum at 4th and Keeler in downtown Bartlesville this month. They have been renovating the former Arvest Bank building since last Summer. It will be operated and funded by a private foundation established by ConocoPhillips. Admission will be free.

Late 1920s Cottage Style Phillips 66 Service Station
Photo from Phillip's former "Timeline Tunnel" below the streets of Bartlesville.

Phillips used to have a very nice museum-type display set up on the second floor of the Phillips Building (PB), including a scale replica of a 1920s Cotswold Cottage design service station like in the photo above. I know that this model has been relocated. They also had an immense archive of historic documents and items which have been transferred to the museum. Last week, I could see a really nicely restored gas truck through the front window, but most of my view was blocked. I am really looking forward to seeing everything in a more public friendly environment.

The museum will be open to the public beginning Saturday, May 12. Normal hours of operation will be Mon - Sat, 10am - 5pm and Sunday, 1pm to 5pm.

Speaking of cottage style Phillips stations, I'm was very pleased to read that the Vickory Phillips 66 Station at 602 S. Elgin is going to be rehabilitated using Rt. 66 corridor grant money.

Vickory Phillips 66 Service Station - Tulsa, OK

Once this historic gem is restored, it will be used as a Avis Rental car office. KOTV has this brief report including a few additional pics of the building before starting. It sounds like it's going to be a true restoration project, with all the painstaking detail involved. I can't wait to photograph the results when the project is finished.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Camelot Demolition In Near Future

A report tonight from Channel 8 indicated that the owners of the former Camelot Hotel (built 1965) were in talks with the City of Tulsa regarding a loan to safely demolish the asbestos-ridden castle. The plan is that once the structure has been removed, owners Maharishi Global Development can sell the prime property and repay the loan. The removal is expected to cost approx. $1 million and could begin as soon as this Summer.

It had been formerly announced that the Camelot was not in the planned path for the upcoming expansion of I-44, and would not be bought out like the rest of the properties being forced out.

Update: According to this KOTV story, The Tulsa Industrial Authority approved the agreement Wednesday (4/11/07) morning. The city will back the loan as long as the owner agrees to tear down the building. Demolition is expected to be completed by September.

Northland Center Revisited

Originally built as one of Tulsa's first malls, the open-air Northland Shopping Center has been renovated after many years of neglect. It has successfully been re-purposed as a office complex, dubbed Northland Center. Presently, the primary tenant is a community outreach center.

Although they've modernized the front facade of the buildings, the rear still looks much the same. Also, they left the wonderfully huge Northland Shopping Center sign standing tall on the hill behind the mall. I've been taken by the design of this sign since I first saw it. I was pleasantly surprised that they left the sign intact, although all the former neon has been gone for a long time. My imagination runs wild when I think of how it looked when it presided over a thriving new retail center in the '50s and '60s.

Click on either photo above to visit the former Northland Shopping Center's newest photoset. I first wrote about this mall in this early Lost Tulsa entry. Lots of people who remember growing up with this mall commented and clarified much of the history of the place. Pics from a previous Northland photoset shows it as it was before the renovation.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Eastland Mall Metamorphosis

There's been a lot of activity over at Eastland Mall with a $45 million (increased from $30m) renovation in full swing. The newly dubbed Eastgate Metroplex is off to a good start. The biggest news so far is the signing of Coca-Cola Enterprises, who will open customer support offices in the former JC Penney space on the West end of the mall. They will occupy 61,850 square feet and expect to employ ~300 people. Eastgate developers are also busy building out classrooms for a new childhood education center operated by the Community Action Project of Tulsa County.

The external facade is beginning to change as well. I have watched them carefully remove a former incinerator chimney that took over a week. I can only a assume there were some asbestos abatement issues, or that rebar-reinforced concrete was just really giving them a challenge. They have removed the "tents" over the main entrance and will be replacing the square-tube open framework with a more traditional (read: boring) stucco treatment. Since Eastgate is going to be primarily commercial, there will not be as much need for a huge main entrance. Most of the tenants will have their own main access. Staying for sure is Mickey's bowling center. The theater will probably return after the renovation. Dillard's is in discussion over their future there. Very much in limbo is the fate of the former food court, which is simply too large for the smaller scale retail planned for this mixed-use facility.

I found this very informative Tulsa World article the other day, after visiting Eastgate Metroplex with my son for one last attempt at taking some shots. When I saw the photo at the top of the article, I was stunned. I've been trying to figure out for some time what part of this mall I visited as a kid in the early '80s, when I snuck into a cavernous uncompleted mall. Now I realize that I once wandered around in what would eventually become the 150,000 sq. foot basement below the main level of Eastland Mall. This basement surprised even the developer, who was unaware of its existence. I love the mention of the "stairs to nowhere" in the article. I'm sure there's many things like that remain from the original construction started in the mid-'70s.

Even though I couldn't go underground, I took a final opportunity to wander this mall before things really start to change inside. I always loved the waterfall that dropped to the food court level. Now, it's beautifully abandoned, dry as a bone with hard water stains streaking the stone tiles...dead plants surrounding the area. See my Eastland Mall 3 photoset for one last view of this structure as an abandoned/dying retail center. At the rate they're going, this will all be cleaned up renovated and repurposed in another year.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Classic Peaches Pics!

Huge thanks to Lanette, who has posted some classic pics of her time at Peaches Records and Tapes ('79-'82). I really appreciate the time spent scanning in these great photos. They really give you a feel for what a "record store" used to be all about.

Guess The Eyesore

What we have here is a basic concrete water fountain. It's located on a pad that indicates that it was once surrounded by a huge covered patio. Identify this abandoned fountain's location. Bonus points for posting any history of this forgotten eyesore.

Ding, ding, ding!! We have a winner! After exercising their very impressive powers of observation, Flickr user thXtreme commented:

Ha! I saw this only last week while running some errands at lunch. I remember this because it looked so odd.

This is located near 51st and Memorial, to the West and on the South side of the street. It can be seen from the Office Depot parking lot (building directly to the West).

Here's the satellite image. I tried to center the fountain in the middle of the image, but it's sort of hard to make out.

This is exactly right. I spotted this eyesore when exiting the Office Depot a couple of weeks back. The fountain is located on a pad behind the Aaron Rents building next door. I remember picking up a dinette set from a furniture store located in this building in 1984, but I don't remember any type of access to the back. Does anybody know the story behind this? I may have to actually go inside and ask but I doubt any of the current employees would know.

Congratulation, thXtreme! Thanks for playing "Guess the Eyesore". Maybe next time we'll have fabulous prizes too.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Price Tower Designated Historic Landmark

From the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Price Tower, a 19-story structure in Bartlesville designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was designated Wednesday by U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne as a National Historic Landmark.

The Price Tower was one of 12 sites in 10 states so designated on Wednesday. Fewer than 2,500 historic places in the United States bear the National Historic Landmark designation, the highest such recognition accorded by the federal government to historic properties, according to the Interior Department.

Two other buildings designed by Wright also were designated Wednesday as National Historic Landmarks — the Hollyhock House at the Aline Barnsdall Complex in Los Angeles and the Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pa.

Congratulations to a most deserving landmark. If you're ever in the Bartlesville area, make a point to do the Price Tower tour. It's a wonderfully unique look into mid-century architecture and F.L. Wright. The only drawback is their insistence that you not take photographs inside the building. I was only able to get these shots when I toured there last year.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bell's Deconstructed

I've hesitated to comment on this for months, since it's had so much media exposure. But after visiting / taking pictures there this past week, I had to post it up. Besides...I realize LT has been dormant for too long and owe it to all of you to get something new online. Bell's Amusement Park is being forced out of it's location in mid-town Tulsa after 55 years of service. Only the Skyride will remain, as it has been sold to the County and will remain in operation during the State Fair. The owner, Robby Bell has until June 15th to have everything removed from the grounds.

This is particularly sad, since they had a better-than-ever Summer last year, after being closed for several weeks due to a extreme downdraft thunderstorm that demolished their antique ferris wheel and generally made a mess of things. They cleaned everything up and opened to record crowds for the remainder of the season. Also last Summer, they were finally cleared to add a modern steel roller coaster in the area of the miniature golf course, which had not been operational for several years. A new roller coaster had been protested by surrounding neighbors for years. Alas, their time was up and rather than renewing as expected, Tulsa County decided not to extend a new lease.

They are furiously busy at work, taking down all of the rides. Most of them, including the Zingo roller coaster will be put into storage until Mr. Bell can secure a suitable location to re-open. Sand Springs, Broken Arrow and Jenks have all expressed interest in having Bell's open in their towns. The Zingo (built 1968) is famous among wooden roller coaster lovers around the world. It's being numbered and disassembled piece by piece. What a painstaking process that must be! It's said that it will take 12 weeks to tear it down and 5 months to rebuild it. The log ride is similarly marked and is being slowly removed little by little. The areas farthest North, containing the Mind Meld, Himalaya and Phantasmagoria are all completely cleared now.

Check out the new Bell's Deconstructed photoset for some really depressing photos. Please help me identify some of the attractions that were located on the blank spots where they've already removed everything.

Here's some additional links (Thanks, Brewcaster!) related to the recently-demolished dark ride, Phantasmagoria:

Laff In The Dark - Photos and detailed history of the Phantasmagoria.

Secret Fun Spot - Flash animation honoring Phastasmagoria. Also visit their main site (Secret Fun Spot) for more info on Bell's as well as better photos of the destruction than I was able to take.

Monday, November 13, 2006

T.Roy Barnes drugry Before and After

Lost Tulsa reader Chris King forwarded this classic 1960s postcard photo showing a newly-built modern pharmacy located at 46th St. North and Cincinnati. His Dad remembers the area during this time as peaceful as Mayberry. Things changed in the early '70s, when the store was robbed almost weekly, leading to it's eventual demise. When I saw this photo, I had to head North to see if the structure still existed. Surprisingly, the building is still in very good condition. I was happy to see the sandstone still unpainted. The signage wasn't so lucky, as all the neon has been removed and it's been covered in yellow paint. I hate to see these mid-century style neon signs ruined. At least the sandstone sign pedestal is still intact, thanks to the welded tubular steel guards that have apparently been there since the beginning. The interior of the building is still in decent shape, sans counters and black/white tile floors.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Coleman's in Okmulgee Reopening

I'll use any excuse to get to post the pic of that wonderful mid-'50s neon sign. According to this news from KOTV, Coleman's Hamburgers is reopening. This frequented Okmulgee landmark was popular for 45 years before they sold the resturant several years ago. They even put in a helicopter pad at one point, so you could fly in and eat. The sale of the business included an agreement that they wouldn't sell hamburgers for a 5 year period. Now, that time is up and they are ready to get the grill going once again. They're also gearing up to start making pies and have tracked down the original onion ring recipe from the guy who used to make them. Not mentioned anywhere in the article is WHERE they would be opening, as I took these pics in early July of the old resturant being bulldozed. Also unknown is whether the sign was preserved or not. I guess I'll have to take a short southbound roadtrip soon and find out. O.K...My stomach is growling now....mmmmmm hamburgers.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Happy October

Hope everyone is doing well this Fall. Thanks for tolerating the sporatic nature of my updates here on Lost Tulsa. With the weather becoming a bit more reasonable compared to the scorching heat of this past Summer, I'm a bit more likely to get out and take pics more often. Stay tuned, as there's still plenty of things I'd like to get photographed and posted. I can't say they'll always be completely true to the main topic...but I hope you'll find some interest in them just the same.

I thought the image above was particularly appropriate for this month. The pedestrian bridge was absolutely covered with spiders two weekends ago. Definitely not the place for an arachnophobe, but it made for a really enjoyable outing for my son and me. We actually went out there at sunset to take some pics of the PSO power plant's signage...but after waiting at the new kayak ramp until nearly 9pm, we gave up. Does anyone know if they still illuminate the big "Electricity" sign at night?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Eastland Mall to receive $30 Million Conversion

According this Tulsa World article yesterday, Eastland Mall will be undergoing an extensive renovation to create a mixed-use center called Eastgate Metroplex. It will consist of business, community, educational and retail spaces. I've already noticed a significant cleanup of the landscaping surrounding this mall and I really look forward to watching the progress over the next 24-36 months as this dead mall is transformed.

My Eastland Mall photosets taken over the past few years are here and here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Metro Diner
3001 E 11th St (Rt. 66)
Tulsa, OK

With the rapid expansion of the Tulsa University campus [TheOklahomaForum] (just press cancel to the Name/Password prompt), many structures along Rt. 66 have been and are scheduled to be demolished. Metro Diner is nestled next to TU's Skelly Stadium and is expected to close at the end of Sept. 2006 so that it can be torn down. The owners would like to relocate, but with the low price that the Tulsa Development Authority is paying them, they are afraid that they may not be able to afford to do so. This entry [Route 66 News] from last month gives some more details on the situation.

My son and I visited a few weeks ago to have one last chicken-fried steak and take a few pics of the building and surrounding area. Although this was built in the early '80s and is not an "true" authentic '50s diner, I'm sure that more than a few folks will remember this place fondly.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Beryl Ford Collection Coming Online

A huge thanks to Sarah from the Tulsa Now Forums who made the following post yesterday:

You've probably heard about the Beryl Ford Collection, "the largest and most significant collection of photographs and artifacts relevant to the history of the City of Tulsa and the surrounding area."

But did you know that you can view the photos online? The project to digitalize over 75,000 photos has begun, and there are already over 750 images available via the Tulsa City-County Library website! (I wasted several hours the other night just browsing! Very cool!)

Want to see what 4th and Main used to look like? Curious about a particular historic building? Feeling nostalgic for Tulsa in its "glory days?" Check it out! Beryl Ford Collection

For more information about the Beryl Ford Collection visit

For history buffs, preservationists, and people who just care about Tulsa...these photos allow us to compare Tulsa to what it used to be...and think about what we want it to be in the future...

Despite a rather clunky interface for viewing and no ability for public comments, this collection is incredible and well worth some time spent browsing through the photos. I'm excited to see this extensive collection continue to grow online for all to research, recollect and enjoy.

Above photos:
Pythian Bldg 1950's - Beryl Ford Collection / Rotary Club of Tulsa
Pythian Bldg 2003 - Lost Tulsa

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lost Okmulgee

On our way back from an exhausting whirlwind trip to N. Texas over the July 4th weekend, I spotted two locations in Okmulgee that beckoned me to "hang a U" and take a few pictures. The first place that caught my eye was Bee Line Bowl, a former AMF facility with it's signage still bold with color and fonts straight out of the '60s. Although the lanes are closed and the building is up for sale, these signs seem to still whisper stories of years of family bowling fun.

My camera had just enough battery (and CF space) to also capture the Coleman's Burgers neon sign, which is all that's left standing of the former resturant that was in the process of being bulldozed. The neon on this sign is still in great shape. I'd really like to find a pic of this one lit up at night (anyone?). I'm sure I'll spend many restless nights trying to wrap my brain around the phrase "Good's Food Marvin Too!".

I know nothing about either of these locations, but I just love the style of these wonderful signs. I just hope that someone else with an affinity for these treasures will preserve them for future generations to enjoy.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blue Dome District Development Stirrings

Life continues to creep slowly back into downtown Tulsa. The recent opening of the Blue Dome Diner (and Rt. 66 Road House) as well as the extended run of the very popular Lion King at the PAC have things hopping down at the Blue Dome District. More and more new businesses are opening along East 2nd, near the former gas station that gives the district it's name. In addition to the college bar, classic cooking and live music, there is a planned conversion of a old warehouse into loft apartments. This is a good sign, as more residential is needed in this fast growing area.

The Blue Dome is one of my favorite examples of Tulsa's Art Deco. From the Tulsa Preservation Commission:

The Blue Dome was built in 1924 and served as a Gulf Oil Station. This was the first station in Oklahoma to have hot water, pressurized air and a car wash. It was also open 24 hours, seven days a week. The station attendant lived upstairs in the dome itself.

It's great to see some positive development being made in this area of town, neighboring this unique building. Maybe some of those huge flat parking lots will be overtaken by some well-designed new construction as well.

KTUL reporter Jerry Giordano recently wrote a story about the changes that are bringing more entertainment options to this part of Tulsa.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bell's Amusement Park Planning to Reopen on Monday

After what has been the longest in-season park closure in Bell's history, repairs and inspections are nearing completion. They plan on reopening this Monday, June 26th.

This article from the Tulsa World gives more details on the recovery efforts.

As previously mentioned, Bell's Amusement Park was hit by a freak microburst on the morning of June 6th. It destroyed their vintage 1924 ferris wheel, the 26th such wheel ever built.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

41st & Garnett Arby's Upgrade

A welcome demolition for a change. This time at 41st and Garnett Rd. A new Arby's has been built just north of the very aged '80s Arby's on the NE corner. The new store was opened just in time for them to start the demolition of the old one. I've frequented this resturant many times over the years, but I'm not the least bit sad to see the old building go. I'm glad to see yet another new building in this area. Now, if they can just do something about that former Texaco across the street.

Several more pics in the Arby's photoset.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Recent Happenings

I don't really have any new pics for you, but I wanted to post several links to some things happening around town recently.

Michael Bates took his family to the newly opened Casa Viva (formerly Casa Bonita). From his comments, it sounds like they'll do quite well once they smooth a few operational things out. I look forward to spending a few hours there with my own family soon.

In a recent Route 66 News blog entry called A Route 66 Guide to the "Cars" Movie, Tulsa's Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge was listed among probable inspirations for a particular scene. This guide is a very interesting read. There's some great information about the people (many of them Oklahomans) along Route 66 who influenced the Pixar folks when creating this movie. One of those people is Michael Wallis, famous Route 66 author and Tulsa resident, who served as a consultant on the movie in addition to playing The Sheriff. [thanks for the link, Kyle]

Jennifer Weaver is an ardent East Tulsa advocate and lately a much better investigative journalist than many of the "professionals" working for our local media outlets. She submitted a recent editorial posted on detailing some new information and making a plea for a comprehesive plan from Eastland Malls out-of-state owners, outlining their intentions for the property. She mentions a recent rezoning request for Eastland Mall area to Light Industrial. Strangely, the mysterious request has been withdrawn, but the drama continues.

Bell's Amusement Park has had an interesting week. Just days after announcing an agreement with its neighbors allowing them to upgrade the park with a new roller coaster, a micro-burst with winds around 65-70 mph did some serious damage to the park on Tuesday morning. The worse was the destruction of their 1924 ferris wheel. The attraction, which had been at Bell's for over 40 years, was literally folded in two with no hopes of restoration. Less damaged was the Phantasmagoria and log rides. The fairground buildings and Big Splash water park also received minor damage during this odd early-morning storm. 6/15/06 Update: Still Cleaning Up []

Finally, I was recently informed that
"TU's about to start leveling the old apartment complexes between about 8th and 11th streets -- all the stuff that's between Skelly and Delaware. I think they're gonna leave the Metro and Wendy's until the very last...Also I think they're gonna tear down half of the Twin Towers dorm before too long -- the one they were planning on closing for a year to get it up to fire code."

It's sad to see such a push to destroy so much along this path, just in the interest of creating a "Grand Entrance" to Tulsa University. I'll do my best to get some pics before everything has been removed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Starship Records and Tapes Memorial Mural

I've updated my Starship photoset with a few pictures of the new building including the fantastic "memorial" mural that has been airbrushed on the North side of the otherwise painfully plain metal/cinderblock building. I only hope they can someday do something with that ugly corregated metal storefront.

The newly dubbed Starship Music and Gifts seems to have transitioned nicely to their new location at 12th and S. Lewis. Having ample room to spread out really makes it a lot easier to browse around. The place looks neat, clean and modern. But they've made sure to place the incense section near the front door, so you're greeted with that familiar Starship smell. They've definitely increased their inventory both for music and items such as shirts. They've got a ton more wall art as well. I guess that's an advantage of putting a shop in a huge former lumberyard...lots of space to work with. The "other building" has been consolidated into a separate room discreetly set off to one side with age restrictions for entry. This allows the huge main showroom to be family friendly, while preventing new stores like The Bag from taking away the crown of "Tulsa's Headkeeper". Another big advantage of the new location is Starship's proximity to HWY 51. With 15th St. just down Lewis, you can exit and enter the B.A. expressway quite easily. I love the way the new mural is clearly visible as you drive across the expressway overpass, too.

I wish the guys at Starship continued success. Hopefully this transition will be a positive one. They can never compete with the Walmarts and Best Buys when it comes to volume, but they still have a personal quality about them that should keep loyal customers coming back again.

Read more about the history of Starship, Honest John's and Oz on this Tulsa TV Memories Counterculture page. Some great stories and pictures of the people behind Tulsa's "record stores" before the big corporations took over.

Casa Viva Opening Soon

According to reports, Casa Viva will be opening it's doors in about 3 weeks. This was about a week ago, so I'm figuring around the end of the month. They are owned by the original Casa Bonita creator and are opening in the former Casa Bonita location at 21st and S. Sheridan. Unfortunately, the previous owner removed the wonderful (if somewhat worn) carousel. It's a shame that unique attraction will not be a part of the arcade anymore. I'm still looking forward to seeing how well they fixed the place up inside and judging if the food has improved from before.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Moody's Jewelry on Cherry St.
I just love this mid-century styled neon sign. No photoset or anything (just a link to the larger image on Flickr). I just can't stand for the site to look so colorless with multiple text-only entries.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Woodland Hills Mall's 1st Christmas webmaster Steven posted these pics from the first Christmas season of the newly built Woodland Hills Mall (1976). There are some fantastic shots of the original fountain, as well as quite a few stores that are no longer in existence. At this point, they had not yet built the Phase II portion (completed 1982), which included the Food Court and Sanger Harris (later Foleys, soon to be Macy's). The last photo in the set is interesting, as you can see past the escalators right on through to the former East entrance doors. Now, you'd be looking down the corridor towards Foley's. I have some great memories of this mall. I worked near the Food Court entrance at The Glass Oven bakery during my Sr. year of High School ('82-'83). My favorite ex-wife worked at Sanger Harris during the evenings. She used to come up and chat with me during her breaks. At least, I like to think it was me she was interested in...and not just the free Mississippi Mud brownies she got for flirting. The girls over at the hair/nails salon across the entrance were pretty friendly too, now that I think of it. I'll always remember burning through quarters at Aladdin's Castle, checking out the adult novelty items at Spencer's and smelling the incredible scents wafting from Wicks 'N' Sticks every time you got anywhere near the place. Although the current layout is still pretty much the same, the look and feel of this mall has been drastically changed due to a full remodel in the '90s, which removed most of the chrome and natural wood so popular in the original super-malls of the mid-'70s.

Great shots (and commentary), Steven. Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: Photographing Architecture is Not a Crime, Thomas Hawk vs. Building Security Episode 118

In this very strange post-9/11 world, sometimes even the simple act of taking a picture can get people riled up. The link above goes to a entry by Thomas Hawk, a photographer who was rudely hassled by security of 45 Fremont building in San Francisco. Knowing his rights, Thomas stood firm, and reminds us that we should do the same.

For more information on Photographer's Rights:

The Photographer's Right (.pdf flyer)


Legal Rights of Photographers (.pdf)

Luckily, I've only been run off from a few places that I was trying to photograph. Had I been armed with the information above, I would have probably stood my ground.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tulsa's Lost Twins:
Home of the Midnight Movies

Towards the late 1960s, as many of the grand single screen theaters from earlier in the century were starting to show their age, new theaters were being built. The era of television was gaining firm ground, leaving many of the small-screened older theaters at a disadvantage. Why go to the theater to watch the latest cliffhanger, when you can get it while sitting in your living room? Theater owners started thinking differently about the way people wanted to watch movies. The latest movie theaters had to compete in a different way, by emphasizing multiple movie choices, large screen size and powerful sound systems along with wider venues allowing better views for more of the audience. Though their predecessors were far superior to them in style and architecture, these fresh modern theaters were immediately popular and over the 1970s and '80s, most of the older venues whithered away and died. Many of Tulsa's art deco theaters were destroyed during this period.

Sometime in the mid-'70s, theater owners started looking at ways to increase box office receipts. Someone decided that it would be a great idea to take second run movies (which cost them much less to rent) and play them at Midnight on Friday and Saturday evenings. These were an immediate hit with teenagers all over America. Playing campy horror flicks and sci-fi movies, they drew in crowds of kids not quite ready to go to sleep early on a weekend evening. The role of Midnight Movies took another turn in in the late '70s when a theater owner in New York started running a practically forgotten musical/horror/sci-fi movie from 1975 called Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movie revived the term "cult movie" and spread across the world quickly as it gained popularity among the Midnight Movie crowd.

The big difference between RHPC and other movies was that you didn't just watch the participated in it. When key characters Brad and Janet (played by a very young Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) are singing while walking through the rain, the audience is also holding newspapers over their heads while water is falling all around, thanks to some spray bottles snuck in via large coats. When a toast is offered up during the film, squares of golden bread go flying about the theater. For nearly every line of dialogue, there's a response or addition that the audience speaks. The movie is so BAD in so many ways, you can't help but enjoy it. The songs are infectious, and it's really hard to stay seated when everyone around you is doing the Time Warp. The Village Cinema (shown above) on Garnett Rd, near Admiral was the ultimate Rocky Horror venue. We'd load up our pockets with props before we went in. The theaters had large stages below the screens and many of the participants went all out with full costumes and makeup. Many an inebriated soul would act out the various scenes and songs at the front of the theater. Some, such as myself, preferred to stay back and enjoy the spectacle of it all.

Tulsa TV Memories visitor Wilhelm Murg remembers:
"Back in the glory days in the early 1980s at the Village Theatre, the concept was not to watch the show, it was more of a way to take over a theatre, usually with a 65 year old police officer working as security (goofing off until his retirement), attempting to control 300 stoned teenagers - it was the Tulsa version of Altamont!"

Other favorite movies to see at 12am were Tron, Heavy Metal and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Music movies were really popular too. There was Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same, as well as Pink Floyd, Live at Pompeii. The later was often misrepresented as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in the radio ads. However, much to our disappointment, the only DSotM song in this movie is a brief snippet of an early "Us and Them" demo. Earlier Floyd always put me to sleep. Now, when they played The Wall, there was no sleeping. The lyrics and imagery were so powerful. I remember that I was only a few months away from my 18th birthday. I was going to have to sign up for Selective Services on that day. The Cold War was still very alive as it would be 10 more years before the fall of the Soviet Union. It seemed that war could break out at any moment...and we both had nukes! The Wall was deeply disturbing to me at that point in my life, when I certainly wasn't interested in going off to fight the Ruskies in the cold...or nuclear annihilation of the world for that matter.

Eventually, the Midnight Movie craze died out. By the early 1990s, they were pretty much relegated back to the art-house type theaters, who would do it for certain events, but not as a weekly thing. These days, I'm not sure I could even stay awake for two hours in a dark theater after Midnight...age has a way of doing that to you.

This collection still isn't complete. But, I've started posting some photos of what's left of these venues. They really were not much to look at...mostly big boxes. However, they were a important part of my youth and I'll always remember fondly the fun we had and the people we met. If anybody out there has any photos of these theaters when they were still open, I'd love to get a scan for my collection. Also, please give me your thoughts and comments on the subject. I'd love to hear more of your recollections of your experiences at these theaters.

The photoset includes the following theaters:

Bowman Twin Cinema
Plaza Twin
Park Lane Twin Theatre
Village Cinema

I'm still trying to make time to photograph several more. In particular, I'm still missing the Fox Theater at 51st and Harvard, the Spectrum Twin at 71st and Lewis, and the Southside Cinema Twin at 87th and Lewis. I realize that there were several others around back then too, but these were simply the ones I remember from the Midnight Movies. Unfortunately, none of these remaining are much to look at anymore. Of course, I just missed the leveling of the 4 screen Woodland Hills Cinema, and Fontana 6 looked like it had been closed down when I passed it yesterday after eating at Monterrey's. I don't remember them ever participating in Midnight Movies, anyway.

Happy Landings!

I'm Not Dead Yet!! - Eastland Mall

Some good news for a change regarding the declining Eastland Mall. Ashli Sims at KOTV is reporting that a potential new owner is in negotiations to buy the nearly vacant mall. Not only that, they're long-time Tulsans who actually see a positive future for the mall.

From the KOTV article:

"so as we look at this area of town and we see other areas saturated I know movement is going to come here and I think this was a good idea but the timing was a little off and that's just bad luck.”...
"Ed Kallay believes their timing and thus their luck will be better. They're working with Haywood-Whichard, the mall's current owner, to buy the 68-acre property. Kallay's idea, combine office space and retail, reinventing the mall as a place where folks can work, dine and play."...
It’s not a done deal yet, but Kallay says the possibility is generating a lot of business buzz. The downtown entertainment venue, the Hive, which recently hosted a tattoo convention, says they're interested in possibly expanding east.

I'm encouraged with this news. These plans fit in very well with the type of development I linked to in an earlier post. I also agree that there are not many more areas for Tulsa to expand, without building out further East. Broken Arrow is quickly filling in from the West and we've already built out south to Bixby and Jenks. I'm seeing a lot of development taking place on 145th between 61st and 41st these days. They're saying it will be approximately 75 days to close the deal on Eastland Mall. I hope things go through smoothly. I'd much rather have a local developer as a owner!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rose Bowl for sale on Ebay?!

Yeah...I know that I've mentioned the Rose Bowl too many times here on Lost Tulsa. However, I just couldn't let this one pass by. It appears that the new owner of the Rose Bowl is putting out feelers to see what kind of interest there may be in the Rt. 66 building by posting it up for sale on Ebay.

As usual, KOTV's Steve Berg is on the ball, speaking with the new owner about his intentions in this new article.

Sorry for the lack of new posts. As a hobby, I expect that there will be periods of time like now when things are a bit slow. But, I'm sure with everything turning green around here, I'll be back out with my camera soon.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Woodland Hills Cinema and Service Merchandise Gone

I had read about this coming quite some time ago, and had intended to drop by and take some pics of the Woodland Hills Cinema 4 and the Service Merchandise that resided at 68th and S. Memorial. Unfortunately, I waited too long. When I drove past on Tuesday, both of the boxy mid-70s buildings had been completely demolished, removed and the clean earth was being leveled by bulldozers. They are clearing the properly for (suprise!) another WalMart SuperCenter...because traffic in that area isn't quite bad enough yet.

More Bad News for Eastland Mall

Thanks to the research of a East Tulsa citizen, KOTV has some new information regarding the new owner of Eastland Mall. According to the article:

"He [Eastland Mall owner Hayood Whichard] says it's not his fault east Tulsa was in decline long before he got there and he makes no bones about the fact that he's not putting any money into the property. I'm not a developer, he says. He says he just went in and bought a property. And now let somebody else figure out what to do with it."

District 6 councilor, Jim Mautino says that he isn't aware of Whichard ever trying to revive the properties he buys. Whichard "Just allows the mall to deteriorate and deteriorate until the city has no other choice but to condemn it or eminent domain and take it over."

Read the KOTV article.

[Addition: 3/2/06]

I'd much rather see something more like this East Tulsa community plan [.PDF] in Eastland Mall's future.

Those large brick red sections are the old JC Penney, Mervyn's, Dillards, etc, broken out into standalone structures. This plan presents a very forward vision that's highly unlikely. Still, it's nice to dream...and it's good to see that someone is putting some thought into the future development of the area.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rose Bowl Has Been Sold

According to Steve Berg's news report, this unique Route 66 icon has been purchased by businessman/neighbor Sam Baker. One condition of the sale by AMF (owners of Sheridan Lanes) is that it will not be used for bowling anymore.

I'm happy to see that there is no intention of tearing it down. According to the KOTV article, the new owner has said "It's a great landmark here on Route 66. It's a great architectural piece of work. We're really not considering knocking it down. We really think it's too nice a building to knock down at this point." Hopefully, someday they'll re-purpose this landmark for another public function that we can all enjoy.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oral Roberts University In Decay

As much of the ORU campus reaches 40 years old, many of the post late-modernism buildings and fountains are really showing their age.

Lost Tulsa visitor Trey Callaway passed on these great photos with the following comments:

"...even though it isn't technically lost yet - an old Tulsa
pal of mine named Craig Thurston (now living in Chicago) just went
back to T-Town for a funeral a couple months ago and thankfully
accepted my suggestion that he take a few moments to go shoot some
amateur photos of the ORU campus, which I had heard was falling into
major disrepair. I suppose it was probably some kind of sacrilege,
but as South Tulsa brats, we often used to go there at night during
our junior high days with packs of other kids to play hide and seek
among the "Jetsonian" 64 World's Fair influenced architecture that
stood out like no buildings in town.

As you can see from a few of the attached photos, however, the place
is really starting to look like an unholy mess (bad pun, I know) and
I honestly wonder how much longer it will be before at least some of
its memorable structures wind up being added to the list of Lost
Tulsa sites. Kinda has that Heritage USA feel about it, no?"

Since I was also a South Tulsan as a kid, I spent my fair share of time over on this campus, and it truly was like visiting Six Flags Over Jesus. I can only imagine how much fun it must have been to play hide and seek as a preteen, using these buildings as backdrop. It's a very unique place. These pics definitely make me want to schedule some time to head south and see a bit of the decline firsthand.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

uHollywood BOWLSA

Fun with Flickr

Just playing around with Spell with flickr. You type words or names in, press spell, and it finds the letters on flickr and displays them together. Click any individual letter to browse through all of the possible choices for each letter. It's cool.