Mod Blog

Roadside Oklahoma Through the Eyes of John Margolies, Part 1

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos by John Margolies courtesy of the Library of Congress.  Other photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise stated.

Photographer and author John Margolies spent much of his adult life, from 1969-2008, travelling around the country snapping photos of roadside architecture and signs that were, even then, rapidly beginning to disappear.  Googie motels, interesting attractions, crazy novelty architecture, fun signs … you name it, he captured it all in stunning color on Kodachrome film.  Luckily for us, Margolies donated his incredible collection of nearly 12,000 slides to the Library of Congress before he died in 2016 … and what a collection it is!  I’ve culled through the collection and have pulled out his Oklahoma images to share with you, and here they are in alphabetical order according to location:

AFTON

Green Acres Motel

This one is gone, but I did find a postcard view of it:

It’s also featured here.

Liquor Store and Gas Station

I’m happy to report that this building was restored and turned into the Afton Station Route 66 Museum.  If you haven’t been, you need to pop in and check out the incredible Kane family car collection, including this ultra rare 1958 Packard Hawk — yeah, you heard me right, it’s a Packard and not a Studebaker Hawk:

If you’re lucky, you can also meet museum regular and Legends of Oklahoma honoree, Ron Jones, who is covered in Route 66 tattoos and even had his ’57 Chevy decked out in Route 66 signs on “Counting Cars” — so cool!

ANADARKO

Indian City

These photos of Indian City were taken in 1979, long before the iconic Indian City closed its doors about 10 years ago.  Here’s a video of the site in 2017.

ARCADIA

Gibble Gas station, 1979

The building has either been severely altered or demolished.

BARTLESVILLE

Boals TV, 1979

Does anyone know if this building is still around?

Tastee-Freez and Zesto Ice Cream Shops, 1979

Both of these Bartlesville icons are long gone, but one local reporter remembers them fondly.

CANUTE

Cotton Boll Motel, 1982

Although the motel closed long ago and is now a personal residence, I’m happy to say that the beautiful Cotton Boll Motel sign is still up and has become a Route 66 destination for photographers around the world.  Here’s the sign in 2013:

and in 2016:

CATOOSA

Blue Whale tables and chairs

Surprisingly, there’s not an image of the famous Blue Whale in Margolies’ collection, but the tables are still there as you can see in this Atlas Obscura photo:

CHEROKEE

Miller’s Dairy King, 1979

I believe this one is long gone.

CHICKASHA

Tip Top Cleaners

The building to the right in the background looks like the Petroleum Building at the corner of 4th and Chickasha, but I can’t find structures that resemble the Tip Top Cleaners, so it has either been altered or is gone, I’m assuming.  If the building is still around, I think it must be one of these.

Gas station, 1979

I think this has been demolished.

CLAREMORE

El Sueno Motel, 1982

Constructed in 1938, owner Jack Sibley modeled the building after the famous Alamo Court Motel chain.

Founded in 1929, at one time there were over 20 Alamo Plaza Courts motels spread throughout the Southwest, making this one of the first motel chains in the country.  Go here to see photos I took of the Alamo Plaza Courts Motel in Dallas in 1985 and again in 2010 before it was demolished in January 2011.

And, in case you’re wondering, there was an Alamo Plaza here in OKC, too, at 4407 S. Robinson.  It was constructed in 1937 and demolished in the 1980s.

As for the El Sueno, it’s still around and is now the Adobe Village Apartments.

Round Up Motel, 1982

While the motel is gone, this fantastic sign was saved and restored.

CLINTON

Ideal Trailer Park and Fireworks Stand, 1982 

I believe this one is gone.

COYLE

Borden’s Ice Cream, 1996

There’s not much left in Coyle, including the ice cream shop, which I believe was located in this building.

Free Museum, 1996

In this near ghost town, it looks like there’s still a little life left at the museum.

EL RENO

Dairy Boy, 1979

I think there are two Dairy Boys left, one in Minco and the other in Okemah.  I stopped at the one in Okemah back in 2017 and the place was hopping:

I also took this shot of the Dairy Boy in Lexington in 2009:

That location is now the site of a propane company.

Oasis Drive-In, 1979

This great and very tall sign with two palm trees advertised the iconic Oasis Drive-In along Route 66 on the outskirts of El Reno.  By the early 2000s, the building and sign were in sad shape, but because it was such a Route 66 icon and beloved by the citizens of El Reno, owners received grant money to restore the sign.  The sign’s good fortune didn’t last, unfortunately, and it toppled during a heavy storm in 2009:

Sadly, this optimistic promise didn’t come to fruition and the two palm trees and building were demolished.

ELK CITY

Queenann Indian Trading Post, 1982

The trading post was owned and operated by Wanda Queenan, who donated this fabulous totem to the Old Town/Route 66 Museum when she began working there.  He continues to guard over the place today:

 

ENID

Charburg Ice Cream, 1979

This local gathering spot was located on E. Main, but I’m not sure where.

GUTHRIE

Downtown buildings, 1996

Whoever would have thought that a Radio Shack sign would become something you see only in vintage images?  Here’s the first view today and the second view today, where the building on the right is gone.

Here’s another downtown beauty that given a Streamline makeover and covered in peach vitrolite decades ago:

And the same building now.  If you like vitrolite, there’s another similarly covered building down the block.  This one was originally peach, too, as you can see in this image from 2013 — the sign is pretty great, too:

Alas, the sign is gone and the building has been painted a bland green.

HINTON

Gibble Gas Station, 1979

There were several Gibble gas stations around the state, with a few fading and abandoned examples remaining.  I found this Gibble gas pump back in 2008 in Bristow:

LAWTON

Al’s Corner, 1982

Does anyone know if this building is still around?

Rosa’s Fruit Stand, 1993

Rosa’s was located on Route 49.

MANGUM

Capitol Drive In Theater, 1982

According to cinematreasures.org, this theater opened on June 29, 1950 and could accommodate 282 cars.  It closed in 1969, and here’s the site of the theater today.

MEDICINE PARK

Merry Circle, 1993

I think that this was the entrance to the cabins on Merry Circle — if that’s the case, it’s no longer there.

MIAMI

Cherokee Motel, 1982

At the Cherokee, there was an onsite marriage parlor so that patrons who didn’t care to endure the three-day wait period could get married and honeymoon at the same spot.  The motel is history, but here are a few postcards from 66postcards.com that will give you an idea of what this mid-century modern beauty looked like:

NORMAN

Gibble Gas Station, 1979

Yep, we get to see another Gibble gas station, this time in Norman.  According to Roadside Architecture (a.k.a. Debra Jane Seltzer, who is a member of the Mod Squad), the station “was probably built by an independent company.  By the mid-1930s, it was a Phillips 66 station.  In 1938, it was a Deep Rock station and by 1940, it was a Barnsdall station.  In the 1960s and 1970s, it was in use as a Gibble station.”

The station, located at Himes and Porter, has been abandoned for decades:

Park Lodge Motel, 1979

Oh my gosh, how cute is this place?  Unfortunately, it was demolished sometime in the 1980s or early 1990s and replaced with a Braum’s.

 

On that sad note, we will wrap things up for the week.  Next time, we will explore more of John Margolies’ incredible photos as we make stops in OKC, Perry, Sallisaw, and more towns around the state.

 

1964: The Year of the Sonic Boom

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos from the Oklahoma History Center, brochure from Lynne’s collection.

One piece of quirky OKC history that has long fascinated me involves the sonic boom tests that occurred here over 50 years ago.  Yes, our lovely metropolitan area was selected to determine how the sonic boom would affect everyday life, so for six long and very loud months in 1964, Oklahoma City was subjected to loud booms eight times a day.  It’s such a fascinating story, and I was delighted to pick up a little ephemera from that time explaining to an unsuspecting public that multi-times-a-day blasts were about to become their new reality.  It’s good stuff!

Click an image to enlarge it:

To go along with this brochure, check out this fascinating article about the sonic boom tests by Matt Novak — it’s here .

In addition, looking through the Oklahoman archives at the Oklahoma History Center, I found several images from this time and thought it would be fun to share them with you.

By the early 1960s, scientists and engineers were developing the technology for Supersonic Transport (SST), but the Kennedy administration wanted to test to see how Americans handled the sonic boom that came with that mode of travel.  They were hoping that testing would prove that sonic booms were no big deal and SST planes would be built to carry travellers across the country (and the world) in record times, as this brochure from the SST Museum in Florida shows:

Oklahoma City was selected as one of the lucky cities to undergo six months of booms. The heavy line is the route the flights took over the area:

And a visual of what a sonic boom “looked” like:

One of the 11 sites where the FAA set up testing equipment to measure the sound and effects of the booms was located in a recently constructed home located at 329 NW 91st St.:

Here’s the unhappy looking home now:

(OK County Tax Assessor)

Local builders and architects gathered for a panel discussion about the testing.  Members included Don Burton, Bruce Stout, Don Andrews, Jr., Truett Coston, Lee Sorey, and J. Ray Matlock:

Another home that was used by the FAA to gauge the effects of the booms was located at 919 Kenilworth.  This home was built in 1958, and newspaper reporters were allowed inside to watch an FAA team hard at work monitoring results after a fly over:

Here’s the home now:

(OK County Tax Assessor)

Measurements were also taken at the First National Bank building in downtown:

Just a month after the fly-overs began, protesters gathered to demand a halt to the activity:

This poor man was blind and worked at a newsstand at the State Capitol.  Every time a sonic boom blasted the area, his terrified seeing eye dog, Fraulein, took off and left him stranded:

The booms continued, however, and Oklahoma City heard the abrupt, deafening explosions eight times a day.  The shocks were so severe that several residents reported damage of all kinds:

Even the local birds seemed unhappy with the situation and took hasty flight every time a jet flew overhead:

The FAA and crews at Tinker offered tours of the F101 and F104 jets that were causing all of the havoc:

But after 1,253 blasts, people were relieved when the experiment ended on July 31, 1964.  Here, crews at Tinker get the word that the testing was over:

Over the next two years, residents cleaned up the messes that the booms made, while researchers and FAA staff analyzed the data they provided:

In 1968, the head of the FAA came to Oklahoma City with the news that the testing was inconclusive.

He stated that, “despite U.S. development of a supersonic transport, the FAA has not yet concluded whether the craft’s sonic boom will be tolerable.”  By 1971, the hope for SST travel in the U.S. was dead, although Concord flights would go between the U.S. and France for the next three decades.

In Memoriam: Buildings We Lost in 2017 … and a Few Saves, Too

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos from the History Center collection, modern-day photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise stated.

Every year, more and more of our iconic mid century buildings are coming down to make way for new development and while it’s not always a bad thing, sometimes we lose some real gems.  Here are a few of those gems that we lost in 2017:

Allied Building

Designed by Wright & Selby, the concrete block-covered Allied Building was a long-time favorite of mod lovers around the city.

After the Salvation Army moved out of the building a few years ago, the mod marvel languished and many knew that unless it was saved soon, it would be gone.  Alas, it wasn’t saved and the building came down in March as you can see in this photo by OKCTalk’s Pete Brzycki:

Pete also posted plans for the site, which may include a Starbucks:

 

KFOR Studio

In 1952, WKY opened a high-tech and very modern studio on Britton Road that rivaled others in much larger urban areas:

Here, the finishing touches are being completed on the interior studio:

By the 2000s, however, the building was looking pretty outdated and tired and KFOR (successor to WKY) decided it was time to build a new one.  I went to the old studio last year for an interview, and I have to say that the place was looking pretty darned tired and more than a little depressing:

Owners approved this design by Rees Associates, who did a great job of retaining the modern feel of the original (photos from KAUT):

Operations continued in the 1952 building while the new one was being completed next door (photo from KFOR):

When the new studio opened in the fall, the older building was demolished.

Putnam City High School Gym

The quonset hut-style gym at Putnam City High School was completed in 1957, just before the rest of the school was finished in time for the 1958 school year.  There’s a little debate in my family about the designer of this building.  Hudgins Thompson Ball (HTB) designed the school and, I assume, the gym.  But my mother is adamant that her dad, R. Duane Conner designed the gym and HTB did the rest of the school.  I haven’t been able to find any proof of this, but my mom is usually right in her recollections of such things, so I’m inclined to believe her.  Anyway, here’s the gym under construction:

Just three years after it was completed, the gym was hit by a tornado and had to be partially rebuilt:

This building has hosted many a nail-biting basketball game and festive dance over the years, but it is being heavily altered to create a new entrance to the school.  Here’s the dreaded fence surrounding the building … but, luckily there’s not an orange painted MW sign anywhere:

And, here’s the interior of the gym that’s is undergoing asbestos removal before demolition begins:

From what I’ve learned, the shell of the building will remain and a new entrance to the school is going to be created from the gym.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a photo of what the finished project, designed by Sparks Reed Architecture and Interiors, will look like.  We will know soon enough when the project is completed, I guess.

 

UPDATE:  I should have known that Pete Brzycki at OKCTalk would have the lowdown about the gym.  Here’s a note I received from him:

Lynne, I have the PC gym rendering and the details on the plans. They are renovating the ‘old’ gym (the original that was built with the school) and it will go from being east/west oriented to north/south. The new entrance will take you into the lobby then fans will go upstairs on either side, then descend to the seating below. I’m working on getting some interior renders but I’ve seen all the 3-D models. So the old gym will once again become the main gym and the ‘new’ gym will be kept as a secondary structure. If you can’t tell, there will now be 3 entrances to the school on that side: 1. existing entrance to the east gym; 2. existing entrance to ‘Pirate Hall’ and the main entry to the school for people parking in the lot and riding the bus; and a 3rd entrance to the renovated gym lobby which will sit between the other two entrances.

And here are two photos he sent of what the gym will look like when construction is complete:

John A. Brown at Quail Springs Mall

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly mid-century modern, but it was the last even remotely original looking and somewhat cool building left at Quail Springs Mall, so I’m including it.  John A. Brown was an original tenant at the mall when it opened in October of 1980 (photo from thedepartmentstoremuseum.org):

Over the years, the store became Sanger-Harris then Foley’s and finally Macy’s, which closed last year.

Soon after, Life Time Fitness bought the building and razed it to make way for a gigantic new center, complete with tennis courts and a pool:

Pretty boring replacement, aye?

Bethany Library

Oh, how I hated to see this beauty go.

It would have been nice to see the older building incorporated into the much-needed larger library, but that didn’t happen and the Bethany branch was demolished over the summer.  Construction has begun on its replacement, which should open in 2018:

Lakeside Clinic

This charming little clinic next to Raspberries & Cream on N. May was where I fantasized having our Okie Mod Squad headquarters and archive.

Here’s a photo of the whole building, which was constructed in 1957, that I “borrowed” from the OK County Tax Assessor website:

The size was just right and the building was so mod and cute, but my dreams were dashed when I drove by the long-vacant clinic a few months ago and found this:

Darn it!

I don’t know what is going to replace it, but I do know that it won’t be as sweet as the little clinic.

Suntide Motel

The Suntide was once one of the most impressive motels in Oklahoma City, probably because it boasted the most giant, space age sign in the metro:

I mean, really, can a sign get any better than this?

The motel served the public until 1976, when it was converted into a minimum security prison.  In 1999, the old motel became the Kate Barnard Correctional Center for female inmates.  The facility was closed and auctioned off in 2015.  After years of use and minimal maintenance, the old motel wasn’t looking very good when I photographed it at that time, but that amazing slanted awning still provided plenty of drama:

While out taking photos of the motel, I ran into the new buyer, who told me he planned to construct an office building on the site.  I haven’t seen any photos of what he’s planning to do, but I did manage to take a few last photos of the Suntide as it was being demolished in November.  Adios, cool awning:

Among the buildings that we need to keep an eye on in 2018 are the still-for-sale Founders Bank:

and the First Christian Church complex:

I never like to end a post on a sad note, so let’s finish up with some great saves in 2017.  First up is the remodel of the Tiffany House apartment building:

Constructed in 1966, the 12-story tower was designed by Memphis architects McGeehee and Nicholson and was one of only three residential high rises built in the era (the other two are the Lakeview Towers and Regency Tower).  The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 and became eligible for tax credits to help fund the renovation.  Once the renovation and addition are complete, the Tiffany will offer 152 luxury apartments with all of the amenities, including a pool, an entertainment area, a fitness center, a coffee bar, and controlled entry.  And, best of all, the Tiffany sign will be restored:

 

Another OKC icon that is being restored is the lovely Yale Theater in Capitol Hill.  No, it’s not mid-century mod — in fact, the building dates back to World War I — but a post-World War II renovation makes this still-attractive building worth mentioning here, I think.

The building has been vacant and deteriorating for years — here’s a photo from Cinema Treasures of the theater when the sign was still there:

And here’s one I took of the theater back in 2008:

Recently, Aimee Ahpeatone and Steve Mason purchased the building and plan to restore it to its full Art Deco glory:

I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Of course, 2017 saw the beautiful renovation of the Flamingo, which we covered on a Mod Blog in the fall:

But, definitely the biggest save of the year was the fun and funky Donnay Building at Classen Circle:

Thanks to all of you in the Mod Squad and fans of the long-time businesses in the building — Hi Lo, Drunken Fry, Charlie’s Records, and the neighboring Classen Grill — we were able to work together to convince Braum’s that this was not the most friendly location for their new store.  Soon after they backed out, a new owner came forward and plans to restore this OKC icon.  After losing so many of the Metro’s mid-century modern icons, it was a very sweet victory, indeed, to get to save this one for future generations.

 

 

Our Favorite Mod Blogs of 2017

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

by Lynne Rostochil

With 2017 nearly in the rearview mirror, it’s time to count down our top 10 blogs of the year.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as we did putting them together.  Here they are in no particular order:

1. OKC’s Beatnik Hangouts: The Gourd and the Buddhi — An old menu from the Buddhi that was carefully glued in my mother’s 60s-era scrapbook got me a little obsessed with finding out about the metro’s hoppin’ beatnik scene, and this blog was the result.  Fun stuff!

2.  Fay Taylor, Fashion Illustrator Extraordinaire — When the iconic Ruth Meyers boutique in Nichols Hills Plaza sadly closed, owner Cindi Shelby sold everything in a weekend-long sale.  Among the fixtures, furnishings, and clothes that were for sale were hundreds of drawings by the fabulous Fay Taylor.  I spent a solid three days at this sale ogling and coveting every single drawing and walked away with a couple of posters that I love beyond belief.  To celebrate Fay’s incredible talent, we feted her with a giant Mod Blog post.

3.  The Flamingo: Bringing a Little Palm Springs to OKC — It’s always exciting to see a downtrodden building spring back to vigorous life and that’s exactly what happened with this mid-century modern apartment complex across from the OCU campus.  Two couples, Jason and Sara Kate Little and Ben and Jessica Chamberlain are the brains behind this beautiful renovation, and I hope they have more projects in store if this is what they can do.  The Flamingo is perfection.

4.  Herb Greene Visits Norman and His Prairie House — One of the biggest treats of the year was walking around the neglected-but-still-stunning Prairie Chicken House with the creative genius who designed it, Herb Greene.

5.  In the Rearview, The Life and Times of OKC’s Most Notorious Bootlegger — The crazy, sordid story of local bootlegger, Lindsey Chambless is one with so many crazy twists and turns that I had to break it down into five parts.  Truth is often stranger than fiction, they say, and this story of bootlegging, gangsters, and murder certainly proves that.

6.  Save the Circle: A Brief History of the Donnay Building and Why We Should Save It — Oklahomans love the Donnay Building and came out in force to fight to save it and the four fun and funky businesses within when Braum’s planned to demolish the iconic structure for a new store.  After much debate and a hearing before the Planning Commission, Braum’s backed out and a new owner has come forward and plans to give the Donnay Building the love it deserves.  Woo hoo!!

7.  The Drawings of Garth Kennedy — When engineer Garth Kennedy’s Forest Park treehouse hit the market in 2016, realtor Monty Milburn let me photograph some of the owner’s blueprints that were being sold with the house.  Although he wasn’t an architect, Kennedy obviously had a passion and talent for design and even saw a few of his creations built.

8.  On the Market: A To-Die-For Mid-Mod in Midwest City — I’ve toured a lot of mid-century modern homes over the years, but one of my very favorites has to be this beauty that was for sale in Midwest City’s posh Meadowood neighborhood.  I loved everything about it and hope that the new owner will keep its sexy details intact.

9.  Signs o’ the Times in Small Town Oklahoma — I don’t know why but vintage signs completely captivate me, so it’s probably no surprise that this Mod Blog post made the top 10.

10.  Recapping the Oklahoma Modernism Weekend and The Oklahoma Modernism Weekend Mod Home Tour — This year’s Oklahoma Modernism Weekend was the most fun I’ve had all year, and these Mod Blogs detail all of the events from the two-day mod celebration.  We are already planning the 2018 weekend and will have all kinds of information for you soon.

It was definitely an exciting year for the Okie Mod Squad and here’s hoping that 2018 will be even bigger and better!

Happy Holidays, Mod Squad Style — 2017

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil

Man, this holiday season came quickly this year!  If you’re like me and are feeling very unprepared for it all, grab a much-needed drinky, sit down, and relax as you check out these vintage images of yuletide’s past.  Let’s begin with a couple of photos of spoiled brat cute little tots:

I love this one from 1956 of a little girl with those awful pink curlers in her hair hanging her stockings with care.  I guess that Santa came in through the window at her house:

And, if vintage Christmas trees are your thing, check out these cuties — one person liked her table top tree so much that he/she made sure to photograph it from every angle:

These two lovely ladies don’t look very comfortable sitting in their pencil skirts by the tree, but they sure look good:

Ed and Clara celebrate 25 years of marriage with this card from 1956:

And I love this one from 1947:

The note on the back of this card reads, “Dear Dr. Spivey,  Our boys will be ten years old the 27th — and, as you know, are a source of constant joy to us.  They have had their tonsils out, are wearing braces on their teeth, and are about fixed up.  At this season of the year we always think of you and wish we could have as big a part in your happiness as you have had in ours.  Sincerely, The McCalls.”

Very sweet.  This next card, not so much if clowns freak you out:

To me, he looks like a very proud papa clown who can’t wait until his little munchkin can perform under the big top with him.

And, with that, we will say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanzaa, or just Happy Holidays to all of you great Squadders out there!

 

Living for the Very, Very Young Homemakers

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

by Lynne Rostochil

I am the least crafty person on the planet, but every holiday season I make a gallant but ultimately pathetic attempt to create something in the spirit of the season.  The project may be a painted ornament or a centerpiece or even a mod gingerbread house like this one I made a few years ago:

I didn’t have any ideas for this year and decided to look through some vintage magazines in my collection for ideas.  Well, I didn’t find a craft project, but I did find some pretty crazy photo spreads in the December 1960 issue of Living For Young Homemakers magazine that I just had to share with you.

This first set of images is pretty sweet and shows a bunch of tots dressed in their best attire and celebrating the holidays with a “punch-and-cooky” party, showing that “hospitality is a lesson being learned by the youngest of merrymakers.”

Here’s where things get fun.  In another article, photographer Burt Owen created scenes of daily life with dolls taking the place of actual people.  The images look like something out of an especially creepy “Twilight Zone” episode and definitely reinforce antiquated stereotypes, but they are fascinating nonetheless.

After looking at these most unusual images, I completely forgot all about my craft project and had to scan and share this crazy find with you.  This is way more fun than getting my fingers stuck together with glittered glue as I clumsily try to get crafty, anyway.

Holiday Shopping Guide 2017

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil

Thanksgiving is over and the frenzy of holiday shopping has begun in earnest!  If you’re still making your shopping list, here are a few gift ideas for the modern lover in your life.

1.  Give the gift of Goff

This year, former Bruce Goff student and Professor Emeritus of Architecture at OU, Arn Henderson, finally published his highly anticipated and very thorough homage to Goff and his amazing body of work.  Although Goff never received a degree, Frank Lloyd Wright stated that the architect was “one of the most talented members of the group of young architects devoted to an indigenous architecture for America.”  Unlike some of the more academic (i.e., unreadable) architecture books in my collection, Henderson’s book is highly readable and very insightful at the same time, and, of course, it helps that there are a ton of great photos to provide entertaining eye candy, too.  This beautiful tome a must-have for any architecture lover.

2.  Spruce up your outdoor space

Koby Click, who owns and operates Space. 20th Century Modern has put his mod-loving aesthetic to work in designing and producing his unique take on the outdoor fireplace.  Comprised of a series of sharp angles from head to toe, the fireplaces are made of thick steel in a variety of dramatic patinas that will certainly weather a lifetime or two of use.  If these massive fireplaces are too large for your space, Koby is also making smaller, table-top versions that can be used as incense burners.  Pop by his shop and have a look at these beauties, and I’m sure you’ll walk away with one or two.

3.  Ogle over a few (hundred) signs

If you love vintage signs, roadside architecture, and mid-century modern buildings, you likely know all about Debra Jane Seltzer and her amazingly thorough and very fun website, roadsidearchitecture.com.   I don’t go on any road trip without first consulting Debra Jane’s site and making a list of all of the places to see on the way to my destination — and, best of all, she’s a Squadder, too!  So, I was especially excited when she released her first book, Vintage Signs of America, a few months ago.   Not only has Debra Jane documented signs from around the country, but she also knows the detailed history about most of them and shares all of her knowledge with her readers.  It’s a great resource guide, and, in case you’re wondering, several Oklahoma signs made the cut!

4.  Get a little sudsy

Normally, I’m not very girlie and don’t go for fancy toiletries and sundries, but when I spotted these handmade, wool-wrapped soaps at [HIVE], the beautifully curated and eclectic gift shop at [Artspace] at Untitled, I just had to have them.  I will reluctantly part with a couple of them to stuff a few stockings, but I’m keeping the rest for myself.  They are lovely to look at, smell great, and are locally made with all-natural ingredients.  What’s not to love about that?  Supplies are limited, so pick up a bar or two or 10 before they run out!

4.  Embrace the Kitsch

A lot of really wonderful books have come out this year, which is why reading materials make up half of this year’s list.  One of my favorites is by our friend, Charles Phoenix, who made an exciting appearance at this year’s Oklahoma Modernism Weekend in June and charmed everyone he met.  His new book, Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic and Kitschy American Life & Style is 176 pages of pure and very exuberant fun and even features Route 66’s Desert Hills Motel sign on the cover — way to go, Tulsa!  Inside, readers will learn all about how Charles created his niche career after finding a shoe box of slides labeled “Trip Across the U.S., 1957”  at a thrift store.  This book is as delightful as Charles himself and would make a great addition to any library.

5.  Invest in a dream

One of the most exciting things to happen in OKC’s thriving art scene this year is the creation of SHIFT by Factory Obscura.  Modeled after Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, the interactive and oh-so-fun exhibition opened at Current Studio a few weeks ago and has been a huge hit — best of all, it’s free!  The organizers would like to create a permanent and much larger SHIFT in the metro and are looking for the public’s help in making their dream come to fruition.  So, if you’d like to give to a good cause in the name of the mod person in your life, consider this as a possibility.  Go here to donate.

6.  Relive the glory days of the mom and pop motel

If you love the cover of this incredible sophomore effort by California’s own Heather David, you will be enthralled by everything inside Motel California, I promise!  Heather has spent years scouring flea markets and antique shops in search of rarely seen vintage postcards, photographs, and ephemera and has researched the history of the hundreds of mid-century-era motels scattered around her home state and compiled all of that into this very informative and entertaining book.  And if you were a kid who couldn’t wait to get to your vacation motel room and put a quarter into the Magic Fingers machine to enjoy your bed growling and rumbling to life, you will love learning all about the history of the company … and where you can find rooms that still boast beds with the technology.

7.  Go for a little color

If you need to add a little color to your life, I highly recommend a visit to Tariq at Abracadabra.  Not only does he carry a plethora of mid-century modern furnishings, pottery, and glass, but he’s also a very talented and adventurous artist who isn’t the least bit afraid of covering his bold compositions with plenty of exciting color.  One of his works would be just the thing to liven up a mod pad for the holidays.

8.  Learn all about Wanda

One of Oklahoma’s best treasures is surely the incomparable Wanda Jackson, and her recently released autobiography, with a forward by the one and only Elvis Costello, is out just in time for the holidays.  If you get a copy of her book here, you will receive a signed bookplated hard cover edition of what will surely become a must-read rock and roll classic.

9.  Support OKC mod

Yeah, I’m doing a little self promoting on this one, but what local mod lover wouldn’t enjoy a copy of OKC’s Mid-Century Modern Architecture?  You can even get a set of postcard images from the book and frame them or share them with friends.  Proceeds from book sales will go toward future Okie Mod Squad projects.

10. Pick up a mid-century modern goodie

If you’re looking for an authentic mid-century modern piece, visit Joe and Mark at RemodernOK in the Paseo and Mike at RetrOKC in the Plaza District.  You will find everything from dishes to lamps to furniture to holiday items in their glorious shops.  Plan to spend a long time looking around both places because there is so much to look at and lust over!

11.  Snap up some groovy wrapping paper

Of course, you need to wrap your mod gift with the perfect wrapping paper and you can’t find anything cooler than this year’s batch from the Wrap Up Homelessness collection.  All of the proceeds from the paper goes to publishing the Curbside Chronicle, which employs and empowers men and women transitioning out of homelessness in the metro.  This year, Wayne Coyne created the starring wrapping paper for the project (above), with 10 other local artists contributing designs to the project.  Featured artists include Ashley Dawn, Edgardo George and Lance King, Gayle Curry, Jack Fowler, Sean Vali, Lauren Miller, Natalie Kent, Peggy White, Steven Paul Judd, and Tiffany McKnight.

Pick up your paper at these local retailers.

Turkey Days Gone By

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos from the Oklahoma History Center.

Of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite.  It’s the one holiday that remains relatively untouched by consumerism and offers us the rare opportunity to press the Pause button on life and take stock of all of the things that make us happy and grateful.  The only goal of the day is surrounding yourself with loved ones and good food and maybe taking in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football.  What’s not to love about that?

So, to celebrate the day, I’ve compiled some images from the Oklahoma History Center’s vast photographic archive of Thanksgivings past to get you in the spirit for all of the fun.

Thanksgiving is all about (hopefully happy) reunions, like this one from 1955:

And this one from 1953, in which Vernon Cowan was spending his first holiday home after being released from a Korean POW camp:

Yeah, he knows all about being thankful after that experience, I’m sure.  If you’re the crafty type and want to take on more than just cooking for Thanksgiving, why not try making one of these delightful table centerpieces:

Alas, I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, but I can make a mean turkey just like this lovely lady did back in 1950:

Delicious … although these guys don’t think so:

And what’s Thanksgiving without making pilgrim hats out of construction paper and putting on a little show?

Does the cute boy on the left look familiar?  In the newspaper caption, he’s identified as Joey Slack, who has grown up to be one of the most talented and best-known local artists, the incomparable Joe Slack.

Finally, if you like a little cheesecake with your turkey, here’s a cute one from 1948:

If you love old movies and TV shows, she might be familiar to you, too.  She is Phyllis Coates, who would go on to play Lois Lane opposite George Reeves in the movie, “Superman and the Mole Men” and the first season of the TV series, “Superman”:

After the first season, Phyllis left the show and was replaced by the Lois Lane that most of us remember, Noel Neill (who had originally appeared as Lois Lane in a few Superman movies in the late 1940s):

So, there’s your little bit of trivia for the day.  Gobble, gobble!

Hill Crest Heights: Southwest Oklahoma City’s Finest Addition

Posted by on Nov 15, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Brochure courtesy of Mike Brown.  Photos from the OK County Tax Assessor website.

I always love a good homes brochure, and Mike Brown at RetrOKC recently passed on one he found at an estate sale not too long ago.  It advertises Ferguson’s Hill Crest Heights neighborhood, which is located between S. Kentucky and Blackwelder and SW 59th and SW66th:

The modest but well-cared-for neighborhood began being developed in 1952 and homes were constructed throughout the decade.  Most of the homes featured three bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, and one-car garages — here are more amenities they offered:

The homes in Hill Crest Heights were built in a variety of styles, from quaint cottages to ranch style to even a modest mod here and there:

The brochure includes six model homes that were available for touring.  All were located on SW 61st Terrace.

Plan 1488-C sold for a whopping $13,850 and featured two exaggerated a-line windows in front that evoked the popular Storybook style:

Here’s the 1488-C today:

The 1486-A was designed for lovers of gingerbread:

The home today:

Next up is Plan 1511-A, a modest ranch:

And the home today:

The fourth model home is quite similar but offers a larger living room and has no dining room:

Here’s the model today:

The L-shaped fifth model features a compact plan that sold for $13,100 in 1961:

The house now:

The last model, 1485-B, combines the living and dining areas and contains a closed off kitchen area:

And here’s this cutie now:

The back cover of the brochure features ads from local businesses:

Good stuff!

 

On the Market: A Sputnik Delight in Belle Isle

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

text and photos of home by Lynne Rostochil.  Other images identified in captions.

Last week, I got to tour a recently refreshed beauty in Belle Isle that hit the market on Sunday that has been lovingly restored by realtor Ken Hutmacher and designer Terezia Grillo with Grillo Ventures.  The duo found the original plans to the house and decided to faithfully follow them in restoring the house to its original glory.  This included building new lattices for the two front windows that had been removed long ago.  Here’s a tax assessor site photo of what the house looked like before — pretty sad and dull, aye?

The house definitely looks complete and much more appealing with the latticed windows:

The attention to detail doesn’t end there.  The front courtyard is a mid-century lover’s dream, with rock, beautifully matured palms, and a fab mod mailbox … in turquoise, of course:

And check out the fantastic and all-original zig-zagged walkway:

How snazzy is that?  This lovely 1,800 sf home was designed by Rex Whiting, Jr., very solidly built by Jack Clark, and constructed in 1963.  I had never heard of Whiting before and decided to do a little research about him.  He served during WWII as a Corporal in the 82nd Airborne Division and, after the end of hostilities, returned to his hometown to work with his dad, who was a building contractor.  Soon, he was designing homes.  Even though he was never a licensed architect, the stalwart Whiting’s attention to detail and passion for design made his homes popular destinations on several Parade of Homes tours in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.  According to his son, who is also a home builder, Whiting was quite prolific, designing 300-500 mostly traditionally-styled homes a year during his heyday.

One more modern home that Whiting designed was a longtime favorite of mine until it got botched a few years ago.  The mod lake house was featured as a “plan of the week” in the Oklahoman and was constructed just one year after our Belle Isle beauty in 1964:

Here’s a close up of that house:

It was long one of my favorite homes in the Silver Lake/Ski Island area — here’s what it looked like in 2002:

And here’s what I mean by botched — I can’t stand it!

Pathetic.  But, I’m happy to say that the same ISN’T the case with the Belle Isle house.  Nope, not at all.  I mean look at the perfect front door for this place — if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that it’s been there for decades, it fits so perfectly with the home:

Inside, things get even better with the all original sputnik ceiling fixture, terrazzo floors, and lattice dividers that dramatically offset the entry from the other parts of the home:

Let’s take a closer look at that gorgeous sputnik:

I mean, really, there’s no sexier lighting fixture than this, in my opinion.  Love it!  And, there are two of these babies in the house!

Here’s the view from the entry into the giant living room that overlooks a lush green backyard beyond:

Here’s another view of the living room with another all-original feature, a mod rocked fireplace trimmed in terrazzo:

That fireplace is so elegant and packs a big wow at the same time.  Originally, the room had a dropped ceiling, but Ken and Terezia vaulted it to add even more drama to the space and to make the already large room appear even bigger.  Off of the living room is a separate dining area with a new light fixture that looks right at home with its sputnik uncle in the entry:

The well-appointed kitchen is off of the dining room and features a breakfast nook, original-but-fixed-up cabinetry, and quartz countertops:

The stove/oven and dishwasher are brand new and oh-so-mod:

Man, I’d love to cook on that amazing stove, wouldn’t you?

And, as you can see, the terrazzo runs throughout the common areas of the home and is in excellent condition:

There’s an ample-sized laundry room off of the kitchen that leads to the two-car garage beyond.  On the other side of the home are three bedrooms and two baths.  Ken and Terezia have remodeled both bathrooms — the master got a brand new and very roomy shower with tilework that mimics the pattern of the front door:

But I was very happy to see that Ken and Terezia kept the original countertop that perfectly matches the terrazo floor in the bathroom:

How cool is that?!

The large master bedroom has been painted a relaxing blue/gray and features two vintage pendant lamps that Ken’s dad rescued from a college library that was being botched … ugh, I mean renovated:

This is such a peaceful space, and I love how the exterior lattice provides nice shadow play in the room in the afternoon.  Very nice.

So, I told you that this house has its original plans — check out a section:

The plans come with the original building specs document, too, which is VERY rare.

So, all of this carefully restored goodness in one of the best neighborhoods in town can be yours for $325,000.  If you’re interested in touring the home or have questions, Ken is the listing agent and can be contacted at 405-204-9052.  The address is 2604 NW 61st, and you can see more photos of the home here.

 

Thanks, Ken and Terezia, for inviting me to tour this amazing space.  I hope you decide to restore more mod homes in the future because you obviously know what you’re doing.