Mod Blog

Urban Renewal Authority Annual Report – 1973

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Brochure courtesy of Robyn Arn.

Today, most everyone in OKC is critical of I.M. Pei’s ambitious plan to modernize 528 acres in downtown Oklahoma City.  Nearly 500 buildings, such as the beloved Biltmore Hotel and Baum Building, were demolished before the whole Urban Renewal project finally and thankfully petered out in the late 1970s.  This annual report from 1973 both heralds the advancements associated with the Pei Plan and also foresees that many of the projects would never been funded and completed.  It’s truly a fascinating document and well worth a close read, and I’d like to thank Robyn Arn for sharing this interesting piece of history with the Mod Squad.

Click an image to enlarge it.



Highlights from the 2017 AIA Tour

Posted by on Apr 27, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

Last Saturday, the 16th annual AIA architecture tour took place, and if you missed it, you missed seeing some pretty incredible buildings that ranged from a 1930s Streamline Moderne home to an old automobile building to a brand new school in Edmond.  Here are a few of the highlights:


BP Lower 48

Owner: BP Lower 48
Architect: Brian Fitzsimmons, Fitzsimmons Architects
Contractor: Flintco, Inc.
Interior Decorator: Laura Leffler

Located in Automobile Alley, the Pontiac Building remodel was certainly one of the big WOWs of the tour, I thought.

How fun would it be to slide down that ramp?  As for the office space, the combination of wood and glass give it a warm and modern feeling all at the same time:

Just beautiful!

Mason House

Owner: Steve Mason
Architect: ADG
Contractor: Lingo Construction

One of the latest additions to the burgeoning SoSA is the stunning Mason House.  The two story home was designed for comfortable, easy living with jaw-dropping views of downtown.

Bob Moore Auto Group

Owner: Bob Moore Auto Group
Architect: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Contractor: Smith and Pickel Construction

For me, the best surprise of the tour was this remarkable remodel of the dealership’s collision center, which was a one-story brick building constructed in 1951.  The architects added a second story to create an open and very modern office space.  This is the first building to be completed in Bob Moore’s new campus.

Vahlberg-White House

Owner: William and Susie White
Architect: Robert Vahlberg
Contractor: White & Associates

The sentimental favorite of the tour was surely this lovely home in the heart of Edgemere Park.  Architect Robert Vahlberg designed the home for his parents in 1937.  Here are a few of the blueprints that were on display during the tour:

A few years ago, the previous owners opened the home to the Mod Squad for a tour, and I’m happy to say that the new owners have added things, like a master bathroom and a pool, that only enhance the beauty of the home, while leaving all of the original goodness alone.

Nepveux House

Owner: Janise Nepveax
Architect: Ken Fitzsimmons, TASK Design
Contractor: Bryan Beavers

It was really refreshing to see a space on the tour that was more modest in scale — from the chatter around me when I toured this one, people could see how they could mod up their own spaces a bit because this was one they could relate to.  I like that.  And how great is this kitchen?

Originally, walls, a closet, and an indoor hot tub broke up the kitchen area, making it dark and choppy.  Now, it’s sheer perfection.

Unfortunately, I volunteered at the refreshment stop for the first part of the tour and missed getting to Edmond to see the last two stops, the Brewer House and Heartland Middle School, but I heard that they both both very popular destinations.  Being at the refreshment stop at the AIA office, I did get a chance to view some of the beautiful images from the OKLAHOMANMADE photography competition, though:

 Good stuff.  And, finally, this particular Architecture Week was especially rewarding because the Okie Mod Squad was awarded the B.H. Prasad Honor Award for our work in bringing awareness to the community about mid-century modern architecture and preservation efforts.  Way to go, Mod Squad!!!

Beautiful Fare for Everybody: The Vahlberg House in American Home Magazine

Posted by on Apr 12, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.

The June 1948 issue of American Home magazine features one of my very favorite OKC mid-century modern homes on the cover, the fantastic Vahlberg House in Forest Park.  Here’s what the home looks like now:

Forest Park neighborhood NE OKC

Pretty amazing, aye?  This really is such a stunning home, one that architect Robert Vahlberg designed and built for himself and his family and where they lived for over 50 years.  Have a look at the house when it was new and read the accompanying article:

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948


It was hard, those first years of married life in a crowded apartment after the Vahlbergs came back to Oklahoma from the East.  Bob had been studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had attained his Master’s Degree.  It was hard for him to convince Jane that, because nothing in the city offered in the way of a home would satisfy him, they should wait until they could build a home of their own.  Jane wanted a home right away.

Bob had definite ideas about the house he wanted to build.  Patiently he explained to Jane that contemporary thinking in architecture is still in a nebulous stage with the average man and woman, but that modern architecture has captured the imagination and creative drive of the young men in the profession — that what the public sometimes regards as merely “daring” is backed by what these architects term “organic certitude.”

The Vahlbergs feel that their home, at last a reality, offers proof of this.  Because the house was designed to have the appearance of springing naturally from its setting, lines and compositions fall easily into place, and it looks valid, not artificial.  Indoors, the unobtrusive colors of the decorative scheme, planned by Jane to accent natural textures, contribute to this effect.

The house is a logical expression of their own way of living.  They like to be informal, relaxed; they like being together.  The open planning fosters this. Even Bob’s workshop corner with its drafting board and desk gives him a degree of privacy without sacrificing family unity.

They love the outdoors, swimming, sailing, horseback riding.  The house, in a country setting, overlooks a ravine.  Its wide expanses of glass across the rear elevation capture sunlight by day, starlight in the evenings.

Maintenance has been made easy by the remarkable unity of the house.  The plan is compact; all the space counts.  Storage space was planned around the family possessions, carefully inventoried, even to the baby buggy.  Small daughter Marcia was given special consideration.  The natural wood finishes do not show finger marks, and small matter what she spills on the floors since they are of concrete.  Kitchen and dining areas are particularly well integrated.

The conception of a house like the Vahlbergs’ is quite new to Oklahoma.  Robert Parks, the builder, says that it constituted an educational process for all workmen involved.  Now he is so sold on it that his plans for the future include one similar to it for his own family.  He and his wife like it from every standpoint.  Vahlberg, with is vigorous, new departure from tradition in architecture, may be pioneering a new housing trend in his own home state.

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 screened in porch

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 playroom

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 dining

Unusual screened porch with slanting side flank bedrooms, adjoins dining area, makes roomy play-run for daughter Marcia.  Study, living, dining, kitchen activities are all emcompassed in large rectangle with minimum divisions.  Oversized fireplace in center of room has two flues, burns 10-foot logs or 2 twin fires.

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 windows

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 ext 2

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 outside looking in

Vahlberg house American Home mag june 1948 ext

House turns its back to road approaches, lies long and low. Roof slopes up toward rear facade which is all glass and screen.  Wooded ravine insures privacy, overhang shields window from sun.

(Article written by Eugenia White, photos by Johnny Melton.)

Saying a Sad Farewell to the Bethany Library

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

Darn it!  I hate doing posts saying goodbye to the Metro’s mid-century modern buildings, and this is the second one in a row.  This time, we are bidding farewell to the small-but-sweet Bethany Library:

bethany library

Designed by Bethany architect and Southern Nazarene University (SNU) art professor, Ray Bowman of Bowman & Nicek, the building’s original design looked like this:

bethany library rendering

A few months later, the final design appeared in the Oklahoman:

bethany library rendering 2

Interestingly, Bowman included in his plans the possibility for expanding the library in the future:

bethany library 1st plan

The 8,400 sf building was built in the developing municipal center complex and was constructed for $175,000, which included furnishings and the first 10,000 books.  In addition, the Bethany Kiwanis Club sponsored a book drive that added 15,000 volumes to the new library’s collection.  When the library opened in January 1965, here’s how the interior space was laid out:

bethany library interior layout

Visitors crossed a cute little bridge to get into the building:




Ray Bowman designed several buildings on the SNU campus, and the long awning jutting out from a simple box was certainly one of his big trademarks.  There are still several examples of this distinctive feature on the university campus:

snu building business

Back to the library….



With suburban sprawl sweeping through Bethany in the ’60s and ’70s, the library soon became one of the city’s busiest, and now the building is woefully inadequate for the heavy demands put upon it.  So, voters passed a $8.18 million bond in 2016 to construct a new building that will be three times larger than the original.  The new building’s 23,000 square feet will be able to accommodate 40 computer terminals (compared to just 11 now) for kids, teens, and adults and meeting space for 250 people.  In addition, there will be study rooms along with a drive-up drop-off window, and the library can grow its collection from 58,000 items to nearly 90,000 with the expansion.  Designed by Dewberry Architects, the new building isn’t horrible at all:

architectural rendering of proposed by Bethany library. A bond election is set for April 5.

While I understand the need for the new building, it will be sad to lose this MCM gem.  Someone please save those breeze blocks!


Saying a Sad Farewell to the Allied Building

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos from the OPUBCO collection at the History Center.  Photo of demolition by Pete Brzycki.  All other photos by Lynne Rostochil.

Ever since the lovely concrete block was removed from the Allied Building (later known as the Salvation Army Building) at NW 63rd and Penn, people have been speculating about the building’s fate.  Would it be reused as offices?  Converted for commercial use?  Well, sadly none of those things happened.  Instead, this beauty, which was designed by Wright & Selby and opened in 1958, is being demolished to be replaced with two buildings and a Starbucks.  Sad, sad.

To pay proper homage to this beloved piece of mid-century modernism, here are a few photos of the building during construction and soon after it was completed:

Allied Building - vintage shot construction opubco

allied building 1959 2012.201.B0961.0072 - Copy

Allied building 1959 2012.201.B0961.0073

How sexy was all of that concrete block?  The building remained in its original condition for decades…

Allied building - Salvation Army - entry - Wright & Selby

Allied building - Salvation Army - concrete block - Wright & Selby

… until the concrete block was removed in 2014 after the building sold:

Allied Building w/o concrete block

A few weeks ago, heavy equipment was spotted in the parking lot, so I went to take a few last photos of this still-distinguished structure:

















Finally, here’s the building coming down:

allied bldg demolished 3 27 2016 pete brzycki

Go to OKCtalk to see the plans for this lot.

Broadcast Station Design in 1940

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.

You find so much fun stuff on the internet!  Recently, I was wasting an afternoon browsing around and stumbled across this Pick-Ups magazine.  Although it sounds more like a sleazy smut periodical from years gone by, it was actually a publication put out by Western Electric that was “devoted to the development of sound transmission” —


This issue highlights the winners of a competition to design a 1,000-watt broadcast station.  The winner’s design is featured on the cover; his name was Louis Shulman, and he was an architecture student at New York University:

j vahlberg 3

Several New York University students won honorable mention awards for the station, but among them was OU’s own Julian Vahlberg.  Here’s his design:

j vahlberg 4

j vahlberg 1

Yeah, I know, the images could be better.

Julian Vahlberg graduated from OU in 1941 and went on to become a very successful architect in OKC and worked with his brother, Robert, for many years.  Their uncle, Walter, was also an architect, so the love of design ran in their family.  Notable projects of Julian’s include the much-loved and sadly demolished Herold Building and the very space-age Russell Babb Elementary in Harrah.

If you’d like to look at the entire Pick-Ups magazine (it’s really interesting), it’s located on

j vahlberg 2

The Plaza Tower Hotel: Designed for the Weary Travelers in Mind

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Postcard from Lynne’s collection and brochure from Matt Goad’s collection.


Of all of the mid-century modern treasures we’ve lost in Oklahoma City, I really lament losing the Plaza Tower Hotel the most.  Maybe that’s because I remember driving by it quite a bit when I was a teeny tot and even then appreciating its quirky hexagonal beauty.  Sigh.

I am happy, however, that several images of the hotel remain, and our very own Matt Goad even owns a brochure, which pays homage to the building’s unusual shape in its design, from the hotel’s opening days back in 1960.  I really love it and thought you would, too.  Thanks, Matt, for sharing it!

plaza tower brochure 1

plaza tower brochure 2

Go here to learn more about this lost architectural marvel.

On the Market: A To-Die-For Mid-Mod in Midwest City

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil

For those of you who are looking for a beautiful mod house that’s in need of a little love, this beauty in the Meadowood addition in Midwest City may be just what you’re looking for.

vollendorf house mwc ext

vollendorf house mwc meadowood

Yes, this one is low and sleek and oh so sexy with jaw dropping details that are everywhere inside and out.

vollendorf house mwc ext

When I say details, I mean things such as this beautifully crafted front door that offers titillating hints of the stunning surprises inside:

vollendorf house mwc front door

Check out this stunning main living room with gorgeous wood panelling, a dramatic fireplace, and clerestory windows:

vollendorf house mwc

vollendorf house mwc living room fireplace

vollendorf house mwc living room

That’s the dining room on the other side of the incredible, one-of-a-kind screen:

vollendorf house mwc dining room divider

Here’s a detail shot of the wood, tile, and light in this beautiful space:

vollendorf house mwc detail

It’s surprising to me that this home, which was built in 1961 and is nearly 3,000 sf, has the open flow that today’s home buyer is looking for.  On the other side of the fireplace is a breakfast room/den overlooking the huge back patio on one side and the kitchen on the other:

vollendorf house mwc den

One of the most spectacular parts of the home is the all-original and well-appointed kitchen:

vollendorf house mwc kitchen

vollendorf house mwc kitchen

There is SO much cabinet space and storage in this L-shaped space that includes a little desk, two large pantry spaces, and cabinets that carry the same spine-like pattern:

vollendorf house mwc kitchen desk counter

vollendorf house mwc cabinet detail pulls

vollendorf house mwc kitchen cabinet detail

And those pulls!

vollendorf house mwc kitchen pull

Even sexier than those are the original Chambers stove and double ovens:

vollendorf house mwc chambers stove

vollendorf house mwc chambers stove

vollendorf house mwc chambers oven

vollendorf house mwc chambers oven

You can’t kill a Chambers, so I’m sure that these appliances work as well now as they did when they were freshly installed.  Oh how I love them … almost as much as I love all of the counter space in this beautifully planned kitchen:

vollendorf house mwc kitchen

If you aren’t already drooling uncontrollably, this kitchen also contains the much-coveted built-in Nu-Tone appliance center — be still my heart!

vollendorf house mwc mixer built-in

I’ve always wanted one of those babies.  Off the kitchen is the garage, in which the architect thoughtfully added a skylight to brighten up the space — I like:

vollendorf house mwc garage

This house boasts a true mother-in-law plan with a large bedroom/den on the kitchen side of the house:

vollendorf house mwc bedroom

When I tell you there is a lot of storage in this house, I mean it.  There are cabinets, drawers, and built-ins tucked away everywhere, including the closets:

vollendorf house mwc built-ins closet

The bathroom on the MIL side is small but so spunky with pink fixtures and a dark tile that crawls up the walls from the floor:

vollendorf house mwc bathroom

vollendorf house mwc pink sink toilet bathroom

How great is that?

On the other side of the living room, the bedroom wing contains two large kids’ bedrooms…

vollendorf house mwc bedroom

… and one of the coolest bathroom set-ups I’ve ever seen.  Off of the hall is a pretty fantastic bathroom with a skylight hovering over an amazing shower/tub combo:

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom tile shower

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom tile shower skylight

The tile is SO fantastic — my photos really don’t do it justice at all.  And, the best part is that it’s in great condition!  The vanity area in the bathroom is very spacious, too, with the cabinet pattern from the kitchen repeating itself here:

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom sinks vanity

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom tile shower sinks detail

A door from this bathroom leads to another vanity area in the master bedroom:

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom vanity

Yes, those are lights built into the mirror like a backstage dressing room — how great are they?

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom vanity mirror lights

Here’s where the cool really comes in.  There’s a separate vanity area, toilet, and shower just for the master bedroom right next to this one (to the left in the photo):


So, even though it’s a compact master bath setup, the two separate vanity areas make it seem much larger.  As for the master bedroom, it’s a giant space anchored by a pretty outstanding fireplace:

vollendorf house mwc master bedroom fireplace

vollendorf house mwc master bedroom fireplace

So dreamy, isn’t it?

Okay, if you haven’t totally fallen in love with this house yet, I think the back patio and yard just might send you over the edge.  Part of the patio is covered, which I would take down and open up to create one great big outdoor space:

vollendorf house mwc screened in porch

Even with the enclosure, the outdoor patio is gigantic and runs the length of the house:

vollendorf house mwc master bedroom view porch patio

vollendorf house mwc

As beautiful as this patio is, it’s really not the best part of the backyard.  A rounded staircase leads to an equally huge yard that backs up to a creek, so there is plenty of privacy and space for tots to play, for dogs to run, or even for putting in a pool, which is exactly what I’d do.

vollendorf house mwc

vollendorf house mwc

vollendorf house mwc

Yes, this is a house that was definitely built for entertaining in a big way!  I believe the original owner was Kenneth H. Flannery, Jr., who was a local builder and one-time president of the OKC Home Builders Association.  He got into some legal trouble with gambling in the mid-’60s and may have left the state — I find no mention of him in the Oklahoman after 1967.  Anyway, he built a beautiful home for himself and his family, and I really hope that a Squadder comes along and saves it from short-sighted flippers.  Priced at a mere $135,000, there is plenty of room in almost any budget to invest money to fix up this mid-century modern palace and make it shine again.  Go here to see the Zillow listing and schedule a tour of this truly unique abode that is begging for someone to rescue it.

If you’re wondering about this Midwest City neighborhood, here’s a little information about it.  Meadowood was developed by Glenn Breeding and Midwest City founder, W.P. Bill Atkinson.

meadowood 1960

The neighborhood was professionally planned to be a self-contained community of 1,000 homes on tree-lined, winding streets surrounding an elementary school and near shopping and the local YMCA.

meadowood 2

The developers began selling lots in 1960, and the more modest homes in the neighborhood started in the $13,500 range, which is about $111,000 today.

meadowood neighborhood mwc screen

meadowood neighborhood mwc storybook

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc screen

Meadowood also contains several streets of grander custom-built homes on much larger lots — this week’s featured house is one of them and is on the prettiest street in the neighborhood, I think.  Here are a few of the homes on Glenoaks:

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc ranch


Not too shabby, aye?  I drove all around Meadowood, and the homes are all very well maintained — there are some pretty outstanding examples of mid-century modern architecture, too, especially this gem around the corner:


The sun was in the wrong spot for me to capture this home in all of its glory — here’s a better shot from the tax assessor site:


Pretty fantastic, aye?  Also, there’s another Vollendorf house in the neighborhood:

meadowood neighborhood mwc vollendorf

meadowood neighborhood mwc vollendorf

It’s not easy to capture the true coolness of this house — here’s another tax assessor shot that shows the home in better detail:


Here are a few more Meadowood treasures:

meadowood neighborhood mwc



Located just minutes from the hubbub of downtown, Bricktown, and Midtown, Meadowood is a great alternative to pricier parts of town.  Check it out!

meadowood mwc neighborhood sign

OKC’s Beatnik Hangouts: The Gourd and Buddhi

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos not credited came from doing internet searches.  

Several years ago, my mom gave me a pile of ephemera from her high school and young married days in the early 1960s.  One piece of paper particularly interested me — a yellowed menu from a place called the Buddhi:

buddhi menu

buddhi menu

(Lynne’s collection)

I had never heard of the place, asked my mom about it, and was surprised when she said that she and my dad hung out there quite a bit, sipping on Cokes (because neither of them were big coffee drinkers), and catching many a performance by up and coming folk musicians.  Intrigued, I decided to find out more about the Buddhi.

The story of the Buddhi actually starts with a previous incarnation of the coffee house, the Gourd, which was located at 53 Broadway Circle in Midtown — here’s a photo of the Gourd in 1960:

gourd 1960

OU student Steve Brainard and his father, who everyone lovingly referred to as Pops, opened the Gourd when Steve decided to drop out of college to pursue a career as a folk musician.

steve brainard

(OPUBCO collection at The History Center)

Pops and Steve rented an old ice house and “Steve hung jute netting to hide the cracking plaster and ceiling, built a raised ‘stage’ at one end and hung lawn lights to shine on it”  Despite the sparse decor and luckily for Steve and Pops, folk music was at the height of its ’60s popularity and the small club that seated a mere 50-60 patrons and charged just $.50 admission opened in 1959 to instant success.  Soon, three of Steve’s buddies — Mason Williams, Baxter Taylor, and Bill Cheatwood — came on board as the house band, the Wayfarers Trio.  The three even recorded an album at the tiny coffeehouse, “Folk Music As Heard at the Gourd”:


Here’s a photo of the Wayfarers Trio (l to r: Bill Cheatwood, Baxter Taylor, and Mason Williams) performing at the Gourd with friends Johnny Horton and owner Steve Brainard:


(Baxter Taylor collection)

By early 1961, the Gourd had attracted so much attention and was so favorably compared to other establishments around the country that a detailed sketch of the place was recorded in the Oklahoman by a travelling Beatnik named John Gumm, who wrote an article comparing the Gourd to some of the coffeehouses in Chicago.  He stated that the Gourd, “gave no clue (to its importance on the national folk music scene).  Here were the candle lights, the rough decor, the easy atmosphere, the bitter coffee, the folk singing and the recorded music of any coffee house.  The waitress was sensational, but neatly groomed.  The walls — behind the burlap draping, the bullfight posters, and the candle smoke drawings — were unfinished.  The cement floor was (and is) about as even as a Wichita Mountains trail.”

The reporter went on to talk about Steve Brainard, saying that “I have never seen a folk entertainer who was able to gain so uncanny a rapport with an audience.  Aside from his command of the guitar and banjo and his soft tenor voice, Steve just has the personality to turn casual listeners into ‘enthralled’ regulars.”

steve brainard2

(OPUBCO collection at The History Center)

By the time the article appeared, however, Steve Brainard had moved on from the Gourd to open the much larger Buddhi a few blocks away at 919 N. Hudson.  Under new ownership, the Gourd became the Abstract Coffeehouse, but the tiny venue didn’t last long:

gourd abstract ad 11-61

As for the Buddhi, the new coffeehouse boasted a bigger stage and seating for 200, and for the price of a movie ticket, fans could enjoy the musical musings of such future superstars as Judy Collins:

judy collins 2

Poor Judy.  The first Oklahoman ad I found of her appearing at the Buddhi contained this unfortunate but pretty funny typo:

judy collins dudy ad buddhi

Uh oh!  By the next edition of the paper, it had thankfully been corrected:

judy collins ad buddhi

Judy obviously was good natured about the incident and appeared at the Buddhi many more times over the next few years, even hosting a few special children’s concerts on otherwise quiet Sunday afternoons at the club.  Children’s concerts weren’t the only “extras” that the Buddhi offered.  During the day when there were no concerts, judo classes were offered to anyone interested in attending.  Also, a series of “Self Expression Workshops” took place in which actors, singers, dancers, instrumentalists, composers, writers, poets, artists, and photographers were invited to “display their wares in this completely artistic endeavor.”  The idea was to have all of these creative minds come together on a Sunday to come up with some kind of performance/show/reading that would be performed on Monday before a live audience.  Sounds daunting but a whopping 56 artists signed up to do the first workshop, and after the performance, one event organizer enthusiastically exclaimed that “talent is running wild in the streets of Oklahoma!”  Apparently so, because the Self Expression Workshop became a semi-annual and very successful event at the Buddhi.

Two of my personal favorite musicians who played at the Buddhi were native Oklahoman and all-’round awesome guy, Hoyt Axton and the bluesy, husky-voiced Judy Henske (click their names to listen to a track by each).  All of the women in my family have had huge, lifelong crushes on Hoyt Axton:

hoyt axton

I mean, how cute and cuddly and sweet and good natured was this guy?!  Sure do miss him….

Other performers who played at the Buddhi were Pete Seeger …

pete seeger

… and perennial 1960s favorites, the hilarious Smothers Brothers before they hit the big time with their controversial and totally innovative TV show at the end of the decade:

smothers brothers

Steve Brainard was drafted into the Army not long after the Buddhi opened and returned often until he decided to make the move to California to pursue his musical career even further.  The Buddhi closed for a bit in 1964 then reopened with Pops running the place alone.  It must have been renamed the New Buddhi then:

buddhi bob grossman

(Oklahoma’s Coffee Houses and Folk Music Era Facebook page)

After a couple more years, Pops closed the still-popular coffeehouse for good in about 1968.  One other 1960s coffeehouse, the Black Brick, which was famous for its non-alcoholic fruity drinks and loungy floor pillows where people could relax and hang out, may have been located where the Blue Door is now.  It lasted a bit longer but I believe it closed in the early 1970s.

As for Steve Brainard, he continued with his music until settling down to get married and have kids.  He eventually ended up back in Oklahoma in Guthrie.  Here’s a last photo of Steve and the Wayfarers gang preparing for a performance at the Buddhi in 1961:

wayfarers 1961

(OPUBCO collection at The History Center)

You can read more about the Gourd and Buddhi and the acts that played at each place here.  Also, local writer and photographer John Gumm wrote a several-part article about Beatnik hangouts around the U.S. — read his entry about the Gourd here:

brainard 1 final 2

brainard 1 - final gourd buddhi

brainard 2 final

brainard 2 final 2

brainard 3 final

brainard 4 final

brainard 5 final

Signs o’ the Times in Small Town Oklahoma

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

On a recent girls’ trip to a secluded cabin in the eastern part of the state, I marked two great vintage signs off my must-see list — the deliciously Googie Isle of Capri, which has been a mainstay in Krebs since 1950:


… and the stunning End of Trail Motel sign in Broken Bow:


These are just two of a plethora of great signs located in small towns all across Oklahoma.  I have dozens more that I’ve “collected” over the years, including several in Bartlesville:


Murphy’s Steakhouse is a true Bartlesville icon and is home to the famous hot hamburger — you can try the recipe for this gut buster at home if you dare!


Sadly, the Limey was closed and long gone when I took this photo, but the cheerful sign still spins in its efforts to advertise … well, nothing.


I love the Googie greatness of the Comanche Center sign, don’t you?


The Traveler’s Motel sign isn’t too shabby, either.

I took these on a trip to Muskogee in 2010:


This beautifully restored sign in downtown Muskogee, OK, received the Downtown Mainstreet Best Sign award in 2009. Here’s what the Main Street newsletter said about the sign:

“The black metal sign with neon tubing and diamond design projected from the Surety Building above the corner of Third and Broadway for over 90 years. After four generations of family ownership, the jewelry store closed over 30 years ago. However, the sign remained a landmark in Muskogee. Martha Griffin, who rents the space where McEntee’s was, received permission from the building’s owners to restore the sign. She incurred the expense herself as a gift to the community. Work included removing the sign, simply cleaning the surface, replacing the neon gas, and reinstalling it. As the nomination states, ‘It took several attempts to get the neon to work properly, but the sign now provides a beautiful glow over a very historic corner of Muskogee’s downtown.'”

The eight-story Surety Building where McEntee’s Diamonds lived for decades was built in 1910 for the Southern Surety Company. It was added to the National Register in 1986, and, after being vacant for years, was converted into an apartment building. It looks like it’s in great shape today.


There was talk a few years ago of restoring the circa 1922 Muskogee Hotel and turning it into artist space, but I’m not sure if that has happened.


Sadly, a 2007 fire destroyed the cluster of beautiful gingerbread buildings that made up this business in downtown Muskogee, and the ruins and sign came down a couple of years ago from what I hear.


The very original Trail Motel in Enid is one of my favorite mom and pop places to stay, and the sign is so fun!  And how great are these gems in McAlester?



I love these beauties in Chickasha, too:




And you have to love a little God Mod neon, like this one in Healdton:


The long-gone Eagle Park in Cache is still remembered through these wonderfully rusty and crusty leftovers:



The trading post is still open, and you can book tours of the nearby Quanah Parker house here.

Shawnee is home to some great signage, too:






And, finally, this is one of my very favorite sign finds ever:


This sticker sign was on a window at an abandoned sheet metal and appliance repair shop in Sulphur, OK.  When I took the photo in 2010, Sulphur was a pretty bleak looking place with just a few businesses open in the downtown area.  Here’s the building as it looked then:


All of that changed when the Artesian Hotel opened, of course, and now most of the structures have been restored and are occupied.  The building that accommodated this beautiful sign for decades has been revamped, too, and this delightful piece of signage is, sadly, gone.

Such is progress.