This Tulsa subdivision was built by Howard C. Grubb and designed by Donald H. Honn. From its very start in early 1954, Lortondale was the neighborhood of choice for young architects, college professors, engineers, and other professionals who appreciated the aesthetics of modern design. But after a point, demand dried up and there wasn’t enough local demand to sustain Lortondale construction to the ultimate end. There were 220 homes built, most of which stand today.
These homes are becoming more sought after in recent time and once again young architects and others who appreciate modern design are inhabiting the homes and reviving the neighborhood.
Mid Century Modern Subdivision
In the early 1950s, Tulsa’s largest volume home builder was a man named Howard C. Grubb. Howard Grubb was a “merchant builder,” as tract house developers were known at the time, and built mostly starter homes for first-time home buyers. Typically, merchant builders would buy a 20-40 acre tract of undeveloped land, subdivide it, install utilities, and start building homes for the booming post-war housing market, purely on speculation. The depression years of the 1930’s and the war years of the 1940’s had taken their toll and there was a huge pent up demand for housing after WWII. The “baby boom” was in full fling, and builders were selling homes as fast as they could build them.
The typical Howard Grubb home of 1950-1951 was a two bedroom, one bathroom, single attached garage house built on a crawl space foundation, about 950 square feet, and selling for approximately $9,000.00. In the early 1950’s, Grubb sold about 300 of these houses a year in Tulsa. In 1952, he had a different idea. “Modern” architecture was becoming more popular in both commercial and residential construction. Homebuilders such as Joseph Eichler in California were having great success with their modern home designs. Howard Grubb teamed up with a local Tulsa architect named Donald H. Honn to develop more modern homes, in the mid-priced range. He wanted to offer homebuyers of the time something on the “cutting edge” of architecture, with amenities not usually found in mid-priced homes. Grubb and Honn developed several designs during 1952-1953, rejected many, and finally came up with their plans for the Lortondale housing addition in Tulsa, OK.
It was very important to Howard Grubb that he offer the latest in home design with perceived extra value for the money. In mid 1953, Grubb and Honn constructed 3-4 prototype homes for Lortondale, constructed at 21st Place and Pittsburgh Avenue in Tulsa. They used these houses to test public opinion, make design changes as they thought necessary, and gauge sales demand. In early 1954, their marketing studies were complete and they forged ahead with construction of the Lortondale housing addition at 26th and Yale Avenue in Tulsa, OK. The original plans for Lortondale were for approximately 540 homes, built on four 40-acre tracts between 26th Street and 31st Street, Yale and Hudson Avenues in Tulsa. Original selling prices for Lortondale were from $13,500.00 to $16,500.00, depending upon the model and options selected. Donald Honn’s Lortondale plans allowed for great flexibility, 3 bedrooms, 1, 1 ½, or 2 full bathrooms, 1 or 2 car attached garages, bonus living areas or 4th bedrooms. lortondale.com