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Riverview Historic District


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Photo: Home in the Riverview Historic District, Tulsa, OK. The historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Photographed by user:W. R. Oswald, 2012, (own work) [cc-by-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed April, 2013.

The Riverview Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.

Summary

The Riverview Historic District is located directly south of downtown Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma. The Riverview Historic District is separated from the downtown area by the Inner Dispersal Loop (also known as the Broken Arrow Expressway) which was constructed in 1968. The Riverview Historic District is predominately composed of two related additions, the Childers Heights and Norvell Park additions to the city of Tulsa. Both of these additions were platted in 1918 by Nola Childers Tracy using her father's Creek allotment land. On the extreme east and southeast edges of the Riverview Historic District are portions of three other additions, the 1906 T.T.T., the 1909 Drew-Campbell and the 1907 Riverford additions. The boundaries for the Riverview Historic District were drawn to include the majority of the area which retains its historic integrity and maintains the best, cohesive, residential character illustrating the original development.

The Riverview Historic District is composed almost entirely of residential buildings. In the south central portion of the neighborhood, there is Riverside Studio. The studio was originally used as a music studio combined with residential quarters. Currently, the building functions as a theater. There is also one small commercial building located on the east side of South Houston Avenue. There are no religious or educational buildings within the Riverview Historic District. There are also no other types of resources in the district, such as structures or objects. In total, the Riverview Historic District contains 190 buildings. Of these, 143 are contributing resources, being both present during the period of significance and retaining their historic integrity. Overall, the Riverview Historic District has a good degree of integrity with a seventy-five percent contributing rate. The remaining 47 buildings are considered noncontributing as they either do not maintain a sufficient amount of their historic character or they were constructed within the Riverview Historic District after the period of significance.

Notably, the Riverview Historic District contains three buildings which have previously been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The McBirney Mansion, constructed in 1927-1928 and located at 1414 South Galveston Avenue West, was listed on the National Register on November 13, 1976 for its association with James H. McBirney, a leading Tulsa businessman, and for its architectural significance as a landmark example of the Tudor Revival style in Tulsa. The 1919 Clinton-Hardy House at 1322 South Guthrie Avenue West was listed on the National Register on January 23, 1979 for its local architectural significance as an excellent example of the Adamesque subtype of the Colonial Revival style. The Riverside Studio, mentioned briefly above and located at 1381 South Riverside Drive, was listed on the National Register for its association with master Oklahoma architect Bruce Goff as part of the multiple property submission entitled "Bruce Goff Designed Resources in Oklahoma." The building was listed on June 14, 2001.

The period of significance for the Riverview Historic District begins in 1911 when the first extant property was constructed in the neighborhood. It extends to 1938, when the majority of the district, eighty-five percent, of the existing buildings had been erected. Of note within the Riverview Historic District is the nine year period between 1922 and 1931. During this time frame, about 122 buildings were constructed, representing sixty-four percent of the Riverview Historic District. After 1931, nine more houses were built in the area which maintain the historic design, style and rhythm of the earlier houses. There was a dearth of construction activity in the neighborhood after 1938 for several years. Between 1941 and 2003, a total of twenty-eight buildings were erected in the Riverview Historic District. Many of these resources are apartment buildings, which although not matching the scale and design of the historic houses, do not significantly disrupt the original rhythm and residential character of the area.

Description

The Riverview Historic District includes the majority of the Childers Heights and Norvell Park additions to the city of Tulsa. Both of these additions were developed by Nola Childers Tracy. Tracy acquired the land following the death of her father, William Childers. Childers received the land as part of his Creek allotment in 1905. Tracy did not plat the land until 1918, after she reached the age of legal majority and had married Forrest Tracy. Of the two related plats, the Childers Heights Addition was platted slightly earlier in April 1918. Following the dominate pattern of residential development in Tulsa, the addition was largely platted in the grid pattern. This caused a visible jog in the streets between the downtown and southern residential area as the downtown streets all follow a diagonal pattern.

The Childers Heights Addition extended from north of West 13th Street to West 15th Street and South Elwood Avenue to South Denver Avenue. The three rows of four blocks each in the east three-quarters of the addition are all matching in dimensions. The majority of blocks are not quite square with no alleys. The far north section of blocks are slightly smaller but were joined on the north side by blocks in the Lindsey Third Addition. The far west row of blocks only numbers three. While the middle block of the western row of blocks matches the other blocks in the addition, the far northwest and far southwest blocks are slanted to accommodate a necessary street jog. In order to maximize the available land and conform with previously developed area streets, the blocks in this area had to depart from the grid pattern of development and make a slight diagonal shift in orientation. Block 4 of the Childers Heights Addition accommodates this necessary changed by slanting the west side of the block which was then divided into two slightly unequal lots. Block 12, the largest block in the addition, was rectangular in shape except on the far south side. Beginning about a fourth of the way from the south end, the southern side of the block makes a southeast oblique line to a near point equal with that of the southern lines of the addition's blocks to the east.

The far north and south portions of the Childers Heights Addition have been largely excluded from the Riverview Historic District. This includes all of blocks 2, 3, 13 and 14 and portions of block 1 and 15. Overall, these areas do not maintain their historic integrity sufficiently to contribute to the district's significance. Along the north side of the addition in blocks 2 and 3, many of the resources were demolished in the late 1960s related to the construction of the Inner Dispersal Loop. Notably, within Block 2 of the Childers Heights Addition and outside the boundaries of the district, was the historic Riverview Elementary School which was demolished in about 1975. Tracy deeded the land for the school to the Board of Education in late July 1918. This act served to not only provide a convenient school for potential area residents but also directly enhanced the amenities available within the addition, ensuring its commercial success. Significantly, the school also provided the common name of the neighborhood and, therefore, this district. The south side of the addition, consisting of blocks 13, 14 and 15, has been adversely impacted by the erection of large, modern apartment buildings which do not maintain the dominate single family character of the area. All of the streets in the Childers Heights Addition follow the same pattern with every north-south and east-west road maintaining a complete course through the addition.

Platted just a few months after the Childers Heights Addition was the Norvell Park Addition to the city of Tulsa. Platted in June of 1918, this addition was originally named Horsley Hill Addition. Daniel B. Horsley, along with Lee Clinton, were named as guardians of Tracy's father's estate in 1914. In early 1918, in conjunction with another local attorney, Woodson E. Norvell, Horsley and Lee were appointed as agents in the development of Tracy's land. In mid-May of 1919, the name of the addition was changed by Tracy to the Norvell Park Addition. To make the most of an area confined by downtown Tulsa on the north and the Arkansas River on the west and south sides, the Norvell Park Addition does not adhere strictly to the grid pattern. As originally platted, the blocks along the east side of the addition, consisting of blocks 1, 9, 10 and 14, were all oddly shaped and of various sizes. The western blocks were more uniform, although the far west row of blocks were of varying shapes to conform with the existing roads. Notably, the streets of the addition deviate from the straight path of the adjacent roads in the Childers Heights Addition. The north-south roads are slanted at a slight angle. Both South Jackson Avenue and South Indian Avenue slant in a straight line but South Houston Avenue has a perceivable jog to the west just less than half way down the 1200 block and again at the intersection with West 13th Street. Originally, all of the north-south streets in the addition extended completely to Riverside Drive. Of the east-west streets, West 12th Street and West 13th Street extended fully through the addition but West 14th Street terminated at South Houston Avenue.

Two years after the platting of the Childers Heights and Norvell Park additions, Nola Childers Tracy, along with her husband Forest R. Tracy, John D. Franklin, Tan K. and Paul Clinton, Jane H. and Fred S. Clinton, Juanita Rankin and Howard A. Parker, Lon R. and Myrtle C. Stansbery, J.D. and Effie E. Simmons, Harry Tinsley, M. and Lora M. Hughes and Cleo C. and William S. Bailey, filed a "Plat of Resubdivision of Blocks 4-5 and 12 of Childers Heights Addition and Blocks 1-9-10 and 14 of Norvell Park Addition." While not apparently altering the blocks in the Childers Heights Addition and blocks 1 and 9 of the Norvell Park Addition, the replat changed the name of the dividing street between the additions from Norvell Road to Childers Avenue and combined the Norvell Park blocks 10 and 14 into one long block by vacating West 14th Street in the addition. In addition to owning some lots in the Childers Heights Block 4, the Tracys' owned all of the newly created Block 10 of the Norvell Park Addition. Five years later in 1925, Gertrude C. and Carl Pleasant and N.P. and Vivian R. Johnson filed the "Resubdivision of Block 10 of the Resubdivision of Blocks 1, 9, 10 and 14 of Norvell Park Addition" which changed the name of Childers Avenue to Houston Avenue and, to the direct west, the original Houston Avenue to Indian Avenue.

Also in 1920, Woodson E. and Norma L. Norvell filed the "Amended Plat of Blocks 11 and 12, Norvell Park, An Addition to Tulsa." Notably, this plat deviated extensively from the original neighborhood configuration. The new plat caused Blocks 11 and 12 to be combined through the abandonment of the majority of South Jackson Avenue. A small section of South Jackson Avenue, about 150 feet, continued past West 13th Street to terminate in a circular dead end. While the outside lots maintained their original design, the center lots were redesigned to accommodate the new street configuration. Ten years later, Ethel M. Cardiff filed "The Cardiff Re-Subdivision of a part of Blocks 11 and 12, Norvell Park Addition to Tulsa." Leaving the east section of lots alone, the new plat maintained the other north-south lines of the 1920 plat through easements while reducing the number of oblique lots around the South Jackson Avenue dead end. Additionally, all of the lots on the south portion of the re-subdivision were altered into diagonal lots to take advantage of their location along Riverside Drive.

Along the far east side of the Riverview Historic District are small portions of three other additions. The T.T.T. Addition, filed in May 1906 by George W. Adams, consisted of a four partial block area. Only the west half of Block 3 of the T.T.T. Addition is included within the Riverview Historic District. The two blocks of the addition on the north side have been eradicated as part of the Inner Dispersal Loop and the majority of historic houses on the east side of blocks 3 and 4 have been correspondingly demolished. The portion of the T.T.T. Addition included in the Riverview Historic District is systematically laid-out with even east-west lots. Notably, West 14th Street was not continued through the south part of the addition, creating an unusually long block on the east side of the district. To the immediate south of the T.T.T. is the Campbell Addition. Also known as the Drew-Campbell Addition, this plat was filed in 1909 by Emily Campbell. Also containing four blocks comprising a square plot of land, the two north blocks of the Campbell Addition are seamlessly attached to the south blocks of the T.T.T. Addition. The two south blocks are located between West 14th Place and West 15th Street and match the dimensions of the plats to the west in the Childers Heights Addition. As with the outside portions of the T.T.T. Addition, redevelopment has adversely impacted much of the Campbell Addition with the historic houses replaced by large, modern commercial buildings. Maintaining a notable cohesion with the residential development to the west, that portion of the Campbell Addition that retains its historic integrity was included in the Riverview Historic District.

On the far southeast side of the Riverview Historic District is the Riverford Addition. Filed on May 22, 1906 by Thomas Wiswall, a copy of the original plat was not available at the Tulsa County Courthouse for unknown reasons. This small addition apparently consisted of two blocks between South Elwood Avenue and South Guthrie Avenue and West 15th and 16th streets. The east side of Block 1, the only portion of the addition included in the Riverview Historic District, was platted into lots which mimic the lots on the surrounding blocks. Block 1 of the Riverford Addition, however, was situated slightly south of the corresponding Block 4 of the Campbell Addition, creating a slight jog in West 15th Street. Additionally, West 16th Street does not extend through the block, resulting in the erection of a house, 1520 South Elwood Avenue, where the street would have cut through the block. Notably, as revealed on the 1915 Sanborn map, there were three houses constructed in the addition in the early to mid-1910s. However, none of the footprints of these houses match the existing resources. Additionally, as indicated by the Sanborn maps, the original plat of the addition allowed the east-west streets to only be 28 feet in width, likely the reason West 16th Street was not continued through. Generally, streets in the area all measured 60 feet wide.

Beginning with the T.T.T. Addition, several streets in the Riverview Historic District have had their names changed. The pre-statehood T.T.T. Addition planned for West 13th Street to be called Sycamore Street. Both the 1909 Campbell and 1918 Childers Heights additions intended for West 14th Place to be called Walnut Street. The Childers Heights and Norvell Park plats were originally divided by Norvell Road. In 1920, Norvell Road became Childers Avenue and, in 1925, Houston Avenue. Directly related to this, the original Houston Avenue, situated one street to the west between Norvell Road and Jackson Avenue, was renamed Indian Avenue in 1925. As included on the 1918 and 1920 plats, Riverside Drive was simply called Boulevard. By 1925, the existing name had been applied to the street.

The Riverview Historic District is dominated by the Craftsman Bungalow style with seventy-one examples. This represents thirty-seven percent of the buildings in the Riverview Historic District. The Bungalow/Craftsman style flourished nationally for more than thirty years in the first four decades of the twentieth century. The style is characterized by low-to-moderate-pitched, gabled roofs and wide, front-gabled porches supported by wooden columns on masonry piers. Decorative details common to the Bungalow/Craftsman style include exposed rafters, double and triple windows and triangular knee braces.

The second most popular style of houses in district is the Tudor Revival style. Thirty-seven resources, equaling nineteen percent, in the district were classified as being in this style. Although a common residential style for more than five decades beginning in 1890, the Tudor Revival style was particularly popular in Tulsa and nationwide in the 1920s and 1930. Typically brick, these one- and two-story houses usually have steeply-pitched, cross-gabled roofs and prominent exterior chimneys.

With nineteen examples, the Prairie School style had the third highest number of examples in the Riverview Historic District. Comprising eleven percent of the district, the Prairie School style was nationally popular from about 1900 to 1920. The style is typified by simple, two-story, square plans topped by low-pitched, hipped roofs with broad, overhanging eaves. The facades are typically symmetrical with a full-width, single story front porch. The low-pitched, hipped porch roofs are usually supported by massive piers topped by wood columns.

Having just two examples less than the Prairie School style, the Colonial Revival style makes up nine percent of the Riverview buildings' architectural style. As the dominant style of residential buildings nationwide in the first half of the twentieth century, the Colonial Revival style had nine different subtypes. Character defining features of the style include an accentuated front door, symmetrical facade and paired windows, often ornamented with decorative wood shutters.

Each of the remaining styles in the Riverview Historic District had ten or less examples. This includes No Distinctive Style (10), Contemporary (10), Minimal Traditional (6), Modern Movement (5), Classical Revival (3), Commercial Style (3), Ranch (3), Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival (2) and with just one example each Folk Victorian, International, Neo-Tudor Revival and Neo-French Revival. Combined, these styles represented forty-six buildings, equaling twenty-four percent of the Riverview Historic District. Notably, many of these styles were found on historic buildings which are contributing resources to the district.

The boundaries of the Riverview Historic District were drawn to include as much of the remaining, cohesive Riverview neighborhood as possible. This includes nearly all of the Childers Heights and Norvell Park additions, as well as portions of the T.T.T., Campbell and Riverford additions. The areas outside of district boundaries have been unsympathetically redeveloped, resulting in the overwhelmingly loss of their historic character. Just outside the Riverview Historic District boundaries on the north side is the Inner Dispersal Loop. To the east of the boundary the majority of houses have been demolished and replaced by modern commercial buildings or adversely impacted by alterations. The west district boundary follows Riverside Drive, the historic road which followed the path of the Arkansas River in this section of Tulsa. The construction of large, modern, multiple dwellings have significantly altered the historic character of the area excluded by the west boundary.

A much larger Riverview Historic District was identified as being National Register eligible in "The 1997 Tulsa Historic Preservation Resource Document." Extending south from the Inner Dispersal Loop to 21st Street, the proposed district went east from the Arkansas River to the Midland Valley Railroad Tracks. Due to large voids scattered about the neighborhood caused by construction of modern apartment and office buildings and demolition of historic buildings to create parking lots, the eligibility of this area as a whole was unlikely. The Riverview area was intensively surveyed in 2005 by the city of Tulsa. The survey identified four districts of varying sizes. The districts were separated by blocks void of historic resources, as well as historic divisions. Except for Riverview, which includes portions of five additions, the other three identified potential districts encompass only the majority of a single addition. Development periods also divided the proposed districts. For example, adjacent to the southeast corner of the Riverview Historic District is the Stonebraker Heights Historic District. With an earlier plat date, building activity in the Stonebraker Heights Historic District peaked in the years 1913 to 1918. In contrast, the Riverview Historic District experienced its greatest surge in construction activity between 1922 and 1931.

The dates of construction for the Riverview Historic District were arrived at using a combination of Tulsa city directories and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. With the majority of building activity occurring after 1918, the city directories amply covered development of the neighborhood. From 1912 forward, the nearly yearly city directories were cross-referenced by address. The area was not as well represented in the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. The majority of the Riverview area was not included on the 1915 map and only portions of the district were mapped as part of the 1939 update. The 1962 map more adequately covered the neighborhood but was of little help in accurately estimating the date of construction for the district properties.

Alterations

The Riverview Historic District maintains a fairly high contributing rate at seventy-five percent. Of the total 190 resources, 143 were classified as contributing, meaning they retained their overall historic character, as well as were present during the greatest development phase of the neighborhood. Notably, three contributing properties, consisting of two houses and a studio-residence combo, have already been listed on the National Register. The remaining forty-seven buildings, twenty-five percent, were categorized as noncontributing. Of these, twenty-eight or fifteen percent, were buildings constructed after 1938, leaving nineteen historic properties that have been sufficiently altered so as to lose their historic integrity.

Over the passage of time, minor modifications have been made to many of the individual houses. Although each house is assessed for its overall retention of historic integrity, there are several common alterations which affect the categorization of the property as contributing or noncontributing. The most frequent alteration is the covering of the original wall material with asbestos shingle or aluminum or vinyl siding. Buildings with replacement siding are usually counted as contributing unless the replacement wall material was applied in an inappropriate manner, such as a vertical direction.

A property is almost always considered noncontributing if the front porch has been completely infilled or enclosed in a permanent manner. The permanent enclosure of the porch dramatically alters the feel and design of the house, particularly for the Prairie School and Bungalow/Craftsman styles where the porch is one of the major defining features. Typically in a porch enclosure, the original openings are filled with windows and some type of filler material such as wood or brick. If the porch is only screened, this does not impact the contributing/noncontributing status of the property. The enclosure of a side porch does not have as dramatic impact on the integrity of the house and consequently does not by itself impact the contributing/noncontributing determination.

Additions to the property impact the contributing/noncontributing status of the building depending largely on the location of the addition, as well as size. If the addition is confined to the back of the property, this does not affect the status of the house. If the addition is attached to the side and alters the view of the facade, the house is typically determined to be noncontributing. A second-story addition after the period of significance automatically results in the classification of the property as noncontributing due to the radical change in the building's historic design. Similar to other modifications, other types of additions are viewed on an individual basis with the deciding factor being the impact on the house's integrity of design, feeling and association.

Significance

The Riverview Historic District, located in Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance as an excellent, representative collection of houses and apartment houses constructed from 1911 to 1938. Dominated by the Bungalow/Craftsman style, other popular architectural styles in the Riverview Historic District included the Tudor Revival, Prairie School and Colonial Revival. Although predominately a middle-class neighborhood, the Riverview Historic District also contains a number of larger, better-appointed homes built by many of the leading citizens of Tulsa. This includes the Clinton-Hardy House, the Bird House, the Kerr House and the magnificent McBirney Mansion. Situated in immediate proximity to downtown Tulsa, the neighborhood has also experienced limited pockets of redevelopment that resulted in the erection of modern apartment buildings. Overall, these buildings do not interfere with the Riverview Historic District's ability to convey its significance. Importantly, the construction of multiple family housing in the district was not a new phenomena. Along the northeast and southwest boundaries of the district, several historic apartments buildings were erected during the district's period of significance. In addition to their historic association with the majority single family homes, the historic apartments are compatible in design and architectural styles with the neighborhood-at-large.

The period of significance for the Riverview Historic District extends from 1911 to 1938. This span of time encompasses the majority of the development of the neighborhood. It was during this time that eighty-five percent of the existing houses in the district were constructed. Building activity in the neighborhood ceased for several years after this and only a scattering of buildings were built each decade since that time to the present.

Historic Background

The town of Tulsa existed as early 1879 when a post office was established on the Perryman Ranch in the Creek Nation. The town, first called "Tulsey Town," grew slowly. During the early 1880s, the town was a haven for gamblers and "bad men" due to its isolation. At the time of the first government townsite survey in Indian Territory in 1900, Tulsa's population stood at merely 1,390.[1]

Shortly after this survey, a momentous event occurred near Tulsa, Indian Territory. This event not only had a major impact on Tulsa but the entire future state of Oklahoma. In 1901, the state's first important commercial oil well blew in. Located in Red Fork, this landmark well was across the Arkansas River from Tulsa. Two years later, the Secretary of the Interior allowed the leasing of restricted Indian Territory lands under Department of the Interior supervision.

The oil rush was on as oil men from Pennsylvania and other states flocked to Indian Territory. In 1904, three men built a toll bridge over the Arkansas River connecting Red Fork and Tulsa. In addition to allowing Tulsa to benefit from the Red Fork strike, the toll bridge also enabled the town to profit from the fabulous 1905 Glenn Pool strike. Within months of the discovery, the Glenn Pool field was "famous throughout the industry as the richest small field in the world."[2]

At the time of Oklahoma's statehood in 1907, Tulsa's population had jumped to 7,298, an increase of nearly six thousand in just seven years. In just three years, Tulsa's population more than doubled to reach 18,182 in 1910. As to be expected, a major commercial and residential building boom accompanied this tremendous population boom with brick plants working at capacity. Hotels, office buildings and fine residences were under construction as the streets were paved. By late August 1910, construction activity underway in Tulsa was valued at over one million dollars. Pipelines to the Gulf of Mexico opened as oil prices climbed. In 1912, a third major oil pool, the Gushing field, blew in. Although the incredible production from the Gushing field temporarily resulted in a drop in crude oil price by 1916, the United States' entrance into World War I rallied the market. Additionally, it was during this time that the first oil refining plant opened in Tulsa. By 1920, Tulsa's population had grown to 72,075, a tremendous increase of almost fifty-four thousand persons in merely ten years. Nearly doubling in the ensuing decade, Tulsa's population by 1930 was 141,258 and the city was the second largest in the state. Although oil drilling activity occurred all over eastern Oklahoma, the oil companies' headquarters were generally located at Tulsa and that is where the oil men in charge made their homes. As such, Tulsa became known as the "Oil Capital of the World."[3]

Like the rest of the nation, the oil business and Tulsa did not escape unscathed by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Further worsening the status of the oil industry in Oklahoma was the October 1930 discovery of oil in the East Texas field. Forty-five miles long and five to ten miles wide, the East Texas field quickly yielded a sufficient amount of oil by itself to satisfy national demand. The worsening economic conditions combined to such an extent that by 1933 the price of oil had reached bottom of the barrel prices and a good portion of Tulsa's residents were jobless. Although oil prices stabilized between 1934 and 1940, the decade of the 1930s proved to be difficult for Tulsans, as all Americans. In 1941, the city's population stood at only 142,157. This represented a growth of only 899 citizens since 1930.[4]

America's involvement in World War II proved to be a major redeeming event for Tulsa, as well as the nation as a whole. Although Tulsa and Oklahoma did not benefit from the increased military spending of early 1940, it quickly became apparent Tulsa enjoyed certain important characteristics that made it ideal for subsequent military spending. These features included its central, secure location in the middle of the country; ready sources of cheap fuel; a good network of roads and highways; and, a large pool of trained and unemployed workers. According to one source, the only drawback Tulsa had was the lack of available workers housing for the thousands of laborers necessary to make Tulsa "...a center of war production." Nonetheless, in early 1941, the War Department named Tulsa as a potential site for the new $15 million Douglas Aircraft Company plant. On 2 May 1941, a ceremonial ground breaking heralded the start of construction on the mile long building which by the summer of 1942 occupied one-and-one-half square feet of floor space. By the fall of 1942, the Douglas plant was in need of expansion and the plant payroll included nearly fifteen thousand workers earning an average of just over $185 a month.[5]

The Douglas Aircraft plant was not the only wartime plant impacting Tulsa in the early 1940s. Although the aircraft industry expended more than twenty million dollars during the period to expand their facilities in Tulsa, other factories in Tulsa spent more than seven million dollars in expanding their industrial plants during the war. In 1939, Tulsa manufacturers employed eleven thousand Tulsans in primarily oil-related manufacturing jobs. By 1945 forty-two thousand residents worked in local manufacturing plants. The majority of these in non-oil related capacities. In 1945, the United States Department of Labor determined that Tulsa was among the top three cities impacted by the wartime industrial expansion. In terms of the number of residents, between 1940 and 1945, Tulsa's population expanded by nearly a third to reach 185,000.[6]

Following the end of World War II, Tulsa continued to enjoy a prosperity unthought of in the 1930s. Responding to consumer demands for goods of all types, Tulsa continued to expand its industrial base. Further boosting the city's economy was the continued spending by the Federal government on military-related industries during the Cold War of the late 1940s through the early 1990s. This remarkable varied industrial development spurred Tulsa's growth through the 1950s and 1960s. By the early 1970s, Tulsa led the state in manufacturing.[7]

Architectural Significance

The Riverview Historic District is architecturally significant as an excellent representation of popular domestic architectural styles built in Tulsa between 1911 and 1938. The dominate architectural style in the Riverview Historic District is the Bungalow/Craftsman style. With just over half the number of buildings as the Bungalow/Craftsman style, the Tudor Revival style was the second most preferred style within the district. Although having fewer examples, the Prairie School and Colonial Revival styles were present in the area in notable numbers as well. Predominately a single family, middle-class neighborhood, the Riverview Historic District includes several outstanding examples of dwellings constructed for the upper class. Additionally, the area contains several historic, multiple family dwellings that enhance the overall architectural significance of the district by representing a related type of property that gained in popularity in Tulsa during the latter part of the period of significance.

Comprising thirty-seven percent of the district, there were seventy-one buildings in the Riverview Historic District that were classified as being in the Craftsman Bungalow style. Generally, Craftsman Bungalow style houses were constructed of weatherboard with a moderate to low-pitched gabled roof and full or partial porches with roofs supported by tapered wood columns on brick piers. Originating in California after the turn-of-the-century, the style spread across the country through pattern books and popular magazines. For the most part, the Craftsman Bungalow style faded from popular use around 1930. Within the Riverview Historic District, one-story Bungalows were much more common than the related two-story Craftsman version of the style.

With thirty-seven versions, the Tudor Revival style was the next more popular style in the neighborhood, representing nineteen percent of the district. Although this style of home was found nationally from about 1890 to 1940, it emerged with a vengeance on the Tulsa housing market in the mid- to late-1920s to essentially take the place of the formerly ubiquitous Bungalow/Craftsman style. Characterized by steeply-pitched, cross-gabled roofs, Tudor Revival style homes were generally built of brick with dominant chimneys on the facade. The eave line of these buildings also frequently made a discernible break from the earlier popular styles. As with the Minimal Tradition style that eclipsed it, the Tudor Revival style of the 1920s and 1930s typically featured a minimal eave overhang.

Composing significantly less of the Riverview Historic District, just ten percent, the Prairie School style was used in describing nineteen buildings. This style of home was popular nationally only from the turn-of-the-century to about 1920. Similar to the Craftsman version of the Bungalow/Craftsman house, this style of home was predominately two-stories with a single story, full-width porch. In contrast to the slightly later Tudor Revival style, the typical roof of a Prairie School style house was usually hipped with broad eaves. The low-pitched, single story, hipped porch roof frequently was supported by tapered wood columns on brick piers.

Having just slightly fewer representations in the district was the Colonial Revival style. Commonly found with side-gabled and gambrel roofs, Colonial Revival houses almost always have a symmetrical fenestration pattern and an accentuated entry. Including all of its nine subtypes, this style "...was a dominant style for domestic building throughout the country during the first half..." of the twentieth century. As suggested by its name, the Colonial Revival style builds upon early American housing styles, including Post-medieval English, Dutch Colonial, Georgian and Adam.[8]

The district also contained a number of other styles that had a very limited number of representations. This included the period styles of Classical Revival with three; the Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival with two; the International style with one; and, the Commercial style with three. Only one house was classified as being in an earlier style. The Folk Victorian Perryman House, reportedly moved to its current location at 1313 South Elwood Avenue West from its original site in downtown Tulsa, was the only property classified in an architectural style popular from an earlier time period. Other styles present in the Riverview Historic District from latter phases of architectural development include the Modern Movement style which had five examples; the Ranch style with three; the Contemporary style with ten; and, the Neo-Tudor Revival and Neo-French Revival with one each. An additional ten properties, nearly all secondary buildings located to the rear of the property, were classified as having No Distinctive Style. These buildings possess few identifying architectural features and very limited decorative details.

Overwhelmingly populated by modest, Bungalow/Craftsman and Tudor Revival homes, the Riverview Historic District was for the most part a typical, middle class, Tulsa neighborhood. Highlighting the area, however, are several unique buildings. Topping the list of notable houses in the Riverview Historic District is the McBirney Mansion, addressed as 1414 South Galveston Avenue West. The large, splendid Tudor Revival style home with servants quarters was prominently located on the majority of a block that remained undeveloped. In the front yard of the house built between 1927 and 1928, were several springs which reportedly were used by Washington Irving when he toured this section of the United States in the nineteenth century. The house, designed by the Kansas City architect John Long, is an outstanding, opulent example of the Tudor Revival style, a fact which was recognized in 1976 when the building was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was additionally recognized for its association with James H. McBirney, a leading businessman in Tulsa during the first half of the twentieth century.

Although not as grand, the Bird House located at 1411 South Galveston West is a fine example of a brick, Colonial Revival style house in the Riverview Historic District. This home was built for Caroline Bird by her brother, James H. McBirney, in about 1924 and is located just to the northeast of the McBirney Mansion. A more austere example of the Colonial Revival style in the neighborhood is the Clinton-Hardy House at 1322 South Guthrie Avenue West. This originally weatherboard, Adamesque example of the style was designed by George Winkler and erected in 1919 for Lee Clinton. Notably, the presence of the Clinton House attracted much attention to the newly platted Childers Heights Addition. Previously, Tulsa's upper class tended to construct their commodious dwellings on the north side of downtown or to the near southeast.

The construction of the Clinton-Hardy House in the Riverview area was not a completely altruistic move on Clinton's part. Clinton, along with Daniel Horsley and Norvell E. Woodson, were designated by Nola Childers Tracy in early January 1918 as agents for development of her land inherited from her father that was part of his Creek allotment. Described as an Osage Princess and "...one of the wealthiest Indian girls in Oklahoma...," Nola Childers' mother was Osage and her father was Creek. Born in about 1899, Childers was orphaned in 1914 and married Forrest R. Tracy in June of 1917. Clinton and Horsley were named as Childers guardians in 1914, as well as the guardians of her father's estate. In addition to her "...Osage estate...," Childers "...inherited from her father 160 acres of land now surrounded by the city of Tulsa." The additions formed from this land became the Childers Heights and Norvell Park additions to the city of Tulsa. As her agents, Clinton and Horsley shared in the ten percent net commission of the gross amount generated by the sale of lots in these additions. According to court records, between January 1918 and September 1918, the total gross amounted to about $100,000.[9]

Notably, the delay in construction activity in the district was likely caused by the above arrangement. In September 1918, Tracy abruptly closed the offices which had been conducting the real estate business without notice to Woodson Norvell. Norvell than brought suit against Tracy, Lee Clinton and Daniel Horsley for legal services in the amount of $110,000. In December 1918, Tracy entered into a contract with Norvell in order to have the current suit dismissed and prevent Norvell from making any more claims against Tracy, her estate and her guardians. Along with a promissory note in the amount of $10,000 from E. Constantin and Constantin Refining Company, Tracy agreed to give Novell thirty-six lots or parcels of land in the Horsley Hills Addition. In early January 1919, Tracy deeded Norvell the remainder of the addition for the sum of $42,500, divided into $7,500 cash and four promissory notes for $8,500. However, it was Tracy who filed the change of name for the addition in May of 1919 from Horsley Hills to Norvell Park. In August 1919, Tracy filed an instrument in the Office of the County Clerk which asserted she was the owner of the property and her intent to cancel the December deed giving the land to Norvell. As such, in November 1919, Tracy filed suit against Norvell, alleging fraud on the part of Norvell in procuring the original January 1918 contract and the December 1918 settlement. With the local court upholding the contract and settlement, Tracy appealed the case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court which affirmed the Tulsa County judgement in late March 1921. According to allegations made by Norvell in a subsequent law suit between him and Tracy concerning the foreclosure of the mortgages for the January 1919 land sale, "...that, because of the motion and the pending action, he was unable to sell any of the lots at their value at any time after the filing of the notice, August 9, 1919, until the coming down of the mandate April 21, 1921...". [10]

With any clouds on the titles to land in the area lifted, construction activity quickly surged in the district. One of the more notable buildings erected during the first year of major development was the Patrick Kerr House, located at 1312 South Guthrie Avenue West. Built in 1922, this handsome, stucco-clad, Mission style house features a clay-tiled, hipped roof and a full-width, single story porch partially covered by flat-roof supported by massive, stucco columns. In addition to the windows which feature an unusual decorative pane pattern, the house features several eye-catching, ornamental, blue tile wall decorations.

Featuring an architectural style that gained popularity during the latter part of the 1920s are the six apartment buildings located off of Riverside Drive. Built in the early 1930s, these coordinating Tudor Revival style apartment buildings were originally named, in order from east to west, Hemphurst Terrace, Hemphurst Manor, Hemphurst Lodge, Hemphurst Castle, Hemphurst Arms and Hemphurst Hall. These buildings are striking examples of the Tudor Revival style as applied to multiple dwellings. The buildings are not identical but share many similar features and an overall design. The proposed construction of these buildings was directly related to the filing of the June 1930 Cardiff Re-Subdivision of Blocks 11 and 12 of Norvell Park. The newly created lots along the south side of the district were ideal to contain one of these buildings. The change in the lots also allowed for the buildings to front onto Riverside Drive. With an uninterrupted view of the Arkansas River, this was a picturesque location for development of speculative housing.

The Hemphurst buildings, however, were not the first apartment buildings in the district. Located along the far northeast edge of the Riverview Historic District are three brick, Commercial style apartment houses. Although more utilitarian in design and style, these buildings are also good examples of the multiple family dwellings that were increasingly constructed in Tulsa's residential developments as the community continued to expand at an unprecedented rate in the 1920s.

Overall, the Riverview Historic District contains an outstanding collection of homes that represents the residential architectural development of Tulsa in the second, third and fourth decades of the twentieth century. As was typical of Tulsa's neighborhoods developed during this time frame, the district was dominated by the Bungalow/Craftsman style with a strong showing of Tudor Revival style houses. Also apparent in visible numbers were the Prairie School and Colonial Revival styles. Overall, these styles are compatible in terms of size, building materials, feeling and association and reflect popular architectural trends of the period. Providing additional variety to the district is that even the houses classified as the same style are not identical. Further diversifying this largely middle class neighborhood are the sumptuous houses of Tulsa's elite, including the McBirney Mansion and Bird, Clinton-Hardy and Kerr houses. The scattered pockets of multiple family dwellings in the district also contribute to the composite evolution of domestic architecture in the district. In sum, the Riverview Historic District is an unduplicatable expression of period, middle and upper class, residential architecture in Tulsa.

Endnotes

  1. The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma (Lawrence, Kansas: The University Press of Kansas, 1986), 206-208.
  2. Ibid., 208. See also Angie Debo, Tulsa: From Creek Town to Oil Capital. (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943), 86-88.
  3. Ibid., 208-209. See also Debo, Tulsa. 88 and 97-99.
  4. Danney Goble, Ph.D., Tulsa! Biography of the American City (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Council Oak Books, 1998), 139-140, 143, 151 and 181. See also WPA Guide. 205.
  5. Ibid., 170-180.
  6. Ibid., 181.
  7. Ibid., 242-245.
  8. Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses. (New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990) 320-324.
  9. Tracy v. Norvell, (Oklahoma Supreme Court Cases, The Oklahoma State Courts Network), www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocument.asp ?citeid=35314, accessed 6 October 2006. See also The Daily Oklahoman. (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), 23 June 1917.
  10. Ibid. See also Tracy v. Norvell, (Oklahoma Supreme Court Cases, The Oklahoma State Courts Network), www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocument.asp?citeid=40676, accessed 6 October 2006.

References

The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 23 June 1917.

Debo, Angie. Tulsa: From Creek Town to Oil Capital. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943.

Dunn, Nina Lane. Tulsa's Magic Roots. Tulsa, Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Book Publishing Company, 1979.

Goble, Danney, Ph.D. Tulsa! Biography of the American City. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Council Oak Books, 1998.

Inhofe, Marilyn, et al. Footsteps Through Tulsa. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Liberty Press, 1984.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

Tracy v. Norvell. Oklahoma Supreme Court Cases, The Oklahoma State Courts Network, www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocumcnt.asp?citeid=35314, accessed 6 October 2006.

Tracy v. Norvell. Oklahoma Supreme Court Cases, The Oklahoma State Courts Network, www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocument.asp?citeid=40676, accessed 6 October 2006.

The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma. Lawrence, Kansas: The University Press of Kansas, 1986.

† Cynthia Savage, architectural historian, for City of Tulsa, Riverview Historic District, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Riverview Historic District Map

Street Names
13th Street West • 14th Place West • 14th Street West • 15th Street West • 30th Place East • Elwood Avenue South • Frisco Avenue South • Galveston Avenue South • Guthrie Avenue South • Houston Avenue South • Indian Avenue South • Jackson Avenue South • Riverside Drive

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