If you love Tulsa’s beautiful Art Deco architecture, if you’re fascinated by our rich history, you’re going to want to own a copy of Jack Frank’s newest DVD in his Tulsa History Series: Tulsa Deco.
The quality of this production fits its subject: Everything about it is a delight to the eye, from the Deco-inspired fonts used in the titles and captions to the menu graphic — a juxtaposition of representatives of the three main types of Deco: streamline (the 32nd and Utica all-electric house), zigzag (Boston Ave. Methodist), and PWA (Union Depot), against a background of rotating beams of light and floating clouds.
Jack Frank’s camera lets you look up close at the wonderful detail on some of our most famous buildings. You get a tour of the inside of the Adah Robinson House at 11th Pl. and Owasso Ave., and the history of the Riverside Studio (aka the Spotlight Theater), both Bruce Goff designs. Deco churches are represented by Boston Ave. Methodist and Christ the King Catholic Parish. You’ll see the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Westhope, and you’ll hear some stories about the house from Florence Barnett, who grew up in the home.
The other featured buildings: The ONG Building at 7th and Boston, Philcade, Gillette-Tyrrell (Pythian) Building, Warehouse Market, Union Depot, the Fire Alarm Building, Will Rogers High School, Fairgrounds Pavilion, Tulsa Monument Co., City Veterinary, the Brook, Boulder on the Park (once home to Holland Hall and then KTUL radio), and several streamline residences, including the aforementioned home at 32nd and Utica.
There are fleeting glimpses of many other, more modest Art Deco buildings, and you begin to appreciate what a wealth of deco we enjoy in Tulsa.
Mixed in with modern footage of these Art Deco treasures are historic films related to these buildings from the period when they were built.
The show not only spotlights the buildings but the people who care for them: homeowners, business owners, restorers, preservationists, and even tourists. I enjoyed the interview with a couple from near Boston who were touring Route 66 and set aside extra time to tour Art Deco buildings in Tulsa. They downloaded a list of buildings from the Tulsa Preservation Commission website, then programmed the addresses into their GPS. It’s a great example of how cultural heritage tourism can bring people to our city, if we’re wise enough to preserve the artifacts of that heritage and to help visitors find and engage them.
(The only false note was an attempt at the end of the show to link the BOK Center to Art Deco. It’s understandable, however, given that the video was sponsored by the Bank of Oklahoma and Matrix, which was part of the team that designed and engineered the BOKarena.)
KTUL channel 8 will show an abridged 30-minute preview of the DVD on Tuesday, December 2, at 7 p.m., but you will want to own the full hour-long DVD.
Here’s the trailer:
The DVD includes nearly another half-hour of extras:
There are lengthy excerpts from a 1995 interview with historian Robert Powers, who passed away earlier this year. In addition to an extensive discussion of the Pythian Building, he explains why two of Tulsa’s favorite “Art Deco” buildings — the Adams Hotel and the Midcontinent Tower — aren’t really Art Deco at all.
There’s a fascinating look at and inside J. Paul Getty’s bunker/home on Virgin St. east of Sheridan. I’d heard about this poured concrete and glass block structure, built near Getty’s Spartan Aircraft factory, and designed to protect him from storms and air raids, but I’d never seen what the inside looked like.
Another extra features the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and TFA’s collection of historic architectural drawings, along with more apt comments from the architects, historians, and Art Deco lovers who were interviewed for the video.
You can buy Tulsa Deco at Steve’s Sundries, BOK branches, Walgreens, QuikTrip, and online at www.tulsafilms.com.