The Osborn ministry building will be razed to make way for I-44. Story from Tulsa World.
By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
A piece of Tulsa’s spiritual heritage soon will be gone.
Many Tulsans in the 1970s and early 1980s visited the building’s extensive museum of art and cultural artifacts from around the world, collected by ministry founder T.L. Osborn and his wife, the late Daisy Osborn, on their missionary travels.
Sam Osborn, general manager of the ministry and a nephew of T.L. Osborn, said his uncle pioneered mass evangelism crusades in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe that drew crowds of several hundred thousand people to huge outdoor rallies. At that time, it was said of Osborn that he had preached in person to more people than anyone else in the history of Christianity, Sam Osborn said. Since then, others have conducted similar crusades.
The World Museum Art Center occupied 50,000 square feet of the building, with more than 5,000 pieces from more than 100 nations. The collection included more than 250 Renaissance bronze sculptures, about 100 marble sculptures and more than 150 old masters paintings, including one that was 22 feet tall.
Three shrunken human heads from South America, part of the primitive art collection, were a hit with the many school children who toured the museum.
When the ministry decided to close the museum in the early 1980s, Christie’s of New York and London was brought in to auction off the finer pieces. Sam Osborn worked with the world-famous auction house.
“They said they couldn’t believe this collection existed west of the Mississippi,” he said.
The original building was built debt-free in 1962 and 1963 when 140 people each gave $1,000 for the project.
In 1963, the ministry moved from 1029 N. Utica Ave. to the new building, which was later expanded several times.
In 1994, the Osborns gave the building to Victory Christian Center, which used it for Victory Bible Institute and provided space for the Osborn ministry to continue there.
In early fall the Osborn ministry moved to new headquarters at 555 S. Memorial Drive, the former home of Vatterott College, and Victory Bible Institute moved to a building at 81st Street and Delaware Avenue, where it was formerly located.
Kenna Mitchell of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said a contract for the demolition likely will be approved in March, and the work could begin in a few months.