Tulsa, Oklahoma has an outstanding collection of Art Deco architecture. The style is mainly found in the “Deco District” in downtown Tulsa, but it can be seen throughout the city on churches, schools, and gas stations to name a few. Special Collections has its very own Tulsa Art Deco Archive, 1977-1981, that’s comprised of materials assembled by the Tulsa Junior League before, during, and after the publication of the book Tulsa Art Deco (Junior League of Tulsa, 1980). The collection includes photographs of various Tulsa buildings, as well as some miscellaneous slides, research notes, background materials, interviews, and minutes from when the book was compiled. It also includes drafts and galleys, page proofs, an unbound copy of the book, and six blueprints of various Tulsa buildings built in the Deco style.
The first two boxes contain photographs of Art Deco buildings around town. While looking through the folders, I found a few buildings that caught my eye. First, the Fairgrounds Pavilion (1982-006-1-010) stands out, because of the terracotta designs along the roof-line. The panels depict a horse, ram, and steer with stylized foliage in the background. There’s also a panel over the arched entrances of three horses and another with men and their livestock. These designs showcase the elements that the Art Deco style is comprised of. The folder has multiple photographs of the building, including close up shots of the terracotta designs, along with a description of the building’s history.
Next, one of the most iconic Art Deco buildings in Tulsa, the Philcade (1982-006-1-029) caught my eye. The building uses a mixture of designs to perfectly showcase the Deco style. There are floral designs paired with stylized eagles that can be found over the large first-floor windows. There is a wrought iron grill in the foyer that has a floral design, which seems rather whimsical, considering its utilitarian function. Art Deco is not a single style, it is a mixture of different and often contradictory ones, which can be seen on the inside and outside of the Philcade building. The folder contains many photographs, along with an extensive typewritten description of the building’s history.
If you’d like to look at the Tulsa Art Deco Archive, 1977-1981 (1983-006) yourself, you can always come to see us in Special Collections, located on the 5th floor of McFarlin Library, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am until 4:30 pm.