Roadside Oklahoma Through the Eyes of John Margolies, Part 2
by Lynne Rostochil. Photos by John Margolies courtesy of the Library of Congress. Other photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise stated.
I can’t wait to show you the rest of the Oklahoma photos by prolific roadside architecture and sign photographer, John Margolies that I found on the Library of Congress website. So, let’s get started!
Airline Motel, 1979
A diving girl sign in OKC?! Yes, there really was one here. The old motel is still there at 3300 SW 29th, but it’s now the Budget Inn and this oh-so-sexy sign is gone.
Airline Pharmacy, 1979
This cute motion sign was located just down the street from the Airline Motel in this building. My heart breaks when I think that this beauty likely ended up in a dumpster somewhere.
There was no name or address associated with this photo, but since it was taken the same year as the last two images, I figured it was also located on SW 29th and, sure enough, it is. The building is now home to a tamale shop and has been expanded, but it’s definitely the same.
Capitol Club, 1993
This is such a great sign, but it’s long gone, unfortunately. The building is still around and home to a club, this time the perhaps aptly named El Divorcio.
Jim Reece Barber Shop, 1993
It looks like the two buildings on this block were demolished and replaced with an ugly metal building.
Don Motel, 1979
The Streamlined Don Motel was very sweet, as you can see in these postcard images from route66university.com:
The motel is long gone and the site has been a vacant lot for decades.
Ed Reynolds Flowers, 1993
One of OKC’s most recognizable Art Deco buildings is this cute example in Film Row. For 66 years, International Crystal Manufacturing called this building home. The company sold the beautifully preserved building to Eric Fleske in 2017, and he plans to preserve the building’s character while updating it for more modern use.
Man, Oklahoma City had some killer signs back in the day, and this was surely one of the best. Although it’s hard to believe when you drive down Lincoln Boulevard now, the street was once lined with dozens of mid century mom and pop motels like this one.
Here’s another photo of the fantastic Flamingo sign from the Oklahoman archives at the Oklahoma History Center:
As the area began to deteriorate in the 1970s, the motels on Lincoln fell one by one until there are none left today.
Gas Station, 1979
This glorious building was originally a Snyder Super Service Station designed by Schumacher & Winkler and built in 1932. After it opened at NW 13th and Broadway, the Oklahoma Meter (an OG&E publication) described the structure as “a clever blending of distinctive prominence, through height and mass, with quiet dignity through simplicity and grace of line.” The gas station fell into disrepair after I-235 bypassed Broadway, but it was lovingly restored in the late 1980s and turned into a used car lot. Sadly, the building was demolished a decade later and replaced with a Mercedes dealership.
Herb’s Furniture, 1993
It looks like this place has remained boarded up and closed since this photo was taken.
Hollie’s Diner, 1993
Hollie’s was a local fixture from the day it opened at Sheridan and Western in 1947 until it closed soon after this photo was taken in 1993. Today, the cute pig is alive and well at the Hollie’s Steakhouse in Moore.
Milk Bottle Building, 1993
This sweet building was constructed in 1930 at a streetcar stop and the bottle was added in 1948. It was added to the National Register in 1998 and completely restored a couple of years ago.
Puddin’ Lane, 1982
Oh, how I adore this sign and lament the fact that it’s gone. Darn it!
Red Rock Cafe, 1979
This beautiful rock building was located at 2801 NE 23rd, and there’s not one rock left at the site today because it has been replaced with an ugly metal structure.
Red Rock Motel, 1979
The Red Rock Motel was located at the same address as the Red Rock Cafe and was torn down long ago.
Skyview Drive-In Theater, 1993
This grand theater on NE 23rd was surely one of the most impressive drive-ins in the metro area. It was designed by architect David Baldwin and constructed in 1948 at the corner of NE 23rd and Coltrane near Forest Park. Here’s a postcard image of the theater when it was new:
According to a post on cinematreasures.org, “Sam Kapriolotis, a Greek immigrant, was briefly raised in New York City around 1900, then his dad and brother went back to Greece. Sam stayed, adopted the new last name of Caporal, after his favorite cigarette brand, made his way west to Oklahoma City, and opened a movie theater in 1916. 32 years later, in 1948, he and his three sons built the Skyview. Architect David Baldwin designed the structure, 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.”
It must have been a spectacular sight, indeed, to drive up that quiet country road and be greeted by the stars of the Skyview. Here’s a night shot I found of the effect in the Oklahoma History Center collection:
Sadly, the skyview closed for the 1983 season and never reopened. The dramatic screen was demolished around 1994 and the curved rows where cars once parked are now filled in with trees.
Union Bus Station, 1993
I still can’t believe this perfect little Streamline gem is gone. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Whale Car Wash, 1979
So, this is one of those things I completely forgot about until I saw John Margolies’ photo. Then, a flood of memories came back. When I was a tiny tot, I was completely mesmerized by this sweet whale and begged my dad to drive by my buddy periodically so I could say hello. It was located near the intersection of NW 50th and Meridian, according to Margolies’ caption, but I can’t remember exactly where. Do any of you remember?
Bob’s Pig Shop, 1982
I’m happy to report that Bob’s is still in this location and is doing a thriving business. Here’s a photo I took of Bob’s in 2017 — looks just the same!
Brewer’s Drive-In, 1982
This drive-in had a 500 car capacity and closed sometime in the 1990s. I found another photo of this cute theater at cinematreasures.org:
Here’s the site today.
Field Brothers Gas Station, 1982
I can’t ever drive through Pauls Valley without stopping at this Streamline marvel and taking a few shots. It hasn’t been occupied in a long time, but I often see people working on the place and taking care of it, so that’s a good thing. Here are a couple of photos from my last trip to Pauls Valley in 2017:
And here’s one from the same angle that I took in 2009 when people were working on it:
South Side Laundry Mat and Stone Restaurant, 1982
I’m not sure if these rock buildings are still around. Do any of you know?
Pawhuska Gas Station, 1979
Now that’s a mom and pop gas station! It kind of reminds me of the iconic Lucille’s in Hydro by thehistoricroute66:
I don’t know if this cute little building is still around or not.
Barber Shop, 1996
I’m not sure if this is still there, either. Any ideas?
Kumback Lunch, 1996
The Kumback Lunch opened in 1926 and claims to be the oldest eatery in Oklahoma with the same name and original location. The front of the building has gotten a makeover since this photo was taken, but the original Deco tile and Eat sign are still there:
Dairy Queen, 1979
This beauty is gone, but there is a somewhat similar vintage Dairy Queen sign along Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona:
The Holbrook sign was almost taken down in 2016, but so many Route 66 sign lovers pleaded with Dairy Queen to allow it to stay that the corporation gave in. So, at least one of these vintage beauties gets to remain in the wild.
Lindsey Tire, 1979
This building looks really familiar to me — can any identify its location?
Griffin’s Dairy Cup, 1979
Griffin’s was located at this intersection.
Dairy Queen, 1979
Another beautiful Dairy Queen sign that is gone.
Skating sign, 1979
This is one of the rare instances when a vintage photo of a sign looks worse than the modern-day version. Obviously, someone has spruced up this beauty over the years.
I believe this sweet porcelain station was located here. I mean, really, someone couldn’t have turned this station into a small office building instead of knocking it down and replacing it with such blandness? Well, I guess we are lucky to still have porcelain-panelled examples in OKC with the Pump Bar, which is a converted Texaco station and the Cities Services station in Tulsa, which is on the National Register.
Here’s the Pump Bar before it was restored:
And here’s an Oklahoman photo of the very hoppin’ spot now:
On that happy note, we will stop here and finish up with the rest of John Margolies’ historic and captivating images next week. See you then!