Posts By: lrostochil

Travelling Through Time Along 23rd Street, Part 1

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

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.

Have you ever driven down a busy inner core street and wondered what your surroundings must have looked like “back in the day”?  Well, I have, too, so I decided to pick a street — NW and NE 23rd — and search through the Oklahoma History Center’s vintage photo collection to piece together its past.  The results were pretty impressive, and I found buildings and street scenes from the road’s beginnings east of Lake Overholser all the way to NE 23rd past I-35.  I’m including these vintage photos, along with “now” shots of the same areas, so sit back and enjoy travelling through time along 23rd!

We will begin at the western stretch of the road in Bethany.

Our first stop is Putnam City West High School as students run a chariot race in 1977:

Now:

Across the street from the high school, you could rent this tiny house for a mere $15 a month in 1981.  It was the cheapest rental in the city, which isn’t too surprising:

What is also not surprising is the fact that the house is gone now:

At the corner of NW 23rd and Council is the DeVille Shopping Center, which was designed by Fred Pojezny and opened in 1964:

It got an ugly remodel in the ’90s, unfortunately, and looks nearly vacant these days:

 

On the 7600 block of NW 23rd is the Bethany Hospital, which was built in the mid-1970s:

The hospital closed a few years ago, and although there were rumors that it would be demolished, it looks like it is still in use in some capacity today:

Down the street is the Western Oaks Elementary/Jr. High complex.  Here’s the gym under construction in 1963 and a photo of students outside the junior high in 1967:

And the elementary school undergoing a remodel in 1984 — the remodel reduced the size of all of the large windows and really uglied up the building:

Here’s the school now:

As disappointing as the school looks with those awful peephole windows, we can rejoice in a structure on the 6500 block of NW 23rd that is a big favorite of the Mod Squad, the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, which was built in 1962.  Here’s the building in the background in 1986 when the church’s longtime minister retired:

And here’s this splendid mod creation today:

I mean, really, how great is this building?!

I’ve always wondered about the little log cabin at 6001 NW 23rd — it doesn’t seem to fit with all of the other, obviously urban, buildings surrounding it, as you can see in this 1982 photo:

It was constructed as the headquarters for Eureka Log Homes, and it still looks pretty good today:

Five blocks to the east is the best fairy tale apartment complex in the city, Olde London Towne, built in 1969:

I don’t know about all of the extra e’s in the apartment name, but I sure do remember being fascinated with that tower when I was a kid.  The complex was renamed the Castle Tower Apartments about 10 years ago:

Let’s drive a little further east to the Windsor Hills Shopping Center at NW 23rd and Meridian, where we can see the dedication ceremony in 1960:

Those cute diamonds on the building make another appearance in this 1965 photo of storm damage to the C.R. Anthony sign:

More damage occurred in 1967 when an Impala backed into the TG&Y:

Ouch!  The damage was repaired and here’s a view of the TG&Y and Hyde’s Discount Drug in 1978:

The same view today shows that the Windsor Hills has received the typical bland and very ugly ’90s makeover:

I found a couple of vintage photos around the intersection of NW 23rd and Meridian, this one from the mid 1960s showing where the diagonal NW 19th is causing more than a little confusion:

Not much has changed in this regard:

And look at this icy mess along NW 23rd looking west from Meridian from 1968:

And the same area now:

The next block to the east was once the home of what had to be one of the best signs in the entire state:

How great is that?!  Here’s another view of the Rancher’s Daughter drive-in from 1961, the year after the drive-in and big time high school hang out opened:

I believe the drive-in closed in the mid 1980s and was replaced with this piece of blah in 1989:

 

Interestingly, the grassy lawn in front and the u-shape drive parking lot look like they belong to the original Rancher’s Daughter.

Now, let’s mosey to NW 23rd and Portland, where I’ve found old photos of two corners of the intersection.  On the southwest corner is a 1974 photo showing the newly constructed Kerr-McGee gas station:

This awning isn’t nearly as elegant as the ones George Nelson designed, and although it looks similar today, I think the above station was demolished and a new Conoco with a convenience store took its place:

The really good stuff is on the northeast corner, where the lovely Humpty Dumpty grocery store opened in this building in 1948:

I would go shopping here every day if I got to enjoy such bright and happy surrounds.  This lovely femme fatale obviously felt the same way back in 1951:

All of that caffeine would make me a happy girl, too, but I don’t know about shopping in those shoes — not too comfy.

A TG&Y also shared the building with Humpty Dumpty. I believe this is the storefront for that retailer:

The third and final tenant was OTASCO:

I remember going to OTASCO with my dad when I was little and the entire store smelled like tires.  It was more than a bit overpowering, but it was always so much fun exploring the store and eyeing all of the gadgets and whats-its that lined every shelf.

Here’s the Humpty Dumpty building today — it still looks pretty good:

Our last stop of the day is on the next block of NW 23rd, where we are visiting Fine’s Foods and Veazey Drugs.  The first image is the building right after it was constructed in 1952:

And the interior of Fine’s:

I guess the owners wanted something more dramatic, so they added this fantastically obnoxious sign that could probably be seen for miles at night:

That is one huge WOW!

Within a few short years, Al Fine more than doubled the size of the grocery store when he expanded the building westward on the lot.  At the same time, he updated the exterior to give the building a much more mod feel:

At some point after 1969, the portion of the structure that sat further back on the lot was expanded to create one long building.  It was probably at this time in the 1980s that it also received a pretty sad remodel in which the former Fine’s lost a lot of its lovely windows:

  

It was remodeled again about six years ago.  Although many of its windows were restored, the building isn’t nearly as charming as it was originally:

That’s it for this week.  Next week, we’ll pick up our journey as we cross over I-44 and head east toward OCU and Uptown.

Visiting the Jet-Age Tulsa International Airport in Architectural Record Magazine

Posted by on May 24, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  photos by Julius Shulman.

As the 1960s dawned, jet airplanes were just becoming a thing and one of the very first airports designed specifically for jet travel was the Tulsa Municipal Airport (renamed Tulsa International Airport in 1963), designed by Murray Jones Murray.  Soon after the airport opened in 1961, architectural photographer Julius Shulman came a’calling, and his photos and a detailed feature article about the airport appeared in the April 1963 issue of Progressive Architecture.  It’s a pretty fascinating read:

The major objectives in the design for this terminal were the separation of essential passenger facilities from concessions and the exclusion of spectator traffic from passenger circulation areas.  The architects’ original proposal was to place the waiting room, concessions and dining facilities in a separate building, linked to the main terminal by bridge.  Neither the airport consultants nor the municipal authorities favored this scheme, however, since it would reduce the attraction of revenue-producing facilities.  The scheme was therefore modified to give the restaurant a position overlooking the apron and bring concessions closer to passenger routes.

A two-level passenger circulation scheme, with separate automobile access for arriving and departing passengers, was ruled out for economic reasons.  Separation of passenger and visitor was achieved, however, by utilizing the change in level of the site.

Passengers enter and leave the terminal at an automobile platform on the field level.  Departing passengers pass through the ticketing area and proceed by escalator to the upper level, where they can go directly to the boarding fingers or detour to the waiting and concession area or the restaurant.  It is necessary at present to descend to the field level to board the plane, but the fingers have been designed and constructed to permit second-level boarding ramps in the future.  Arriving passengers follow the same route in reverse, leaving the terminal through the lower level baggage claim area.

The visitors’ entrance on the upper level leads directly into the waiting and concession area and is convenient to the restaurant.  Visitors are given an opportunity to observe ticketing and baggage claim activities on the level below, but do not interfere with them.  A landscaped “island” surrounding the upper-level entrance separates the terminal from the parking area and serves as an outdoor waiting area, protected from the noise and fumes of the aircraft.

The capacity of the terminal is based on the predicted annual volume of 800,000 for the year 1970.  Initially, the terminal provides 15 gate positions out of an eventual 23.

The glass-walled waiting room is protected from direct sunlight by a gold-anodized aluminum screen.  The dark brown terrazzo floor minimizes glare, and the ceiling is of mineral fissured acoustic tile.  The steel structural frame is exposed and painted white on both the interior and exterior.

The steel framing system was selected for its adaptability to expansion.  The need to insulate the interior from the noise of jet planes was met by using double glazing and four-inch precast concrete panels within the exposed steel frame.  The concrete panels cost no more than conventional curtain-wall construction and provide comparable flexibility for future changes.  The building won an award in the 1962 American Institute of Steel Construction Architectural Award of Excellence Program and was the subject of a Workshop-Critique published in the 1962 P/A (Progressive Architecture).

Since the depth of the steel members was limited by the need to minimize floor-to-floor height and maintain a consistent appearance, the members could not be selected solely on the basis of weight.  The cost of the additional steel required was more than offset, however, by savings on wall area and details.

The exposed steel has been painted white on both interior and exterior.  The precast panels have a large green granite aggregate.  Interior walls are covered with neutral tan vinyl, except where accents of red-orange and yellow vinyl are used to identify the two boarding fingers.

Gold-anodized aluminum sunscreens on the sides of the waiting room wing have been placed 10 ft beyond the glass, so that they need not extend below door height.  On the southwest face of the ticketing and baggage area, gray-tinted glass has been used and special retractable vertical blinds have been installed for protection from the low sun of the winter months.

Recessed incandescent lighting has been used for general illumination throughout the public areas.  Luminous ceilings with a high level of fluorescent lighting have been installed over ticketing and baggage claim counters and above the central vertical circulation well.  Work areas and rental spaces have conventional fluorescent lighting.

The control of signs and concessions displays was given special attention.  The graphics consultants designed all signs, including those for tenants.

The final cost of the terminal was $4,250,000, exclusive of landscaping, graphics, furniture, fixtures, finishing of tenant spaces, restaurant equipment and fixtures, and architects’ fees.

Consultants and engineers for the terminal included: David B. Graham & Company, Structural Engineers; Netherton, Dollmeyer & Solnok, Mechanical Engineers; William E. Short, Electrical Engineer; Leigh Fisher & Associates, Airport Consultants; Bolt, Beranek & Newman, Inc., Acoustical Consultants; and Brownjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar, Graphic Designers.

A separate control tower, also designed by Murray Jones Murray, was constructed concurrently with the terminal.

The only enclosed parts of the 157-ft structure are the observation cab at the top, the space for essential related equipment just below it, and the stair and elevator shaft.  The bulk of the equipment and auxiliary spaces are located in a connected structure at ground level, which can be readily expanded and rearranged as needs change.  The white-painted steel frame and the precast granite aggregate in-filling panels are consistent with the exterior of the terminal:

A system of exposed steel tension members braces the lower against 100 mph winds and adds visual interest.

Today, the Tulsa Airport is much bigger, but it retains many original features and still looks like a mid-century modern masterpiece.

 

Endangered Places and Some Fun Saves

Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise noted.  Riverside Studio photo by Tulsa People.

Every year, Preservation Oklahoma (POK) releases its Most Endangered Places list and I’m both happy and sad to say that a lot of modern made the cut this year.  It’s good because mod buildings are being recognized as valuable and well worth saving, but it’s equally sad that so many landmarks are threatened.  Here’s the mod that made the list and POK verbiage about each entry:

Founders National Bank, OKC:

The Founders Bank building is one of Oklahoma City’s best examples of mid-century modern architecture, and it’s the only known design of the architect and former Bruce Goff student, Bob Bowlby, in the area. Although the building was expanded in the 1990s, it remains a beloved local icon and an incredibly fresh design today.  The Bank of America that was a long-term tenant in the former Founders National Bank building moved out of the space in 2017, and the property was listed for sale that October. The structure sits in the middle of a large undeveloped lot and, the fear is that a developer will buy the building and demolish it in favor of new development.

Westhope, Tulsa:

Westhope is one of only three Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in Oklahoma. Built in 1929 for his cousin, Richard Lloyd Jones, Westhope is larger than most Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses, containing over 8,000 square feet of floor space. WestHope was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 Westhope was also on the Most Endangered Places list in 2014.

(This building made the list again because the owner lives out of state and rarely visits the property, and deferred maintenance is an issue.)

Route 66 Signs, Statewide:

Route 66, the Mother Road, has many historic structures along its nearly 375-mile route across Oklahoma. Tourists from all over the United States and beyond travel along Route 66 hoping to catch a glimpse of yesteryear and feed their nostalgic dreams of simpler times. Many Route 66 signs are well cared for by
thoughtful owners, but so many others are being neglected or are poorly maintained by owners who may not realize the joy they bring to passing motorists. Route 66 structures and sites have been on our Most Endangered Places lists multiple times.

Riverside Studio, Tulsa:

Riverside Studio in Tulsa, also known as Tulsa Spotlight Club or Spotlight Theatre was built in 1928, designed by architect Bruce Goff in the Art Deco International Styles. The Riverside Studio was listed in the National Register for Historic Places in 2001 and was included in the Most Endangered Places list in 2015.

(The studio is on the list again this year due to deferred maintenance issues.  The theater group that occupies the structure is poorly funded and can’t afford to properly maintain the 90-year-old building.)

 

For the first time, POK added success stories to the list.  These are buildings that have been on the Endangered Places list in the past and have been restored.  These include:

Tower Theatre, OKC:

Tower Theatre opened in 1937 and is one of Oklahoma City’s last original movie houses, with an auditorium and its neon marquee shining over Uptown 23rd Street district in Oklahoma City. Tower Theatre was an active theatre up until 1989. Marty and Mike Dillon who began renovations purchased the building in 2005. In 2014, Oklahoma City development group Pivot Project stepped in to complete the project. In 2017, Tower Theatre returned as a live music and event venue.

Page Woodson/Douglass High School, OKC:

Page Woodson serves as a success story for redevelopment and is now home to affordable housing and apartments. Page Woodson, former Douglass High School, was purchased in 2013 by a development group led by Ron and Jason Bradshaw, after being vacant for 20 years. The Bradshaws garnered community support, working closely with the JFK neighborhood where the building is located in Oklahoma City. Page Woodson was originally Lowell School in 1910, an all white school, before turning into Douglass High School, an all-black school, in 1934.

 

The unveiling of this year’s list took place at the newly rehabbed Page Woodson, which is more beautiful today than it has ever been:

To see the entire 2018 Endangered Places list, go here.

The Tower Theatre and Page Woodson aren’t the only historic buildings that have been saved recently.  The iconic Owl Courts motel in old downtown Britton has sat derelict and nearly vacant for decades.  It was originally a gas station and when Route 66 was routed through Britton in 1931, the owner added the motel and cafe (opened in 1932). It was at this time that the rock was added to all of the buildings. I found an ad in the Oklahoma listing the cafe for sale in 1936:

The motel was built with garages, which were later converted to rooms.

On a sad note, a Colorado trucker named John Aughinbaugh rented one of the cabins for the night on a cold winter night, February 2, 1956. It must have been very cold outside because he turned up the stove all of the way and went to sleep. The next morning, he was found dead, a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Poor John.

In the 1970s, the motel was converted into apartments.  There are rumors that it also served as a brothel during these sad years when the town and Route 66 fell into decay much like the motel itself, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that’s true.  When John Dunning purchased the Owl Courts at auction in 2004, it was in sad shape, indeed.

John did some restoration work, and here’s the Owl Courts office in 2008 with a fresh coat of paint and looking better than it had in decades:

Over time, however, the place became too much for just one man to restore, and Owl Courts looked sadder with each passing year.  Finally, the city council added the decaying motel to its delinquent and abandoned list, paving the way to have the complex demolished.

That’s when a group of men determined to finally rehabilitate the Owl Courts stepped in.  Investors and developers Thomas Rossiter, Marcus Ude, Brad Rice, Rusty LaForge, Tyler Holmes, and Marc Weinmeister are intent upon saving the historic complex and converting it into restaurant and/or retail space.  To help brainstorm restoration ideas and possible uses for the buildings once they are in good condition, Marc and the other owners invited engineers, architects, historians like me, and Rock Cafe owner Dawn Welch (who rebuilt her eatery from scratch after a devastating fire there in 2008) to tour the property.  Here are some photos of the place in its present condition.  The office building looks pretty healthy:

The motel rooms are, to put it nicely, a big mess.  Owners have spent weeks cleaning them out, but they still have a long way to go.  As I wandered through small rooms with crumbling walls and ceilings, I didn’t see the ghost of John Aughinbaugh, but I could easily imagine what this place could look like with a little imagination and a pile of cash:

The old cafe and residence at the front of the property are in equally bad condition:

But can’t you just imagine this tree-canopied space being an outdoor eatery/biergarten?

Yes, a TON of work needs to be done to save the Owl Courts but the people I met on my tour of the place are determined to make that happen, and I can’t wait to see this place evolve into a fabulous hang out in the near future.

The final building that now has a bright future thanks to a forward thinking owner is the beloved Villa Teresa complex in Midtown.  After the school, which was in operation for 79 years at this location, closed in 2012, its fate was quite uncertain.  Luckily for us, preservationist extraordinaire, Marva Ellard, purchased the 3.5 acre property in the heart of Midtown and intends to rehabilitate it, much as she did the glorious Seiber Hotel down the street.  With her at the helm, Villa Teresa faces a bright future, indeed.

Every quarter, the Oklahoma City Foundation for Architecture (OCFA) hosts a tour of an iconic OKC building, and this time the entire Villa Teresa campus was open for a rare glimpse into these historic buildings and the incredible plans for them — go here to learn more about the OCFA:

The first structure we wandered through was the administration building and convent:

Originally, this glorious mansion was the home of Frank E. Anderson and his family.  Anderson was one of the founders of the Anderson Clayton Company, a cotton brokerage firm that was founded in OKC in 1904 and morphed into a food products company over the years.  Anderson’s brother, M.D., was also a founder and the internationally renowned M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston was named in his honor.

As the business grew and became more successful, it was relocated to Houston, but Frank decided to remain in OKC and constructed this grand Georgian mansion at the edge of Heritage Hills.  It was completed in 1917 and soon became a social hub for the family and their friends.

All of the fun ended in November 1924, however, when Frank’s appendix burst and peritonitis set in.  He died three days later.  I believe that this branch of the family soon joined the others in Houston and by 1931, this house was rarely used and was becoming a huge maintenance and tax burden.  So, Frank’s son, James donated the house to the Carmelite nuns in 1933, and it became Villa Teresa.  Other than a dorm addition on the back of the house, the nuns left many original features of the mansion intact for over 80 years, like the grand staircase and library:

Here are more original details:

How nice is this sunroom?

I’m sure the Andersons hosted many a soiree in this cheery space.  The kitchen isn’t original but it’s AQUA!!!

Even the basement laundry room is cool and not creepy at all:

The nun’s quarters, which were constructed in 1967, are compact but sweet:

And I love the tile in the shared second floor bathroom:

Back in the living room, plans for the development of some of the empty spaces of the grounds were on display.  Fitzsimmons Architects is bringing a little modern fun to the Villa Teresa campus:

And before you get upset, know that just one current structure, an ugly temporary building, is coming down to make way for the new condo construction.  As for the original buildings, three will be converted to multi-unit housing, and Frank’s house will become a boutique hotel.

Speaking of Frank’s house, here it is after Villa Teresa took ownership:

And today:

The next building on the tour was the Nursery:

Like the convent, the Nursery began life as a private residence.  I believe that Frank had it built for his son James when the young man wed in 1919.  Nice wedding present, aye?  When the last owner, druggist Paul Westfall, died in 1946, Villa Teresa acquired the property and converted it into classrooms.

My favorite part of the house is the slide fire escape:

I can just see a gaggle of tiny butts getting stuck half way down the scorching hot slide and nearly catching fire themselves, can’t you?  Still, I hope that it is kept as the Nursery is renovated because it’s just too cute and more than a little funny.

Back inside, the upstairs rooms are HUGE and will make beautiful living spaces:

The downstairs living room is pretty gorgeous, too:

Next up is the only building the nuns constructed from the ground up, the main school, which was completed in 1951:

Like the other structures, this one will make for very desirable housing with its large, light, and airy rooms:

I love the happy graffiti — this was certainly a place of positivity and love.  And, how cool would it be if the architects keep some of these vintage chalkboards (hint, hint)?

The green terrazzo flooring throughout is pretty spectacular, too:

And check out the lunch tables that slide out of the wall, making the cafeteria a multi-functional space:

The office:

And I found the A/V room with old film strips — woo hoo!!

Such a fun building!

Last up is the stucco mansion.  I believe it was built by R.W. Dick sometime before 1922, but it was known for generations as home to the Lowrey family, who lived there from around 1930 until 1970.  That same year, I believe Villa Teresa purchased it along with a house next door that the school demolished to create the playground.  This building became home to the pre-school:

Like the other mansions on the block, this one retains many original details:

But, by far, the very best part of this house is the crazy stalactite-stuccoed-ceiling room in the basement.  It’s crazy, man!

With the safe built into the fireplace, surely this was a gambling room or friendly neighborhood speakeasy during Prohibition, don’t you think?

I can just see W.W. Lowrey and his corpulent, cigar-puffing pals hanging out and playing poker, drinking hooch, and maybe enjoying the company of lovely ladies who weren’t their wives in this space, can’t you?  In other words, I doubt this was a nun hangout.

After Villa Teresa closed in 2012, a popular Tulsa restaurateur purchased the property and said that he would save it, but rumors soon swirled that the lovely, park-like campus would be demolished.  That’s when, just like Wonder Woman, Marva Ellard swept in and saved the day!

I can’t wait to see the transformation of the Owl Courts and Villa Teresa, and I hope that, in the near future, we will be cheering the rescue of all of the buildings on the 2018 Endangered Places list, too.

 

 

Highlights from the 2018 AIA Tour

Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

One of my very favorite days of the year is the annual AIA tour, where architecture lovers from all over the city get to meander through inspiring interiors of local homes and businesses designed by some of the state’s best architects.  Before the tour, I always think that this year’s stops can’t live up to the previous year’s, and every single year I’m pleasantly surprised — 2018 was no different.  So, let’s start with one of the biggest hits of the tour, the Streamline Moderne Jones House in Nichols Hills:

This home in the heart of Nichols Hills was designed by Rue Berlowitz & Commander and constructed in 1948.  The modern design was such a standout in Oklahoma City that the home received a full page ad in the Oklahoman, which dubbed it “Tomorrow’s Home.”

The home was built for a member of the Harter family, who owned the Harter Concrete Company, so it’s no big surprise that it was constructed mostly of that material.  In the last few years, another owner painted this glorious Streamline home pink and teal:

I guess they were big “Miami Vice” fans.

A few years ago, the Jones family purchased the home, which was still structurally sound but needed a lot of love.  They hired Gardner Architects and Brent Swift to do a sensitive remodel of the house with incredible results.  Spaces were brightened when exposed concrete block was plastered a soft white, and formerly closed off rooms were opened up — the living room, kitchen, and den now flow much more organically and provide stunning vistas of the remodeled backyard by Brent Wall of LAUD:

The beautiful hallway with its long horizontal windows remains the same, which I was very happy to see:

The hall leads to a large playroom/guest suite with its own kitchen:

The office has such a great view of the backyard — I’m not sure how anyone can get any work done when that enticing pool quietly beckons:

The guest bath is pretty great, too:

On the other side of the house, there’s a kid’s room and the lovely master suite:

Yeah, this is truly a dream home!

The next stop was equally impressive for very different reasons.  Squirrel Park, located at 1226 NW 32nd, is a four-unit complex of shipping containers centered around a communal garden and fountain:

Architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris did a fantastic job of modding up these containers and creating very open, livable spaces that feel much larger than each unit’s 1,400 sf would suggest.  On the main floor, an open-plan kitchen overlooks a large living room with sliding glass doors that open to one of two outdoor patios:

Can I just say how thrilled I was to see some COLOR in this place?!  It was so exciting to walk in and not see greige everywhere.  The upstairs shower between the two large bedrooms is also yellow:

Yeah, if I ever decide to give up on being a homeowner, I’m moving to Squirrel Park, for sure.

Another multi-unit community on the tour was the beautifully designed Classen 29 at 1419 NW 29th St.  Designed by Common Works Architects, the project was “developed by the Jefferson Park Neighbors Association seeking to provide an affordable for-sale housing product while improving vacant or dilapidated properties.  Two existing properties with distressed houses were cleared and combined into a single development parcel to allow for the construction of six new single-family houses,” according to the AIA tour brochure.

The development is still under construction, and the six homes — two one-story and four two-story examples — face a common sidewalk and feature large porches and small private yards.

Inside, the common areas are ample and open to each other to maximize space:

How cool is this unusual mid-century modern stereo cabinet in the living room:

This poster is pretty great, too:

Yep, good decor!

Two bedrooms, a laundry area, and a bathroom make up the top floor of the two-story home.  Here’s one of the bedrooms with nice light and a vaulted ceiling:

These two lovely people are Cate and Mike from Australia.  They were in OKC on vacation and stumbled upon the tour at the Jones House.  We chatted for a bit, and I became their chauffeur and tour guide for the day.  We had a great day together, and they were very impressed with all of the good design happening in OKC.

Anyway, the decor in this bedroom is great here, too, with architectural models on the wall and shelf:

And, I think I could spend all day in a rocking chair on this beautiful porch reading a book and chatting with my neighbors:

From Classen 29, Mike, Cate, and I took a little detour and visited a Midtown condo that realtor Monty Milburn was showing, and I have to say that it was as stunning as the rest of the goodies we looked at that day.

Check out this three-story living space:

The view from the stairs:

Pretty dramatic, aye?  If you get tired of climbing all of those stairs, you can always take a break on the landing and enjoy the view of the living room:

The bedrooms were very nice, too:

But the best part of the whole place was the jaw dropping rooftop deck:

What a great view of downtown:

Mike and Cate enjoying the view:

Okay, back on the tour, our next stop was 323 in Midtown, which was once part of the Swanson Tire complex and is now home to Gardner Architects:

At merely 2,000 sf, 323 isn’t a huge space, but the former four-bay garage has been designed very thoughtfully to take full advantage of every square inch of space.  The open design studio consists of a large workspace and library flanked by floor-to-ceiling doors that allow for a ton of natural light and make the space look much bigger than it is:

These work tables are on casters, so they can be rolled out of the away or together, depending on the need:

The conference room is a great space, too:

And check out the funky tile in the kitchen:

Fun stuff!

Next up on the tour was Saxum at the Heritage.

The former Journal Record Building was constructed in 1923 as a Masonic lodge and then became an insurance company headquarters and theater before the newspaper moved in.  In 2016, Heritage Wealth Management purchased the east part of the building (the western wing is home to the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum) and renovations began.  Saxum occupies the fifth and sixth floors — the sixth floor is the newly constructed penthouse level.  Check out the great view from the lobby area of Saxum:

And check out this great waiting room:

HSE Architects had a few challenges designing this space, namely what to do with the dimly lit fifth floor, which was originally the building’s giant mechanical area.  The solution is pure genius.  Five holes were cut into the penthouse floor and giant, 12-foot-long polycarbonate and glass lightboxes were installed over them to create a multi-use work space on that floor while letting in much-needed light into the fifth floor space.  Each lightbox boldly announces one of Saxum’s core values: Brave, Original, Lively, Driven, and Bold:

Here are the lightboxes upstairs:

We’ll check out how this affects the downstairs in a bit.  The penthouse level contains several offices and meeting rooms, a kitchen area, and a conference room with unparalleled views of Automobile Alley and Midtown:

The common spaces are relaxed and friendly:

Next to the work area is a leather-clad meeting/lounge/party room:

Back in the work area, a grand, award-laden staircase leads down to the fifth floor:

And here’s the effect of the giant lightboxes downstairs:

The fifth floor now has an abundance of natural light that makes this a happy and friendly work area:

Who would ever think that a warehouse could be sexy?  Well, Deatschwerks is all of that and even more!

Formerly the home of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), the expanded 36,000 sf warehouse now houses Deatschwerks, a manufacturer of aftermarket, high performance fuel systems for some of the fastest cars in the world, including “OKC’s Street Outlaws, Ford’s factory drag car, the Cobra Jet Mustang, and many of the top competitors in Formula Drift,” according to the AIA tour brochure.

The facility has its own media department:

And a wall of offices lead to the development/quality control/storage areas in the warehouse:

Here, co-owner Mike Deatsch talks about the development of Deatschwerks’ powerful products…

…while one of the company’s smaller 3D scanners is busy at work:

Some of the fuel injection systems ready for quality control:

What a fun space and such a fascinating look at one of the metro’s most interesting businesses.

Unfortunately, by this time in the tour we were running late and had to skip seeing the M. Dewayne Andrews Academic Tower at the OU College of Medicine, but I’ve heard that it’s a very impressive space and will check it out soon.  The last stop of the day was the Mediterranean style, 7,700 sf Sundial House, which was constructed in 1919:

The home was built by John Sinopolous, who, along with his brother, Peter, developed OKC’s first amusement park, Delmar Gardens in 1902.  He also owned several theaters around the metro and could well afford to build this lovely Italian villa in the heart of the prairie.

According to the National Register nomination form (the home was added in 1978), “John G. Sinopoulo was born in Greece, came to the United States in 1890 and arrived in Oklahoma in 1903. Not known specifically for his wealth, he was better known for his contributions to entertainment and culture in the Oklahoma City area. He built Delmar Gardens, a popular amusement park, with picnic facilities, train rides, refreshment stands, theater, Ferris wheel and other carnival rides which was enjoyed till it closed in 1910.”  (The Delmar Gardens site is now home to the Farmers Market complex):

“He built the Lyric Theater, and was part of the organization and management of many theaters and vaudeville houses in the area. Mrs. Sinopoulo was an artist, who painted throughout her entire life. She died in 1976, followed by her husband in 1977, at the age of 101. John Sinopoulo also built many buildings and cultural things in his hometown in Greece, and was knighted by King Paul of Greece. He was inducted posthumously into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1995.”

The AIA tour brochure states that, “Katherine Sinopolous was one of the first women to graduate from the Chicago Fine Arts Academy and was responsible for the construction of a cardboard model used by the architect, John Eberson, when designing the Sundial House.”  Here’s a photo of the home soon after it was constructed:

The same general view of the home today — that’s the pool pavilion on the right:

Architect Eberson was known primarily for designing grand movie palaces.  His only OKC theater design was for the Mayan-themed Midwest Theater, which was demolished at the height of Urban Renewal in 1975.  Here’s the theater in its heyday:

And here it is shortly before it was demolished:

Finally, here are the sad remains after it was taken down:

So heartbreaking.  While many of his theaters met the same fate as the Midwest Theater, there are a few of Eberson’s palaces still around, including the beautifully preserved Majestic Theater in Dallas…

…and the Lakewood Theater, also in Dallas:

This incredible home is a true time capsule from the days of Prohibition and partying flappers, as you can see from the second you walk in the front door and are greeted by the dramatic staircase:

With a house like this, you have to have a great room, right?  Well, this one has one of the greatest great rooms ever:

I mean, really!  What a space.  Every single thing in this room is original, including the lighting:

A second story landing overlooks the room:

And heavy wrought iron gates lead into the expansive dining room:

Yep, that’s another original light fixture over the table:

On the other side of the dining room is surely the most magical room in the entire house, the awe-inspiring sun room:

This room!  I just can’t stand it!  Everything about it exudes tranquility and complete perfection, from the tiled fireplace on the opposite wall:

To the gorgeously tiled floor…

…that borders a long-disused-but-still-spectacular fountain:

The fountain is framed by an atrium of paned windows:

What a truly glorious space — it makes me feel like I could easily time travel back to the halcyon days of The Great Gatsby.  I can so easily see this space nearly 100 years ago decked out with exotic palm trees surrounding the delicately streaming fountain and white wicker fan chairs perfectly placed around the room.  On matching wicker tables rests large tumblers beading with sweat and brimming with yellow lemonade mixed with unidentifiable bootlegged intoxicants.  There’s a card table in the corner with a man in a perfectly pressed white linen suit seemingly playing rummy with a beautifully coiffed femme fatal.  She’s wearing a thinner-than-air, flowy chiffon dress capped with a floppy summer hat that dips in front to create a mysterious and oh-so-seductive half-face.  Of course, she’s in soft focus and the late afternoon light expertly bounces off the brim of her hat to catch the twinkle in her only-exposed eye that leaves her ardent suitor unable to concentrate on anything but her.

You can see it, too, can’t you?

If not, here are a couple of images to inspire you:

Yes, I know I’m mixing my Great Gatsby’s, but hopefully this gets you into the spirit of the fantasy that the gorgeous sun room inspires.

I didn’t really want to shake off the magic of this enthralling space, but the upstairs beckoned so I had to leave Daisy and Jay behind.  I’m happy to say that I wasn’t at all disappointed to climb that lovely staircase…

…and stroll to the landing overlooking the great room:

The landing is actually a cozy reading room/den:

Off of the reading room is the all-original master suite with an orange tiled fireplace that will make you squeal with awe.  I think my not-so-quiet gasp of delight was heard throughout the house and likely even awoke the ghosts of Daisy and Jay in the sun room downstairs.  I mean, LOOK AT IT!!

I can barely contain my enthusiasm just looking at this photo.  This gorgeous thing is right here in Oklahoma City — can you believe it?!  Nope, I can’t, either.  With the sun room downstairs and this stunning artifact, I really didn’t think things could get better — and then I stepped into the bathroom, which begins with this sweet vanity area:

The vanity area leads into the bathroom:

Look, more great tile!

And dual Art Deco sinks:

Yeah, I know, it’s just, just — I really don’t have the words, it’s so good!

A flight of stairs off of the master bedroom leads to a private studio surrounded on all sides by windows.  This was Katherine’s studio and was added to the house in 1929:

I feel like a five year old because all I can come up with to say about this is a kid-like and very enthusiastic “Wow!” and “Golly gee!”

Okay, before I completely revert back to a drooling toddler, let’s get out of this grand palace via the beautiful stairway…

…and go outside where I can regain control of my brain and leave the lovely fantasy world inspired by the Sundial House.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to be so easy because there’s an unexpected and very crazy rock-framed pond out back that is pretty spectacular, too:

All of the rocks are porous coral in all shapes and sizes:

There used to be waterfalls cascading down rock ledges into the pond, which overlooks the house:

Can’t you just see Jay and Daisy standing on the arched bridge and looking longingly into each other’s eyes?  Of course, they are beautifully backlit so they are almost glowing, and even more frustrating for us mere mortals, they don’t even come close to breaking a sweat or getting wind blown in the unpredictable Oklahoma weather.

Darn them!  Well, at least I got the right Great Gatsby team this time….

Also, several of the walkways in the yard are composed of old tiles and materials from movie theaters that were torn down during Sinopolous’s lifetime.  He gathered them from work sites and placed them in his yard to remember them by:

The final treasure of the backyard is the covered pool next to the house:

Like the rest of the house, it needs a lot of love.

Sinopolous’s heirs lived in the home until 2001, when they sold it to the neighboring Mount Olive Baptist Church.  The home was on the market again in 2015 when OU architecture students used it as their yearly project and came up with several proposals that are very interesting — you can view them here.

In 2016, Keena Oden bought the Sundial House and is slowly renovating it.  The carpet was removed and various structural elements have been restored.  Also, the bad ’70s kitchen and drop ceiling have been removed.  I hope she’ll be able to make it a magnificent showplace once more and new generations will find it as magical and captivating as I did.

So, after all of that touring, Mike, Cate, and I were a bit parched and headed to R&J’s Lounge for a little pick-me-up and for more good conversation.  Here we are, sated and happy, after what is always one of the best days of the year:

Thanks to the Central Chapter of the AIA, all of the volunteers, and the home/business owners for another great tour.  Can’t wait til next year!

 

On the Market: The ’70s Come Alive in Fountaingate

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.

As many of you know, I’m a sucker for 1970s contemporary homes — I mean, how can you not love all of the wood, rock, and vaulted ceilings that are common in designs from the era?  For those of you who love these homes as much as I do, a great disco-era time capsule just hit the market in fancy Fountaingate that you’ll definitely want to check out.  The two story, 3,200 sf, three bed/two and a half bath home is listed for $247,777 and is so spacious and dreamy.  Let’s start outside with the beautiful rock entry and all-original light fixtures:

 

The double front door is pretty cool, too:

After passing through a small rocked entry…

… the house opens up to a giant living/dining space with, of course, the quintessential ’70s vaulted ceiling.  The whole room is anchored on one side by a dramatic rock fireplace with a copper patina surround:

Oh, and yes, that is a custom-built sofa in a cozy conversation pit in front of the fireplace.  I’m not too crazy about the bird fabric, but the couch is in perfect condition and could easily be recovered in something fun and funky.  Here’s another view of this magnificent room:

I love all of the light, don’t you?  There are three sliding glass doors that let in a ton of light and lead out into the cute backyard.

And check out the gorgeous fireplace:

And, yes, there’s a fab sunken bar in the room, too:

Behind these wallpapered panels are a fridge and ice maker — far out!

Off of the living room is a HUGE master bedroom that runs the entire length of the living room on the other side:

There’s another rock fireplace in this space:

The double doors lead into another large space, the master bathroom and closet area:

Someone put in some really ugly ’80s floral wallpaper at some point that definitely needs to go, but the rest of the room is very original.  Mirrored closets surround the tub, and there’s a walk-in closet as well.  And if you’ve always wanted a bidet, you’ll find one in this house:

Um, yeah, I could live without that myself, but a lot of people like them.

Back through the living room and past the formal dining room …

… is the kitchen/breakfast room that hasn’t changed one bit since the house was built in 1977.  To some, that may be a bad thing.  To me, it makes me giddy with delight.  I mean, how great are the orange Formica countertops and all-original appliances, lighting, and shades?

I know that some people would love to greige up this space, but the realtor said that all of the appliances … even the intercom … work fine, so why muck it up?  It’s so fun just the way it is.

There’s a nice-sized and matching laundry room on the way out to the garage:

And upstairs, there are two bedrooms that share a sky-lighted Jack and Jill bathroom:

There’s another half bath downstairs with some really groovy foil wallpaper:

Geometric patterns and foil — wallpaper doesn’t get any better than this!

So, if you’re interested in having a look at this ’70s dream, give the listing agent, Linda Almaraz at Bershire-Hathaway, a call at 209-4254.  Then, after you buy it, install a disco ball in that massive living room and let the party begin!

On the Market: A Captivating Cutie in Venice

Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil. photos by Robyn Arn.

It’s not very often that a nearly perfectly preserved mod comes on the market, but that is certainly the case with a very sweet and well cared for example in the much desired Venice neighborhood.  Sadly for the Mod Squad (and for me personally), founding member Robyn Arn is leaving us and moving to Arkansas and, in the process, is selling her charming abode.  Because she really wants another mid-century mod lover to get the home and protect its originality, she’s giving the Mod Squad a sneak peek and buying opportunity before she lists it next week, and I’m telling you, if you’re in the market for a sweet bungalow with tons of original character in a great location, this is the house for you!

Cute, cute, cute!  I’m a complete sucker for flagstone, and this two bedroom/two bath bewitcher has it in spades:

The charm continues once you step inside the door of the 1950 home and into the spacious, light-filled living room, complete with original hardwood floors:

And, no, none of Robyn’s stunning collection of furniture is for sale, darn it.  But, this shows you just how perfectly mod works in the space, doesn’t it?  Oh and did I mention how bright the space is?  So light and airy and happy!

Dividing the open concept living and dining rooms is a sweet built-in partition/planter that I’m SO in love with:

It lights up, too!!

The formal dining room on the other side of the divider is as bright and open as the neighboring living room and can easily hold a large table and china cabinet:

I mean, really, could this space be any cuter?!  Off of these common areas are the more informal rooms of the house — the open plan kitchen, breakfast room, office, and den.  Let’s start with the kitchen:

This space has seen some sprucing over the years, but the kitchen still maintains much of its character because the layout is the same, with original cabinetry and the peninsula still in place.  And look at all of that storage!  To the side of the kitchen is a darling built-in banquette for more informal meals:

Both the kitchen and breakfast area overlook the den and office, which are separated by a two-sided flagstone fireplace.  Here’s the den:

Yep, that’s a built-in bookshelf you see along that beautifully panelled wall next to the kitchen:

I love every single thing about this room, from the giant fireplace to the panelling that cozies up the space so perfectly.  Here’s the office on the other side of the fireplace:

Pure perfection!  If I had this as my office, I don’t think I’d ever leave the house.

Just off of the office is a half bath:

Also off of the office is a very generous laundry room and two-car garage.

If you have a few cars or need extra storage, you will find all of that in abundance with this house.  In addition to the attached garage, a previous owner constructed a detached two-car carport and storage room in the backyard.  So, there are all kinds of possibilities with these two spaces.

While we’re in the back, take a look at the sweet patio area.  Is this the perfect space for morning coffee/summer dinner/reading or what?

Yeah, I’m SO in love with this place, can’t you tell?  Just wait, it gets even better back inside with the all-original and totally to die for PINK bathroom:

Woo hoo, pink!!  If you don’t already have goosebumps and heart palpitations, this next feature ought to do it for you: the bathroom even has a separate built-in vanity area:

Yeah, I know.  I KNOW!!!  This place is so stinkin’ cute!!!

Off of this darling bathroom are two surprisingly spacious bedrooms — here’s the master with yummy grass cloth wallpaper:

There’s even a second closet in this bright and happy room:

The second bedroom is just as airy and bright as the first:

And the hallway offers up extra room for even more storage:

I have been madly in love with Robyn’s sweet house ever since I met her and would jump at the chance to buy it from her if I could.  I mean, how often do you find a beautifully cared for, three-owner home in such a great neighborhood that hasn’t been mucked up?  Not often at all, as you likely know.  So, if you’re interested in being the fourth owner of this gorgeous time capsule, you can tour Robyn’s abode this Sunday, April 22nd from 2pm-4pm, for a Mod Squad-only open house.  Here are a few last particulars:

2715 NW 33rd
OKC 73112

1,958 sf
2 bedroom/2 bath
$225,000

If you’d like to chat with Robyn about the home before Sunday, you can message her through Facebook.

Modern Details: Caudill Rowlett Scott and Warr Built Homes

Posted by on Apr 13, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  photos courtesy of Googlemaps, Oklahoma History Center, and Lynne Rostochil.

A few days ago, Terri started a great discussion on the Okie Mod Squad Facebook page about several modest mod carported homes located on N. Miller between NW 47th and NW 50th.  Here are a couple of examples:

And a couple with less dramatic carports:

These unique homes were immediately familiar to me because I’ve seen a cluster of the more dramatic ones in Warr Acres, too.  So, what’s the story behind these post-war cuties?  Well, they were designed by Caudill Rowlett & Scott (CRS) and, well, they appear in the June 1948 issue of Architectural Forum, so I’ll let the article do the talking:

MODERN DETAILS help a merchant builder sell his $9,500-$11,800 houses ($98,000 – $122,000 in 2018 dollars)

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Builder: Warr Built Homes Co.

Architects: Caudill & Rowlett; Gordon McCutchan, Associate

Photographer: Johnny Melton

During the past 25 years, Warr Built Homes Company has built a very considerable part of Oklahoma City — some 4,000 houses of it.  Not until last year, however, did President C.B. Warr and his associate, Clarke X. Pace, decide to offer houses which were more up to date design-wise than the ones they built a quarter of a century ago.  But, they are glad they did — the first new house attracted about 10,000 visitors (some from adjoining states); the first ten built to sample the demand were sold before completion; since then, construction and sales in an 80-unit development, called Warr Acres, have been moving apace.

To design his new houses, Warr called upon Architects William W. Caudill, John M. Rowlett, and associate Gordon McCutchan.  After a thorough study of Warr’s building methods, existing equipment, available materials, and on-site labor costs, they came up with a dozen basic floor plans with variations in exterior materials and colors.  While widely different in plan layout, all models display these design details: 1) open floor plans — living and dining areas are usually combined; 2) low-pitched, shed and flat roofs — frequently in combination with one another; 3) minimum fenestration in north and west walls as protection against cold winds and hot sun, respectively; 4) large fixed windows in the other walls protected by 3 to 6 ft. roof overhangs; 5) separate control of light and air: large windows are fixed sheets of plate glass, flanked by screened louvers; 6) nonbearing partitions, permitting a house to be plastered, floored, and trimmed economically before the space is subdivided; 7) shop fabricated closets; 8) carports with storage walls, instead of garages, at a 60 per cent cost saving.

In addition to these modern design features, Warr Acres’ new houses boast wall-to-wall carpeting in living and bedrooms, flush doors throughout, a 36 in. attic fan, an automatic clothes washer, and 90 x 200 ft. lots valued at $1,500.  Including these items, sales prices range from $9,500 for two bedrooms to $11,800 for three.  Although the unusual character of Warr’s has been viewed without enthusiasm by local FHA offices and mortgage companies, FHA approval and satisfactory financing terms have been obtained.  Thus, the house illustrated (below) was sold for $11,000 with the aid of an $8,000 FHA-insured mortgage held by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and a $2,000 loan guaranteed by the Veterans Administration:

Consumer reaction, according to Builder Pace, has been “very good.”  Never lukewarm in their comments, prospects are either extremely enthusiastic about the house or definitely dislike them.  The enthusiasts are invariably young people.

While Warr Acres represents a big forward step in the design of merchant builder houses, it is only a step.  The architects agree: “Although we are still very far from an all-successful, livable, and low cost house, the results are gratifying.  We feel that we have made a definite contribution in this area for good builder houses.”

Two bedroom house is opened to the east rear yard by large bedroom windows (flanked by ventilating louvers) and entire wall of glass in the living room.  Bedrooms have generous proportions, measure 12 x 12 ft. and 12 x 15 ft.  Cubage: 7,600 sf.  Sales price: $11,000 including lot.

Two bedroom variation (above) is shielded from cold north wind and penetrating west sun by windowless walls.  Small glass block panels in west kitchen wall were considered necessary by builder, not the architects.  As in the other two bedroom house, a coat closet is conspicuously absent.  

Here is the three bedroom plan:

Here are a couple of the Warr Acre homes today:

As with several of the homes on N. Miller, many of the homes — like this one — have been altered:

Also, I found an article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma by Susan Allen Kline and Cynthia Savage that also discusses the Warr Built Homes:

After having built 150 “conventional boxlike two-story houses” in Mayfair Heights, they (Warr Built Homes) called on Caudill and Rowlett to design one-story, brick veneer, modern style houses.  The houses rested on concrete slabs and the interiors had a combination of exposed brick and lath-and-plaster walls.  Often the brick walls were left unpainted, a treatment the firm later used in school designs.  A house at 2700 NW 47th Street was chosen by American Home magazine as the “American Home of the Southwest” and was featured in its issue of August 1948.  Warr Built Homes showcased the house during an open house on April 11, 1948.  In an advertisement in the Daily Oklahoman, it was touted as being sensitive to its environment, taking into consideration lighting, ventilation, and solar issues…. Here they created up-to-date designs that featured open floor plans, low pitched or shed roofs, minimal windows on north and west walls to protect against winter wind and summer sun, and built-in carports instead of garages as a cost saving measure.  Although the local office of the Federal Housing Administration viewed the development’s “unusual character … without enthusiasm,” the designs found a market, especially among young people.  

So, the “American Home of the Southwest” that Kline and Savage mention and that was advertised in the Oklahoman is right in the heart of Mayfair Heights along the stretch of road on N. Miller that Terri originally mentioned.  Here’s the ad:

I’m broken hearted to show you what this once-glorious home looks like now, but here goes:

How on earth could anyone EVER think that this mess could ever be more attractive than the original?

Some of the homes on N. Miller — well, the ones that haven’t been altered beyond recognition, anyway — are identical to the designs in Warr Acres, and all of the carported homes — both mod and more traditional — in both neighborhoods were constructed in 1948.

Since Warr was building all over Oklahoma City at the time, it’s possible that there are other clusters of CRS-designed homes out there.  I know of one other area of somewhat similar modest mods with carports near downtown Britton that were constructed in 1955.  I don’t know if CRS designed them or not, but they were all sold even before they were fully constructed, as this photo from the OPUBCO collection at the History Center shows:

Here’s the same block today:

So, if you’re out and about and see some cool mid-century mods with carports out in the wild, they may have been designed by CRS, which went on to become an internationally renowned firm just a year after these homes were built when their innovative school designs in Blackwell were widely publicized and praised.  But, that’s a story for another time….

 

Classic Cars in the Wild

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil

Other than finding a mid-mod building I’ve never seen before, there is nothing that delights me more than driving along and stumbling upon a well loved classic car that is still in daily use.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite “wild” finds with you this week.  First up is one of my favorites for several reasons:

This beauty was owned by an elderly gentleman named Ray:

We met Ray as we were wandering through the small hamlet of Wapanucka. When I was a kid, I used to visit family here and play on the even-then quiet streets, explore the old, abandoned high school with my dad, and enjoy great feasts prepared by all of the relatives. Unfortunately, these relatives are either dead or have moved away, so I haven’t been back to Wapanucka in about 12 years. It was sad to see that all of the downtown is abandoned now, the old high school that my dad and I spent hours exploring has been torn down, and the only sign of bustling life seems to be the corner convenience store/restaurant/gas station at the intersection of two rural highways.

This is where we met Ray. He was driving around town in his jadite green ’30s Ford truck and stopped at the convenience store at the same time we did. As droplets of rain began to fall, we started talking about his beautifully restored truck, and I asked him if he knew any of my family who grew up here. He immediately recognized my grandfather’s name and said that they played together often as kids. My grandfather was the one who broke up fights and kept the order among their gaggle of unruly boys, he said, and I believe it (my grandfather later became a teacher and served a very long term as chief of the Chickasaw Nation — really!).  It was quite a treat to meet someone who knew my family back in the day and to get to photograph his beautiful vintage truck.

Another one of my favorites is this shot I took in Tucumcari:

I’ve been through Tucumcari several times and have always seen the painted car but never the original — got lucky finding them both together on this day.

Here’s another fun find in Tucumcari:

That is one sassy Fury, aye?

Back in Oklahoma, I found this to-die-for Edsel in a grocery store parking lot in SWOKC — how perfect is this beauty?

I’ve met a lot of Squadders when I’ve stopped to photograph their cars.  This photo introduced me to my pal, Ray, and his gorgeous Riviera.  And what better backdrop can you find than the Founders Tower?

And, here’s another Squadder’s car in the wild — check out Jim’s stunning Cadillac in downtown OKC:

Some finds simply defy explanation, like this one in OKC:

And other finds like to play peek-a-boo, like this one in Chicago:

Some offer are purely magical moments of perfect lighting and friendly composition, like this Cadillac in OKC:

While others are good for their seeming ordinariness — is that even a word?  Just looked it up and, hot damn, it is!  Top photo was taken in El Reno and I found the El Camino in Coalgate:

For awhile, I played around with expired film and caught this gorgeous Mercedes hanging out at Mutt’s:

So pretty!  Here’s another one I shot the same day — gotta love an old hearse, right?

My husband loves this shot from Snyder because the car boasts OSU colors — go Pokes:

For you Sooner fans, how about this crazy pimped out Cadillac I found in Lone Grove:

Love Beetles?  Then, here are a couple for you from Santa Rosa, NM, and Jerome, AZ, respectively:

I love this bright green Cadillac covered in snow in Red Cliff, Colorado:

Check out these fabulous classic car butts that were partying in SWOKC one spring afternoon:

This 1965 Harvester Travelall 1100 was for sale when I visited Marfa a few years ago — oh how I would have loved to bring this ride back to OKC:

Another one I coveted was this sassy Nova on S. Robinson that was patiently awaiting its next adventure:

This one was in the shop at Penn and NW 30th getting a little sprucing:

It always delights me even more to find vintage foreign cars in the wild — they are rare finds, indeed.  I spotted the Austin Cooper in Wynnewood, the Triumph in OKC, and the Volvo in Angel Fire, NM:

These are just a few of my finds.  If you are a classic car stalker like me, please send photos of your finds and I will post them on a future Mod Blog.  In the meantime, let’s enjoy one last beauty riding off in the Oklahoma City sunset:

 

 

The Joyce House: A Mod Victorian in Snyder

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos identified in captions.

Resting atop a 25-foot bluff overlooking a rural granite quarry, the octagonal-shaped Joyce House looms large amid ancient boulders and expansive farmland outside of Snyder.

(Julius Shulman)

It took four tries for John and Evelyn Joyce to realize the house of their dreams.  Three different times they consulted with architects to design their new home and three different times they were disappointed when the experts returned with plans for traditional, ranch-style abodes.  Then, they met with OU architecture professor and all around creative genius, Herb Greene….

The Joyces had unusual requirements for their new home, which was to be built on land owned by the family quarry business.  During their initial interview with Greene, they expressed their desire to build a home that would compliment their vast collection of stained glass windows, heavy Victorian furniture, and traditional Swedish heirlooms… in other words, overly ornate items that a Modernist like Greene might snub a nose at, which is exactly what he did. In his book, Mind and Image, Greene explains in the third person his initial reaction about the project: “To an architect holding to his share of contemporary dogmas, these objects were at first not a stimulus.  They were seen through his stereotyped codes that tended to deny the value of the “old-fashioned.”

Once Greene got to know the Joyce family and walked the cliff top building site, however, he came to embrace the idea of melding old and new and finding creative ways to incorporate the couple’s collection into the design scheme.  When he returned with his most unusual two-story, heavily shingled design that included a protective carport and pyramidal tower, the Joyces knew they had finally found the right man for the job.

(Herb Greene)

Greene chose an octagonal design for the home as a modern version of traditional, often turreted and shingled Victorian architecture so that the family’s heirlooms would look as if they naturally belonged in the space.  The shape also optimized window space to create perfect, light-filled homes for several of the Joyce’s stained glass windows.

(Julius Shulman)

The first level, floor-to-ceiling windows also let the stunning rural views become a focal point in the open plan living areas, kitchen, and dining room.

(Julius Shulman)

To offset the arid landscape, Greene incorporated an indoor fountain under a sculptural, two-level staircase in the heart of the house to bring in soothing sounds of water.  This, according to Greene, gave the home “mild allusions to a sacred place.”

(Bob Bowlby)

Greene also accommodated John and Evelyn Joyce’s eclectic furniture collection by creating a space for a confessional from Minnesota in the master bathroom, an old hotel barback in a downstairs common area, and Victorian chandelier in the entry.

(Julius Shulman)

Here’s a modern-day view of the same area taken by Squadder, Ron Brewer:

Greene also made space in an interior hall cabinet to hide their piano so that it wouldn’t take up valuable floor space when it wasn’t being used.

The Joyces and a few of their employees constructed the house themselves on weekends and holidays for over two years, and it was finally completed in 1960.  During the same time, Greene also designed a small office building at the bottom of the hill for the Joyce’s business, the Roosevelt Granite Company.

(Bob Bowlby)

And Ron Brewer’s photos of the building now:

According to Julius Shulman, who took photos of the Joyce House in 1961, the home was “another ‘experimental’ Herb Greene achievement, more modest than the Prairie Chicken, but nonetheless a demonstration of great prolific talent.”

(Julius Shulman)

The Joyce family lived in the home until John and Evelyn’s health began to decline in the mid-2000s, but looking like a winged creature awaking and half stretching after a long sleep, the home continues to sit proud and high on its perch taking in the rugged Oklahoma countryside.  It was added to the National Register in 2011.

(OPUBCO collection at the History Center)

Not too long ago, Ron Brewer photographed the still-stunning Joyce House and shared a couple of images with the Okie Mod Squad group on Facebook:

The last time I went through Snyder, I also drove by the house.  The gate was locked so I couldn’t get very close, but both the office building and the home are still looking good:

And here’s one final photo by OU architecture professor, Arn Henderson:

Kress: A Mod Delight in Capitol Hill

Posted by on Mar 15, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos from the Oklahoma History Center and Googlemaps.

Who would have thought that this bland building in Capitol Hill …

was once a very mod and gleaming Kress store with a funky zig zag roof:

S.H. Kress started the five-and-dime chain in 1896 and by the time this building was constructed in 1960, there were hundreds of Kress stores throughout the country.  According to the National Building Museum website, “Samuel H. Kress (1863–1955) envisioned his stores as works of public art that would contribute to the cityscape. To distinguish his stores from those of his competitors, namely F.W. Woolworth Co. and S.S. Kresge Co., he hired staff architects. Kress achieved retail branding success not merely through standardized signage and graphics, but through distinctive architecture and efficient design. Regardless of their style, from elaborate Gothic Revival to streamlined Art Deco, Kress stores were designed to be integral parts of their business districts and helped define Main Street America.”

Theater owner, R. Lewis Barton was the brains behind the Capitol Hill store.  In an effort to revitalize the aging neighborhood, he bought an entire block of the shopping district along SW 25th between Walker and Hudson and planned to construct the Kress, several small shops, a clinic, offices, a parking garage, and a cafeteria.

This building in the heart of the district was the first of the planned projects to be completed, and it opened in November 1960 at a cost of $550,000 (around $4.7 million in 2018).  The 87,000 sf variety store featured just about everything you’d expect to find in a five-and-dime — clothing, kitchen wares, tools, furniture, decor, and, of course, the ubiquitous lunch counter.  Here are some images of the store under construction:

This thoroughly modern Kress was designed by local architect Calvin Garrett (perhaps best known for designing the Continental Theater in the Founders District) and constructed by his and Barton’s company, B&G Construction.  Here are more photos just before the store opened to the public:

The store was built on a sloping piece of land, so the west entrance led customers up a set of stairs to the first floor shopping area:

There was also a basement level with Capitol Hill’s first escalators ferrying customers between the two levels:

Here are some of the goodies the chain carried:

And here’s the lunch counter, where I’m sure many a tasty meal was devoured — and perhaps where a sit-in or two occurred also:

The offices were compact and efficient,

while the exterior was a true marvel:

In 1964, Genesco bought Kress and began closing down its Main Street stores and relocating them to shopping malls.  By 1980, most of the Kress stores were gone altogether.  After Kress closed, the building became home to a flea market for a few years before being converted in 1988 into offices:

From these images, it looks like the zig zag roof was long gone before this renovation.  Too bad.

As for Barton’s grand plans for the district, I think that most of them were abandoned after this project.  Capitol Hill endured some pretty bleak years but, over the last decade, has started to bounce back in a big way.  The revitalization efforts Barton attempted are happening for real now with the renovation of the old Yale Theater and the conversion of the old Brown’s building to an Oklahoma City Community College campus.

Here’s one last view of the once-stunning Kress building: