Mod Blog

Another One Bites the Dust: Founders National Bank

Posted by on Oct 9, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text, current photos, matchcover, and playing cards by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage images by Bob Bowlby, Oklahoma History Center, and Julius Shulman.

Today, the Okie Mod Squad group is mourning the loss of one of Oklahoma City’s most beloved buildings, the gloriously mod Founders National Bank located at May and United Founders Boulevard.

It’s sickening to think that we won’t get to enjoy this elegant arched building anymore and will instead be viewing some ugly box store, gas station, or strip mall on the site.  Oklahoma City has certainly lost an important piece of its distinctive architectural character that can never be replaced.  To let the impact of this sink in, let’s take a look back at the lighter-than-air Founders National Bank in better days.  The following is from a Mod Blog we wrote a few years ago that was devoted to the building’s architect, Bob Bowlby:

Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on Oklahoma City’s suburban expansion, movie theater owner, Jerry Barton, who also sat on the board of Founders National Bank, decided that the area around N. May and Northwest Expressway would be the perfect place to construct a new bank building that would serve the quickly growing suburban area.  Once the board approved his idea, Barton enlisted the services of (former Bruce Goff student) Robert Alan Bowlby to design the new bank, giving the young architect free reign to create something bold and unique.

Bowlby’s bold and elegant design for the new bank, which opened in 1964, incorporated the use of two 50-foot exterior arches that supported the building and removed the need for interior walls altogether.  This allowed for expansive, open spaces inside that gave the structure an exuberant feeling of lightness, so light it seemed the entire building could lift up and fly away with the breezy Oklahoma wind if not for the giant arches tethering it to the ground.

Other distinctive features of the bank included a concave, floating roof that provided a substantial amount of indirect lighting; large floor-to-ceiling windows that made the interior spaces look much larger than they really were, and a century-old, 16-ton vault door shipped from Toledo, Ohio, that both protected the bank’s assets and became the focal point of the otherwise modern lobby:

When LA-based architectural photographer, Julius Shulman arrived in Oklahoma City to take images of Herb Greene’s Cunningham House in 1964, he asked Bowlby, who was also an architectural photographer, to assist him during his stay.  The two spent the next three days photographing the home and other buildings, during which time Bowlby drove the always-curious photographer to the recently completed Founders National Bank.  Shulman was immediately intrigued by the bank’s unique design, as well as the photographic possibilities it presented, and added the building to his list of structures to shoot while he was in town.  On the last day of his visit, Shulman and Bowlby headed over to Founders National Bank just before dusk one evening, and the famed camera man captured the stunning building in all of its dramatic glory just as the sun was setting in a cloudless sky:

There was also a cute drive-thru:

The building’s unique design was so popular that it graced the covers of matchbooks and playing cards distributed by the bank over the next two decades:

In the 1980s, the glass wall around the perimeter of the building was removed to increase the office space, and a brick surround took its place.  With the addition, the building has certainly lost its lighter-than-air feeling, but, luckily, the iconic arches and roofline remained:

In 1992, Boatmen’s purchased Founders and then a few years later, NationsBank bought Boatmen’s and then Bank of America took over NationsBank.  Bank of America remained in the former Founders building until August 2017.  The building and the surrounding undeveloped area were listed for sale in October 2017 and it was demolished today, supposedly to make the cleared site more attractive to developers:

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

RIP, beautiful Founders Bank.

Recent Developments in OKC … Circa 1970

Posted by on Oct 4, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil. 

I always love getting a great vintage gift and my pal, Koby Click, who owns Space. 20th Century Modern, recently dropped by and presented me with a cool booklet that was published in 1969 by the long defunct Oklahoma City Times.

This booklet is a treasure trove of plans and building projects that were in the works at the dawn of the 1970s and while I’ve seen many of them before in other documents, it’s really interesting to see all of them collected in one document like this.  It makes me realize what a boom time the metro area was experiencing then … much like the one we are living through now.  It’s also interesting to note how some of the planned projects morphed as they became reality and the ones that never left the drawing board at all in the wake of the bust a decade later.  I hope you enjoy this fascinating piece of local history as much as I have and be sure to click a photo to enlarge it so you can see every last detail of each page.

 

On the Market: A Gentle House to Solace the Soul

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

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil

If you are like me and love to drive around neighborhoods looking for mid-century modern homes just for the fun of it, then you definitely know this beauty in one of the loveliest neighborhoods in the city, Forest Park.  This home, located at 3500 E. Maxwell, has been the topic of many a mod conversation in Mod Squad circles for at least a decade, with many admirers wondering what the fates held for this low-lying and increasingly forlorn looking rancher at the corner of E. Maxwell and N. Cardinal.  Well, I’m happy to say that this beautiful mid mod in need of a little love is now on the market … but, before we get to that, let me tell you a bit about the home’s fascinating history and the family who has lived here for over 60 years.

The home’s first and only owners were C.C. “Bill” Cody, his wife, Marian, and their two kids, Carol and Mike.  I’ve heard a lot of stories about Bill and Marian and have come to consider them two of the most interesting people who ever lived in Oklahoma City, and I’m truly sorry that I never met them.  Bill and Marian met as geology students at OU and theirs was a beautiful, five-decade-long love story.  Here’s the tale of their meeting and subsequent few years from Marian’s obituary:

Marian began college at Oklahoma City University as an accomplished ballet dancer and an avid student of the arts, until one day a Geology professor began her class with the poem “Each in His Own Tongue” by William Herbert Carruth, which instantly inspired her to change her focus and devote her studies to Geology at the University of Oklahoma.  It was this change in course that led her to the love of her life, Bill Cody.  She met Bill at OU.  They were both enrolled in the Geology department.  Often admiring each other’s work and success in class, Marian became curious about the man who always made a perfect grade, and Bill wanted to meet the woman whose work was truly impeccable.  Bill introduced himself to Marian and asked her to join him for a cup of coffee at the Town Tavern on Campus Corner.  She agreed, and before they had finished their cup of coffee Bill asked her to marry him and move to South America with him.  Her response, “Well, sure!”  They finished their coffee and walked next door to the local jewelry store, and picked out a ring.  Thus began their instant and timeless love story.

Marian graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Geology in the summer of 1940.  Upon graduation, Marian moved to Tulsa where she worked as a geologist for an oil company.  It was during this time in Tulsa that she discovered her passion for flying.  She earned her pilot’s license in 1941, and joined the Tulsa Civil Air Patrol.  Her heart soared when she flew and every time she recalled her flights above the clouds. 

On November 5, 1942, Marian and Bill were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City.  Almost immediately after they were wed, they began their adventure together and moved to South America where she worked for Tropical Oil running her own paleontological lab and where Bill was the Party Chief for Seismograph Service Corporation in charge of all Columbian operations.  They made their new home in Columbia, a place that captured their hearts.

It was there that she and Bill bought their “Espiritu” – a lovely little sea plane.  Bill got his pilot’s license as well and they flew over land and sea taking turns at the controls.  She once wrote about their time flying their “Espiritu” and stated that when she and Bill were flying together, they were “no longer earth-bound; free of all responsibility except to each other . . . .   It was a point of time of pure abandon and delight that could never be equaled in just the same way again.”

In 1944, they moved to Caracus, Venezuela, and on December 24th of that same year, their daughter, Carole Anne, was born.  Marian began working as the Venezuelan correspondent for the Oil and Gas Journal, a job that allowed her to devote herself to being a mother.  On October 7, 1947, their son, Michael Frederic, was born.  By 1948, she and Bill decided to move back to Oklahoma City so that their children would not be denied the American heritage and opportunities. It was there that they built their dream home.  Together, they had lovingly imagined every detail of the design so that it would perfectly suit their family of four and provide them with a place of joy and comfort for all the years to come.

Marian did all of these things in a day when, if a woman wanted to be a professional, her options were limited to teaching and nursing.  To say that she was special is a vast understatement, indeed.

As for their home in Oklahoma City, the Cody family purchased a four-acre plot of land, complete with private pond, in gentried Forest Park and selected Raymond Carter to design it.  The Codys wanted a modest abode that took full advantage of their acreage in the heart of the city, and the designer returned with plans for a distinctive ranch house that comfortably fit their needs.  The home was constructed but it burned to the ground within a year, so Bill, Marian, and Raymond went back to the drawing board and came up with a second design that was very similar to the first but larger at 2,257 square feet.  The three bedroom, two bath home was completed in 1956 and the family once again settled in, this time for good.

With its long and low lines, abundant use of rock, and signature lattice work, the Cody House is a quintessential Carter design.

 

Yes, the home is in need of some love, but it doesn’t take much imagination to envision what the place looked like in its prime.  If you’re just not seeing it, let me help you out by showing you a few exterior shots of the place from about 20 years ago:

It was gorgeous then and is gorgeous now, even in its present unkempt condition:

Before we go inside, let’s meander down to the pond, where generations of kids have enjoyed hot summer days playing and swimming to beat the heat.  Here are a couple of vintage shots of the pond as fall leaves were changing color:

Simply magnificent.  Here’s a photo I took of the pond toward the end of summer a few years ago:

It’s difficult to imagine with this view that we are just a few short miles from all of the action of the city, isn’t it?  It is pure natural bliss, and I now understand why the Codys moved here in 1956 and never left.

Now that you’ve seen the outside, let’s get to the best part … the interior of the Cody abode!  A covered corridor leads to the one-of-a-kind front door:

Inside, a latticed entry acts as a buffer between the outdoors and the living room and teases you with all of the beauty beyond:

And, ta-da, move around the lattice and you are greeted by this jaw dropping view of the open concept living/office/dining area with a wall of windows looking out to the backyard:

To the left is a cantilevered, built-in sofa:

And behind the sofa is an office with the coolest built-in desk EVER:

This baby is much larger than the photo indicates and cantilevers just like the sofa on the other side.  Another great thing about the office and many other areas of the home is the storage.  Many of the panelled walls of the home hide closets — in this case, just pop open a hidden door and voila, a closet with all kinds of storage for plans, correspondence, and files:

Another nice feature of the office is a built-in bench that appears to run seamlessly from inside to the outdoors:

Such beautiful attention to detail!  Another great detail is the hanging lighting fixture over the desk:

I’ve seen these exact lights in a couple of mid-1950s homes designed by Carter.  Love the perforations, especially when the light is on:

I don’t know what it is about perforated lights that is so thrilling to me, but I wish I could buy this house just for this fantastic feature alone.  And, luckily, there’s another set of these lights next to the two-sided rock fireplace that divides the living room and more informal den — you can see them on the right in this photo I took of the home in 2014:

Yeah, I know, you’re eyeing all of the great furniture, aren’t you?  Well, to answer your unspoken questions, 1. yes, it is all original from the time the home was built, and 2. some of it may be available for purchase, too.  Obviously, all of the built-in furniture comes with the house, and the owner may have the option of buying some of the sofas.

Okay, you can stop jumping up and down like a giddy two year old now … we don’t want any heart attacks while reading the Mod Blog so just re-laaax and bring that heart rate down.  It’s going to be a challenge as we go on with the tour, I promise, but I know you can do it.  If you’re calm now, we can move on….

Looking to the right from the above view is the friendly dining room:

Marian loved the bamboo that waved in the lattice-trimmed, floor-to-ceiling dining room window, and I do, too:

It lets in a perfect amount of dancing daytime light and makes you feel like you’re inside and outside at the same time.  To the right of the dining room is the all-original kitchen.  And, when I say all-original, I mean matching top-of-the-line 1956 appliances and everything:

I can honestly say that I’ve never, ever seen a vintage Revco Bilt-In refrigerator in the wild until now.  Wowza!  According to Pam at Retro Renovation, “vintage Revco Bilt-In refrigerators and freezers are the ‘holy grail’ of refrigerators from the 1950s and 1960s, more even than the vintage GEs constructed like wall cabinets and even more than the Kelvinator Foodarama.”  (Read more of the Revco article here.)

For comparison, here’s the GE cabinet fridge, a brand that I know a few of you Squadders own:

And here’s the Kelvinator Foodarama:

The first prize for the best brand name obviously goes to the oh-so-fun and very ’50s Foodarama.  (I think just about everything back then had an “orama” attached at the end.  Here’s more information about the origins of this oft used mid century suffix.)

As for these particular appliances, I have to say that, even though the Foodarama wins in the Best Name category, I like the sleek styling of the GE and Revco fridges quite a bit better, with the Revco beating out its GE rival because the flexible built-ins could be configured either horizontally like the GE fridge …

… or vertically as a standard refrigerator:

In the Cody House, the refrigerator is stacked vertically and angles toward another set of very rare appliances, the glorious and very rare in-the-wild GE Wonder Kitchen.

The GE Wonder Kitchen was introduced just in time for the construction of this home in 1956 and was the very latest in design with an all-in-one unit containing an electric range/stove, dishwasher, and combo washer/dryer all united by a long stainless counter and sink.  These marvelous Wonder Kitchens came in such enticing colors as Canary Yellow, Turquoise Green, Petal Pink, Cadet Blue, and, in the Cody home, Woodtone Brown.  The Cody House kitchen also features a custom-made vent hood:

Another feature of the Wonder Kitchen is built-in storage running along the top of the stainless counter:

I didn’t get a great shot of the GE Wonder Kitchen in the Cody House, so here’s a better photo of a pink one from Retro Renovation:

You can read some history about the GE Wonder Kitchen here.  At some point, the Codys replaced the Wonder Kitchen dishwasher, but I’ve done a little research and because these “kitchen centers” were internally plumbed and wired, the appliances in the Cody house could be refurbished and restored.  There’s no doubt that, if I were the lucky buyer of this home, I would be doing that exact thing.  Same for the very rare Revco fridge, too.  Nope, no doubt about it at all.

Moving on with the tour, to the right of the Revco is an angled bar and another set of wall panelling that pops open to reveal a very generous pantry:

I know I’m repeating myself here, but this all-original kitchen is so rare and beautiful and I really hope that the new homeowner strives to restore it rather than knock it out and “modernize” it.  If it has survived practically untouched for 60 years, it deserves to stay, if at all possible.

Okay, with that preservation emphasis made, on the way out of the kitchen is another panelled wall that opens to reveal a second pantry:

Let’s take a look at the view from the kitchen into the living room:

I mean, honestly, does it get any better than this?  And, yes, that is beautiful and much-coveted terrazzo flooring that runs throughout the common spaces of the home:

On the other side of the fireplace is the aforementioned den:

Oh, did I happen to mention that the new owner may have the chance to buy some of the sofas in the house?!  Well, this beauty is one of them!  Sit … back … down … and try very hard to avoid the temptation to start jumping up and down again.  If you’re calm now, we can continue….

Atop a round table in the corner sits a half-finished and very detailed homemade model of the Cody House that Bill worked on during his final years:

Maybe the new owner will be as meticulous as he was and decide to finish it someday.

On the far wall of the den, once again hidden by the panelling, is another treasure … a built-in bar with an original tiled countertop:

Off of the den, you’ll find two bedrooms separated by a Jack and Jill bathroom.  Each bedroom is identical in size and features built-in twin beds and desks:

Each bedroom also boasts a unique sliding shoji screen style door:

The huge master suite is at the end of a small hall off of the den:

A panelled wall on the other side of the room includes a built-in bench and a pop-open door for a TV:

Another wall of panelling hides two closets just before you get to the master bathroom:

So, that’s it for the house itself.  Yes, it needs love but it has SO much potential, don’t you think?

Here’s a bonus.  When Bill and Marian moved back to Oklahoma City, he started his own company and as it grew, he decided that he needed much more room than the home office could provide, so he designed and built a much larger office and storage space in a separate building next to the house that nicely compliments the home’s unique design.  The two-room office definitely needs a lot of love but could be fully functional again with a little elbow grease:

I know, I know, it looks scary but there’s a lot to love about this space, especially the very cool table on the right.  There’s a protective glass top covering it, and I think the table could be completely restored:

And now you’ve seen the Cody House inside and out.  Bill and Marian lived in this beautiful home very happily together for over 40 years until Bill died at the age of 84 in 1999.  In typical independent style, Marian stayed on here by herself until her death in 2014 at 96.  Their children and grandchildren enjoyed so many years of great times in the home that Carol and Mike haven’t had the heart to sell the place until now.  However, I’m sure they will be very relieved if the second owner of this unique property full of history and love will restore this unique abode to its original glory — I hope that happens, too.

Finally, in her waning years, Marian composed a lovely piece of prose about the home and land she and her family loved and enjoyed so much for over six decades.  Enjoy!

A Place That We Love

A beautiful house of glass and wood,

Held up and about by rock;

Moored to the ground on staunchions of steel,

With wood roofs free to fly.

 

A nurturing house set into the land,

Seeming to grow one with it.

The feeling of space, the wild wide open space

Of being untethered and free.

 

A gentle house to solace the soul,

Of colors to us that bring joy;

Of sun and shadow, to excite and calm down

A place to delight the eye.

 

Almost fifty years new, we’ve lived with its spell,

And watched as the cloud pictures changed.

The violent storms, the zig-zag sky streaks

That thundered to earth with a crash.

 

Snowflakes in winter, red-gold leaves in the fall,

Summer’s clear-blue azure sky;

White scuttling clouds playing touch-tag with each other

The tall towering nimbus as well.

 

A liveable house

To meet changing needs,

As our lives changed each decade of years.

And each decade of needs

Was beautifully matched,

Our beloved house supplied all of these.

 

The old oaks that surround it

The old willow that fell

To the pond one long-ago day;

The cottonwoods rustling and singing their song,

The bamboo of delicate grace.

 

A charming house, a solace, a joy.

A place we love to come home to.

A shelter, a center, a haven, a base.

The calm in the eye of the storm.

 

The spirit, the joy, the elan of this place,

Has been ours to have had, to have held.

The spirit, the joy, the elan of this place.

Has been ours to have had for awhile.

                                                                               MCC

 

The Cody House is on the market for $205,000, and you can call Susan Granger at Metro First Realty to schedule a showing — 684-1338.  No need to be calm and collected now.  Jump up and down, get giddy, give Susan a call, and be the lucky person who gets to call this solace in the woods home.

On the Market: A Dreamy Nichols Hills Mod

Posted by on Sep 21, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

A few years ago, the Mod Squad was invited to tour the recently remodeled Troup-Barnes House that sits on a diagonal at the corner of Penn and Wilshire — go here to read all about it.  The place was one of the few in the 1950s that was designed by a woman, in this case the owner Marie Troup.  She meticulously planned every detail of the home and, once it was constructed in 1950, didn’t change one thing for the next six decades.  She and her husband, Woody, adored their Nichols Hills palace and lived in the house the rest of their lives.  In 2012, the home came on the market for the first time ever and its good luck continued with buyers Robert and Cara Barnes.  For the next two years, the couple painstakingly and very thoughtfully remodeled the home, keeping all of its original character intact while greatly enhancing its best features.   Now, this revamped mid-century modern delight is on the market and waiting for a third owner to appreciate and love it as much as its last two have.

Every room of the 4,220 sf, three bedroom/three-and-a-half bath abode is open, airy, and full of bright natural light, and from the first step inside, you know this is a special place.  Actually, even before you step inside.  Have a look at the front door knobs, for example.  You get a funky, one-of-a-kind stamped metal guard on one side:

And an atomic starburst on the other:

Once inside, the large and comfy dining room is on the left:

Yeah, I know, how great is that wall color?  It’s so, well, so BLUE and friendly and is such a breath of fresh air after seeing so many homes with nothing but white everywhere.  To all of you flippers and HGTV lovers out there: color is good — on second thought, it’s GREAT!  I don’t know exactly how to describe this particular shade of blue: it’s not deep like a sapphire or as aqua as a 1950s pool and it’s not the color of Paul Newman’s perfect eyes or as rich as a royal robe.  But it is somewhat like the blue of the Mediterranean sea: vibrant, deep yet bright at the same time, teeming with vim and vigor.

Besides that great blue wall, how perfect is the hanging light over the table?  Wow, wow, wow!  The interior design is thanks to the very talented Vicki VanStavern.

Now, let’s enjoy more of the brilliant blue wall as we follow it out of the dining room toward the luxurious formal living room:

On the way, check out the stunning and all original mid-century staircase:

That wood!  The brass!  The floating steps!  It is sheer perfection, don’t you agree?  I know it’s difficult to take your eyes off of such beauty, but be prepared for even more when you turn around from this view to face the giant formal living room:

What a fun room!  Love those corner windows that bring the outdoors in, and the wood paneled wall with a marble-faced fireplace ain’t too shabby, either:

I’m so enamored with this home because the formal spaces aren’t at all fancy pants — they are comfortable, relaxing, livable spaces that are incredibly friendly and practical all at the same time, as you’ll continue to see.  That Marie Troup certainly knew what she was doing when she designed this place.

Back toward the staircase, a glass wall and planter greets visitors to the more informal areas of the home: the open-plan kitchen and den:

I have to say that I’ve got a huge crush on this kitchen, mainly because all of the best parts of the original kitchen were saved when it was remodeled.  What do I mean by best parts?  Well, how about this crazy funky floating peninsula, for one:

I’ve honestly never seen anything like it and it is a jaw dropper, for sure.  The other side of the peninsula is just as gorgeous and practical as the bar since it features all kinds of great storage.  I love, love, love it and am so glad it was saved:

The rest of the kitchen is equally as beautiful and is so spacious.  You and 10 of your best pals could easily work together in this well appointed room:

To the left of the kitchen is a giant, storage-laden laundry room:

Honestly, there is so much incredible storage in this house that I think I’d have to go on a huge, years long shopping spree to fill up even half of the cabinets in this place.  Empty cabinets — what a nice problem to have, aye?

Let’s go back into the kitchen, which opens up into one of the best dens I’ve ever visited.  It’s huge, dramatic, friendly, and oh so comfy all at the same time:

No joke, this is one fantastic room.

To the left is a easily hidden storage center and bar:

Just open the accordion doors and voila:

On the opposite wall, Robert and Cara removed a dark paneled wall and replaced it with glass and a two-sided fireplace.  This is a crappy photo, but you get the idea:

The addition of this glass wall catapulted a very nice den space into a truly remarkable one, but Robert and Cara didn’t stop there.  They also opened up the adjacent wall and installed a bank of sliders that open onto the huge back patio to create a very inviting indoor/outdoor living space:

Check out the back patio:

When the Barnes purchased the home, an ancient pool in need of all kinds of repairs completely dominated the backyard off of the back of the house.  Instead of trying to fix the drab pool, they filled it in and hired landscape architect Randy Marks to create an outdoor oasis …

… complete with built-in bench …

… and a water feature created with recycled bricks that once comprised an accent wall in the front yard:

Beyond the water feature is another seating area bordered by an outdoor kitchen that is, no joke, better equipped than most people’s indoor models:

I mean, honestly, you could have a major party out here.  And, as if this weren’t sexy enough, here’s a view of the other side of the two-sided fireplace:

Yes, this is the absolute perfect outdoor space, which would make it very difficult to decide where to spend cool evenings — inside admiring the blue wall?  curling up in the lovely den?  or out here listening to the fountain and enjoying a fire while wrapped up in a soft blanky?  Yep, that’s a tough call.

Before your brain explodes pondering that conundrum, I have to share a little mystery with you that may both delight and frustrate you in equal parts until you solve it.  Several years ago, Cara found a Bertoia-like sculpture and mounted it in the backyard.  Over the years, she has tried to find out out who designed it, with no luck at all.  Maybe the next owner will be able to solve the mystery:

Now, let’s go back inside and check out the three bedrooms.  The thing I like best about them is that each one has its own bathroom so any can be used as the master.  The first suite takes up the entire second story of the house:

Yep, that’s another exciting corner window that overlooks the lush green front yard.  Here’s a view from the windows back toward the staircase:

That mirrored wall is the best! The adjacent bathroom is pretty incredible, too:

Love that floor tile detail …

… and the sweet and very vintage flower petalled screws holding up the mirror:

They are so stinkin’ cute!

Back downstairs, this bed and bath combo features a wall of windows overlooking the backyard:

Those bathroom windows are SO amazing!

Across from this bedroom is the true master suite … and my, is it a good one!  The rectangular room is massive and features a cozy sitting area anchored by a flagstone and copper fireplace overlooking a private patio:

Oh my, that fireplace literally takes my breath away, it’s so perfect.  I love it so much and would have to add this space to my growing list of possibilities for the the perfect room to spend a quiet evening.  I don’t know which one to pick!!  Indoor or outdoor?  Den or this space?  I’m so confused!  Maybe I’d just have to pick a different space every day of the week — Mondays in the formal living room in front of the marble fireplace, Tuesdays in the beautiful den, Wednesdays outside by the fire, Thursdays at the dining room table marveling at the cheery blue walls, Fridays in this perfect and very cozy nook, Saturdays on the back patio, and Sundays sitting at the bar on the kitchen peninsula.  I think I could live with that.

Before you wrap yourself in a blanky and grab a good book, have a look at the master bathroom:

Darn it, it looks like I now have to add this inviting tub to my list of places to curl up with a good book in the evening…. Okay, so maybe I’ll alternate Sundays with the kitchen peninsula or switch that with the formal living room or … well, I don’t know.  There are too many choices and I’m all confused again.

While I ponder my options, you can check out the exterior of the Troup-Barnes house, where you’ll find plenty more drama along the master bedroom patio with these diagonally lined acrylic panels designed by the uber talented Klint Schor:

At night, LED lights illuminate the panels, enhancing the peaceful and elegant vibe of the home.

Yes, this home is absolute perfection and a true oasis in the heart of the bustling city.  I love every single inch of the place and hope it will find a new owner who agrees.  Marie Troup and Cara and Robert Barnes’ creation is on the market for $1,499,000, which is pretty reasonable for fashionable Nichols Hills.  If you’re interested in touring this mid-century marvel, realtor Kerry Norman will be happy to schedule a showing — just give her a call at 848-4940.

In the meantime, it’s Friday so maybe you’ll find me reading a good book in that delicious bedroom nook — oh the bliss!

 

Oklahoma’s Existing Route 66 Signs

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise stated.

Recently, I was hunting around the internet looking for a comprehensive list of all of Oklahoma’s Route 66 signs and was very surprised to find absolutely nothing.  Nada.  Zilch. What do you do in that case?  Well, you make a list, of course.  So that’s exactly what I did and instead of keeping it all to myself, I thought I’d share it with you.  I’ve sorted the list of 100+ signs alphabetically by town below — please let me know if I’ve missed a sign and I’ll be sure to include it here.

AFTON:

Avon Motel

Although it’s in ruins, it looks like the town of Afton appreciates this old motor court sign and has no plans to take it down.  You can find it just west of town near the intersection of S. 1st Street and S. Monroe.

Palmer Hotel

Located in the heart of downtown on Main Street, the Palmer Hotel sign rests on another unused building that is just across from Afton Station (where you can also find an old DX sign and a vintage Packard sign).  Be sure to go inside and check out the great car museum at the station.

Rest Haven Motel

A couple of blocks east of the Palmer Hotel is another abandoned beauty, the Rest Haven Motel.  This is another weathered sign that has seen better days but is still loved by the community:

 

BETHANY:

Lake Air Drive-In Theater

From what I’ve read, the drive-in was a golf range first and then morphed into a drive-in movie theater in 1950. According to one expert, “It was built by Robert and Charles Mc Farland and sold to local theater magnet, Robert Lewis Barton in 1959.  The first movie shown was ‘Francis’, starring Donald O’Conner, Patricia Medina and Ray Collins. The second feature was ‘Francis, The Talking Mule.’ Admission price was 50 cents for adults.”

Another source on Cinema Treasures says, “The entrance drive was lined by lattice fencing, with baroque trim, topped by Victorian gaslight fixtures. Manicured landscaping was exceptionally lush with a vast array of varied foliage. Below the screentower was a small playground park surrounded by royal gold cannas, boardered by hostas plants. There was a candy cane striped swingset, candy striped teeter-totters, spiral slide, and a round trampoline housed inside a white gazebo.  The concession stand had a brick patio enclosed by an iron picket fence. The enterior was Victorian styled with flocked foil wallpaper and gingerbread trim.  It offered the usual hot dogs, popcorn, candy, and pop, but its popular specialty was a breaded mutton steak sandwich, topped with mayo and onion rings (this sandwich was also a favorite across town at the Ice Cream Parlor inside Frontier City Amusement Park).”

The drive-in closed after the 1967 season and became a go-cart track then a golf range again and maybe even a church before being abandoned altogether in the early 2000s.  Here are photos of the sign and snack bar/projection booth:

Western Motel

Located on the western edge of Bethany, the appropriately named Western Motel opened in 1953 and hasn’t changed much since then.  The motel was closed for awhile and rumors circulated that it was going to be demolished, which landed the motel and many of its Route 66 counterparts on the 2007 Most Endangered Places list.  But the motel is open again to long-term residents and it’s still there, I’m happy to report.

Norm Smith Auto Sales

This great sign is located at the intersection of NW 39th and Rockwell and is in great condition.

Comet Skating Rink

This cutie is located just off of Route 66 on NW 36th east of MacArthur.  The sign has been repainted since I took this photo and the place is now called Skate Galaxy.

BRISTOW:

Beard Motor Company Chrysler-Plymouth sign

Located at 210 E. 9th, this giant of a sign sits a couple of blocks off of Route 66 but is still impossible to miss.  It’s one of the few Oklahoma signs on the National Register, too:

CANUTE:

Cotton Boll Motel

The Cotton Boll Motel, located just east of 6th Street, became a private residence a long time ago, but the sign remains and is a Route 66 icon:

Washita Motel

Down the street from the Cotton Boll just east of 1st street is another motel that is now a private residence, the Washita.

CATALE:

Country Courts

I haven’t photographed this one myself and I’m not sure if it’s still there or not — hopefully so.  Here’s a link to a photo of the motel sign that was taken in 2010.

CHANDLER:

Mullen Drive-In Restaurant

The drive-in closed long ago, but the sign and building are still there.

St. Cloud Hotel

The St. Cloud Hotel on the southern tip of downtown was built by John E Gromley and opened in 1903.  It’s on the National Register and features a fun ghost sign on the side advertising the hotel and Coca-Cola.  This shot was taken by Kim on Flickr:

Lincoln Motel

One of the most iconic signs along Route 66 is the fun bow tie-shaped beauty that stands in front of the Lincoln Motel at 740 E. 1st just east of downtown.  The place is busier than ever and draws an enthusiastic and loyal Route 66 crowd.

66 Bowl

This iconic sign sat just west of NW 39th and Portland until the bowling alley closed in 2010.  For years, the fate of this beauty was unknown until it was erected just east of downtown Chandler a couple of years ago.  It marks the spot of an entertainment complex that is currently under construction.

CLAREMORE:

Dorothy’s Flowers and Dot’s Cafe

Dot’s Cafe and Dorothy’s Flowers are neighbors on the 300 block of W. Will Rogers in downtown.  Dorothy’s has been serving the community since 1947, and I imagine that Dot’s has been around just as long.  This photo is from moreclaremore.com

CLINTON:

Glancy Motel

What’s not to love about this delicious piece of Googie goodness located at 217 W. Gary?  The motel has been recently remodeled and is looking pretty good these days.

Redland Theater

This theater was originally called the Rialto and opened around 1920.  It became the Redland sometime after 1957.

Throsers

This rusty crusty beauty in downtown is barely readable now but is still very cool.

McClain Rogers Park

Here’s another beauty that has been recently restored.  The 12-acre park was built as a WPA project between 1934 and 1937 and named after the then mayor of the town.  Photo from roadarch.com

United Supermarket

There are a few of these signs scattered around Oklahoma — this one is located at 1029 S 10th Street.

EL RENO:

Centre Theater

The beautiful Centre Theater in downtown El Reno was designed by Jack Corgan and opened in 1944.  Sometime in the 1050s, it received a new facade that aged pretty poorly over time.  In 2010, a big wind storm blew through town and literally ripped off the ’50s facade, exposing the original streamline moderne gem underneath. After painstakingly refurbishing the theater inside and out and replicating the original neon sign, the theater is once again alive and hosting all kinds of events.

Ranger Motel

At one time, there were several motels in El Reno that boasted some pretty fantastic signs, including the Big 8 Motel that was featured in the 1988 film, Rain Man.  Unfortunately, all are gone now except for the Ranger Motel just east of town.  It’s still looking pretty great:

ELK CITY:

United Supermarket

What’s not to love about the typography used in the United Supermarket sign?

Westland Theater

Although it hasn’t been a theater in quite awhile, the Westland sign downtown is still in great shape.

ERICK:

Elm Motel

This was probably a cute little motor court at one time, but the old Elm Motel is looking pretty sad these days and the sign is looking even worse.

Cabana Motel

Just west of town between Birch and Cedar streets sits the long-vacant Westwinds Motel.  The sign fades a little more each time I visit town, but it’s still a stunner.

U.S and Oklahoma Flags

In the downtown area, this great ghost sits and slowly fades away.

MIAMI:

Coleman Theater

From nps.org:

“When it opened on April 18, 1929 along Miami’s Main Street segment of Route 66, the Coleman Theatre was proudly billed as the most elaborate entertainment facility between Dallas and Kansas City. Local mining magnate, George Coleman, who conceived and funded the theatre, determined to give Miami–and Mother Road travelers– the very best entertainment in the most modern surroundings….   The Coleman’s Spanish Revival style exterior was a favorite choice of the Jazz Age, and this stucco palace is considered one of the best surviving examples in Oklahoma….  It was added to the National Register in 1983.”

Ku Ku Burger

Waylans Ku Ku Burger was once part of a chain that was built in the 1960s, and it’s the only Ku Ku left today:

Miami Armature Wks

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a shot of this zippy sign when I was in Miami last time, but I did find a Flickriver shot of it:

OKLAHOMA CITY:

There were several Route 66 alignments that ran through Oklahoma City over the years, which is why these signs are all over the place in town.

Jack’s Bar-B-Q

The stalwart Jack’s sign on NW 39th and Meridian is so good, I’m including a night and day shot of it.  The food’s not too shabby, either.

Credit Connection

This is a new sign but it’s a great addition to Route 66 at NW 39th and Meridian, I think.  Who doesn’t love a sign with a guy wearing a blingy C necklace?

Arcadia Motel

Once, not too long ago, several motor courts dotted NW 39th — the Suntide, Carlyle, Tower Courts, etc. — including the Arcadia with its deliciously Googie sign.  Here it is in its heyday:

The motel ceased operations around 2006 and it became home to Tioli Motors two years later.  Here’s the sign from that time:

Since then, the sign has lost more and more of its bits and little of it is left.

FA Highley

At Northwest 39th just west of Portland next to the old 66 Bowl is the FA Highley sign.  It was restored about a decade ago and looks fantastic today.  It’s so good, it gets a day and night shot, too.

Drexel Cleaners

There are a few great signs along the NW 23rd stretch of old Route 66, too, including one of my favorites, even if it has been mucked up a bit.  That’s the very Googie Drexel Cleaners sign.  Here it is when it was shiny and new:

And today:

It wouldn’t take much to spruce up this baby and bring it back to life, which is exactly what I hope happens someday.

Hoover Service Center

This ghost sign sits on a faded building across from the Gold Dome at NW 23rd and Classen.

Cheever’s Cafe

From the Cheever’s website:

“On May 19th, 1889, the first baby was born in the newly formed Oklahoma City. She was proudly named “Oklahoma Belle Cunningham”,and—in 1912—she married Lawrence “L.L.” Cheever. In 1927, Oklahoma Belle began her flower career selling roses from her backyard to help with family finances. When L.L. became unemployed during the Great Depression, the flower business became the family trade. In 1938, the Cheevers moved into Belle’s family home on Hudson Avenue, and purchased the property from her grandmother. They added a stylish Deco storefront–built of limestone and black glass with huge plate glass windows and terrazzo floors. The Cheevers also procured a 20-foot flower display cooler from Chicago. All the while, they lived in the back portion of the original Victorian house. Cheever’s flowers continued in this location until the mid-nineties and served as the home to three generations of Cheevers….  Heather and Keith Paul purchased the building in 2000 (and opened Cheever’s Cafe).”

 

Bunker Club

This is a new sign in the Tower Theatre complex, but it’s so atomic age good that I had to include it.  The Bunker Club itself is as great as the sign, so check it out:

Tower Theatre

The Tower Theatre was designed by W. Scott Dunne and built in 1937.  After the theater closed, it became a concert venue for awhile in the late 1990s before closing for good and sitting empty for nearly 20 years until it was purchased by the Pivot Group, who completed a $6.5 million renovation of the building and sign and reopened the beloved building as an event space in 2016.

 

SAPULPA:

Gulf/VFW

These restored signs are near the downtown area at the intersection of Water and Hobson.

 

Happy Burger

Originally a Tastee-Freez when it opened in 1957, the owner changed the name to Happy Burger when he wanted to leave the franchise in the early 1970s.  The place has been thriving ever since and serves a mean peanut butter shake.

Starlite Skating

The Starlite Skating sign is one of the most beloved Route 66 icons in Oklahoma.  The rink closed around 2000 and sat closed for a couple of years, but I believe it has reopened and is a rink and events center.

SAYRE:

Grain elevator ghost

Locate near the train tracks is this fantastic ghost sign the covers the entire surface of an old grain elevator.

Owl Rexall Drugs

What’s not to love about this old sign?

Stovall Theater

The theater has been remodeled and the sign restored since I took this shot in 2010.  The theater got a blah facelift, but the sign looks great.

Go here to see what it looks like today.

Western Motel

One place that hasn’t changed, I’m happy to say, is the fantastic Western Motel.  Long may it live!

STROUD:

Skyliner Motel

This is surely one of the most photographed signs along Route 66 because it’s so fabulously Googie and dramatic.  Love it!

Rock Cafe

A true Route 66 icon, the Rock Cafe has been around since the ‘30s and in addition to owner Dawn Welch being the inspiration for Sally in the Disney Pixar film “Cars,” you can get one of the best burgers in the state at this friendly roadside eatery.

TULSA:

By far, T-Town has the largest collection Mother Road signs in the state, and they are working hard to capitalize on their Route 66 heritage and preserve them.  Way to go, Tulsa!

Here are some great motel signs:

Brookshire Motel

The once charming motel with its cottage-style office has been closed awhile and is deteriorating more each day.  Same case with the sign.  Go by and take a look before it’s all gone — 11017 E 11th St.

Desert Hills Motel

This U-shaped motel located at 5220 E. 11th was constructed in 1953 and the sign dates from around that time, too.  In 2007, Oklahoma’s Route 66 motels were on the Endangered Places list, with several were deemed worthy of being on the National Register and, for obvious reasons, the Desert Hills Motel was eligible.  I don’t think it has ever made it onto the Register, but it’s still in great shape today.

Oasis Motel

Located at 9303 E. 11th, the Oasis Motel sign is simply sublime.

Elm’s Court Motel

With its rock cabins, this old motor court looks like it’s been around since the 1920s or 1930s.  It’s been closed for a really long time, but whoever owns it keeps the property well maintained and the buildings look like they could open back up for business with a little love and elbow grease.

Saratoga Motor Hotel

Here’s what the once-glorious Saratoga Motor Hotel at 10117 E. 11th looked like in its heyday:

At some point, the motel became an America’s Value Inn but the giant Googie sign remained somewhat intact — here it is in 2009:

Sadly, when I went back to photograph the place earlier this year, it was all closed up and the starburst on the sign was gone:

The neon Restaurant sign is barely hanging on:

 

There are a cluster of great signs just south of Route 66 on Harvard that are worth checking out:

C&C Tile and Carpet

Pioneer Cleaners

Moody’s Jewelry

This one is so good, both day and night:

And in no particular order, here are some other great Route 66 signs that are scattered around Tulsa:

Marshall Radio & TV

Here’s another one that’s not quite on Route 66 but is worth taking a detour to check out — it’s located at 4128 E. Admiral:

FYI, there are a lot of great signs up and down Admiral, so it’s worth going east out of town on Route 66 and driving back on Admiral to see them.

Clay’s Motors sign

This Googie-licious beauty is located at 4507 E. 11th.  I took the first photo in 2009 and the second one at 2018:

Skateland

Skateland is the last of Tulsa’s skating rinks.  It opened in 1968 and is located just off of Route 66 at 1150 S Sheridan Rd.

Rose Bowl

One of the very best buildings in all of T-Town is the lovely and oh-so-fun Rose Bowl, which was designed by Bill Ryan and opened in 1962.  Here it is when it was still a baby:

The bowling alley closed over a decade ago and the place has been a recreation center for underprivileged youth since then, but the Rose Bowl is currently for sale and its fate is uncertain.

Day & Nite Cleaners

This sweet Streamline building at 1012 S. Elgin was designed by William H. Wolaver and opened in 1946 — the sign looks like it might be a bit newer than that, and both it and the building are in great shape today:

Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant

This glorious was built in 1950 and moved to its present location at 1629 E 11th St three years later.  In 2009, the sign was completely restored and is ready to light up Route 66 well into the 21st century.

Meadow Gold

The Meadow Gold sign was erected for the Beatrice Food Company in the 1940s atop a small building at 11th and Lewis.  It was a Route 66 icon for over 60 years until the building sold in 2004 and the new owner planned to demolish both the building and the sign.  Through the combined efforts of the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Program, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, and the OK Route 66 Association, the sign was saved and eventually restored.  It now rests atop another small building at 11th and Quaker and remains a Route 66 gem.

VINITA:

Center Theater

I believe this was originally called the Lyric and it opened in 1922.  In the 1990s, it was renovated and converted into a three-screen cinema.  It is located at 124 S Wilson St., and here’s a photo from Cinema Treasures of the building and sign:

Hi Way Cafe

The cafe is located at 437918 Hwy 60 just west of Vinita.  Here’s a photo of the sign by Kelly Ludwig:

Right ghost sign

I’m always a sucker for a good ghost sign, and this one in the downtown area is beyond good.

YUKON:

Deer

Obviously, this was a diner at some point in time, but the place, located on Route 66 just west of Yukon, sits quiet and abandoned now.

Yukon’s Best

The stunning 42′ x 55′ sign was restored in 2013 and relit for the first time in decades.  Here’s a photo by the Lope of it looking happy and bright once again.  Here it is at night:

… and during the day:

And that’s it for our tour of signs.  Of course, I probably missed some and if that’s the case, let me know and I’ll be sure to add them here.

Sadly, a lot of Oklahoma’s Route 66 signs are gone — soon, we’ll take a look at some of those.

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma Mod in Faith & Form Magazine

Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil

I had never heard of Faith & Form magazine until I came across a couple of issues at an estate sale awhile back.  It was especially exciting to open this October 1969 issue and find an Oklahoma building inside and also to read an article by my favorite architectural photographer and pal, Julius Shulman.  So, I snapped it up, of course, and will share it with you here.  This issue features the winners of the annual National Liturgical Conference’s design competition and Murray Jones Murray’s Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Miami made the cut. Here it is, along with the other winners:

It looks like the church is still around and is in good condition — view it here.

And here’s Shulman’s article about his view of church design at the end of the decade — it’s good stuff:

 

 

On the Market: A Lakeside Oasis in the Heart of OKC

Posted by on Aug 21, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil

There are so many things to love about this 1958 home that sits on a peninsula overlooking peaceful Parker’s Lake near Dolese Park.  I mean, for one, it sits on a PENINSULA – duh – which means that every room of the home has a gorgeous view of the lake beyond.

Yes, this view is in the heart of OKC!  And, don’t worry, you’ll be seeing plenty more of the lake as we tour the house, which sits at the end of a cul-de-sac and is completely hidden from public view by a long privacy fence:

A small corridor leads to a charming courtyard and the front door:

The original home was a tiny fishing cabin that was likely built in the 1920s or ’30s.  As the city crept further north, the once-distant lakes in the area, including Twin Lakes, the lake at Lansbrook, Silver Lake, and the lakes at Ski Island and Blue Stem, became less remote and open for development of suburban homes.  Many of the old fishing cabins along the banks were either demolished or incorporated into the new homes, as was the case with this one.  But, even though this place once started life as a modest cabin filled with fishing tackle and maybe a bunk or two, it is now a stunning mod ranch house that is excitedly awaiting its new owner.

Before we move on with the tour, there’s one more intriguing bit of information about this house.  In the early 1960s, Jack Rodgers and his family lived here.  Who was Jack Rodgers?  Well, he was the brother of our favorite storybook home builder, Luke Rodgers, and his designer wife Dorothy.  Jack was responsible for a lot of the woodworking in these homes, and he was a home builder himself.  If you’ve been inside a Luke and Dorothy Rodgers creation, you know that there’s enormous attention paid to every little detail, and you’ll see a lot of that attention in this house, too, which leads me to believe that this may be a very rare modern Rodgers creation.  I’ve still got some research to do to prove this, but I have a hunch that this is the case.  If so, that would make this home even more special than it already is.  So, with that in mind, let’s get on with the tour.

Through the front door, the first thing that greets you is a crazy rock floor that runs the length of the entry:

I know!  How great is that?!  To the right is the main living room with a turreted bank of windows overlooking the lake and a giant fireplace faced with the same rock that is in the entry and on the exterior of the home:

There are so many amazing details in this room that would make you want to camp out here forever and never leave.  First, check out the spoked beam ceiling above the windows — it’s wondrous:

And just look at the panoramic view from this vantage point:

Spectacular!  There’s a sliding glass door in this room that provides an opportunity for some great cross ventilation:

Almost every room in this house has a door you can open to let in the breeze.  The day I visited the home, the a/c was off, several doors were open, and it was extremely comfortable inside, so I imagine that you could get away with no a/c most of the spring and even into the summer months on milder days.

Oh, and did you notice the super cool light fixture above the card table?

I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.  The lucky new owner will receive it and the other furnishings in the room that the current owners purchased just three years after moving into the home in 1965.   Their 1968 shopping spree at Suburban Contemporary must have been so much fun, and the furniture they bought is still in great shape today and fits the room perfectly.  Those furnishings include the card table and this incredibly fun sofa, table, and ottoman pair:

Next to the turret of windows is the gorgeously curved rock fireplace:

I can see reading a good book and enjoying many a winter fire in this space with the warm glow of the fire and the Spanish-style fixture hanging from the rock:

Yes, I’d definitely spend a ton of time in this space enjoying the scenery and watching the light change as daylight turns into night.  As much as I want to sit here and do that right now, it’s time to move on and continue the tour.  Just off of the living room is a small office space:

That door leads to the two-car garage:

There’s an ample storage room in the garage…

… with another door that leads outside.  We’ll go outdoors in a bit, but right now let’s go back through the office and living room to the front door.  From there, if you turn to the left, you’ll head into the open and quite large den/kitchen area:

Like I said earlier, there’s a magnificent view from every single room of this house — from the den, you get to see an entirely different side of the lake through the dramatic wall of windows:

How much greater does life get than sitting in your mod tulip chair, enjoying a cup of steamy rich coffee, and watching families of ducks paddle by?  And, yes, the tulip set does come with the house, so the lucky buyer doesn’t have to change a thing in this view.  Sigh….

If we can pull our eyes away from that view for just a second, here’s a view of the bright den from the kitchen:

The kitchen itself was remodeled fairly recently.  It’s not at all mod, but it’s spacious and very functional:

And, yes, there’s a window and door out to the lake:

Doing dishes is drudgery, but it may not be such a terrible chore if you get this view while doing them:

Yep, maybe I’d kind of be happy to do the dishes if I could look up and see the lake … or maybe my husband, kids, and I would start fighting over who gets to do the dishes … or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part.  No one in my house would ever willingly wash a dish unless I beg, plead, scream, or put dirty dishes in their beds (which I have been known to do when my kids have been less than willing to wash up at the end of a meal).  So, I guess this view would be all for me … and I think I could live with that.

Back in the den and looking toward the entry hall is a great divider that is not only very attractive but also provides a ton of storage:

And did you notice the ceiling in this room?  It runs throughout the den and kitchen and is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before — it’s really special and is certainly something I’d expect Luke, Dorothy, and Jack Rodgers to do:

The den floor is pretty special, too, and is comprised of little Chiclet Gum-looking wood tiles:

I really love the floor, and you’ll be seeing more of these unusual Chiclets later on used in a very creative way.

On the other side of the divider is a long, closet-lined hallway leading to the three bedrooms.

The first two bedrooms are on the right and feature sliding glass doors that lead out to the north side of the lake:

Love the bakelite door handles:

Near these two rooms is a built-in hamper — this is the second time I’ve seen a built-in hamper in the last couple of weeks and now I really want one:

Across from these two bedrooms is a really sweet bathroom with more closets and, most unusually, a vanity surrounded by windows — yep, you even get views of the lake from the bathrooms in this house:

And, how cool are the Hollywood Regency closet doors?  You’ll find them throughout the house — such nice detailing that you won’t find in many other homes, which, once again, makes me think that this is a Rodgers design:

At the end of the hall is the enormous master suite:

I’m not in love with the yellow paint or the dated ceiling fan, but that fireplace is pretty spectacular.  Remember when I said that you’d be seeing the wood Chiclets later?  Well, here they make an appearance providing all of the drama on the fireplace:

And, speaking of drama, check out the view from the master bedroom:

Oh how I would love to wake up and see that every single day!  Here’s another view of the bedroom to give you an idea of just how large it is:

The master bathroom is also nice sized and has a very special feature I can’t wait to show you:

The vanity has mirrors that you can fold away to expose the view of the lake.  Pull the mirror to hide the view:

… and push it back to the wall to show off the view:

Such a simple idea and so ingenious at the same time!  I’ve seen so many similar innovative details like this in Luke and Dorothy Rodgers’ homes, which argues for this being one of their designs, in my opinion.

As for the master shower, it’s really big and is in great condition:

Love the scrolling light fixture plates throughout the house, too:

So, that’s it for the interior spaces.  Now for the big bonus — the yard and lake!  Let’s go out the door from the round living room.  Stepping outside, this is what you see:

I just can’t get over this place and all of its jaw dropping views.  I mean, guys, we are in the heart of Oklahoma City and it seems like we are out on a country pond somewhere:

While wandering around outside, I had the overwhelming temptation to snap up this place before it hit the market because it reminds me so much of being a kid and hanging out on long, lazy summer days at my grandparents’ house on nearby Silver Lake.  Even though we lived just a few miles away in a typical grid of modest suburban homes, going to their house was like going on a grand vacation where we could swim, sail, paddleboat, sun ourselves…

… and dig up slimy worms that our grandfather would later use as bait.  My grandfather was a pretty humorless and stern guy on land…

… but once he pulled up his waders and grabbed a fishing pole, he completely transformed:

His ever-present Germanic scowl was replaced with a gentle smile and easy going laugh that made him much less intimidating and scary and even kind of fun, especially after he caught a few:

On occasion, if we kids were really lucky, he would pull out his canoe and take us, one at a time, for a fishing spell on the lake.  I never caught one thing, but these were the best times I ever spent with my grandfather, and it was all because of that beautiful lake and the peace he got from living so close to the water.

While walking around this property, I felt the same tranquil feeling come over me that he must have felt every day living on that lovely body of water.  The breeze was whispering through the trees, birds were chirping everywhere, and there was nary a manmade sound anywhere.  It was pure bliss.

The exterior of the house doesn’t look too shabby from the lake, either.  Here’s the north side of the house with the rounded living room:

And the south side of the house with the den and kitchen at the far end:

This side of the house is where the stairs to the lake are located:

On the west side is a volleyball court and an old brick oven that could stand a little love:

This spectacular lakefront 3 bed/2 bath home is 2,160 sf and is listed for $425,000.  Go here to see the Zillow listing with some great aerial images that show just how well sited the home is, and if you’re interested in taking a tour of the place, feel free to contact Keller Williams realtor, Greg Roberts at 405/704-0221.  And, if you buy the place, please invite me over on a hot summer day for an afternoon of swimming, paddleboating, sunning, and digging for worms.

 

 

The Saga of the Split-T Burger

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos courtesy of the Oklahoma History Center.  New photo by Lynne Rostochil.

Named after the football formation made famous at nearby OU, the Split-T was an OKC institution for over 50 years and served the BEST onion rings and charbroiled hamburgers (make mine a chili cheese burger — with real, grated sharp cheddar cheese — and raw onions on the side, please). I’m salivating just thinking about it….

With its football-themed decor, scattered OU paraphenalia on the walls, and red and white checked table cloths, Split-T was THE hang out for every high schooler of every generation from 1950 to the millenium. It was the place where a lot of people had their their first kiss, their first beer, their first… well, you get the idea. It was a hoppin’ place, indeed.

When my mom, sister, and I moved to Dallas in the early 70’s, my mom’s one lament was not having Split-T around. No more yummy, freshly charbroilered burgers. No more super crunchy, munchy onion rings.

She has always fancied herself a hamburger connoisseur and proceeded to drag my little sister and me to every burger joint in Dallas looking for a patty that compared with the juicy, well-flavored ones at Split-T. We ate at fancy places in North Dallas and Highland Park, hit every hole-in-the-wall spot in Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff, made the trek to the burbs of Mesquite, Richardson, and Farmers Branch, all to no avail. Nothing, I mean NOTHING, compared to a burger from Split-T, according to her. When we ventured out on our eating expeditions, I didn’t really care what the burgers tasted like — I was way more concerned about getting back home in time to plant myself in front of our small, late 50’s model black and white TV (with rabbit ears, of course) to watch “Bionic Woman” or “Match Game ’76.”

After years of trying every single place that sold a burger in Dallas — can I tell you how tired I was of burgers by this time? — my mother and aunt (who also lived in Dallas and was equally as disappointed in the quality of burgers there) came up with a great idea:

Why not go to Split-T, order a bunch of burgers, take them back to Dallas, freeze them, then simply pop one in the microwave whenever they were feeling the need to consume a really good burger?

It sounded like a great idea, so my mom and aunt gathered up as much money as they could afford to blow on such a frivolous expenditure (they were single moms with little extra income). They set out to (or I should say, they made me) return for deposit the dozens of cartons of Coke bottles that were piled ceiling high in a kitchen alcove; reduced their smoking habits by at least a few packs a week; and made my sister, cousin, and I sack lunches (bologna and white bread — yum) instead of buying us lunch tickets.

After several weeks of scrimping and saving, my mom and aunt had enough money to buy about 30 burgers each. So, the next time they took us kids to OKC to see our dads, they were ready.

That Sunday, on the way out of town back to Dallas, my mom and aunt pulled up to the Split-T drive-thru window in my mom’s sky-blue Pinto. Half giggling to herself, she said, “Um, I’d like 60 chili cheese burgers, please.”

“Excuse me, but did you say 60?” the employee asked, as if she didn’t quite hear my mother correctly.

“That’s right. Sixty. 6-0. Ten times six.” My mother and aunt were quite pleased at the incredulous stare on the poor girl’s face.

After the employee picked up her jaw off the floor, she shouted out a few commands to her cohorts and got the entire staff working like mad preparing the burgers, all the while suspiciously eyeing the two crazy ladies and three little kids in the blue sub-compact with Texas plates. I could tell that she was trying to solve the mystery of the 60 burgers while she was stuffing them, one by one, into huge white paper sacks with the red Split-T logo on the front. She still had that same quizzical look on her face as she placed the last burger in the last bag and handed it over to my gleeful mother, and I knew as we drove off that she still hadn’t figured out my mom and aunt’s brilliant plan.

So, we drove all the way back to Texas — two giggling adults, three kids squished in one half of the Pinto’s backseat, and one ice chest filled to the brim with chili cheese burgers. I was the lucky one who got to sit smashed up against the ice chest, smelling cooked beef and spicy chili the 200 miles back home.

All the way home, the conversation between my mom and aunt went something like this:

Mom: “I think I’m going to take one to work tomorrow.”

Aunt: “Oh, I might make one for dinner tomorrow night.”

Mom: “Should we have a party and invite all of our Texas friends to show them what a real hamburger tastes like?”

Aunt: “No way! We worked hard for those burgers. I want to eat every last one of them.”

Mom: “You’re right. No sharing.”

Aunt: “I think I might make one for dinner when we get home tonight.”

Mom: “Ooo, and I could pop one in the oven for a midnight snack.”

If I was sick to frickin’ death of hamburgers before this little adventure, imagine how much I hated them when we finally got home and my mom assigned me the job of wrapping each burger in foil and finding space in the munchkin-sized apartment freezer (half filled with a thick layer of ice — no defrosting freezer for us) for our new treasure.

All of the burgers finally crammed into place in the freezer, my job here was done, and I never wanted to see another beef patty again.

The next evening, my mother carefully removed one of the prized burgers from the freezer and took it over to my aunt’s house to heat up.

My aunt, who lived across the street from us, had just bought her first ever, refrigerator-sized microwave — I think it was one of the first ones ever mass-produced and I swear, that sucker took up half her kitchen. So, like religious devotees, she and my mom ever-so-gently placed their burgers in the microwave, turned the dial to one minute, and watched through the glass as those babies cooked.

Ding. My aunt slowly opened the giant microwave door, and both ladies breathed in deeply to catch a whiff of charcoal and chili spices. They looked like they were in deep, euphoric prayer paused like that in front of their dinner. I’ve never seen them more reverent.

They each took their burger and didn’t even wait to put them on a plate or grab a napkin (which you need plenty of with Split-T chili cheese burgers). They both opened their mouths as wide as they would go and chomped down on about 1/3 of the burger.

Eyes closed, their happy, food-filled smiles filled the room as they started to chew. Slowly, their looks of joy turned — their eyes began to bulge and water, their smiles became frowns, and they both made a mad dash to the sink to spit out a light brown, barfy-looking conglomeration of burger, cheese, and chili.

They spat and spat until every last morsel of food was in the sink. Then, they grabbed their ever-present Cokes and chugged them, ran for a few puffs of the smoldering cigarettes they had left in the living room, all the while primal screaming at the tops of their lungs.

“They’re AWFUL!”

“What happened?”

“UGH!!”

“Get out of the way, kids, I’m going to be sick.”

(You get the idea.)

Apparently, my genius aunt and mother didn’t anticipate the burgers getting freezer burn and very probably didn’t know how to use the microwave, either.

But, these two had saved and saved to get the money to buy 60 burgers, and they weren’t going to throw them away. Oh no.

For months afterward at dinner time, I would hear my mom — in her most sweet sounding voice, which always meant trouble – “Hey, girls, do you want a burger for dinner tonight?”

Imagine the loudest “NO” you’ve ever heard, then times that by about 10 and you’ll get some idea of the response my sister and I would shout back in unison. We were no fools.

So, not able to get anyone else to eat the burgers, my mom and aunt dug in and spent the next few months eating — and gagging on — every single last one of those chili cheese burgers.

They didn’t gripe too much about Texas burgers after that; in fact, I don’t think I remember either of them eating another hamburger for quite a few years afterward, much to my delight.

Skip forward about 20 years. I’ve just moved back to OKC and have probably (half-heartedly) eaten a total of three hamburgers in the years since the now infamous Freezer Burn Incident, as our Split-T misadventure has come to be known.

But, I’m back in town and decide to drop by Split-T just for fun. In homage to my aunt and mom, I order a chili cheese burger and some onion rings and sit back in my booth with the voice of “Why did I just order that?” ringing in my ears. The food comes out, and I gingerly pick up the burger, which is oozing cheese and chili all over the place, hesitate, then take a itty bitty bite.

“Hey, this is pretty good.” Then, I take another, bigger, bite and think, “Man, this is awesome,” and before you know it, the whole thing is gone.

Chili and cheese dripping from my chin a la a Carl’s Jr. commercial, I finally get it. I finally understand what my mom and aunt were talking about all of those years ago. There is no better burger than Split-T. Period.

Alas, Split-T closed in 2000, after 50 years in operation. Soon after, the building was torn down to make way for a strip center, and a Sonic was built across the street. This sign pays homage to an OKC institution and will forever remind me of my goofy mom and aunt, who would do anything for a good burger.

Here’s a photo by Jim Jordan of his classic Cadillac in front of the Split-T mural taken around the time it closed:

The mural was a popular backdrop for cool cars, as you can see in this 1998 shot by Ken Wentworth, Jr., of his 1996 Impala SS:

On the Market: A Bright and Airy Mod Overlooking the City

Posted by on Aug 6, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

It’s not often that a one-of-a-kind mid-century modern in a reasonable price range comes on the market, but that is definitely the case with this modest mod in Wildewood Hills off of NE 63rd just east of Broadway Extension (not to be confused with Wildewood at NE 50th and Kelley).  Even better, it’s a home that has been barely touched since it was built in 1961.

The front exterior is buff brick and siding (painted its original redwood color) accentuated by an aggregate rock wall and capped by a band of windows:

Running along the side of the house, the redwood siding continues and is offset by two chartreuse doors that add a playful splash of color to the place.

Here’s a similar view of the home from 1970 when it was just a few years old:

Love that Buick!

The original owners were Bill and Elizabeth Morris, who were very successful realtors in the ’60s and ’70s.  Here they are modeling in the living room with drinks in hand, of course, in 1970:

Soon after the current owner bought the home, Bill got in touch with him and told him that his wife was an Engineering major at OU and designed the house, which he then built.  Apparently, they constructed a home just like it on Lake Texoma somewhere, so if you know where that one is, please let us know.  Anyway, the Morrises happily lived in the two bedroom, two bath, nearly 1,700 sf house until 1972.  Subsequent owners loved the original style of the Morris House so much, that it has been barely touched in the ensuing years.  So, after this build up, you’re ready to be done with the history and get on with the tour, aren’t you?  Well, okay, here we go:

Let’s begin with the front door with a terrazzo stoop and bevelled glass sneak-a-peek window.  It only gets better from here, folks.

Inside is a short hallway with a vintage sputnik light fixture:

This could be a dark, throwaway space as most entry areas are, but the bevelled window next to the front door creates an open and light filled hallway instead:

Just off the entry is the compact but very well appointed kitchen:

There is a ton of storage in the kitchen that overlooks the living and dining areas:

I love how the light from the adjacent living room filters into the kitchen, providing the open plan living that so many people crave these days.  And here it is being implemented way back in 1961.  That Elizabeth Morris was way ahead of her time….

Here’s the view from the kitchen out to the living room:

I’m so smitten with that floating bar, aren’t you?  Here it is looking back into the kitchen from the dining area:

And check out these oh-so-mod laminate counter tops:

No, they aren’t original, but they are so incredibly cool and are in outstanding shape, so a note to the new owner — please keep them!  Also, did you notice those fun and funky round pulls on the cabinets?  Well, if you think they are nifty, check out them and the unusual light switches that can be found throughout most of the house:

Oh yeah!

Since you got a sneak peek of the living room from the kitchen, let’s move out of the kitchen and check out the L-shaped dining living space that overlooks a HUGE backyard:

Woo hoo, how sexy is that?!  The fireplace, the green cork wall, all of those glorious windows, and that jaw-dropping light fixture!  Your heart is going pitter patter, isn’t it?  Beginning with the light fixture, those perforated circles are to die for and, either on or off, it creates so much drama in the space:

Here’s the view from the dining room looking out the sliding glass door to the backyard:

Yes, those are built-in shelves and drawers next to the kitchen bar.  There’s a ton of clever storage in this home, as you’ll soon see, but look at that backyard!

This photo just captures a small sliver of the yard, which encircles the home.  Now that we’re outside, here are a few views of the rear of the house:

The living room doors are on the left and the master bedroom doors are on the right.  Here’s a view of the home from 1970:

And approximately the same view today:

I’m sure you’re wondering about the band of windows at the top — they are one of the home’s most dramatic elements, as you’ll soon see.  On the back porch, a semi-circular rock garden melds the outdoors with the indoors:

Here’s the view of the garden from inside:

The garden overlooks the large living room and provides our first glimpse of what I think is the home’s most interesting and unique feature, the hall of windows that create an inner atrium that adds a ton of light inside:

They stretch from the living room down the hallway all the way to the master bedroom:

This is such a simple and elegant way to create more light and open up spaces, but I’ve never seen anything like this that has been executed so well.  I’m really wishing that Elizabeth Morris had designed a lot more homes, aren’t you?

The great storage continues in the living room with this built-in that once accommodated a hi fi system — yes, that’s a handy dandy place to keep records at the bottom:

Down the hallway on the left is the first bathroom with an original terrazzo floor and a lovely tiled round sink:

On the other side of the hall is the first bedroom but before we go inside, have a look at the clerestory windows that emit light from the hallway to the bedroom:

So smart.  The only other times I have seen this feature have been in homes and schools that my grandfather, R. Duane Conner designed.  He really liked adding more light and creating the illusion of larger spaces by including interior windows.  Here’s an example of a bedroom window looking out onto the living room of one house in NW OKC:

And another in the den of the same home.

Here’s one of another home in a nearby neighborhood:

He also used interior windows in many of the schools he designed, including Calvin Coolidge Elementary:

Interestingly, he designed a home just one street over from the Morris House in 1960 that had these same interior windows, so I wonder if that might have given Elizabeth Morris the idea to add these windows to her design.  Wherever she got the idea, it’s an ingenious one and I’m surprised it wasn’t/isn’t used more.  Here’s the bedroom looking toward the interior windows:

And the view out toward the backyard:

Down the hall a bit more is the laundry closet with a built-in hamper that is accessible from the master bathroom.  Yes, that’s right, you can toss your clothes in the hamper in your bathroom and don’t have to move them to the laundry room because it’s right there.  Here’s the laundry room from the hallway:

And, on the master bath side, voila, you’re in the laundry area:

Also, the wide shelf over the hamper can drop down to create a spacious folding table, so no need to drag clothes to various areas of the house to fold them.  Clever, clever!

At the end of the light-filled hallway is the master suite, which is another space with many smartly designed features.  Here’s the view from the bedroom door looking to the giant backyard:

Turning away from this view, there’s a large rolling wardrobe that acts as a divider/closet:

If you’re someone who likes a huge closet/dressing area and a smaller bedroom, simply roll the divider a bit to accommodate your needs.  If you want a larger bedroom and smaller closet, just roll it the other way and you’re good to go.  Personally, the dressing area/closet is plenty big for me right where the wardrobe divider is.  Have a look and see what you think:

The wardrobe itself (on the right in the next shot) is pretty spacious, too:

And, I know I’m sounding like an broken record by now, but there’s so much natural light throughout the bedroom and dressing room thanks to the windows on three sides of the large space.  And, if that’s not enough, there’s a skylight in the bedroom that adds even more light:

The light is so nicely diffused in this room, too, which gives the entire space a real calm and peaceful vibe.  I like it!

Oh, I forgot about one other, very rare, perk of this already incredible hilltop house.  It is sited diagonally on a dead end street to take full advantage of spectacular city views, especially in the winter after backyard trees have shed their leaves.  It’s really unusual to get such views in flat-as-a-pancake OKC, making this place truly special, indeed.  Obviously, it’s August and all of the trees are in full bloom now, but I did spy some goodies on the horizon from the back porch off of the master bedroom, even during this time of year:

While we’re talking about the backyard, here’s a Googlemaps aerial view of just how big it is:

As you can see, the yard encircles the home — it’s certainly the largest yard in the neighborhood and has tons of potential for landscaping.  From this hilltop location, in just a few months, you’ll be able to see downtown lit up at night.  Another note to the new owner — please invite me over for some snacks and drinks this winter so that I can enjoy the view with you.

Back inside, let’s check out the master bathroom.  Most of the time in older homes, the master bathroom is a tiny space that barely fits one person, but that’s not the case with Elizabeth’s design.  She created a surprisingly spacious bathroom with double sinks and a step-down tile shower that’s pretty darned big:

And the pulls on the cabinets in the bathroom are delightful — the laminate floor is a lot of fun, too:

There’s even a cute storage thingy next to the toilet:

I don’t know what you’d keep in those shelves besides toilet paper — little books, maybe?  Kleenex?  Who knows, but this thing is cool and I now want one.

Going back down the hallway to the common areas, this is the peek-a-boo view you get of that stunning living/dining area:

Let’s take one last look at this space:

Simply charming.  That’s it for the interior but back out the front door, I have one last surprise for you.  At the back of the carport is a large room that can be used for storage or, with a little work, even a small office:

And how great is that wrought iron gate to the backyard?

I know I say this a lot, but I really mean it this time when I tell you that this home is one of my favorites that I’ve toured.  It’s extraordinary and needs a new owner who will savor and enjoy all of its originality.

The Morris House goes on the market this Wednesday, but if you’d like to maybe get a sneak peek, give realtor Monty Milburn a call at 843-8188 and set up an appointment to tour this gem located at 5909 Crestview Dr.  Since it’s priced at a mere $119,000, I guarantee that it won’t be on the market for long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling Through Time Along 23rd Street, Part 4

Posted by on Jul 31, 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.

If you’ve missed previous installments, click a link to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

In the last installment of our trek down 23rd from Lake Overholser to past I-35, we ended our journey at NW 23rd and Broadway Extension.  This week, we pick up from the east side of the highway looking back at the 100 block of NW 23rd, which was taken after a 1966 snow:

What a mess!

East of the bridge on the south side of the street was the Town Park Motel, seen here in 1975:

Here’s an ad for the motel from 1964:

I believe it was demolished at the time that Broadway Extension was expanded in the mid-’80s.  The site is now a parking lot:

Across the street was the very famous and beloved Dolores Restaurant, pictured here in the 1930s:

Here’s the interior:

And here’s a great history of this iconic restaurant from Retrometrokc.

For Oklahoma City, Dolores Restaurant is just a memory – another great restaurant that faded away after being a local favorite for decades. But for Los Angeles, the legend continues.

Confused?

This story starts back when drive-through restaurants were brand new – an innovation prompted by the sudden explosion of cross country automobile travel.

It was in the early 1920s that Ralph Stephens took his first shot at the restaurant business, opening first at NW 4 and Olie, and then later at Main and Broadway where competition and a lot of debt led him to flee in 1923 with his wife, Amanda, sons Vince and Bob, and daughter Dolores.

The family made its first stop in Dallas, where Stephens later said he saw “a pig stand with what looked like a thousand cars around it.” Indeed Dallas was where the very first pig stand (forerunners to drive-through restaurants), Kirby’s, had opened in 1921.

Stephens was hired by one of the Dallas pig stand chains and learned the operation in Dallas before setting out to open a stand in Little Rock. Before going to his post, Stephens took his family to his wife’s family house in Hannibal, Mo. And it was there that Stephens, visiting with his father-in-law, a carpenter, decided it made more sense to open their own business rather than work for someone else.

The family “slept in the stand” while it was being built, and in June 1925, Goody-Goody Barbeque opened for business. Business initially boomed. But the crowds disappeared once cold weather settled in.

Once again, Stephens was a failed restaurateur.

“We closed, and being sort of soldiers in fortune, we took off for Florida,” Stephens explained in a 1968 interview. “The land boom was on then and we went to Tampa and opened one restaurant, then another. They had told us there were no rooms in Tampa so we bought a tent and slept under that until we almost flooded out.”

The crash of 1929 once again killed Stephens’ short-lived success story. The family returned to Oklahoma City with Stephens determined to settle his debts and prove he could be a successful restaurant operator.

And this time, he was coming with a secret weapon. While in Hannibal, Amanda Stephens obtained a recipe for “comeback” sauce from a barbeque stand in nearby Quincy, Ill. And what a comeback it would be.

Dolores Restaurant, named after Stephens’ daughter, opened at 33 NE 23 on April 15, 1930.

“The Depression hadn’t hit Oklahoma yet and the first year our volume was $52,000,” Stephens said. “We never closed our doors when the Depression hit, but we were selling hamburgers and malts for a dime each to stay open.”

The Stephens continued to add their own touches, even inventing “Susi-Q potatoes” in 1938. They wowed customers with their black-bottom pie and salad dressings. And Stephens also continued the idea of “drive-in” service, establishing parking stalls behind the restaurant, which at the time was located along the heavily-traveled Route 66.

By the 1940s Dolores was becoming a top pick for Route 66 guidebooks. Duncan Hines recommended the restaurant in his 1941 book “Adventures in Good Cooking,” saying “I enjoy eating here, especially their steaks and Susi-Q potatoes and barbequed ribs. They have the best biscuits I have found anywhere in America, made by Neal, a colored woman, who does not use a recipe, but has a remarkable sense of feel, which tells here when the mixture is right – served twice a week (I suggest you wire ahead requesting these remarkable biscuits). Their menu provides a variety of good salads and other things, and I hope you are fortunate enough to find Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Stephens there, so you may meet them personally.”

Dolores Restraurant was booming enough without the high praise from Mr. Hines – that winter Stephens shut the restaurant for a couple of weeks, expanded the dining area and engaged in a bit of rare advertising (Only after selling the restaurant to investors were advertisements seen again in the early 1970s)

Stephens’ brother-in-law, Bob Ogle, became manager of the restaurant (“Ogle’s Special” referred to a root beer float he perfected) and in 1945, Ralph and Amanda Stephens moved to California. They opened a Dolores Drive-In on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, and followed up by opening three more restaurants.

Stephens eventually sold all but the Beverly Hills drive-in, which he turned over to his son Bob in 1961. His second son, Vince, meanwhile, was building up a legend of his own back in Oklahoma City.

Maybe you’ve heard of it – the Split T.

In 1966 Amanda Stephens died. Ralph Stephens quickly remarried, and in 1968 he bought The Pub at 6418 N Western. A year later he sold Dolores Restaurant to a group of investors, who closed it for good in 1974. After eight years of standing vacant, The Catering Co. announced plans to reopen the restaurant, but if it did reopen (there is no further record of the restaurant), the venture was short-lived. The building was razed a few years later.

The Dolores name, meanwhile, endures in Los Angeles with the Stephens established a chain of their eateries.

The following history is provided by Dolores Restaurant at www.doloresrestaurant.com:

Dolores was founded by Amanda and Ralph Stevens, who after owning various restaurants in different states moved to Los Angeles in 1944 and opened the Dolores drive-in restaurant in Hollywood.

There were many drive-in restaurants in Los Angeles during the mid 1940’s and Dolores fit right in. Then, in 1956 the Stevens’ son Robert and his wife Lucille moved to Los Angeles to help manage the newly leased Dolores Restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. and La Cienega in Beverly Hills. The restaurant was a hit with the local teenagers in the 40’s and 50’s with its carhops, Suzie Q’s and JJ Burgers became a staple in the community for the next thirty years.

These “good times” would soon end when in 1981 Dolores drive-in was forced to close down to make room for a high rise office building. The last of the remaining Dolores Restaurants is the one you see today located at 11407 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles where the food and service are like they have never been before

In 2008 Dolores Restaurant was put under new management. With a fresh new vision, a passion for taste and quality food and a true concern to support local growers, new owner, Kourosh Izadpanahi, brings a new take to this classic diner. The new Dolores Restaurant meets today’s customers’ needs for taste and health conscious food.

Pretty interesting stuff, aye?  As you can see from this early 1970s shot of the restaurant, it looked pretty much the same until its dying day:

The site of the old Dolores Drive-In is home to another iconic Oklahoma drive-in, Sonic:

Across the street and a few doors down from the old motel is the Oklahoma City Amory:

The building was already 30 years old when this photo was taken in 1967.  Last year, the old Armory went up for sale and Coop Ale Works just purchased the nearly 73,000 sf space for a new craft brewery, retail, and even a hotel.  It’s an exciting renovation for a structure with so much history.  Here’s a photo of the Armory now:

Go here to see plans for this magnificent structure.

Across N. Walnut from the Armory is a cute little mod that was designed by Hudgins Thompson Ball and built in 1948 as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission Fuels Lab.  Here’s a rendering of it:

So sweet!  Here’s it is now:

Let’s go down a block and back across the street to have a look at what was once a gleaming example of mid-century modern architecture, the stilted Benham Building designed by Conner & Pojezny and built in 1954:

The architects teamed with Benham Engineering to create this building and, I believe, were heading toward creating a partnership when Conner & Pojezny went their separate ways in 1955.  Benham remained in the building for decades and enclosed the bottom level and expanded it in the back in the 1960s.  By the time it was demolished in 2012, it had been abandoned for years and was a sad looking sight, indeed:

Nothing has been built on the lot to date:

Going a little further east, we hit the State Capitol and the office buildings that surround it.  Let’s start with the State Capitol building.  I found this photo at a flea market a long time ago, and it’s one of my favorites.  It’s looking to the north and shows the site of the State Capitol before construction began in 1914:

I know!  How cool is that?!  The building was designed by Solomon Andrew Layton and S. Wemyss-Smith and was completed in 1917.  Due to insufficient funds, the planned-for dome wasn’t constructed, and here’s how the building looked for 80 years:

In 2002, the dome was finally placed on top of the building:

Just north of the State Capitol was another iconic local eatery, Beverly’s:

During the height of the Great Depression, Beverly and Rubye Osborne were down on their luck, and like so many other Okies, they decided to pack up everything and head west to the promised land of California.  On the way, Rubye was munching on some fried chicken she had made when Beverly hit a bump in the road and Rubye’s lunch went a-flying.  She muttered, “This is really chicken in the rough,” which immediately gave her husband inspiration to turn around, head back home, and try his luck at a new self-named restaurant.  His hunch paid off and Beverly’s became a local institution and was even franchised all over the country.  This location at NE 23rd and Lincoln was a popular hot spot until it closed in 1960 to make way for the new State Capitol complex, seen here soon after the first structure was completed in 1962.

Designed by Hudgins Thompson & Ball with Bailey Bozalis Dickinson & Roloff, the first two buildings, Will Rogers and Sequoyah, were followed by two more in the early 1970s.  Here’s one of the original buildings today:

Just across Lincoln on NE 23rd were a couple of establishments run by nightclub owner, Jake Samara.  The first was Sussy’s Italian Restaurant, a pizza place he opened with friend Jack Sussman in 1947.

According to legend, Sussy’s was the first pizzeria in OKC and it remains in a newly incarnated form as Sussy’s in Bricktown.  Here’s a photo by the Oklahoman’s Dave Cathey of Jack at Sussy’s in the 1950s:

A few doors down was Samara’s Jamboree Supper Club.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any photos of the club, but I did come across these images of some of the people who entertained there.  Lilly Christine was a featured performer in 1951:

And comedian Larry Wilde played at the Jamboree in 1953:

Sussy’s and the Jamboree Supper Club both met their demise around the same time that Beverly’s did when the properties north of the State Capitol were demolished to make way for the government office buildings that are there now.  By that time, there were several other Sussy’s restaurants around town, with the last of the original eateries being the Nomad on N. May, which closed in 2016.  You can still get a delicious pizza with original Sussy sauce at the newly opened Sussy’s in Bricktown, though.

Go here to read more about Jake Samara and Jack Sussman.

On the next block east, nothing much ever occupied the lot where the Oklahoma History Center sits today — just a couple of buildings facing NE 23rd with the rest of the land all the way back to NE 24th remaining undeveloped until it opened in 2005.  It’s a beauty:

On the other side of 23rd and down a block sits the Governor’s Mansion, as seen in this 1969 photo:

The home was designed by Layton Hicks & Forsyth and was constructed in 1928.  It underwent an extensive renovation in the late 1990s and looks great today:

Next door to the mansion is another mid-century modern delight that is in great original condition, the Interstate Oil and Gas Building, designed by Hudgins Thompson Ball and built in 1954:

As you can see in this “now” shot, the building is all original today, which makes my heart happy:

Skipping to the 1300 block, here’s a great 1950s shot looking east from the intersection of NE 23rd and Lottie:

On the right side side of the street, one of the last buildings in the frame is the Bison Theater, which opened in 1942.  It and the Mayflower Theater (which was located on NW 23rd across from the Gold Dome) were built using the same plan, with the Bison having a southwest theme and the Mayflower going nautical.  The Bison closed in 1961 and a rock facade was added in the 1970s when it became a nightclub.  Here’s the theater today:

Looks much better than what has been done to the Mayflower:

Anyway, here’s the intersection of NE 23rd and Lottie today:

Vaughn’s Ideal Cleaners building was located at 1413 NE 23rd and looked pretty snazzy in this 1948 shot:

In 2015, it looked like this:

In the last few years, the two buildings on the right were demolished, but the Ideal Cleaners building is still there and looks pretty good:

The 1400 block looked like this back in the 1950s:

In 1981, a lot of the businesses on the right were still there:

But now only the Church’s Chicken is still around on the south side of the street and the large building at the end of the block on the left remain:

This devastating fire took out the Safeway store at 1600 NE 23rd in 1945:

I don’t believe anything was constructed on the site after the fire, and it’s still an empty lot now:

In 1955, a car slammed through this rock building at 1720 NE 20th, but Ben Benham’s shoe business carried on as usual:

Here’s the building now:

It and the other buildings in this strip look empty, which has me worried that they may be demolished soon.  Here’s what they look like:

The one on the right with the black and red diamonds was once the Cimarron Post Office, which is under construction in this 1949 photo:

Here’s a more detailed shot of the vacant building now:

This post office was vacated when a new one was constructed nearby on NE 24th in 1960:

Like its predecessor, however, this building is also closed and vacant:

Back on 23rd, here’s another photo I found at a flea market several years ago of the 1950s scene looking east from N. Missouri:

One of the businesses in this center is the Irby Rexall Drug store — here it is in 1947:

And how great is that Chief’s Fine Pastries sign?!  Delicious!  Here’s the same block now — it’s not nearly as interesting, I’m afraid:

The McKissick Monument Company once occupied the little building at 1901 NE 23rd:

Here’s the lot today:

Let’s mosey up a block to the intersection of NE 23rd and Eastern/Martin Luther King Boulevard (MLK).  I found a few vintage images of this intersection in 1952 that are pretty great.  Let’s start with these two that look east on 23rd just before the intersection:

I’m so in love with the Spanish-style tower on the right —  there’s a matching one you’ll see in a second.  Also, if you look closely, you’ll see a shiny new Safeway store in the background.  It was built in 1950, and here’s the structure just after it became a Family Dollar in 1987:

It hasn’t changed much since then and is still a Family Dollar today:

Back to the intersection, you can see the two Spanish towers clearly in this shot.  They protect the appropriately named street, Towers Court, which ran through to MLK at the time:

Now, the residential street dead ends at the Ralph Ellison library, which is on the corner of NE 23rd and MLK:

The Ralph Ellison library was built in 1975 and expanded in 2009:

I like the library, but I’m missing those great Spanish towers.

On the northeast corner of the 23rd/MLK intersection was a lava rocked, A-frame Humpty Dumpty with a giant sign made by the Superior Sign Company.  It was constructed in 1962:

If you take a close look beyond the supermarket, you’ll see a great sign advertising Hope’s Golf, which I believe was a miniature golf course that was around for just a few short years in the 1960s.  The building that was home to Hope’s remained around until 2016:

Here’s the lot today:

The Humpty Dumpty is still there and is now a Smart Saver grocery store:

It’s too bad that the lava rock is painted over and the A-frame is covered up.  But it’s all under that crap somewhere, and the original sign is still around, too:

Here’s a ’60s view of the intersection heading west after a wind storm.  I love that googie Carter’s sign on the right, don’t you?

And here’s a longer shot looking westward from the 1950s toward the intersection:

This is such a great shot because you can see the gigantic Falstaff sign, a Texaco station that mimics the Spanish towers across the street, and the beautiful Yellow Cab gas station.  Here’s the same view now:

Pretty boring and depressing.  Here’s a 1952 of the intersection taken on the other side of the Safeway/Family Dollar building:

The same view now:

Moving along past MLK/Eastern, this photo looking to the east on 23rd from Granada shows two motels in the background:

The first one was the Chief Motel at 2101 NE 23rd and the second is the Del Mar at 2211 NE 23rd.  I found an ad for the Chief in my 1964 phonebook:

In 1974, a tornado ripped through this part of town, causing extensive damage to the Chief:

I believe that the motel was demolished after the tornado because I don’t find any mention of a motel at this location in my 1977 phone book.  The Del Mar, which was constructed in 1954, has fared better.  Today, it is the Relax Inn:

Across the street from the Chief Motel, this duplex got the brunt of the 1974 tornado:

Here’s the home today:

A few blocks further east, was the Hawk’s Nest.  Here’s a 1954 view of the restaurant and a Conoco gas station looking west from what is now I-35:

Here’s another view looking eastward:

Here’s another view of the Conoco:

And here’s the side road going north from the Conoco — believe it or not, that’s Grand Boulevard.

I believe these photos were taken because these scenes were about to change dramatically with the new Raymond Gary Expressway that went from NE 23rd to what is now the intersection of I-35 and I-44.  In 1954, the intersection of NE 23rd and Grand was pretty quiet, but all of these buildings were demolished the following year to create a “modern” traffic circle that began the expressway, which opened in 1958:

When the old rock building that housed the Conoco was demolished, a new Conoco opened a few blocks further west in this building that was constructed in 1955:

Crossing I-35, our next stop is on the south side of the street just past the highway.  What is an empty lot now was once home to the El Rancho, a 11-unit motel and a 125-seat restaurant.  I found an interior shot of the restaurant from 1945 when it was just a small cafe:

Interestingly, back in 2008, I was doing a little urban exploring and decided to walk around this site, not knowing what had originally been there.  I found this embedded in old, crumbling concrete:

Blalack.

Intrigued, I returned home and did a little research.  I found out that John D. Blalack moved to OKC in 1945 from Wilburton, OK, and built a “modern” hotel and cafe on this site the same year.  He named the complex El Rancho.  Beginning in 1955, the restaurant became the El Rancho Steakhouse and was around until the mid-70’s, when it became the El Rancho Sanchez, one of five restaurants owned by the Sanchez family, who has operated Mexican restaurants in the OKC area since 1954, with one is still in business today in El Reno.

At some point, a two-story apartment complex was built next to the motel, but all of the buildings were gone by the time I photographed the site in 2008.  Just a few old rock foundations and the motel sign remained:

For several years after that, a farmers market was located on the old El Rancho site, but I’m not sure if anything takes place there now.

For nearly a decade beginning in 1951, the Derby Club was THE after hours spot to go to catch some great live entertainment. Here’s a photo of the great sign from my pal Norman Thompson’s collection:

The Derby Club was located out in the sticks far from town outside the city limits, which meant that it was also out of the grasp of the vice squad.  The place was the brainchild of restaurateur and club owner, Jake Samara, who also ran the Jamboree Supper Club and Sussy’s at the time.  Here’s an article about the club just a few weeks after it opened in February 1951:

“The city’s newest dance and entertainment spot opened the past week with a dance orchestra, a floor show, and a top-flight master of ceremonies.  The Derby Club is spacious, well decorated, and has all the equipment and furnishings for a first-class night out.  Floor entertainment centers around The Derby Dancers, a troup of well trained chorines who have a number of novelty patterns.  Each of the girls is a specialist of solo caliber in some phase of the dance, including tap, ballet, and acrobatic.

Music for the floor show and for patron dancing is supplied by Kenny Harris and his orchestra.  The real star of the show is Frank Reynolds …

… the emcee who bills himself as Dr. Sunshine.  A suave humorist, composer, and vocalist, he has had feature spots on radio programs with Kate Smith and Fred Allen and has played in top hotels and clubs around the country.  He recently wound up a run of 112 shows at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs.  

Besides the girls and the gags, the Derby Club has a new novelty gimmick, wooden “Hollywood Horses” ridden by girl jockeys and then featured in an audience participation number that is always good for some hilarious spills.”

Here’s a little more about band leader Kenny Harris:

“Musician of the first rank is Kenny Harris, leader of the orchestra which has been exciting patrons at the Derby Club.  He has appeared with Kay Kayser, Henry King, Harpo Marx, Jimmy Durante, and Gary Moore, has been arranger for leading name bands, and during the war was head of theory of music at the U.S. Navy School of Music, San Diego.

He holds two college degrees in music from the University of Oklahoma, was formerly with the Rambler orchestra at OU and is a member of Phi Mu Alpha, national honorary music fraternity.”

In addition, the entertainment frequently consisted of buxom women dancing around in the skimpiest of attire.  The Derby Club was an all night place, with the last floor show — usually a striptease — beginning at 2:00 a.m. and a jukebox playing music for dancing after that.  Here are just a couple of performers who entertained guests at the nightclub.  Meet Ricci Cortez, known as the Sleepy Time Girl.  She performed at the Derby Club in 1952:

This lovely damsel, alluringly named Halloween, also performed at the club:

The entertainment wasn’t all scantily clad women, however.  Several comedians were regulars at the club — including this guy, Hal Cogan:

The club even hosted an elaborate Blades on Ice show in 1955:

I don’t know how big the ice rink was for the show, but this photo of one of the entertainers is pretty incredible.

Not surprisingly, the club was raided a few times over the years, once in 1953 because waiters were caught serving customers champagne in ice buckets.  The nerve of them!

In 1959, the Derby Club and its surrounds were annexed into the city limits, increasing OKC’s size from 80 square miles to 175 square miles.  That’s when the trouble began.  First, a 1948 city ordinance stated that no form of entertainment was allowed at clubs after 2:00 a.m. One particularly strange part of the ordinance stated that “dancing must be restricted to hotels and end at midnight with the exception of Saturday nights when it is permitted until 2 a.m.”  What?  That’s crazy!

Well, of course, being outside the city limits for nearly nine years by this time, Derby Club owner, Jake Samara, and his patrons were used to shows beginning at 2:00 a.m., and having dancing afterward.  While many of the area’s club owners complied, Samara decided to test the law.  He had his attorney call for a special council committee session to address the problem, which even several law enforcement officials agreed should be updated with a later curfew and dancing outside of hotels.  In defiance of the law, Samara also refused to get the required municipal permit he needed to run the club legally.

Everything came to a boil in October 1959 when police raided the club.  About 50 guests were enjoying an evening of entertainment and dancing during permitted hours when the police arrived, citing that the club was “a disorderly house and (the owner was) operating a dance hall without a municipal permit.”  All of the talent and employees were arrested and all but one of the patrons were let go — the one patron had a warrant out for his arrest, so he was taken to jail, too.  Police said that Samara had been warned several times to get a permit, but he refused.  To quash Samara’s stubbornness, police told him that they would continue to raid the club and would start arresting patrons, too.

That was the final straw.  Instead of fighting further, Samara closed the Derby Club in December, remodeled the interiors, and opened a new supper club, the Calico, a few weeks later.  Advertising for the new club stated that Baird Jones would play the organ during dinner and dancing would follow — all well within the curfew set up by the city.  I guess the vice squad didn’t care too much that dancing was taking place in a non-hotel, but it didn’t matter, anyway, because the new concept wasn’t nearly as popular as the Derby Club had been and the Calico was soon history.

After the Calico, the building was home to another Sussy’s for a blip in time after the eatery on NE 23rd closed in 1961.

I believe Sussy’s was here from 1961-1964, then the building became home to a teen club called the Nitty Gritty, but it didn’t last long, either.  In 1968, Samara had to sell this property and several others that were about to be foreclosed.  By 1970, the Derby Club had morphed into a much tamer establishment, Foster’s Restaurant and the AMVETS Post 60 Club.  Sadly, the restaurant/club caught fire that year and burned to the ground:

There’s nothing that remains of the Derby Club today but an empty lot with a dirt parking lot:

The last stop on our tour of 23rd Street is, by far, the creepiest, St. Vincent’s.  Just typing the name of the place gives me the shivers!  For as spooky as the place is now, it was once a safe haven for many men who were chronically infirm.

In 1947, the Brothers of Mercy founded St. Vincent’s to provide a place where the chronically infirm could live out their days in a supportive environment.  There weren’t a ton of nursing homes around back then, so this was an idea that was enthusiastically welcomed in the community.  By 1952, the Brothers had purchased a 10-acre country estate that had a pool, tennis courts, and a stable on site and had erected a 22-bed facility.  Demand was so high for space, however, that they got a $50,000 Hill-Burton grant for a new building and hired local architects Monnot & Monnot to design a large and thoroughly modern addition, which was completed in 1957:

The addition, which cost $133,000 to construct, doubled the size of the facility to 50 beds and provided much-needed care for mentally and physically infirm men.  Patients, who ranged in age from seven to 90, shared semi-private rooms with connecting baths.  A small chapel was included in the addition, too.  As soon as the addition was complete, there was already a waiting list of 100 men eager to claim one of the 50 beds at St. Vincent’s, but even with the demand, the facility was never expanded again.  Over the years, the home began taking in mentally infirm patients, along with the elderly and chronically ill.

In 1962, a clean cut former male nurse at St. Vincent’s walked into an Oklahoma City police station and turned himself in.  Louis Andre Demers calmly but emphatically explained that he had murdered two patients at the nursing home when he worked there the previous year.  He did it “because I had tried to kill once and couldn’t do it.  I wanted to find out how it felt.”  The 24-year-old former Army MP told police that he had been trying to tell doctors what he did but no one believed him.  The officers didn’t believe him, either … until they gave him a lie detector exam.

According to Demers, he first tried to kill a man when he was still in the Army.  He and another soldier got into a fight and he really wanted to kill his opponent, but something stopped Demers from carrying out his desire to murder.  A devout Catholic, after he was released from the Army, Demers returned home to the Boston area and went to work for the Brothers of Mercy there.  When a position came open at St. Vincent’s, he decided to move far from home to Oklahoma City.  Within a matter of months, two men were dead and no one suspected a thing.

In November 1961, Demers targeted 92-year-old Stewart Mitchell, who Demers said was within just a few days of dying anyway.  Demers worked the 2:00 a.m. shift and was often the only nurse on duty, so it wasn’t difficult for him to creep into Mitchell’s room one quiet night and place a towel over the old man’s face for 10 minutes until Demers was sure he was dead.  The man was too old and weak to resist and died without a struggle.  Demers then left the room and let another nurse discover the body a few hours later.  With his advanced age and ill health, no one suspected that Mitchell’s death was anything but natural.

Instead of satiating Demers need to know how it felt to kill someone, the murder only emboldened him.  He attempted to kill another patient but was thwarted when he heard a noise down the hall.  The patient later told a relative that he had dreams of being choked and wanted to leave St. Vincent’s right away.  Unfortunately, 78 year old William Ingraham wasn’t as lucky as that man.

On a cold December night, Ingraham was sleeping peacefully when Demers creeked open his door and entered his room.  The old man awoke to Demers’ hands around his throat, and unlike Mitchell, Ingraham still had a lot of fight left in him and began to struggle.  Maintaining a creepy calm, Demers tied the aged man’s arms to his bed with a bathrobe cord and placed a plastic sack over the unfortunate man’s head and waited … waited … waited.  When he was sure his victim was good and dead, Demers removed the sack, untied Ingraham’s arms, and left the room for someone else to discover the body.  Once again, doctors labeled the death a natural one and Demers got away with murder a second time.

Before he could kill again, Demers left St. Vincent’s and returned to Boston, but his conscience wouldn’t let him rest.  He checked himself into a veterans hospital in Boston and confessed his crimes to the doctors there, but they didn’t believe him.  He later stated that he had also tried to tell doctors back at St. Vincent’s what he did and no one believed him there, either.  After trying to turn himself in to Boston police and getting nowhere, Demers decided to return to Oklahoma City and talk to police there.  Luckily, they decided to give him a polygraph before turning him away.

After the polygraph showed that he was telling the brutal truth, Demers was examined and deemed to be mentally unfit to stand trial.  He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to Central State Hospital in Norman for treatment.  I figured he stayed there for a long time until I found Demers obituary.  In fact, I don’t think Demers spent much time at Central State at all because by 1971, he had earned a BA from Washburn University in Kansas and he ultimately spent decades — get this — working as a licensed mental health technician.  WHAAAAAT?!  That is beyond messed up!  Of course, his obituary doesn’t mention that he murdered two men and served time in a mental institution, so I don’t know if his violent streak ended after St. Vincent’s or not.  He died in 2013.

You’d think that would be the end of the creepiness associated with St. Vincent’s but you’d be wrong.

In 1968, an affable priest arrived at St. Vincent’s to start a treatment program for alcoholics.  Rev. Richard Dolen became a friend to many at the facility, even after he left a few years later to start other alcohol/substance abuse programs throughout the city.  In 1974, he was busted for “acts of lewdness” when he propositioned a male undercover vice officer.  This was the beginning of the end for Dolen.  He became inactive in the church, started drinking heavily, and gave up his religious duties to run bingo halls.  Over the next several years as his life continued to deteriorate, he was severely beaten once and robbed another time.  But by 1988, Dolen was a recovering alcoholic himself and was getting back on his feet when his landlady discovered the inactive priest’s badly beaten body in his modest apartment.  No one was ever convicted for the poor man’s murder.

The sadness continued over at St. Vincent’s.  By the 1990s, the former nursing home was closed for good and the building has sat ever since, slowly rotting away:

The place has been the scene of many a paranormal investigation in recent years and even made an appearance in 2014 on TV’s “Ghost Asylum.”  I don’t know if it’s haunted or not, but I’ve walked around the perimeter of this place during the day and it is truly freaky and weird.  I like abandoned places, but I do not like St. Vincent’s one little bit.  So, if you’re like me and would rather not explore the spooky St. Vincent’s in person, you can check out Abandoned Oklahoma’s photos of the interior here.

Originally, I ended the post here, but a few people reminded me that I missed the Skyview Theater at NE 23rd and Coltrane, so I decided to add it to complete the trip down 23rd … besides, it was certainly one of the metro’s most elaborate and dramatic drive-in theaters, so why wouldn’t I want to include it?

The Skyview Drive-In was just north of 23rd and faced Coltrane on a diagonal.  It was owned by Sam Caporal (who also owned the Mayflower and Bison that we saw earlier on our trek down 23rd) and designed by architect David Baldwin.  The grand screen was “made of reinforced concrete and built using slip-form construction. The screen tower was formed in six days, with five windows on each of the eight rows. The Caporals put lights behind the quatrefoil-shaped windows to light them up like golden stars at night,” according to a post on Cinema Treasures.  It opened in 1948, and here it is the following summer:

How great is that?!

Here’s another image, this one take in 1955, of the tower illuminated at night:

I’m sure you could see those diamond-shaped lights for miles.  Anyway, the Skyview stayed open until the end of the 1983 season and slowly rotted away.  Here it is, abandoned and forlorn and hoping someone would save it:

Unfortunately, the Skyview wasn’t saved and, instead, was demolished in the early 1990s.  The site remains vacant today.  Here’s an aerial shot where you can see that trees have grown in a crescent shape that follows the way cars parked at the theater:

I walked around the site, and there are several remnants of the Skyview if you look around:

And that’s it for our tour of 23rd.  Hope you enjoyed it!