Tag Archives: demolition

ORU Upgrades Not All Good

11 Aug


Beryl Ford Collection

By Rex Brown www.oklahomamodernblog.com

Love it or hate it, the architecture of Oral Roberts University is nothing if not unique.

For years I’ve heard that ORU is the most visited tourist site in Tulsa. I have no idea if that factoid is true. But I do know from my own personal experience that out-of-state visitors often ask me to drive them past the futuristic campus on South Lewis.

What happens when Tomorrowland runs headlong into cold, hard reality?

I think that’s exactly what’s happening at Oral Roberts University lately. Recent work on the space-age complex has mostly involved improvements to infrastructure- widening a creek, improving drainage, building a bridge. But some of the so-called improvements are more destructive.



Until earlier this week the area around the base of ORU’s famous Prayer Tower was a geometric plot of gardens and bubbling water fountains surrounded by tall trees. The garden was an integral feature of the futuristic complex, strategically situated below Tulsa’s most unmistakable spire. As one passer-by reminisced, “I always thought this is what heaven would be like.”

But earthly finances appear to have disrupted Oral’s vision of heaven on Earth. The recessed garden oasis is currently being mowed under and filled with dirt. Crews are moving in ornamental rock to hide the angular concrete, lava rock and that ubiquitous anodized aluminum. Presumably the maintenance of a complicated system of ornamental fountains require people and money that ORU has deemed unnecessary. It’s apparent that maintaining the unique look and feel is not a high priority.

ORU’s space-age structures, designed by Tulsa architect Frank Wallace, have survived relatively intact for nearly 50 years. Today the campus maintains a kitsch appeal lost on most of the students who attend classes there. Hopefully it’s not lost on the people who pay the bills.

The Osborn Ministry Building

21 Feb

The Osborn ministry building will be razed to make way for I-44. Story from Tulsa World.

The empty T.L. Osborn ministry building at 1400 E. Skelly Drive will soon be demolished as part of the Interstate 44 widening project. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World

By BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer

A piece of Tulsa’s spiritual heritage soon will be gone.

Bids were opened Thursday for the demolition of the T.L. Osborn ministry building at 1400 E. Skelly Drive to make way for the widening of Interstate 44.The 108,000-square-foot building housed the Osborn ministries from 1963 until October. In its later years, it also was the home of Victory Bible Institute, a ministry of Victory Christian Church.

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.

Wagon Wheel, Oxnard, CA Faces Demolition

16 Jul

I received an email from the administrator or Lotta Living on this subject. Text as follows…

wagon wheel mid century CA
The Wagon Wheel Motel is a unique architectural specimen, worthy of restoration. The Wagon Wheel’s adaptive reuse should be looked at as an opportunity to have an authentic gateway feature that embraces local history and memorializes an Oxnard pioneer – Martin V. Smith – instead of yet another endless stretch of 18 foot high cinderblock wall, like every other community from Orange County to Silicone Valley.
The Wagon Wheel maintains its integrity from its period of significance (1947 through 1965), and therefore qualifies as an historic resource. It should be adaptively reused consistent with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Environmental Impact Report and 2 peer reviews find that the Wagon Wheel Motel, the Wagon Wheel Restaurant, bowling alley and the El Ranchito restaurant are potentially eligible as a City of Oxnard Landmarks. The Oxnard Cultural Heritage Board has found the four buildings eligible for City of Oxnard Historic Landmark status. The San Buenaventura Conservancy has also found these buildings worthy of preservation and inclusion on their list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Resources.

wagon wheel mid century CA
These structures are eligible on the basis of Oxnard landmark criteria #2. (Is identified with persons or events which are significant in national, state or local history). And #8 (It is one of the few remaining examples in the County possessing distinguishing characteristics of an architectural or historical type or specimen). In this case the significant person associated with the structures is Martin V. Smith, the most influential developer in the history of Oxnard. No better monument to Smith exists, and many of his projects have already been demolished or redeveloped. The Wagon Wheel structures are an excellent example of the themed roadside motel, and development from the pre-Holiday Inn era. Mid-century roadside Americana is being demolished or redeveloped at an alarming rate leaving few intact examples. The Wagon Wheel was Martin V. Smith’s pioneering development, featuring unique architecture, a western theme, and an ever-expanding destination for weary travelers on the 101. These qualities still exist, although since the property was closed, in 2005 no maintenance or care has been given to the buildings and they have suffered recent vandalism fallen into a state of cosmetic disrepair. Their tourism value is fantastic, because like Farmer’s Market on Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Wagon Wheel is authentic, not a themed mall, but a truly American resource, that with restoration will become more and more desirable over time as other structures of this type are razed. The Environmental Impact Report, referencing the historic resource peer reviews, states that the four buildings are historic resources and therefore their demolition cannot be mitigated. The project could be modified to maintain the Wagon Wheel or one of the EIR alternatives could be accepted. The EIR lists a range of feasible alternatives, they all include preservation of the historic resources and adaptive re-use thereof, any of the alternatives are favorable to the project, which would demolish all structures on the site.

Modern Homes Make Way for I-44

28 May

courtesy of Rex Brown at modernoklahoma.blogspot.com

The widening of I-44 through Tulsa passed a new milestone last week.

Skelly Drive between Riverside Drive and Yale Avenue has remained virtually unchanged since it was built in 1957. In 2005 ODOT released this PDF showing plans of the proposed highway widening west of Yale. The massive, and controversial, undertaking of widening this stretch of interstate began on the west end near Riverside. Homes near Peoria have been moved or demolished.

The neighborhood entry on Skelly Drive at Knoxville.But last week the first recent work on the west side of Yale Avenue was visible as two duplexes were leveled.

This area along the north side of I-44 is the edge of the Patrick Henry neighborhood, an area known for nice examples of Fifties and Sixties architecture. Most of the dwellings being razed to make way for the highway are duplexes between Pittsburgh and Toledo. Unfortunately one block of very nice mid-century homes on 49th Place will also be lost. Not to mention the old brick gateway for Patrick Henry IV!

Some of these doomed houses are unique, and I thought worth documenting. So I grabbed my camera to snap a few pix before the bulldozers arrived. Here’s a view showing the row of homes soon to be torn down, we’re looking east along 49th Place from Knoxville.
A row of mid-century homes in Tulsa that will soon be demolished.

Here’s a house I’ve always admired (and pondered why anyone would molest it with porch lights like that). Jackie calls it the Cake Frosting House because of the mortar squishing out between the bricks. It’s quite original, including the gravel roof and skylights over the patio.
Classic example of a Jim Nuckols home.

This is one of the more unusual houses in the area. It’s interior patio/entryway is very reminiscent of an Eichler, or what we used to call Patio Homes. We usually refer to it as the Office Building House.
Unique patio home in Tulsa's Patrick Henry neighborhood.

There are many other historic Tulsa structures and businesses being moved or demolished to make way for I-44. But widening of of this portion of highway is long overdue. It’s just sad to see them go.

Tulsa Camelot destroyed

27 Dec

No huge explosions or candlelight vigils for this oldie. Though not exactly Modern, the Camelot Inn near Brookside certainly had a Mid-Century charm to it. Pictured below in it’s prime, the building had fallen short of required maintenance over the years and destruction has now commenced.


photo from Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa and Tulsa City-County Library.


It could be argued that landmarks such as this have a historical significance to our city and should be preserved to tell their tale. Interestingly enough this building is falling silently. No rallies to stop the process or even any spectators on the scene.

Why did the Camelot Inn fall? Did it deserve to be destroyed? Was another Quicktrip really what you wanted? Does anyone care?

The demolition process began this month and will drag on for at least a week or more. No dramatic explosions on this jobsite. Instead, a more controlled approach of hydraulic scissors has been employed slowly knawing the structure to the ground.

I will personally miss this building. Not because it was particularly attractive, but because it was unique and interesting. Each time I drive by this site, instead of thinking about the many memories had at the Camelot I will look over and see the semi trucks lined up for diesel fuel and corn dogs.


Bolewood MCM needs rescuing

5 Nov

This great mid-century modern home is currently for sale. I would love to see this home go to a caring owner for restoration rather than be destroyed. It is currently active on the MLS for $500k based on lot value according to the listing. This is not my listing.


Situated in the prestigious Bolewood Estates near 41st and Lewis, this home is located on a very nice street with luxurious homes surrounding. It is unique to the neighborhood as one of the few modern homes on the block and looks quite impressive from the street. The interior appears original, still sporting the vintage carpets and finishings. It features wonderfully crafted custom built-ins throughout the home. It has a center atrium, which is currently overgrown with shrubbery, but could be an unbelievably cool feature with some work.

Does anyone know anything about this house? Who designed this home? I have spoken with the listing agent who did not provide much information regarding the structure. Please share. Address is 1836 43rd st.

There have been some wonderful comments added to this post with more information. See below.