The Holiday Offerings of Hightower Associates
by Lynne Rostochil.
If you lived in Oklahoma City from the late 1950s through the 1970s, you know that THE fancy pants place in town to buy all of your high end silver, china, and linens was Hightower Associates located on Colcord Drive across from the beautiful Civic Center.
The luxurious shop was the brainchild of Frank and Dannie Bea Hightower, along with interior designer Warren Ramsey. The trio wanted Oklahoma City to have access to all of the upscale merchandise that could be found in New York City, so they purchased the recently vacated Woodmansee-Abbott Music Company on Main Street in 1956, closed off that entrance, and created a New York brownstone with a new entrance off of Colcord Drive. When the new Hightower Associates opened for business in the remodeled space in March 1958, the owners boasted that the “merchandise (was) picked exclusively for its high quality and taste.”
The place was a big hit from day one, with soon-to-be-brides shopping for their trouseaus, ladies who lunched looking for the newest must-have kitchen gadget, and browsers galore savoring a moment or two surrounded by the shop’s fine wares. According to Squadder, Sidney Frederickson, Hightower offered brands, such as Baccarat, Berenaud Limoges, Beleek, Georg Jensen, Bing & Grohndahl, Pratesi — some of which were available only in New York because even Neiman Marcus did not carry them. Here are a few images of Hightower Associates that Sidney shared with us:
And if all of that shopping made you hungry, you could always hop downstairs and enjoy the fine cuisine served up at the Cellar. According to Sidney, “It started as a lunch and tea room but under the management of John Bennett with input from James Beard and Julia Child it became a showplace of French Haute Cuisine.” Yum!
Even though the restaurant closed years ago, I’ve heard that it remains pretty much intact, which may be why rumors swirl every couple of years that it may reopen. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later.
By the mid-1960s, a lot of the downtown shops were beginning to relocate to suburban shopping malls, but the Hightower steadfastly remained in its original location and was as popular as ever. Just in time for the holidays in 1967, the store released a gift catalog that has left me salivating for most of the mod goodies it contains. Have a look and see what you think.
I’ll take all of the Cathrineholm and Dansk items, please. Oh and maybe a piece or two of that charming jewelry … and some of the linens … and the Braun kitchen … and …. Yep, I definitely would have been one of the gawkers … uh, I mean shoppers … at the beautiful Hightower if my budget allowed.
The charming Hightower Associates finally shut its doors in 1980 as the downtown area became more and more derelict. However, time has stood still along this bit of Colcord Drive and the facade hasn’t changed a bit since the building was remodeled over 60 years ago. It still looks like a sweet New York brownstone that is now dwarfed by its towering neighbors:
It probably hasn’t changed because the building is still owned by the family and is part of the larger Hightower office building next door. To read more about the store, check out the article about Hightower Associates that appeared in 405 magazine in 2016.