Travelling Through Time Along 23rd Street, Part 2

Posted by on Jul 16, 2018 in Mod Blog |

by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos, unless otherwise stated, courtesy of the Oklahoma History Center.  “Now” images from Googlemaps, the OK County Tax Assessor, and Lynne Rostochil.

I was hoping to get this series finished before the Oklahoma Modernism Weekend, but since that didn’t happen, we’re continuing it now.  If you need a refresher for the first installment, click the link to read Part 1.

Today, we pick up our time travel journey along NW 23rd near its intersection with Drexel.  In 1979, people were up in arms that a business was operating out of this 1930s-era home along NW 23rd:

Obviously, the businessman won his case because there are now dozens of businesses located in these old homes.  The house in the photo remained a business for years — here it is in 2004:

The following year, the Dental Depot next door acquired this and a couple of other homes to expand their parking lot.  Here’s the Dental Depot:

I found another view of the intersection looking northeast from 1947:

Although the location wasn’t identified in the Oklahoma History Center archives, I immediately recognized the duplex on the left because I always fantasized about living there when I was young.  Here’s the duplex today:

Yep, I still love it.  It’s crazy to think that the duplex, which was built in 1940, was just a few years old when the vintage photo was taken.  Soon, Miskovsky Foods would build a modern grocery store on the vacant lot.  That building was designed by Conner & Pojezny and constructed in 1947.  I don’t have a vintage photo of the building, but I do have a matchcover illustration of it:

Very nice!  Here’s the building a couple of years ago when it was a thrift store.

I found another photo of people driving on the ice — this time along Drexel just north of NW 23rd in 1967:

Call me a wuss but I really can’t imagine driving an old car in those kinds of conditions — makes me think of watching “Mechanized Death” in my high school driver’s ed class.  Terrifying!  Anyway, here’s the same general area on a cloudless summer day, which would make for much friendlier driving conditions:

On the southeast corner of the NW23/Drexel intersection, Derby’s was one of the first self-serve gas stations in the metro.  Here’s the manager in 1970 advertising that patrons can “Serv-u-Self”:

Yep, that’s my favorite duplex in the background.  The gas station was demolished when the Northwest Baptist Church on Drexel needed more parking and wanted direct access from NW 23rd:

Next door to Miskovky Foods was Adair’s Tropical Cafeteria, which was built in 1950:

Today, the building is home to the NW 23rd Street Antique Mall:

Just past the parking lot for Miskovky and Adair’s was this view from 1947 of Drexel Cleaners, a cottage-style Mobile station with a Pegasus sign, and Taft Middle School:

Although the gas station was replaced with a more modern example, this view remains largely unchanged today:

And, of course we have to mention the gorgeously Googie Drexel Cleaners sign by Mac Teague — love, love, love it!  Here’s the sign in its glory days:

And now:

We got a teaser of Taft Middle School in a previous photo.  Here’s a detail shot of all of its glorious Art Deco beauty from 1946, when the school was a mere 16 years old:

And another photo taken in 1980:

Today, the trees are so tall that you can barely see the front of this architectural gem:

Although it’s not on NW 23rd, across from the school, there was a C.R. Anthony store where moms could shop while waiting for their kiddos to get out of class for the day:

New Leaf Florist occupies the building now:

On this same side of the street back at NW 23rd and May, this 1950s photo turns back to look at the buildings on the south side of NW 23rd at the intersection:

The cottage that housed the Conoco gas station in this photo later morphed into a sad looking structure…

… before being restored a few years ago — wish they had kept the building with all of the words on it, but alas, it got a boring brown paint job:

Also, in the vintage photo, you can just make out the City Animal Hospital.  Happily, this building hasn’t changed a bit and is still a Streamline delight:

On the north side of NW 23rd and May, the intersection has changed quite a bit.  Back in the 1940s, a Safeway occupied the northeast corner:

Here’s an interior shot of the supermarket after it was robbed in 1949:

The robbery foreshadowed a bleak future for the building; it and its neighbors were demolished sometime in the 1980s and an ugly Walgreen’s occupies the site today:

Travelling further east, our next stop is the Cleveland School, seen here in 1951:

Here’s the school again in 1994:

And today:

The 2500 block of NW 23rd has changed quite a bit since this photo was taken in 1962:

On the left side of the street, all of the buildings in the photo would soon be demolished to make way for Shepherd Mall.  The buildings on the right are, for the most part, still there, but the view isn’t nearly as interesting today:

In 1981, the Jesus is Lord Pawn Shop stood at 2430 NW 23rd:

And, although the name is different, the building is still home to a pawn shop:

As for Shepherd Mall, it was constructed on the land run stake belonging to the Shepherd family and opened at NW 23rd and Villa in 1964.  Here’s a rendering of the mall:

And some photos of just how busy of a place it was for its first two decades:

The mall received the first of many pretty bad remodels in 1982:

And now it’s REALLY ugly and most of the original mod is long gone:

Surprisingly, the Shepherd family house survived the construction of the mall and wasn’t demolished until 1970:

I think I’d prefer a dilapidated farmhouse on the site to what is there now — a KFC:

On the next block is this ’50s view at the intersection of NW 23rd and Barnes:

Too bad that those cute homes are gone:

The corner of NW 23rd and Penn was once THE place to go shopping when the gorgeous and very modern Sears store opened in 1954.  Here are some shots of the store under construction in 1953:

And after it opened in 1954:

The building was demolished in 1993 and replaced with a strip center that is now home to a Westlake Hardware and Dollar Tree with an ever-present McDonald’s in the parking lot:

Across Penn from Sears was Bixler’s Drive-In:

The site is a boring ole pawn shop now:

In 1960, a car crashed into this building at 1704 NW 23rd:

Yikes!  Luckily, no one was injured and the structure, which was built in 1939, is now where Pirate’s Alley is located:

How cute is this mod ’50s building that was once home to Milady’s Dermaculture Studio?  It was located at 1419 NW 23rd, as pictured in this 1963 photo:

Milady’s and the neighboring buildings were demolished in the 1970s or 1980s to create a bigger parking lot that is shared by The Fabric Factory and the Smith-Kernke Funeral Home:

Let’s talk about the Spanish-style Smith-Kernke Funeral Home, shall we?  It’s such a great building and looks like it hasn’t changed a bit since it was built in 1939.

Here are some fun interior shots of the funeral home when it was new:

Kind of morbid but kind of cool all at the same time.  This lovely building is on the National Register and is just as beautiful today as it was when the previous photos were taken:

Another building I’ve always appreciated is the Trinity Baptist Church education building.  Here it is when it was fresh and new in 1954:

Yeah, yeah, this building is technically on NW 24th and Douglas, but I don’t care because it’s such a great building.  Here it is now:

And here’s an even later mod addition to the church:

Nice.

This next photo is a little odd and I’m not sure why someone even took it, but it’s interesting nonetheless so I’m including it.  This is the intersection of NW 23rd and Douglas looking toward Classen in 1948:

See, kind of a weird shot.  Anyway, here’s the same block now:

Pretty unrecognizable.  The 1200 block of NW 23rd has changed quite a bit, too.  I found this 1930s photo of Roberts Rexall Drugs, which occupied what we in this generation know as the Rainbow Records building:

Here’s another view of this building and its neighbors in 1950 — the Rainbow Records building is the last one on the right:

And a more detailed shot of the Rex Westerfield linoleum business, which sold St. Charles cabinets!!!

Wish I could jump into this photo and stroll through their showroom, don’t you?

Anyway, these three buildings are still around and the Rainbow Records building looks pretty much the same today as it did when it was Roberts Rexall Drugs.  The other two received facelifts in the 1960s that covered over the Deco details.  One received aqua, gray, and white panels, which means that, yep, the right building is the recently closed Macias Dance Center.  The left building has been boarded up for quite awhile now.

The Macias building is currently for sale.  I’m going to miss that fun loving sign:

So, the buildings that were home to Rex Westerfield and the Macias Dance Center were constructed in 1950 (which is probably why they were photographed by the Oklahoman).  These structures replaced a sweet little Deco building that housed the Jensen & Smith Construction Company in 1945:

Macias is on the site today, as you can tell from the brick wall and roof-mounted sign that are still identifiable to the right of Jenson & Smith as part of the Rainbow Records building.  See the brick wall to the right of Macias in the below image — just the same as it was in 1945:

Across the street from these buildings was the beautiful and totally mod Beverly’s:

After Beverly’s closed, Jeff’s Country Kitchen took over the space and thrived until Bank One, which was located in the Gold Dome, announced that it was selling the geodesic dome, which would be demolished to make way for a yucky ole Walgreen’s.  Happily, the owner of Jeff’s offered to sell his building to Walgreen’s, and that’s where it was built instead — Jeff moved further north on Classen, where he continues to serve up great mom-and-pop diner fare today.  Here’s the site of the old Beverly’s today:

Okay, that’s it for today.  Next week, we will pick up our tour of NW 23rd with the Gold Dome.  Click the link to read Part 3.