Posts By: lrostochil

On the Market: A Storybook Dream in Quail Creek

Posted by on Jan 21, 2019 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.

Along a stretch of hillside on Quail Creek Road sits a cluster of four split-level homes on the golf course that I’ve adored for years.  So, when I drove by an estate sale at one of them, I couldn’t wait to pull over and check it out.

How completely charming is this storybook stunner?  I love it so much and it’s probably no surprise that the king and queen of storybook architecture in OKC, Luke and Dorothy Rodgers, designed and built this two bedroom/three bath beauty in 1963 that boasts one of the best views of the Quail Creek golf course.  Before we start talking about this home, I have to warn you that I couldn’t get very good shots because people were milling around.  With that said, here we go.

The front door opens to an entry hall that stretches nearly the entire length of the house:

While we’re here, check out the great detail on the front door:

And the band of windows looking out the front:

Almost every room of the house branches off from this hallway, so let’s go to the right and check out the first bedroom and bathroom:

I love that lattice cabinetry and the all-original pulls and the bedroom is large and nice and bright, too.

Back into the entry hall and up a stair is the GIANT living/dining room overlooking the golf course.  It is so fab:

If you’re a barware collector, you’ll love this — a mirrored bar in the living room where you can display all of your treasures:

Here’s the view from the dining room:

Wow, wow, wow!

The kitchen is off of the living room and is just as huge … and even better, it’s all original:

Yeah, this kitchen had me at the intercom.  So fun!  And the view continues with the breakfast room that is part of the kitchen:

Let’s leave the house for a minute and check out that glorious backyard right at the #9 tee box:

Imagine waking up to this every day!

Back inside and down a half flight of stairs off of the entry …

… is the master suite.  My shot of the master bedroom is terrible because there were people everywhere — it’s much better than this …

… and it opens onto a private, protected patio:

Back inside is a very cool arrangement for the master bathroom:

Yes, that vanity with the diagonal mirror has sinks on both sides — how cool is that?  I’ve seen this sink arrangement in one other Quail Creek house but a flipper pulled it out.  I hope the new owner of this home decides to keep it because it’s pretty fab, don’t you think?

From the master bedroom, another half flight of stairs leads down to the enormous bonus room that includes a little kitchen:

This flexible space has a bathroom and could easily be converted into a third bedroom, an office, or a game room.  And, this space isn’t included in the courthouse-calculated square footage of the home.  The courthouse lists it as 2,391 square feet, but it’s actually 3,613 square feet with this bonus room.

Back up the stairs …

… out the front door, and you’ll see the beauty of the design of this house.  It’s so unique and is a real treasure:

At $545,000, this home is priced to sell and I have to say that I’m very concerned that a new buyer will knock down this storybook delight and construct something much larger on the lot.  If you’d like to keep this beauty intact, please give the realtor, Norma Harris, a call right away.  I’m sure this house won’t be on the market for long at this price:

And if you want to see more images of this home, go to this Zillow listing.

 

What’s on the Tube? A KWTV Schedule from 1955

Posted by on Jan 15, 2019 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Program from Lynne’s collection.  Vintage photos courtesy of the Oklahoma History Center.

While digging through a bunch of ephemera at a recent estate sale, I found an intriguing document: a program schedule from January 1955 for KWTV, now Channel 9.

Let’s begin with a little history:

The TV station was the brainchild of John Griffin, whose dad, J.T., had started two radio stations, KTUL in Tulsa and KOMA in OKC, in the 1930s.  The new television station went on the air for the first time on December 23, 1953 and initially shared a transmission tower with KOMA until its own tower went into full operation on April 5, 1955 … and oh what a tower it was:

At 1,572 feet, the new transmission tower was the tallest manmade structure in the world at the time.  To give you some perspective, that’s a whopping 300 feet taller than the Empire State Building:

Wowza!

Needless to say, when the tower was completed, it was feted in a big way, as you can see from these congratulatory announcements in the Oklahoman:

… and my favorite …

How great is that graphic?

The fanfare continued at the $650,000 tower’s dedication.  Up-and-coming TV star Johnny Carson …

… arrived in Oklahoma to act as master of ceremonies and actress/dancer, Vera Ellen …

… performed a little dance at the 1,300-foot level landing of the tower.  She was a lot braver than I would be, that’s for sure.

With a tower that size, KWTV — which got its call letters from World’s Tallest Video — could reach an audience that stretched throughout the Southwest.  So, thanks to this marvel of engineering, this programming schedule for the CBS affiliate reached people far beyond Oklahoma City.

As a CBS station, KWTV was home to seven of the top 10 shows in 1955.  Here’s each show and its ranking:

#1  $64,000 Question

#2  I Love Lucy

#3  The Ed Sullivan Show

#5  The Jack Benny Show

#6  December Bride

It looks like this show had a pretty mod set:

#9  The Millionaire

#10  I’ve Got a Secret

With all of those popular shows, it’s no wonder that KWTV built that giant tower so more and more Americans could tune in and then perhaps rush out to the store and purchase whatever products sponsored each show.  Gotta love that consumerism!

As for the sky-touching transmission tower, it operated for over five decades until the digital age rendered it obsolete and it was dismantled in 2014.

 

 

In Memoriam: Buildings We Lost in 2018 … and a few saves

Posted by on Jan 8, 2019 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos by Lynne Rostochil, Sunshine Gadbury, Bob Bowlby and courtesy of KFOR and the Oklahoma History Center.

It seemed that the wrecking ball in the metro area was pretty quiet for most of 2018, but when it started swinging in the fall, one iconic Oklahoma City structure after another toppled, leaving many long-time residents shuddering with shock and anger.  No doubt about it, we lost some irreplaceable treasures….

The demo fest began at the end of August with the demise of the Carlisle Motel on NW 39th.  Many would say that the motel really died when its iconic neon sign was removed back in 2013 and replaced with a real yawner of a plastic sign:

The motel was constructed on a then-rural stretch of Route 66 around 1943 and named Carlyle Court:

Such streamlined goodness!  In the 1950s, the garages were converted into rooms, the office was enlarged, a pool was added, and the whole place received the more ranch modern look that we were accustomed to.  I always dreamed to buying the Carlyle and sprucing it into a fun and very retro wayside inn that could be a destination spot in OKC.  All of those dreams came to an abrupt end beginning August 28th, when the Carlyle began to disappear, gobbled into oblivion to be replaced with an On Cue:

So long, Carlyle….

Next up is a place that we all knew was on the chopping block but still had hopes that it would be saved.  I’m talking about the sprawling mod Parker-Black House at 6900 N. Country Club Drive, pictured here when it was still happy in 2009:

The 6,200 sf beauty was constructed in 1958 for banker William M. Parker and overlooked the OKC Golf and Country Club golf course.  The Parkers were very social folks — he with civic and fraternal organizations and she with the Junior League:

The impressive yet very comfortable home they built featured tons of glass and flagstone as you can see in this photo Mod Squadder, Sunshine Gadbury snapped a few months before the home came down:

Amazing!

The Parker family lived in the home until the early 1970s, when it was purchased by businessman R.K. Black, who owned it until 2004.  OKC oilman Larry Nichols then bought the still-glorious home and then did nothing with the rancher for the next 14 years.  In October, the whole place came down:

Such a loss.

But that wasn’t the worst of it.  Just a few days later, we learned that Midwest Wrecking was sitting at the beloved Founders Bank anxiously awaiting the approval of a demo permit so they could begin knocking down one of OKC’s most interesting and popular buildings.  Here’s the lighter-than-air Founders in its early days:

… and a couple of years ago when Bank of America occupied the space:

The bank wanted to remain in the building and offered to buy it, but the greedy guys at Austin-based Schlosser Development refused their offer and several other interested buyers because, well hell let’s just come out with it, because they are money grubbing jerks.

I don’t know how the demo approval process occurred without anyone knowing about it … and in a matter of mere minutes … but it did and the wreckers began gashing into the building the minute they received the okay.

At least the building’s iconic arches didn’t topple easily and the vintage safe was even more difficult to dismantle and took weeks to be taken down.

So, what are we going to get to replace this beauty?  Another architectural wonder?  A beautiful new apartment or office building?  Nope.  It looks like the far-sighted guys at Schlosser have decided they can make more money by subdividing the land and building ugly boxes with even more bad fast food chicken restaurants or dime-a-dozen vape/CBD shops.  Lucky us.

As if the loss of Founders wasn’t enough, we lost one more OKC icon in 2018 that hurt to the bone, the fabulous Space Tower at State Fair Park:

Since the semi-centennial celebration in 1957, there has been a tower at this spot at the fairgrounds, beginning with the very atomic Arrows to Atoms sculpture:

When that sculpture was dismantled a decade later, it was replaced with a revolving lookout that let views capture sweeping views of the fairgrounds and city beyond:

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who instructed young kids to meet me at the tower in case they got lost, nor am I the only one who took yearly photos of her family sweating to death as they rode to the top:

2005:

2006:

   

2007:

2008:

2009:

Weren’t they cute?  Sadly, we didn’t get a photo at the 2010 fair because the same spring storm that flooded Stage Center that year also did damage to the engine room at the Space Tower.  It never ran at the fair again, but it remained as a sculptural element and nod to the fair’s glorious mid-century modern past, a past that has been whittled away over the years with the demolition of the City Arts Center building, Grandstand, and monorail.  Well, now you can add the Space Tower to that list.  Citing concerns that the tower would topple because they haven’t maintained it and it’s rusty, fair officials had it dismantled in just a couple of weeks:

While State Fair of Oklahoma representative, Scott Munz said that the original Arrows to Atoms finial would be saved, I’m very dubious about that, especially since fair officials also said they’d save one car of the monorail as a memorial, which they did and then unceremoniously trashed a few years later.

Nope, I don’t trust those guys one little bit.  During my conversation with Scott, I also asked what would go in the tower’s place, and he said he didn’t know.  There’s no money in the budget to replace it, so for the first time in over 60 years, we will be going to the fair without a tower to tell our kids to meet us at if they get lost.

The next building on the demo radar at the fairgrounds is the round arena…

Rumors are swirling that it will come down and be replaced with something bigger in the near future.

Last of all, even though it wasn’t mid-century modern, we bid farewell to Hubcap Alley in 2018.

Now that the entire west side of the street has been scraped and all of the hubcaps are gone, what’s the point in calling this area Hubcap Alley now?

I’m sure going to miss those quirky buildings and businesses….

So, 2018 was a heartbreaking year for mid-century modern architecture in OKC, but there were some great saves, too.  I mean, how fun is it that the Tiffany has been updated and looks better than ever?

And I love how the long-vacant movie theater/office building at 1212 Hudson was transformed into the shiny, new Elk Valley Brewing.

Before:

After:

Also, several mod homes hit the market in 2018 and were purchased by MCM fans who plan to update them while keeping their mod goodness intact.

Let’s hope that we will have many more successes to celebrate in 2020 and way fewer buildings to mourn.

Cheers to that!

 

 

 

 

 

Our Favorite Mod Blogs of 2018

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

by Lynne Rostochil

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of another year, but here we are and that means it’s time to take a look back and recap our favorite Mod Blogs of 2018.  Here we go!

1964: The Year of the Sonic Boom

This post was certainly one of the most popular Mod Blogs of the year and fostered all kinds of memories and conversation.  Over six very noisy months in 1964, Oklahoma City heard the loud sonic booms of passing jets a whopping eight times a day.  The tests were conducted to see how people and structures would fare if SSTs were to go into mass production.  Well, they didn’t fare well and SST planes were never constructed on the scale some people hoped for.

Roadside Oklahoma Through the Eyes of John Margolies

Photographer, author, and road tripper extraordinaire, John Margolies, drove all over Oklahoma through the years documenting the Sooner State’s once vast collection of vernacular architecture and signs, and we devoted three whole Mod Blogs to his work.  It was good stuff.

From Mies to Oklahoma Mod: The Life and Legacy of Robert Lawton Jones

Sadly, 2018 saw the passing of Tulsa architect, Robert Lawton Jones, whose firm, Murray Jones Murray, was responsible for creating some of the state’s most memorable and award winning modern architecture.  We were very lucky that he decided to settle and practice right here in Oklahoma.

Modern Details: Caudill Rowlett Scott and Warr Built Homes

Some of the metro area’s very first modern homes were designed by Caudill Rowlett Scott and built in Warr Acres and near Mayfair Shopping Center.  This Mod Blog takes a look at the frenzy these post-war homes stirred and how they have held up over the ensuing years.

The 2018 Oklahoma Modernism Weekend Mod Home Tour

Every year, we bite our nails hoping to find homes for the Mod Home Tour that match the caliber of homes on previous tours, and we definitely hit the ball out of the park for the 2018 tour.  We enjoyed a magical afternoon touring mod homes, both old and new, and ending with snacks and stories about Bruce Goff at the Pollock-Warriner House.  It was a great day … and just wait to hear about the amazing homes we are lining up for the 2019 tour!  They will not disappoint.

Travelling Through Time Along 23rd Street

Over four installments and using vintage photos from The History Center’s vast archive, we travelled from the western edges of NW 23rd street near Putnam City West High School all the way to the eastern-most part of the street.  It was a fun trip and we all learned a lot about the people, businesses, and buildings that have called this storied road home over the decades.

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

Without a doubt, this was one of the most popular Mod Blogs we’ve ever written about a home for sale and with good reason — it’s a gem!  With all of that positive response, the owner was able to quickly find a new buyer who loved the place as much as we all did and it’s in great hands now, I’m happy to say.

Oklahoma’s Existing Route 66 Signs

When I went looking for a list of Oklahoma’s Route 66 signs and came up empty handed, I decided to compile one on my own and share it will the Okie Mod Squad.  I just hope all of these signs remain for years to come and more great neon is added to Oklahoma’s Mother Road.

On the Market: A Gentle House to Solace the Soul

We featured a lot of homes for sale this year on the Mod Blog, but none was as completely original as this Forest Park treasure designed by Raymond Carter.  Luckily, it has a new owner who plans to thoughtfully remodel and restore the place and who will hopefully enjoy it as much as the original owners have.

A History of Oklahoma’s Mod Domes

This two-part series saw us travelling all around the state profiling the plethora of modern domed buildings that can be found throughout Oklahoma.  There are a bunch of them, I’m happy to say, with new ones being built all of the time.

 

That’s it for the retrospective.  We have a lot of interesting and informative Mod Blogs in store for you in 2019, so stay tuned.

 

 

The Gold Dome Reflector: Our Christmas Gifts To You

Posted by on Dec 20, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil

Throughout the 1960s, Citizens State Bank issued periodic Gold Dome Reflectors, which were tri-fold handouts that contained bits of trivia about the bank, events they were sponsoring, etc.  In December 1966, the bank issued a holiday-themed Reflector that I thought would be perfect to share with you this holiday season:

And if you’re looking for a fun and very mod craft to get you in the holiday spirit, how about making a Calderesque Christmas tree mobile?   I found this PDF from Popular Science magazine a few years ago and keep telling myself I’m going to try to recreate it one year … maybe this year is the time.  If you make one, please send us a photo and we’ll post it here.  Here’s the PDF:

Xmas Mobile complete (1)

The Holiday Offerings of Hightower Associates

Posted by on Dec 11, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

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.

 

 

Holiday Shopping Guide 2018

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

by Lynne Rostochil.

I really have no idea how it is December already when my head is still thinking it’s October, but here we are knocking at the door of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever winter holiday you celebrate, which means it’s time to think of the perfect gift for the mod lover in your life.  It’s been awhile since we’ve written an all-book list, but I’m feeling the need to read and have some great recommendations for you.  You can order or pick up any of these tomes at Commonplace Books, Full Circle Books, Best of Books in Edmond or, if you are lazy and do all of your shopping online, at Amazon.

Let’s begin with an Oklahoma angle, shall we?

Industrial Design in the Modern Age by Penny Sparke

When George R. Kravis, II was 11 years old, he purchased a modern-looking RCA Victor record changer and thus began his love of modern industrial design.  While living and working in Tulsa as an adult, Kravis began gathering modern design, primarily from the 1930s and 1940s, and amassed an internationally renowned collection of several thousand rare and valuable artifacts, most of which sadly left Oklahoma after his death in February and went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York.  Luckily, he donated his extensive library to OSU, so not all of his impressive collection has left the state.

This profusely illustrated book takes a comprehensive look at the Kravis Collection while it was still intact and will leave you salivating with industrial design desire, I promise you.  Simply put, it’s a beautiful book and is a must-have for any modern art/architecture library.

4th & Boston: Heart of the Magic Empire by Douglas Miller and Steve Gerkin

Okay, so this one isn’t strictly mid-century modern, but if you love Art Deco architecture in general and Tulsa’s collection in particular, you will want to own a copy of this stunning book.  Through hundreds of historic and current photos and drawings, the book tells the fascinating stories of one intersection in T-Town and how it came to pass that so many significant buildings sit there.  It’s great stuff!

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel

I know, that title is a mouthful, but it also gives you a tiny glimpse of the fascinating, interweaving tales the author tells of these groundbreaking women artists and their work.  As you might imagine, female artists did not have an easy road in the 1940s and 1950s, and all of these women fought against one thing or another (or all of the following): prejudice, substance abuse, living life in the shadow of more famous spouses, etc.  Yet, in every instance they overcame so many obstacles, while continuing to create, and their work is revered today.  At over 900 pages, this is one hearty book, but the stories of these artists are so interesting that you will wish it could be twice as long.

Women Design: Pioneers in Architecture, Industrial, Graphic, and Digital Design from the Twentieth Century to the Present Day by Libby Sellers

Since we’re talking about women artists….

I picked up this book when Commonplace Books had a booth at the Mod Swap during Oklahoma Modernism Weekend and it hasn’t left my coffee table since.  The book provides an overview of the careers of such famous female designers as Eva Ziesel and Ray Eames and architects like Zaha Hadid, but it also introduces the reader to less obviously famous designers whose careers you may know little about, like architect and designer Lina Bo Bardi, in my case.  It’s an easy and interesting read and is well illustrated, but it ended way too soon for me — I wish it featured even more fabulous and creative women!

Mid-Century Architecture Travel Guide: East Coast USA by Sam Lubell

In our 2016 Holiday Shopping Guide, we recommended the first book of this series that was devoted to West Coast modernism.  At the time, I had no idea that Lubell would continue with a guide to the East Coast and now I’m hoping he will come to the Heartland and put together a similar travel book for this region.  Anyway, these compact guides are great to throw into a suitcase if you’re travelling to the region, and they provide locations for some off-the-beaten path buildings as well as the famous stuff you expect to see, along with photos and histories of each structure.

Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967 edited by Tony Shafrazi

Hands down, this is one of the best photography books I’ve ever purchased.  I bought it when it first came out about 10 years ago and copies were snatched up so quickly that it was difficult to find them anywhere for a long time that didn’t cost $200 or more, so I was happy to see that it was reprinted this year.  Of course, most people know that Dennis Hopper was an actor and maybe you know that he was a painter, too, but in addition to those great talents, he was also a gifted street photographer.  Most of the images in this book are of life in Los Angeles featuring his friends, family, and complete strangers living day-to-day lives in a place that was no longer the glamour capital it had been in previous decades.  It is real and moving and is certainly one of my greatest bound treasures.

Bill Wood’s Business by Diane Keaton and Marvin Heiferman

And since we’re talking about movie stars and photography books….

Over 20 years ago, actress and photographer Diane Keaton purchased the archive of a professional Fort Worth photographer who worked around town during the halcyon boom days of the post World War II era — Bill Wood.  She didn’t know what she was going to do with the archive, but she knew she wanted to keep it intact.  Fast forward to 2008.  With few projects scheduled for the near future, Keaton decided it was time to look through Wood’s work and put together this fascinating slice of Fort Worth life from the 1950s.  It’s such a fascinating look at a town with the same friendly size and vibe as Oklahoma City and view all of the hopes and dreams that come alive in his vibrant images.

As an aside, I fell in love with this book so much that, a few years ago when an opportunity arose to buy a small archive from a Woodward photographer, I didn’t hesitate to follow Diane Keaton’s lead and snap it up.  I’m always uploading new photos of the archive, which you can view here.

Road Trip: Roadside America From Custard’s Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant by Richard Longstreth

Last year, I got to write a review of this fun photography book devoted to quirky roadside America but stupidly forgot to include it in the Holiday Shopping Guide, so I’m correcting that mistake this year by adding it now.  If you’re smitten with vernacular architecture and old signs, then you will love this tidy little photography book that includes 40 years worth of photos of long-vanished and even many intact motor courts, gas stations of every style, and diners galore.  And, yes, you will find a few images taken right here in Oklahoma, too.

Lost Restaurants of Tulsa by Rhys A. Martin

Last year saw the publication of Classic Restaurants of Oklahoma City by the Oklahoman’s Dave Cathey, and this year we get a companion book about Tulsa’s fare by local photographer and historian, Rhys A. Martin.  If you enjoyed the first book, you will love this one, too.  It’s going to be a great stocking stuffer for all of the Oklahoma history and restaurant lovers in my family, that’s for sure.

Pet-tecture: Design for Pets by Tom Wainwright

I cannot imagine a better gift for the pet lover in your life than this fun and quirky tome devoted to modern design for the pups, kitties, and other animals in our lives.  It’s so cute and fun and makes me want to buy every single item that’s featured.

 

Okay, that’s it for this year’s top 10 mod book recommendations.  If you are looking for something besides a page turner, here are a couple of other gift ideas for you.

Go Goad

Wanting some unique art that won’t break the bank? Well then, I’m happy to report that Mod Squadder, local artist, and all around great guy, Matt Goad has affordable prints of some of his most beloved paintings for sale.  I know!  Can you imagine a better gift idea than getting your loved one a distinctive art print by one of the state’s best artists?

Go here to contact Matt about prints he has available.

Contribute to HerFlag

The year 2020 marks 100 years since women won the right to vote and local artist, Marilyn Artus is planning a collaborative project with female artists from around the country to celebrate this special anniversary and to encourage women to participate more in the democratic process.  Next year, she will embark on a 14-month journey to each of the 36 states that ratified the Constitution to give women this fiercely-fought-for freedom; at each stop, she will work with a female artist from that state to create and sew on a stripe for “HerFlag.” Upon completion of the project in August 2020, Marilyn and her fellow artists will have worked to create a giant, 18′ x 28′ flag that will be on display at various locations around the U.S.  As she says, this isn’t about Republican or Democrat but instead, “the journey and the completed flag are a thank you and a visual love letter to the states that gave women the right to vote.”

I can’t imagine a better gift for the person who has everything than making a donation in that person’s name to this worthwhile project.  I know that’s what I’m asking my family for Christmas!

Go here to learn more about the project and to donate.

 

To wrap up this year’s Holiday Shopping Guide … and all of the gifts it contains … please don’t forget to purchase a batch of this year’s artist-designed Curbside Chronicle wrapping paper to help wrap up homelessness in OKC.  I’m really liking the Peter Max vibe of Wayne Coyne’s design this year:

Okay, that’s it for this year’s guide.  Hope it helped you find a few treasures for friends, family, and even yourself.

A History of Oklahoma’s Mod Domes, Part 2: The Gold Dome

Posted by on Nov 28, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise stated. Most vintage photos from the Oklahoma History Center.

In part two of our look at Oklahoma’s mod domes, we focus on perhaps the most famous dome in the state, the iconic Citizens State Bank at the corner of NW 23rd and Classen in Oklahoma City.  Here we go!

The Early Years of Citizens State Bank

The sparkling new Citizens State Bank was formed in 1946 by C.R. Anthony, Fred Sewell, Felix Simmons, B.D. Eddie, V.V. Harris, and Virgil Brown, all of whom were prominent local businessmen.  Their new endeavor was the first bank to open outside the downtown area in decades, and its directors couldn’t have picked a better location than the rapidly developing northwest side of town along the bustling Uptown shopping district on NW 23rd.  Here are some of the movers and shakers behind the new bank at groundbreaking ceremonies for the building at NW 23rd and Dewey in 1947:

The small suburban bank opened in May 27, 1948, and it grew so rapidly that the building was expanded soon after its completion to include more parking and a revolutionary concept in OKC’s increasingly car-dependent society, “auto teller windows.”

Within the next few years, the bank once again outgrew its space and looked to expand.  This time, a second building with department store space was added:

But even this expansion was not enough and the bank soon was in need of even more room.  By 1956, Citizens boasted $20 million in assets and was the ninth largest bank in the state.  Looking toward an even brighter future, the directors decided that a completely new building was in order.  Ultimately, they agreed to purchase from the Oklahoma City school system a block-long section of land down the street at the corner of NW 23rd and Classen where the recently-vacated Jefferson School sat.

The board then hired Robert Roloff of Bailey Bozalis Dickinson & Roloff to design a structure as optimistic and forward thinking as the bank itself.  Roloff returned with a revolutionary geodesic dome design.

The Geodesic Dome

Walther Bauersfeld invented geodesic dome in the 1920s, and the first such dome ever constructed was the Zeiss I Planetarium in Jena, Germany, which opened in 1926.  Here’s the building under construction:

And now:

Buckminster Fuller was teaching at Black Mountain College in 1948 when he and his students refined the geodesic dome design, and he constructed a dome at Bennington College in Vermont in 1949 that received a lot of publicity.  Here’s a photo by Hazel Larsen Archer of Bucky surrounded by geodesic dome forms:

Fuller liked the idea of geodesic domes because a sphere design encloses the greatest volume for the least surface area and is strong, economical, and easy to construct.  Ever the opportunist, Fuller obtained U.S. patents for the geodesic dome design in 1954 without crediting Bauersfeld’s work.

The Gold Dome

After the old Jefferson School was removed at the corner of NW 23rd and Classen, the flashy and beautifully mod Citizens started going up.  The 27,000 sf building cost $1 million to build and was erected by Secor Construction.  As for the dome, it was built in pieces by Dale Benz, Inc., of Phoenix, and the panels were then hauled to Oklahoma City and assembled on site like a giant puzzle:

The dome consisted of 625 panels, ranging in size from 7.5 to 11.5 feet in length.  Each panel weighed 60-70 pounds and the whole roof spanned 145 feet in diameter.  Here are some shots of construction:

The Gold Dome, as the immediately beloved building came to be known, was completed on Monday, December 8, 1958, and Citizens soon vacated its old digs and moved its 86 employees into the funky, Space Age facility that was one of the very first geodesic domes built for commercial use.

As for the original Citizens Bank building, it was a savings and loan for awhile and then a church for several years.  It remained unoccupied for a long time …

… but in 2014, developer Bruce Fraley purchased the building for $1.4 million and gave it a beautiful makeover.  The original bank is now home to Hurts Donut and other businesses are moving into the remaining spaces.

Here’s the new bank soon after it opened for business:

Let’s take a tour of the interior, shall we?  In the lobby, visitors were greeted by a poured terrazzo floor with a circle/oval motif that was reflected throughout the interior space, including the rings along the balcony and the disc-like acoustical panels hanging down from the gold ceiling:

There were circles literally everywhere, including the balcony railing:

And even on the conference room door handles:

Custom furniture was even made to fit with the modern design of the building:

As for the work areas, they were very loungy with comfortable furnishings:

Even the basement level employee breakroom was roomy and modern:

Back on the first floor, the large vault area contained safety deposit boxes and a relaxing waiting lounge:

The boxes are mostly gone now, but the vault and safe are still there:

The Accounts area was located near the main entrance:

Originally the space was open, but the back area was later enclosed to create private offices.  However, some original features remain, including the concierge desk and partition:

The new Citizens offered what it called “convenient banking,” with both walk-up and drive-thru services:

The drive-thru proved so popular that it was ultimately expanded to include several bays:

One of the bank’s most infamous moments came on April 11, 1965 when a man approached a teller window with a ransom note in hand, demanding the teller to turn over her cash drawer.  She complied and he took off with $3,231 but was quickly apprehended by police.  Apparently, the novice robber was found by police when they inspected his ransom note and found a reminder he had written on the other side of the paper about a pink slip for a 1957 Mercury.  That car was linked to a California robbery a few weeks before, and the suspect was a 21 year old man who had skipped town with his 16-year-old runaway girlfriend.  Police found the couple just a few hours after the robbery holed up in a garage apartment on the 2000 block of N. Shartel.  Here’s the young man after his arrest — he looks so clean cut and is even wearing a button down shirt:

The young man pled guilty to both robberies, saying that he was “extremely emotionally involved” with the girl and that they wanted to get away from her parents.  I don’t think the judge had a lot of sympathy for this love sick robber, though, because he sentenced the young man to 15 years for both robberies – he could get out in five years with good behavior.  He must have been a very good inmate because he was out of prison by 1971, married to a woman who was not his jailbait girlfriend, and living in Los Angeles.  I didn’t find that he committed any further crimes, so he must have learned his lesson and led a crime-free life from then on.

Here’s the bank back in business just a few hours after the young man absconded with the cash:

Looks like business as usual.

Over the years, I’ve seen several vintage and pretty rare photos of the bank that I thought I’d share here.  This one looks like it was taken around 1959 — there are no cars newer than that in the shot:

This one is pretty good, too, with that sign.  It was taken by Johnny Melton in 1974:

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Dome was all decked out for the holidays, as you can see in this photo courtesy of Dean Avants:

By 1976, Citizens boasted $100 million in assets and was the fourth largest bank in the city.  Just a few years later, the building received a really dumb renovation that included dropping the spectacular interior ceiling and hiding it from view with boring panels.  You can see the ceiling panels about to be installed in this 1983 photo of the dummy who was running the bank and thought a dropped ceiling was a good idea:

The dropped ceiling signalled the beginning of the end for Citizens.  On August 14, 1986, the bank failed and was purchased by Liberty Bank and, later on, Bank One.  By 2000, Bank One was looking to vacate this branch and wanted to sell the land to Walgreen’s, which planned to demolish the bank and build a new store on the site.  Preservation organizations, the OKC chapter of the AIA, and concerned citizens from all over the city came together and protested the lackluster plan with weekly rallies across the street from the Gold Dome, appeals to the owners, etc.

“Save the Dome” became the popular mantra around town as the weekly protests and periodic rallies continued.

Luckily, Bank One proved to be a friendly adversary and agreed to an extension to allow time to find a buyer.  Soon, Dr. Irene Lam came forward and purchased the Gold Dome.  According to Robert Roloff’s son, Scott, “Bob Roloff wouldn’t show people his feelings. After several plans to demolish it failed, Walgreens’s plan was firm. He said nothing. Later he confided to (probably only) me that when people from the neighborhood went into the street to stop the wrecking equipment because they liked a job he’d done, it had been the most gratifying thing that happened to him. That’s saying a lot. He was gratified more than anyone I ever knew.”

In 2003, this local beacon of Modernism was placed on the National Register, and in 2007, it was listed among the 100 best buildings in Central Oklahoma by that chapter’s AIA.  Yes, the future looked as bright and shiny as the Gold Dome’s reflective roof, and people flocked to the mid-century marvel to attend weddings in the perfectly preserved bank lobby, eat and drink at the very popular Prohibition Room, and wander around the small gallery located in the former bank’s vault.

You would think that the drama would be over for such an iconic and beloved structure, but sadly, it was just beginning.  In August 2012, Dr. Lam defaulted on the building loan and it went into foreclosure.

On September 12, 2012, developer David Box bought the beleaguered structure for $800,000 at auction and sought a demolition permit in March 2013, presumably to replace the Gold Dome with a gas station.  Yes, a gas station.  Once again, the mantra, “Save the Dome” was being chanted at the former Citizens.

After plenty of loud protesting from the community, Box backed off and ultimately turned the building over to TEEMCO, an environmental services company.  TEEMCO announced grand plans to restore the building, but other than painting the dome a crazy shade of canary yellow and painting parts of the facade a very tacky faux oxidized copper green, not much was done. Here’s the dome before and after the horrible paint job:

Yes, TEEMCO was responsible for the horrible paint job … and also for equally horrible business practices that ended with the owner heading to prison.  Bye, Felicia.

Box then listed the building for sale in 2015 and Johnathan Russell of Land Run Development purchased it for $1.1 million.  While the building is safe for now and Russell plans to restore it, the TEEMCO group’s half-assed efforts are haunting him.  A geodesic roof needs to “breathe” and move, but the dummies at TEEMCO decided to seal it without investigating the best way to do that while also letting the roof continue to breathe.  It’s going to cost $200,000 just to fix their error, and that doesn’t count replacing plumbing (all of the copper tubing has been stolen), electrical, etc.  Russell seems very committed to restoring the building, however, so my hopes remain high that he can pull it off.

The Okie Mod Squad was very lucky that Russell loaned us this mid-century modern marvel for our third annual Oklahoma Modernism Weekend in 2018.  It proved to be the perfect venue for all of the mod lovers in the group, many of whom had never been inside this iconic structure before.  Hopefully, we will be able to return for another weekend once the building is renovated and up and running again.  Until then, enjoy these drone photos that were taken for the Oklahoma Modernism Weekend in June 2018:

Long live the Gold Dome!

 

A History of Oklahoma’s Mod Domes, Part 1

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

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil unless otherwise stated. Vintage photos from the Oklahoma History Center and Lynne’s collection.  

During the Oklahoma Modernism Weekend, I put together a presentation devoted to the surprising number of domed structures scattered throughout Oklahoma to go along with a tour of the always fabulous Gold Dome.  I thought I’d include the presentation for those of you who weren’t able to make the tour — I’ll divide it into two parts, one devoted to Oklahoma’s domes and one about the history of the Gold Dome itself.  Here we go:

Oklahoma has a long history of building domed structures….

Let’s begin with the State Capitol.  When the state capitol moved from Guthrie to OKC in 1910, it was housed in the Huckins Hotel until the new Capitol building could be completed.  Designed by Soloman Andrew Layton and S. Wemyss-Smith, the Romanesque structure was supposed to be capped by a large dome, but construction overruns kept that from happening and the domeless structure was completed in 1917:

Perhaps one reason we became a little dome obsessed in Oklahoma was because we felt inferior without our promised-for capitol dome – or maybe it wasn’t as romantic as that.  Maybe it’s because domes are strong, relatively inexpensive to build, and work well in Tornado Alley.  Either way, the State Capitol was finally completed as designed when the dome was added in 2002:

More early domes include the Blue Dome in Tulsa, which was built in 1924 and served as the White Star Gulf Oil Station.  This was the first station in Oklahoma to be open 24 hours a day and offered hot water, pressurized air, and a car wash (photo below by Budd Bailey):

Another early dome was the First Christian Church on NW 10th in Oklahoma City:

It was designed by Soloman Andrew Layton and opened in 1911.  Now known as Frontline Church, the building is on the National Register.  Another dome on the National Register is the Round Barn along Route 66 in Arcadia (photo by TravelOK):

It was built in 1898 by William Harrison Odor and was restored as a museum and events center in 1992.

The Electric Park Pavilion in Blackwell was designed by W.L. McAltee and constructed in 1913.  Here’s a shot of the building by Kevin Stewart:

It was built as a “salute to electricity” and features a 160-foot domed ceiling and an 800-seat auditorium.  It was once lined with over 500 lights on the dome, the 22 arched windows, and the 27 poles that waved American flags.

Among the first modern domes to be constructed was at Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City.  The Fieldhouse was designed by Coston Frankfurt & Short and opened in 1955:

The round and domed Capitol Hill High School fieldhouse was a true standout among its neighboring and much more traditional campus buildings, which were constructed in 1928.  After it was built, the fieldhouse was featured in Oklahoma Teacher magazine and a 1950s-era book put together by the Oklahoma City Board of Education called Oklahoma City: Capital of Soonerland.  Architectural photographer Julius Shulman also took images of the structure during one of his frequent visits to the Sooner State.

Today, the fieldhouse is still in use and hosts both high school and college-level activities.  It’s in excellent original condition.

OKC-based architect, R. Duane Conner, designed another round gym for Marlow High School, which was built in 1957.  The poured thin-shell concrete structure was 18,507 square feet and cost $116,897 to construct, with such economical features as concrete bleachers that cost $3.50 per seat instead of the usual $10 to $12 a seat for traditional bleachers.  Conner’s innovative and economical design was featured in Architectural Forum magazine in 1956:

Here’s the gym soon after it was completed:

And here it is today:

Other small towns liked the design so much that they constructed gyms using the same plans.  You can see two of these gyms still in use in Amber…

… and in Fairview:

All three gyms were constructed at the same time as the First Christian Church in OKC, which was also designed by Conner.  We will get to that dome in a bit.

Two other domed school gyms include the William D. Carr gym in Cushing, which was designed by Hudgins Thompson Ball and constructed in 1957:

And the Tornado Dome in Clinton, which was built in 1969:

One of the most exciting high school gym designs is by Jack L. Scott and located in tiny Helena.

Scott designed several thin shell concrete schools in the state, including Pauls Valley High School and Poteau High School, but this is the only design that included a dome.  It was constructed in 1958 and was also featured in Oklahoma Today the same year.  It’s in great original condition today.

Okay, that’s it for the high school gyms.  Now, let’s move on to the aforementioned First Christian Church in Oklahoma City.

The church was designed by Conner & Pojezny on what once had been the Edgemere Golf Course.  Go here to read the fascinating history of the church.  Today, the church and other buildings on its campus are for sale — all are on our Endangered list of buildings.

Another endangered dome is the stunning Rose Bowl, designed by William Henry Ryan and located along Route 66 in Tulsa:

The Rose Bowl opened in 1962 and served the community until 2005.  After that, it sat vacant for a few years before becoming an events center and activity area serving underprivileged youth.  It is for sale today and its fate is uncertain.

Architect Paul Harris designed a couple of domed structures in Lawton — the National Guard Armory, which was built in 1955 and is on the National Register …

and the Cache Road Square Shopping Center, as you can see in this photo by Debra Jane Seltzer:

The shopping center was also built in 1955 and was originally much more fun and mod, but it underwent an unfortunate remodel about a decade ago and only the dome is left to show how cool it once was.

A couple of lodges make our domed list.  First up is the VFW #2270 lodge in Enid, which was designed by local architect, Tom Rogers, and built in 1956.

The building, which is located on the outskirts of downtown, was constructed for $140,000 and featured a band of windows between the base and the domed portion of the building.  Sadly, the windows were painted over at some point and the building sits vacant today:

But, it’s in way better shape than the Tulsa Elks Lodge, which was another William Henry Ryan design:

Constructed in 1957, the building boasted a circular lobby/central office area and a very unique domed space under which parties, events, and lodge meetings were held.  Sadly, the dome and a smaller round building were demolished in the late 1990s and replaced with very bland structures.  Yuck.

Here’s a trivia question you can delight your friends with for years to come.  Did you know there were were supposed to be five gold domes in Oklahoma … and did you further know that four were actually built?  Can you guess the locations for each?  If not, here’s the lowdown:

The only non-geodesic dome of the bunch is the old Nuway Cleaners building in Moore:

It was designed by OU professor, Norman Byrd, and built in 1963 along I-35 in Moore.  In 1999, ODOT informed Nuway’s owners that the cleaners would have to be demolished by May 3rd of that year to expand I-35.  Although they were very attached to the little round building, they knew they had no choice but to comply.  They decided to save as much of their beloved laundry as possible and had the aluminum gold dome painstakingly dismantled and stored until they could construct the new building.

Ten days later, the monster May 3rd tornado raged through Moore, destroying everything in its path, including the already doomed Nuway Cleaners building.  So, in an interesting twist of fate, if the building hadn’t been slated for demolition, the roof never would have been saved and we wouldn’t be driving by it today.  In 2001, the new Nuway Cleaners opened just 50′ east of the original building.  No longer round, the new, now-square structure still paid homage to the original by being comprised mostly of glass and topped, of course, by the dome.  Here’s the building a couple of years ago:

A little-known geodesic dome sits on the campus of East Central University in Ada:

It was designed by local architect Ray James and opened in 1974.  The multi-functional and economical Kerr Activity Center is home to the university’s basketball team but has hosted a myriad of community and college events since it was built.

The only unbuilt gold dome design was for Oklahoma City’s convention center:

Like the Gold Dome, it was designed by Robert Roloff of Bailey Bozalis Dickinson & Roloff, and this seven-foot model was included in an exhibit at the Met in New York City called “Form Givers at Mid-Century,” which was sponsored by Time magazine.  After that, the show and this model went on a nationwide tour.  With all of that hoopla, it’s a bit surprising that this design was never realized, but it wasn’t, and Oklahoma City didn’t see an arena until the Urban Renewal era with the Myriad Convention Center in 1972.

Roloff designed another dome in Oklahoma and it’s not the one you think.  This one was located in Pryor:

Located on the Pryor High School campus, the Graham Memorial Auditorium opened in 1959, just a year after OKC’s Gold Dome and received the “Award for Outstanding Design” by the American Association of School Administrators the following year.  It was one of the municipal projects built with $3 million in funds left to the city by local banker W.A. Graham and could seat 800 patrons.  The design was so innovative that a model of the auditorium was on display at the 1960 AIA convention in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, the auditorium was condemned in 1984 after asbestos was detected, and it was demolished in 1990.

The last gold dome is THE Gold Dome to many, Citizens State Bank in Oklahoma City:

We will chat about the history of this beloved structure on the next Mod Blog.  But first, let’s check out some more modern-day domes that are spread throughout Oklahoma.  I’m happy to say that, after a decades-long lull in dome design, the Sooner State is seeing a real resurgence of these buildings, especially in schools and homes.  Here’s one that fits in perfectly with its 1950s predecessors:

This cafeteria in Dale was designed by Michael McCoy Architects of Midwest City and was completed in 2012.  It’s home to 726 students in grades kindergarten through 12 and also substitutes as a tornado-safe shelter.  The two school buildings below are located in Geronimo and Locust Grove respectively and are also tornado shelters:

Good Karma Domes designed and constructed this home in Marlow (under construction here):

And this domed home was a kit:

Domes are still strong, economical to build, and appealing to buyers, and it’s good to see that the Oklahoma landscape is seeing more domed buildings than ever before.

OU vs. OSU: Bedlam 1973

Posted by on Nov 7, 2018 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Program from her collection.

To get you in the spirit for this year’s annual standoff between OU and OSU, here’s a little treat I picked up at a flea market recently: a program from the 1973 game.  It was produced by OSU, so there’s a lot more material about the Stillwater school, but there are treats for you OU fans as well.  Click a photo below to enlarge it and see every glorious detail of this fun blast from the past:

In case you’re wondering, OU won the 1973 match up with OSU, beating the Cowboys 45-18.  Under new head coach, Barry Switzer, the Sooners won every game except for their meeting with USC, and that was a tie, 7-7.  This stellar record earned the Sooners their first of eight consecutive Big 8 conference titles under Switzer’s leadership.

As for OSU, this was the first and only season that the Cowboys were lead by head coach Jim Stanley, and their record for the year was 5–4–2.  More importantly than that, did you notice that the OSU uniforms were a much more deep and muted orange than they are now?  I think I like the ’70s color better, how about you?