Owen Park Historic District
The Owen Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, the Gombach Group.
The Owen Park Historic District is located on the northwest periphery of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. Its strong residential character, narrow, tree-lined streets, and rolling topography belie the fact that it is only separated from the city's central business district by U.S. Highway 75. It is bounded by Edison Street on the north; Frisco Avenue and U.S. Route 75 on the east; Interstate 244 on the south; and the east side of Zenith Avenue and the western edge of Irving Place Addition make up the western boundary. North of the Owen Park Historic District is the Tulsa Country Club and to the south is I-244 and the Arkansas River. The area west of the Owen Park Historic District is largely undeveloped. The Owen Park Historic District was created from two Creek tribal allotments. The primary focus of the Owen Park Historic District is the park that is the namesake of the neighborhood, Owen Park. Opened in 1910, Owen Park was Tulsa's first public park and today is composed of approximately 24 acres. Located on the east side of the district, the park has many mature trees, a lake, a rustic stone bridge, tennis courts, and a stone monument, all of which are historic features. To the west of the park are the two main residential additions, Park Hill and Irving Place. Both additions were platted in 1910. These additions are bisected by two of Tulsa's few boulevard streets, West Easton Street running east/west and North Union Avenue running north/south. The strongest period of development occurred in the 1920s, correlating with Tulsa's dramatic growth during that time. Other additions that make up the Owen Park Historic District include Observation Heights, platted in 1916 and located on the east side of Owen Park, and New Irving Place Addition, platted in 1917. The predominate architectural style of the district is the Bungalow/Craftsman. This style was popular during the 1910s and 1920s in Tulsa. Also popular during the 1920s were such Period Revival styles as Tudor, Colonial, and Mission/Spanish Colonial revivals. Most of the buildings constructed in the Owen Park Historic District were one-story, single-family residences, although two-story homes and multiple-family dwellings are also present. Only a few commercial establishments were located in the district in scattered locations. The Owen Park Historic District has one historic church building and two historic schools. There are 507 resources in the Owen Park Historic District of which 351 are contributing and 156 are noncontributing. Of the contributing resources, there are 346 buildings, 1 site, 2 structures, and 2 objects. Although the southern end of the district has been impacted by the construction of I-244, the overall district retains a high degree of its historic and architectural integrity.
The Owen Park Historic District is immediately northwest of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, separated from the edge of the commercial core by U.S. Highway 75. The Owen Park Historic District is bounded by Edison Street on the north; Frisco Avenue and the right-of-way for U.S. 75 on the east; Interstate 244 on the south; and Zenith Avenue and the western edge of Irving Place Addition on the west. The majority of the Owen Park Historic District is located on high terrain that slopes to the south in the lower part of the district and to the east at Santa Fe Avenue to Owen Park. The park itself has a slightly rolling terrain. North of the Owen Park Historic District is the Tulsa Country Club. South of the district is I-244 and the Arkansas River. West of the district is rough, westward sloping terrain that is largely undeveloped.
In 1910, Owen Park was officially opened as Tulsa's first city park. In that same year, Park Hill and Irving Place additions, located west of the park, were platted for residential development, although a few houses had been constructed in that area prior to that date. Park Hill Addition was platted on land that had been part of Martha Owen's Creek tribal allotment. Irving Place had been part of the allotment for Clarence Owen. Park Hill extended from Edison Street on the north; Quanah Avenue (adjacent to Owen Park) on the east; the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway ("MKT") right-of-way on the south; and Union Avenue on the west. A total of twenty blocks was included in the addition. The lots were oriented to the east and west with the alleys running north/south. Lots varied in size but averaged 50 feet wide by 140 feet deep. The blocks between Union Avenue and Tacoma Avenue are only half the width of the other blocks in the addition and they do not have any alleys. The Irving Place Addition is located west of Park Hill and was originally bounded by Edison Street on the north; Union Avenue on the east; the blocks just south of the MKT tracks on the south; and the blocks extending west of Xenophon Avenue. Unlike Park Hill, the lots in Irving Place are oriented north and south with the alleys running east/west. The average lot is 50 feet wide and 140 feet deep. The blocks between Easton Court and Edison Street are half the width of the other blocks and have no alleys. In both additions, the houses tended to be constructed on just one lot. However, many of the larger, two-story homes, such as those in the 1700 block of Easton Street, are constructed on two or more lots.
On the northeast side of Owen Park is the Observation Heights Addition. This small addition was platted in 1916 and originally consisted of nine lots that were separated by a small curvilinear street called Frisco Avenue. The large lots accommodated two-story houses. Only the house at 550 N. Frisco Avenue survives. The other houses were demolished during the construction of the U.S. Highway 75/I-244 interchange.
Located next to the southeast corner of the Irving Place Addition is the New Irving Place Addition platted in 1917. It was developed by W. Tate Brady. It originally extended from Easton Street on the north to Archer Street on the south (outside of the district). The eastern boundary was composed of the blocks on both sides of Yukon Avenue and the western boundary was composed of the east side of Zenith Avenue. A portion of this addition was replatted as Nix Amended Addition in 1942. However, this addition, as well as most of the original addition below Brady Place, were destroyed during the construction of I-244 in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
One other addition is found within the boundaries of the Owen Park Historic District. This was the Hollywood Addition, platted in 1923 and located just south of Owen Park along Quanah Avenue. However, it was vacated a few years later for the construction of Roosevelt Junior High School.
The Owen Park Historic District has a strong, compact residential character. The narrow, tree-lined streets add to this feeling. Even the two boulevards that bisect the district are narrow. Union Avenue, running north and south and joining Park Hill and Irving Place additions, and Easton Avenue, running east and west through the middle of the district, consist of grassy medians in the middle of the paved streets. The hilly topography of the Owen Park Historic District limits one's view and reinforces its compact character.
The Owen Park Historic District's elevated lots influenced the design and layout of its buildings. Many of the houses were built with detached garages located at the rear of the property. However, some houses on elevated lots had their garages incorporated underneath them with access to them coming from the front or back of the house. One such example is located at 227 N. Tacoma Avenue. The corner house located at 524 N. Tacoma Avenue had its garage built into the hillside. Some houses built on sloping lots featured brick or stone retaining walls, or sidewalks with steps leading up the hill and to the house. The house sited on the corner lot at 532 N. Tacoma Avenue features a set of brick stairs that run diagonally from the intersection of Tacoma Avenue and Easton Street. The sidewalk is bordered by curved brick walls with the ends marked with capped, brick piers. Similarly, Roosevelt School is located on a slight hill. From Quanah Avenue, it is reached by long flights of stairs.
Although the Owen Park Historic District is primarily residential, it has several other building types. The Irving Place Presbyterian Church (historic name) is the only historic church building extant in the district. It is located at 302 N. Rosedale Avenue. Pershing Elementary, located at 1819 W. Easton Street, and Roosevelt Junior High, at 1202 W. Easton Street, are the two historic schools in the district. A few small commercial buildings, such as the one located at 156 N. Union Avenue, are scattered throughout the district.
The Owen Park Historic District was primarily developed between 1910 and 1930, although limited construction activity continued until about 1940. Most of the houses were of frame construction with plain weatherboard siding, although shingles, stucco, brick veneer, and stone veneer were also used periodically. Roofs were originally wood shingle for the most part, although some had tile roofs. Currently, most now have asphalt composition roofs.
The majority of the houses were constructed in the Bungalow/Craftsman style. These houses are defined by their low-pitched roofs with overhanging eaves with exposed rafter ends and projecting front-gabled porches supported by tapered columns on brick piers. These houses are both one and two stories, although the one-story version is the most popular in the Owen Park Historic District. Most of these houses were constructed in the 1910s and 1920s. Approximately 70 percent of the houses in the Owen Park Historic District are classified as Bungalow/Craftsman. The second most popular architectural style found in the district is the Colonial Revival. Also constructed primarily in the 1910s and 1920s, this style typically features a side-gabled roof on a symmetrical oblong box. The center entrance is usually highlighted by a door flanked by pilasters supporting a pediment and/or sidelights and fanlights. Windows are often paired. Approximately 6 percent of the houses in the Owen Park Historic District are constructed in this style.
Other styles frequently found in the Owen Park Historic District include Prairie School and Tudor Revival. Prairie School houses also were constructed throughout the 1910s and 1920s. These houses usually have low-pitched hipped roofs with wide, overhanging boxed eaves on a two-story block. Most featured a full-width one-story front porch supported by massive piers. Approximately 4 percent of the Owen Park Historic District's resources (including houses and garage apartments) are constructed in this style. Primarily constructed in the 1920s, Tudor Revival style houses feature steeply-pitched roofs and often have a large front gable. Decorative details include prominent chimneys, arched entries and windows, and wrought iron porch railings. Approximately 2 percent of the houses are classified as Tudor Revival. Styles found with less frequency include Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance, Modern Movement/Minimal Traditional, National Folk, and Commercial Style. A significant number, approximately 7 percent, fall under the category of "No Style." These are primarily garage apartments, although a few heavily altered buildings are also listed here.
The Owen Park Historic District retains a high degree of integrity with 69 percent of the resources counted as contributing. The most frequent alterations found in the Owen Park Historic District are the replacement of nearly all of the roofs with asphalt shingles and the covering of the original wood siding with asbestos shingles or vinyl or metal siding. The application of asphalt shingles is so common that it does not generally count as an alteration. Buildings with replacement siding are usually counted as contributing unless the asbestos shingles or siding was applied in an inappropriate manner, such as in a vertical direction. Houses that have been altered with "permastone" or a recent brick veneer are generally counted as noncontributing because of the introduction of a material with a radically different texture than the original.
Other frequent alterations, particularly for Bungalow/Craftsman houses include the replacement of the original porch piers or columns with wrought iron supports or the screening of the porch. Again, this alteration by itself will not cause a property to be deemed noncontributing. However, the complete enclosure of a porch will cause a house to be classified as noncontributing. Other alterations may include replacement of windows and room additions. Such alterations and their impact on the building are judged on a case-by-case basis. Few intrusions have been constructed in the district since 1940, the end of the period of significance.
The most significant alteration to the Owen Park Historic District occurred as a result of the construction of I-244. In particular, the blocks south of Brady Street were most effected. That portion south of Brady Street and lying east of Union Avenue was totally obliterated with the exception of two houses between Union and Tacoma avenues. Portions of the blocks on the north side of Brady Street between Santa Fe and Quanah avenues also were destroyed. The blocks on the south side of Brady Street located west of Union Avenue also were either partially or completely destroyed. Due to the extensive excavation that took place during construction, these houses look down on the highway from hillside perches. The construction of the interstate also cut through portions of the southern end of Owen Park.
The Owen Park Historic District in Tulsa, Oklahoma is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as an early twentieth-century, middle class suburban neighborhood whose development coincided with Tulsa's transformation from a small agricultural and ranching-based community to the "Oil Capital of the World." Portions of what is today known as the Owen Park Neighborhood were originally platted in 1910, the beginning of the period of significance. Its initial development is closely associated with several trends in early-twentieth century suburban development access to public transportation, in this case, Tulsa's streetcar system, and leisure attractions. The Owen Park neighborhood was an attractive location because of its proximity to Owen Park, Tulsa's first city park. In addition, both the park and the neighborhood were served by Tulsa's streetcar system. The Owen Park Historic District also is eligible for the National Register as an excellent collection of early-twentieth century middle class residential architecture. Primarily developed between 1910 and 1930, Owen Park's architecture is dominated by modest Bungalow/Craftsman residences constructed for Tulsa's growing middle class. Period Revival houses, including Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival houses, also are found in the neighborhood, illustrating the popularity of these styles in the years between World War I and the World War II. Although development was nearly completed by the end of the 1930s, additional houses were built through 1940, the end of the period of significance.
Early-day Tulsa was located in the middle of the northern boundary of what was originally the Creek Nation in Indian Territory. Beginning in the 1830s, the Creeks, along with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes, were forcibly removed from their homelands in the southeastern part of the United States to lands set aside for them in what became known as Indian Territory. Here, the tribes and their slaves established farms, ranches, and communities with structured governmental, social, and educational systems.
The aftermath of the Civil War brought radical changes to Indian Territory. For their support of the Confederacy, the tribes were forced to accept various treaties that placed limits on their land holdings, particularly as non-Indians pushed for entrance into Indian lands. Tribal lands were seen as attractive places for grazing cattle that eventually would be shipped to eastern markets. Cattle were driven north from Texas to the rail centers in Kansas, and Indian lands were used to fatten them. The construction of a railroad line through Indian Territory would shorten the time it took to get the cattle to market. The first line to build through the territory was the Union Pacific, Southern Branch (later called the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas, popularly known as the "MKT" or "Katy") running from the north to the south. In 1882, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, or Frisco, entered Indian Territory from the east and extended west toward Tulsa, or Tulsey Town as it was originally known. With the line's arrival, Tulsa became an important railroad center, although it would remain a relatively small community for the next eighteen years with a population of 1,390 in 1900.
Many non-Indians were attracted to the opportunities that existed in Indian Territory and the Creek Nation. Among these was Chauncey Owen, an intermarried white man who was a successful farmer near Broken Arrow in the 1870s.
Historian Angie Debo described Owen as a man whose very success was a threat to the independence of the Creek Nation. "He cut walnut timber on the Verdigris and sold it in violation of Creek law, planted fruit trees and raised peaches by the wagonload, cultivated many acres of rich land using imported white labor, owned large herds of cattle, and built a fine ranch house known far and wide as the "Big House." His very qualities of industry and thrift made him a threat to the Creeks and they tried vainly to effect his removal."
Owen was among the entrepreneurs who took advantage of the arrival of the railroad. He supplied the track crews with beef from his farm and used his freight teams to haul supplies to the construction camps. According to one source, Owen had a tent along the route in which his wife, Martha, served meals to the crews. He is credited with building Tulsa's first hotel in late 1882, appropriately called the Tulsa Hotel. It was located on the north side of the railroad tracks to the east of Main Street.
Martha Owen was a member of the Creek tribe. With the dissolution of the communal holding of Creek lands in the 1890s, Martha was allotted the northwest quarter of Section 2, Township 19 North, Range 12 East. This allotment was in a prime location just west of the city limits of Tulsa and about a half mile north of the Arkansas River. The MKT Railway crossed the lower third of her quarter section. The northern boundary of the allotment abutted the Osage Nation, or what became Osage County.
In 1892, Owen leased 80 acres of this land to J.P. Goumaz. Goumaz built a house at the present location of Brady Street and Santa Fe Avenue (demolished) and planted large groves of peach and apple trees as well as strawberry plants and a vineyard from the crest of the hill east to Quanah Avenue. Evidence of the vineyard remains on some of the fences along the alleys.
Tulsa's status as an agricultural and ranching center changed dramatically in 1901 with the discovery of oil at Red Fork (located about three miles southwest of Owen's allotment). This, coupled with a major strike at Glenn Pool in 1905 and additional discoveries in the Osage Nation in the 1920s, transformed Tulsa into the "Oil Capital of the World." Many oil companies and related industries established their headquarters in Tulsa. As a result, the city's population rapidly grew. In 1907, the year of Oklahoma's statehood, Tulsa had a population of 7,298. By 1910, that number had increased to 18,182. In 1920, its population had grown to 72,075 and in 1930 it was 141,258. To accommodate this growth, new residential additions were platted and annexed into the city. Among these were additions that once composed part of the original Owen allotment and today make up the Owen Park Historic District.
The Development of Owen Park and the Owen Park Historic District
With its close proximity to Tulsa's city limits, the Owens' property was popular with Tulsans prior to it being platted for residential development. Before Owen Park was established as the City's first park, it was a popular gathering spot for holiday celebrations. A Labor Day celebration was observed there in September 1906. Fourth of July celebrations and summer band concerts also were held there. Early Tulsans enjoyed picnics underneath the protective canopy of native oak and hickory trees. Chauncey Owen sold 27 acres to the City of Tulsa on August 18, 1909 for $13,500 for use as a park. Owen Park officially opened on June 8, 1910 with landscaped gardens and flower beds. In 1913, a lake was created from a crater that had formed after a nitroglycerin explosion in 1904. The lake was used as a swimming pool through the 1920s and also was used for ice skating in the winter. Both of these activities are now prohibited. Additional improvements made in the park prior to 1920 included a rustic stone bridge, an observation tower, and a lifeguard stand. The latter two are no longer extant.
In 1910, the City of Tulsa sold five acres at the southeast edge of Owen Park to the Tulsa Vitrified Brick Company. Chauncey Owen protested this action, fearing that the brick plant would pose a health and safety hazard to the community. Owen filed suit against the city and the case went all the way to the state supreme court. The court ruled that the deed of sale did not restrict the land to park use only. Owen's fears were realized years later after the brick plant closed. In 1954, a nine-year-old boy drowned in the abandoned brick pit. The city repurchased the land and used it briefly as a land fill and then capped it and added it to the park.
Access to leisure activities was important to early Tulsans, as it was to people across the country in the first few decades of the twentieth century. Traction companies, or streetcar lines, often built trackage that had recreation spots as a destination. The same was true for Tulsa's Oklahoma Union Traction Company, or OUT as it was called. When the company received its charter in 1909, one of its first priorities was to connect Owen Park with Orcutt Lake, later known as Swan Lake, located southeast of downtown Tulsa. This line would run east-west through downtown along Fourth Street. This sparked competition with another streetcar line in the city, the Tulsa Street Railway, or TSR. TSR actually completed a line to Owen Park first by running a track west on Third Street through downtown and zigzagging its way to Nogales Street and then north to the southern end of Owen Park. The OUT line eventually served Owen Park by building track west along Archer Street and then traveling north along Ralston Avenue (now called Rosedale) with the line ending just north of Easton Street. The plat for Park Hill reveals that early plans called for the line to run east along Easton Street to the west side of the park at Quanah Avenue. A turn-around loop was to have been built in the park, but this part of the line was never completed. Instead, passengers would have to walk one block to the park.
Besides access to streetcar service, residents of the Owen Park Historic District would have access to interurban service as well. The OUT line also traveled to the town of Sapulpa, located sixteen miles to the south. In addition, the Sand Springs Railway traveled from near downtown Tulsa to the town of Sand Springs, located seven miles to the west. This line was just south of the district along the north side of the Arkansas River. The streetcar lines discontinued service in the 1930s, due to competition from bus service and personal automobiles, and the tracks eventually were removed from the neighborhood. The Sand Springs Railway discontinued passenger service in the 1950s.
It is believed that Martha Owen died in 1902 so that is the reason that Chauncey's name appears in the land transactions for her allotment. A few houses were built in the area prior to its official platting. The first residential plat of what was originally the Owen allotment was Park Hill, dated May 19, 1910. The plat was filed by F.A. and Maud Gillespie (sometimes spelled Gillispie). The plat included that area immediately west of Owen Park and bounded by the streets now known as Union Avenue (west boundary), Edison Street (north boundary), Quanah Avenue (east boundary) and the MKT tracks on the south. This was followed by the plat for Owen Place, dated June 6, 1910. This addition was located at the southeast corner of Owen Park.
Immediately to the west and east of Martha Owen's allotment were lands that were part of the allotment for Clarence Owen (sometimes recorded as "Owens" as were the last names for Martha and Chauncey Owen). Clarence Owen's relationship to Martha and Chauncey, if any, has not been determined, but Chauncey's name and the names of Martha's children are recorded in land transactions for Clarence's allotment. Part of the western portion of Clarence's allotment was platted as Irving Place and dated July 15, 1910. This plat was immediately west of Park Hill and was roughly bounded by Union Avenue on the east, Duluth (later Edison) Avenue on the north, the blocks immediately west of Xenophon, and those blocks bisected by the railroad tracks on the south. It is interesting to note that the plat map for this addition states that it is "Named for Washington Irving, who camped on this ground on his 'Tour of the Prairies' in 1832 and dedicated to his memory."
Several other additions also make up the Owen Park neighborhood. These include Observation Heights, located on the east side of Owen Park, immediately south of Edison Street. The plat for this addition is dated October 21, 1916. Chauncey Owen sold the land for this addition to Henry Hornecker who, along with his wife, Belle, developed the addition. New Irving Place, located west of the southern portion of Irving Place, was platted in 1917 by W. T. Brady. The Hollywood Addition was platted in 1923 and was located south of Owen Park. However, it was vacated a few years later for construction of Roosevelt Junior High School. Nix Amended Plat was filed in 1942 and was an amendment to portions of New Irving Place.
The developers of Irving Place and Park Hill promoted their additions with zeal. In the May 29, 1910 issue of the Tulsa Daily World, a large ad appeared with just the words "Irving Place" inside a square frame, designed to arouse the reader's curiosity. Over the next several days similar ads appeared advising readers to "Watch for Irving Place." During that same period the Cox and Fleetwood Company ran ads for Park Hill, including one that was a half page long. This ad described the addition's amenities, which included proximity to the Tulsa Country Club, shaded lots, boulevards, and interurban service. The ad tried to appeal to those wanting a good investment by stating that "Park Hill stands forth as the one piece of property that is sure to double your money..." It also mentioned that the addition would open June 1. Lots in Park Hill initially cost between $300 and $600. Convenient payment plans were available at one-fourth cash at the sale and the balance due in six, twelve, and eighteen months. Advertisements appearing in June, the traditional month for weddings, appealed to young couples establishing a home by promising "contentment, happiness, and prosperity" as well as offering easy terms. Interested parties were encouraged to take the Union Traction streetcar, thus linking the district's early development to this mode of transportation. Those with their own automobiles were assured that "excellent streets await those who plan to drive." 
In spite of this aggressive start, the two additions developed at a slow pace for several years. This may have been because they were outside of the city limits. This was resolved in 1914 when Park Hill and Irving Place were annexed into the city following requests from property owners. Interest began to pick up in 1915 following the purchase of Irving Place by G. [Gabriel] N. Wright. Wright joined forces with F.A. Gillespie, the developer of Park Hill, and together the two promoted their respective additions as one unit. Advertisements in the Tulsa Daily World described the additions' amenities in glowing terms. For example, the issue published July 4, 1915 featured the following advertisement: "Irving Place and Park Hill comprises 130 beautiful acres just west of Owen Park and south of Tulsa's Country Club grounds, making this one of the prettiest additions to be found anywhere as it overlooks the city and beautiful Arkansas Valley. The paved boulevard [Easton Street] which is nearing completion runs directly through this entire tract. We are selling not less than 100 feet fronting this beautiful drive, with contract to build. We'll not attempt to tell you about it here, but will say it is one of the healthiest places for a home we have ever seen — you will agree with us when you see it."
Advertisements that appeared over the next several days reported that lots were selling quickly and that sidewalks would be laid and other streets were to be paved in the two additions. Building restrictions protected homeowners from the construction of "unsightly shacks" on adjacent lots. Mention was made of the area's natural beauty, with well-drained lots on high ground and large shade trees. Other ads tried to entice readers to become homeowners instead of renters, thus helping to create a steady workforce for the growing city. Home ownership made employees less likely to move around as opposed to renters who could pack up and leave more easily than someone with a mortgage. The developers also assured prospective buyers that interurban service would be reinstated to Irving Place. Apparently, service had been disrupted for a while, but a letter from the interurban company stated that new cars would be placed in service and the ride to Main Street would be only 20 minutes long.
In 1915, the residents of Tulsa passed a bond issue for park and boulevard construction as a way to beautify the city, improve roads, and attract more residents. Prior to its passage, the Tulsa Park Board published an appeal to voters in the Tulsa Daily World asking them to support the bond issue. It stated: "The development of Tulsa as a city of fine residences has reached a point where it MUST have opportunity for spreading out. G.N. Wright, F.A. Gillespie and Tate Brady realized this when they, at a property cost of $3,000 (donated to people of Tulsa through the park board) and at a personal cost of over $10,000 built the first six blocks of the boulevard [Easton Street] through Irving Place, west of Owen Park."
The boulevard consisted of a grassy median in the middle of the paved street. G.N. Wright and his wife, Elizabeth, also had the Washington Irving Monument erected on a small island at the intersection of Easton Street and Vancouver Avenue in 1915. Such monuments are not a common feature in Oklahoma's residential neighborhoods. Besides Easton Street, Union Avenue, running north/south through the middle of the district, also was developed as a boulevard street. Thus, the Owen Park Historic District has the distinction of being one of the few neighborhoods in Tulsa with boulevards.
The greatest period of home construction in the Owen Park Historic District occurred in the 1920s. The preferred style was the Bungalow/Craftsman although in the later years of the decade, a few Tudor Revival and other Period Revival styles were constructed. The Bungalows tended to be one-story with weatherboard siding, although a few brick-veneered Bungalows and some two-story examples were built. These houses were very affordable for many prospective homeowners. An advertisement appearing in the May 4, 1922 issue of the Tulsa Daily World stated that a new, five-room Bungalow with a breakfast room across the front, basement and a garage on a corner lot was available for $7,000 with $1,500 cash down. Two excellent examples of the Bungalow style in the neighborhood are located at 560 N. Quanah Avenue and 302 N. Santa Fe Avenue. The Tudor Revival houses were typically one story (although some two-story examples were built) with brick veneer and steeply pitched gabled roofs. An example of this style is the house located at 224 N. Quanah Avenue. Other styles built during this decade included Colonial Revival and Spanish Eclectic (Spanish/Mission Revival). Most of the homes constructed in the district were single family, although a few duplexes, such as the bungalow duplex at 219 N. Rosedale Avenue, and other types of multiple-family units, such as the apartment building at 228-230 N. Rosedale Avenue, were built. In some cases, garage apartments were constructed at the rear of lots, a common feature in larger cities.
The Owen Park neighborhood was attractive to Tulsa's growing middle class. The park, Pershing School, and several homes were prominently featured in the books, Art Work of Tulsa Oklahoma (1920) and Tulsa: The City Beautiful (ca.1927). The latter stated that "Irving Place is most attractive and perhaps the most desirable location for a real 'homey' home for in this fertile section flower and vegetable gardens thrive best." This accompanied photos of the C.A. Steinberger house and gardens located at 1701 W. Easton Street. A glance at a city directory from 1925 reveals that a variety of professional and business people chose to live in the district. They included an attorney for an oil company, a dentist, a geologist, an insurance agent, presidents of oil and manufacturing companies, and others involved in oil and manufacturing industries. One of the developers of the area, G.N. Wright, lived in at least three houses in the district during the years 1917-1925. As a general rule, African-Americans did not live in the district with the exception of those living in garage apartments or servant quarters at the rear of a property. The professions listed for African-Americans included janitors and laborers.
Although the majority of houses in the Owen Park Historic District were constructed by 1930, residential development continued up to the end of the period of significance in 1940. The houses constructed in this period typically were modest Bungalows or of the Minimal Traditional style. Building materials reflect those popular during this era. They include weatherboard, concrete block, and brick.
As with any growing city, providing adequate funding for the construction of schools was a primary concern for Tulsans. During the 1910s, the city passed several bond issues for the construction of schools. A bond issue passed in 1917 provided for the construction of eleven schools, including one in the Owen Park neighborhood. John J. Pershing Elementary School, located at 1903 W. Easton Street, was constructed in 1918. This school was constructed under the unit concept, in this case, three unattached buildings constructed in an L-shape. To keep up with the continued growth of the neighborhood, additions were made to the school during the years 1926-1928 (and later), giving the school its present U-shape surrounding the playground. The building is now used as an alternative school.
Tulsa's population nearly doubled between 1920 and 1930, and two other schools were constructed in the neighborhood during that time. Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School, located at 1202 W. Easton Place, was constructed in 1926. It is now used as a middle school. Thomas A. Edison Junior High, located at 207 N. Quanah Avenue and just one block south of Roosevelt Junior High, was constructed in 1927. This school, once described as "one of the Southwest's most elaborately equipped public schools for vocational training" was demolished to make way for the construction of I-244 which opened in the early 1970s.
At least one church was constructed in the Owen Park neighborhood during the period of significance. The Irving Place Presbyterian Church, constructed around 1935, was a two-story, stone-veneered building located at 302 N. Rosedale Avenue. In 1937, an addition was constructed on the front of the building giving it its current late Gothic Revival appearance. The name of the church is now Parkhill Assembly of God.
The Owen Park Historic District has a strong residential character. Only a few commercial buildings were constructed in the district. Scattered throughout the neighborhood, these simple utilitarian buildings sometimes had residences in upper stories. An example is located at 1310 W. Easton Place. This two-story building consisted of a storefront on the first story with a porch off of the second-story living quarters.
As for the park that is the namesake of the neighborhood, it remained a popular recreational outlet throughout the period of significance and up to the present time. The popular WPA travel book, Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State, mentioned Owen Park as one of fourteen points of interest in Tulsa. It described the park as "a well landscaped area, with flower beds, tennis courts, a lake and rustic bridge, a wading pool, and a rest house." In 1935, the Tulsa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a stone monument commemorating the meeting points of the Creek, Cherokee, and Osage nations. The actual junction of the nations lies nearly 700 feet to the east. Also in the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration constructed a stone grotto in the park. Over the years, the grotto fell into disrepair and was reconstructed in the 1980s. In addition, five acres were added to the park in 1947.
Other improvements were made in the park after the period of significance. In 1950, the Tulsa Association of Pioneers Memorial was moved to the park from its original location outside of the district. The memorial originally was erected in 1935 in honor of Tulsa's early pioneers. A new recreation center was opened near the north end of the park at Edison Street and Quanah Avenue in 1958. A gymnasium addition was constructed in 1963. In 1976, a house believed to be Tulsa's oldest, was moved to the park. Originally located in the 400 block of N. Cheyenne (outside of the district's boundaries), the house once served as the parsonage of Reverend Sylvester Morris. Constructed in 1885, the National Folk side-gabled house is a good example of houses built in early-day Tulsa and Indian Territory.
The construction of I-244 in the late 1960s and early 1970s had a major impact on the Owen Park Historic District. Much of the original Observation Heights Addition, located on the east side of Owen Park, was demolished. Blocks 15- 20 in the south end of the Park Hill Addition were either completely or partially vacated. Blocks 20-28 of Irving Place Addition also were affected by the construction of the expressway, as was the area south of Brady Place in the New Irving Place Addition.
During this same period, the neighborhood began experiencing a decline, especially those areas near the construction. Houses fell into disrepair. But a resurgence began in the early 1980s as newcomers began to discover the wonderful housing stock available in the district. Houses such as those at 230 N. Yukon Avenue, 232 N. Santa Fe Avenue, and 560 N. Quanah Avenue have been rehabilitated in recent years. In 1984, the neighborhood association repaired the lights on the Irving Monument and cleaned up the area. The neighborhood residents continue to keep a watchful eye on the park, including the many ducks that live at the lake. The association also has purchased trees to replace dead ones in the park.
Architectural Significance of the Owen Park Historic District
The Owen Park Historic District is eligible for the National Register as an excellent collection of middle-class suburban architecture constructed in the first half of the twentieth century. The Owen Park Historic District is dominated by the Bungalow/Craftsman style, which was suited to Tulsa's growing middle class of professional and business people. Other styles, such as Period Revival and Prairie School, were used for some of the larger homes found in the district, particularly those along the two boulevards, Easton Street and Union Avenue. With its clearly defined boundaries, rolling landscape, narrow streets, and dense housing, the Owen Park Historic District presents a cohesive residential district with a high degree of integrity.
A variety of housing styles exist in the neighborhood. Most of the houses are vernacular interpretations of styles popular during the period of significance. The defining features of each of the major architectural styles are discussed below. Some of the houses were constructed in blends of several styles. Those examples were classified by the style that was most prominent in the design or by the overall architectural movement that influenced the design. Approximately 7 percent of the resources were classified as "No Style." The majority of these were garage apartments that lacked any defining details.
Bungalow/Craftsman — This style was the most popular style for residential construction in the United States during the first quarter of the twentieth century, so it is not surprising that it is the most common style found in the Owen Park Historic District. Typical examples feature low pitched gabled roofs with wide overhanging eaves and exposed rafter ends and full- or partial-width front porches supported by tapered columns on brick piers. Decorative details, such as exposed beams or triangular braces under porch or roof eaves, are also common. Most are one-story dwellings, although some two-story examples appear. Early examples tended to be constructed with weatherboard siding. A few later examples are brick veneered. Some stucco examples also exist. Bungalow/Craftsman houses were known for their open floor plans, interior woodwork and built-in features such as bookcases, inglenooks, and china cabinets. Examples of Bungalow/Craftsman houses are found at 231 N. Rosedale Avenue (one-story) and 512 N. Quanah Avenue (two-story). Approximately 70 percent of the houses in the Owen Park Historic District were constructed in this style.
Prairie School — Closely related to the Bungalow/Craftsman are houses built in the Prairie School style. This style is one of the few housing styles that is uniquely American and was popularized by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his followers. The hallmarks of this style include low-pitched hipped roofs with wide overhanging boxed eaves on a two-story block. One-story front porches typically are supported by massive porch piers. Decorative details emphasis horizontal massing. Homes constructed in this style in the neighborhood are typically sided with wood although brick and stucco also were used. Examples of this style are found at 512 N. Santa Fe Avenue (wood siding) and the Robert E. Downing House at 232 N. Santa Fe Avenue (brick). The Owen Park Historic District does have an excellent example of a one-story version at 1803 W. Cameron Street. The American Foursquare is a popular vernacular version of this style which features weatherboard on a two-story block and an overhanging hipped roof. A full-width hipped roof porch supported by massive piers adorns the front. An example of this sub-style is found at 332 N. Rosedale Avenue. Approximately 4 percent of the houses in the Owen Park Historic District are classified as Prairie School.
Period Revival — The term "Period Revival" refers to architectural styles that drew their inspiration from history. Period Revival houses were popular in Oklahoma's oil boom towns. In particular, styles such as Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival (Spanish Eclectic) found favor with middle-class homeowners in the 1920s and 1930s. These were often built of masonry, although weatherboard examples were constructed. Hallmarks of the major categories of this style are outlined below.
Colonial Revival — Colonial Revival houses are typically symmetrical oblong boxes with a side gable roof and a center entrance flanked by windows that may be paired and framed by ornamental shutters. The front doors often are highlighted by pediments supported by pilasters or flanked by sidelights and topped by fanlights. The front porches tend to be small gabled projections supported by round columns. Both two-story and one-story examples exist in the Owen Park Historic District. Examples of this style are found at 518 N. Tacoma Avenue (two-story) and 239 N. Yukon Avenue (one-story). A common sub-type is the Dutch Colonial Revival. The hallmark of this style is a gambrel roof. Most examples in the Owen Park Historic District are two-story and feature a large shed dormer on the second story. An example of this sub-type is located at 210 N. Santa Fe Avenue. Approximately 6 percent of the houses in the district have been classified as Colonial Revival.
Tudor Revival — Tudor Revival houses find their inspiration in the houses built in medieval England. They are known for their steeply pitched roofs with a dominant front gable. Most examples were constructed with brick veneer. Decorative details include rounded arched entrances, prominent chimneys, and varying roof heights. One-story and two-story examples are found in the neighborhood such as those at 224 N. Quanah Avenue (one-story) and 312 N. Quanah Avenue (two-story). Approximately 2 percent of the houses in the Owen Park Historic District were constructed in this style.
Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival (Spanish Eclectic) — Houses built in this style are inspired by the architecture of the Spanish colonies. Examples in the Owen Park Historic District are one-story, stucco dwellings. Low pitched gabled or hipped roofs were typically covered with clay tile but examples in the district now have asphalt shingle roofs. Shaped mission parapets on the front elevation are common features. Other decorative details include ornamental stucco and wrought iron window boxes or grille work. An example of this style is found at 316 N. Quanah Avenue. Only two houses were classified as this style.
Italian Renaissance — Houses constructed in this style generally were large, two-story masonry buildings with low-pitched hipped roofs with wide boxed eaves supported by decorative brackets. The roofs are frequently covered with clay tiles. Entryways and windows are often highlighted with arched surrounds. Only two examples are found in the Owen Park Historic District. A stucco example of this style is located at 550 N. Frisco Avenue.
Other Styles Represented in the Owen Park Historic District
National Folk — National Folk is a traditional housing style that spread across the country with the railroad. These simple dwellings where built throughout the first half of the twentieth century in Oklahoma. They are distinguished by their lack of detailing and simple massing that could be either square, oblong, or L-shaped. Full-facade front porches were a common feature. An excellent early example of a side-gabled, board-and-batten house is located in Owen Park. Unfortunately, it is counted as noncontributing because it was moved from its original location outside of the district. This house is believed to be the oldest extant house in Tulsa. A later example of the style is found at 160 N. Vancouver Avenue. This hipped-roof cottage is also counted as noncontributing because of alterations. Approximately 2 percent of the resources were classified as this style.
Late Gothic Revival — There is only one building in the Owen Park Historic District constructed in this style. The Irving Place Presbyterian Church, located at 302 N. Rosedale Avenue, is a vernacular interpretation of this style built in stone. Although the rear block of the building is a two-story oblong box with one-over-one sashes, the front block has pointed arched entry and window openings on the facade.
Commercial Style — As the name implies, this style was popular with commercial buildings constructed after 1900, although in the case of the Owen Park Historic District, the style also has been applied to apartment buildings and the two schools. Typically, these buildings are constructed of brick. Generally, ornamentation is kept to a minimum. Those with flat roofs often are surrounded by a parapet which in some examples may be shaped. Windows are often paired or grouped in threes. Those buildings used for a commercial function often have a center entrance flanked by large display windows surmounted by clerestories. An example of this style is located at 156 N. Union Avenue. Eight buildings, or less than 2 percent, were constructed in this style.
Modern Movement — This term is generally applied to those buildings constructed after 1930 that reflect the trend to avoid historical references, or were pared down versions of earlier styles such as the Tudor Revival and referred to as the Minimal Traditional style. The forms were simple or slightly modified boxes or L-shapes with low to moderate pitched roofs. These could be either wood sided or have masonry veneer with weatherboard used on the gable ends. Garages or carports often were attached. Several concrete block examples were constructed in the district, including the houses at 211 and 215 N. Yukon Avenue. Approximately 3 percent of the buildings were classified as Modern Movement.
Noncontributing Resources — Most of the noncontributing resources in the Owen Park Historic District are Bungalow/Craftsman houses that have had inappropriate alterations, such as the complete enclosure of front porches or the removal of historic fabric. Only a few intrusions were constructed after the period of significance.
Currently, Tulsa has five residential districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are Brady Heights Historic District (NR 1980), Gillette Historic District (NR 1982), Maple Ridge Historic District (NR 1983), Tracy Park Historic District, (NR 1982) and Swan Lake Historic District (NR 1998). Considering Tulsa's relatively young age and its rapid growth in the 1910s and 1920s, all have overlapping periods of development. Yet this does not mean that each district is a mirror image of another. Varying in size from less than forty to over five hundred resources, the districts contain houses built in a variety of architectural styles. All were geared toward Tulsa's growing middle and upper classes but some had a higher concentration of homes constructed for those of greater means.
Located just north of downtown, the Brady Heights Historic District was developed mostly between 1906 and 1925. Houses in this district tend to be larger with more ornate elements compared to those in adjacent neighborhoods. They reflect architectural styles ranging from Late Victorian and Period Revival to such American Movement styles as Prairie School and Bungalow/Craftsman. The Gillette Historic District is located southeast of the central business district. Composed of only thirty-one single-family residences and six duplexes, it is Tulsa's smallest historic district. Developed between 1922 and 1941, the district has large, two-story houses situated on large lots. The houses are designed primarily in a variety of Period Revival styles. Maple Ridge Historic District is located south of downtown just east of the Arkansas River and is Tulsa's best known residential historic district. It is a large district with large, stately houses, many of which were built for the city's oil and financial executives. Developed between 1905 and the 1940s, the houses display a pleasing mix of architectural styles popular for upper income homeowners. Tracy Park Historic District is a relatively small district with approximately seventy resources. It was once part of a downtown neighborhood that is now separated from the southeast corner of downtown by U.S. Highway 75/Interstate 444. Much of the original neighborhood was demolished during the construction of this thoroughfare. Constructed between 1919 and 1925, the housing stock is a mix of Period Revival and Bungalow styles. The Swan Lake Historic District was developed primarily between 1910 and 1946. It is a large district with over 500 resources and is located southeast of downtown. Like Owen Park, it was an early streetcar neighborhood. It also has a variety of housing styles with the largest percentage being Bungalow/Craftsman. Unlike Owen Park and the other Tulsa districts listed on the National Register, it has a fairly large collection of duplexes and multiple-family housing.
Owen Park stands out among these districts for the predominance of the Bungalow/Craftsman style in its architectural vocabulary. Although this style was the most popular in Swan Lake, only 35% of the houses in that district are classified as that style. Of the potential districts identified as being eligible for the National Register in Tulsa's preservation plan, none have such a high concentration of Bungalows. The plan also identified several districts as being potentially eligible and warranting further study. One of these districts, the Cheyenne Park Historic District, located north of downtown has 95% of its housing stock classified as Bungalow/Craftsman with approximately 70% thought to be contributing resources. This fact does not diminish the architectural and historic significance of the Owen Park Historic District. It has a distinct history and represents development on the northwest side of Tulsa's commercial core.
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† Kelly Lally Molloy and Susan Allen Kline, consultants, Tulsa Preservation Commission, Owen Park Historic District, nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Street Names: Brady Place West, Brady Street West, Cameron Street West, Easton Court West, Easton Place West, Easton Street West, Edison Street West, Frisco Avenue North, Maybelle Avenue North, Quanah Avenue North, Rosedale Avenue North, Santa Fe Avenue North, Tacoma Avenue North, Union Avenue North, Vancouver Avenue North, Xenophon Avenue North, Yukon Avenue North, Zenith Avenue North