Category Archives: Architecture

Abundant Life Building – former Oral Roberts Ministry Headquarters


On my evening run I passed this big ugly hulk just south of downtown. It is the Abundant Life building that was built in the mid 1950’s by Oral Roberts as headquarters for his ministry. The building has been abandoned for many years now. It was last used as an office by Southwestern Bell in the 1980s. More information can be found at the Historic Tulsa and Abandoned Oklahoma sites. Abandoned Oklahoma has some shots of the interior including the marble entryway.


The building is strange because it has no windows. It has changed hands several times and plans are announced for redeveloping it. I just cannot see how that would work for such a big ugly building with no windows. I hate to see old buildings torn down but it seems that options are few for this structure.

Thorncrown Chapel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas


During our recent outing to Eureka Springs Heather and I visited Thorncrown Chapel. Architect E. Fay Jones little jewel in woods.


It’s footprint is 24 by 60 feet and is 48 feet high. It is modeled after the much larger Sainte Chappelle Church in Paris. The architect E. Fay Jones said that Thorncrown was “Ozark Gothic.”


It may be the most remarkable structure I have been in. It is so full of light and is light and airy. I I don’t see how it even keeps itself supported. The structure is built entirely out of wood, glass, and stone.  You can read more about it and see some spectacular photographs on Thorncrown’s Website.


The chapel gets lots of visitors but everybody is very quiet inside the building plus they quite politely and calmly ask people to sit down while they are looking around and taking photographs.


I loved how the design is kept open by the absence of an altar. Note though the cross standing outside the structure and the rock ledge looks like an altar to me. The chapel fits in perfectly with its surroundings. Jones specified that no single component could be bigger than what two men could carry through the woods to the site. The trusses and such were built on site the lumber that was carried to it.


I guess that I am turning into a fan of E. Fay Jones. Just a year ago I visited his Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel at Powell Gardens near Kansas City, Missouri. It was another structure that blew me away.

Google has built a 3D model of the building. You have to play around with a little bit. It gives a better idea of what it looks like in its setting.

InSPIREed Sunday – Tulsa Bible Baptist Temple


I’ve been meaning to stop and take a few pics of the Bible Baptist Temple on Apache Street close to Tulsa’s Airport for a while. I waited until it was raining to do so.


What has always attracted me to it is the unique A Frame structure. You might see A Frames in Brighton, Utah or Aspen, Colorao but not too many of them are in Tulsa. There is also no windows, at least that one can see from the street. They have a web site and a facebook site with a little bit of information (I love how they incorporated “aframe” into their web address). So I really don’t have much information about what they are about.

The grounds and parking lot are kept in pretty good shape at least.

Do you have any “A Frame” style churches near where you live?

InSPIRed Sunday

Googie Influenced Architecture at Oral Roberts University

(Learning Resource and Graduate Center)

A couple weeks ago I spent an hour or so on the Oral Roberts University campus. I had my Holga 135PC pinhole camera with me. Most of the buildings on the campus were designed by one man, Frank Wallace are in a style now known as “Googie” but back then in the early 1960’s was known as “Space Age.” The buildings are ORU use lots of bronzed reflective glass.

(Learning Resource and Graduate Center)

(Christ’s Chapel – A Figurative Tent to reflect Oral Robert’s beginnings as a tent revival preacher.)

For a long time the architecture looked outdated and run down but the revival of all things retro and 1960’s it seems that the buildings are coming back in style. It helps that they now have money for maintenance and upkeep.

(A digital pic of Howard Auditorium with its geodesic dome)

(This isn’t architecture, this is just having fun)

(Shooting a shot with a pinhole camera into a reflection of the sun. My question is how can you have lens flare without a lens?)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Our World – The Prayer Tower at Oral Roberts University


The Prayer Tower at Oral Roberts University is a 200 foot tall tower in the middle of the campus. It was built in 1965 and was designed by Frank Wallace. It is said to be a “Googie” influenced design. Googie is new term to me and it refers to futuristic or “space age” designs. I get in trouble with architectual terms and styles so those of you that know more about this please share and we’ll all learn something.


I think that the tower is beautiful and graceful and fits it’s space just right. Check the ORU link for information about the symbolism of the building. The distinctive shape is stylized 360 degree cross. 


It was kind of difficult but I got a Selfie off the bottom of the observation deck. Yep that’s me.


Another view in a greener time of year.

Our World

Enhanced by Zemanta

IPhone Phriday – Gillette-Tyrell Building Lobby

Gillette-Tyrell Building

The lobby of the Gillette-Tyrell Building (sometimes called the Pythian Building) in downtown Tulsa, built in 1930. It was originally supposed to be 13 floors tall but they stopped off at three because of the economic crash. This was one of the first art deco buildings in Tulsa and one of the oldest left standing. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Check the Tulsa Preservation Commission for more information.

Previous Post

This is my first Iphone Phriday post. I may have cheated a little bit. I don’t have an Iphone. I’m too cheap to get one. So I used a Pantech generic android phone. Then, I confess, I pimped the pic on PicMonkey. I am not ashamed although I freely admit I should be.

IPhone Phriday

The Tree That Escaped From the Crowded Forest…

The Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma is the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper actually built. Frank Lloyd Wright called it “The Tree that Escaped from the Forest.” It was occupied in 1956.


The building is 221 feet tall with nineteen stories. It was conceived as a mult-use building with offices, apartments, and shops. These days it has an Art Center on the ground floor, a hotel, and a restaurant and bar.


The tree metaphor is reflected in its design. It has a very strong central core and the floors are cantilevered from that core. The exterior is not load bearing and consists of copper and glass panels. These are the “leaves” of the tree.


The building has lots of details like window shades and terraces.


The design of the building was recycled from an abandoned 1929 housing project in New York City that was abandoned because of the depression. When the Price Tower opened in the mid 50’s many considered its design to be outmoded. What was in fashion at the time was the International Style buildings such as the United Nations building in New York City.


For some reason as a fifth grader in Price, Utah, long before I even knew where Bartlesville, Oklahoma was I read about the Price Tower and was really interested by it. I think I was interested because the name of the building was the name of the town that I lived in.


Fast Forward a dozen or so years and I’m on a job interview trip with Phillips Petroleum Company. The lady from HR is driving me from the hotel to the office. I see the building and said “Is that the Price Tower.” She told me she didn’t know except that it was supposed to be famous. I about choked and said, “Yeah it’s famous, it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and it was his only skyscraper.” I couldn’t hide my dismay that she didn’t know about the building. People skills have never been my strong suit. She said, “How does somebody from New Mexico know that?” What I wanted to say was “How does somebody who works in the building’s shadow not know it?” I stuffed  those words down though.  I got a job offer though. I still don’t understand people who are not curious about the world around them.


I don’t know how useful the building is, but it is beautiful. The copper patina makes it look like a turquoise tower in some light.

Our World Tuesday

Our World – Boston Avenue Church

Boston Avenue Church

Boston Avenue Church is one of my favorite subjects and used to be the Yogi family church. It is an art deco design structure completed in 1929. The architects of the church are Bruce Goff and Adah Robinson. The interior is just as beautiful as the interior. If you want to see it the Church offers tours after the 11 AM service on Sundays.

Our World Tuesday

Enhanced by Zemanta

Weekend Reflections – Spotlight Theater

Spotlight Theater Window

The Spotlight Theater is an attractive (it could use some paint) art deco building, designed by Bruce Goff, from the 1920’s situated on Riverside Drive just across the street from the River Parks. In all the years I have been running I have never seen the lights on. Not because the building is abandoned but because they are open only on the weekends. One day last Fall though people were there and the lights were on.


The theater has hosted “The Drunkard” every Saturday night since 1953. Supposedly it is the longest running play in America according to their web site.

Check out Tasha Does Tulsa for her report on the Spotlight Theater.

Weekend Reflections.