Tracy Park Historic District
The Tracy Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. 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 Tracy Park Historic District is a small pocket of houses built in the 1920's. It is now isolated by expressways and commercial development. The modest residential neighborhood conveys a sense of historical and architectural cohesiveness as expressed in the eclectic style found in many 1920's developments.
The neighborhood is set on a wooded ridge overlooking the downtown business district. Tracy Park itself, a 150'x970' tract with formal gardens, playground and tennis courts, which was deeded to the public in 1919 as an integral part of the subdivision, comprises the Tracy Park Historic District's northern boundary. The 68 single-family homes with quarters are what remain from expressway construction that cut through the larger Ridgewood Subdivision in the late 60's. The Tracy Park Historic District is isolated on the north by the park, on the east by commercial development and on the south and west by the southeast interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop of Tulsa's expressway system.
The Tracy Park Historic District is composed of Bungalows and one-, two- and two-and-a-half-story frame, stucco and brick houses. The houses are white, tan, gray and natural brick. All but two of the houses were built during the 1920's and reflect a variety of modest residential styles of the period.
The streetscape remains much as it must have been during the 20's, since no major alterations have been made to the facades of the houses or to the surrounding landscaping. The sites reflect the building restrictions specified on the deeds, which required uniform set-backs, minimum costs of construction and exclusively two-story construction south of Twelfth Street. These restrictions produced a neighborhood scale which unifies the district.
The buildings in the Tracy Park Historic District are, without exception, in good condition as completion of the expressway and landscaping of the right-of-way in the spring of 1982 has stabilized the fringe areas on the south and west borders that were once threatened by deterioration, and has stimulated painting and clean-up of virtually all of these homes.
The neighborhood remains single-family residential in character, just as specified in the deed restrictions, largely through the efforts of a strong homeowners' association, reinforced by the strong boundaries forming a barrier between the Tracy Park Historic District and other neighborhoods with business and multi-family dwellings intruding.
The appeal of the neighborhood has not diminished in the 62 years since its beginnings; since 1978, 24 of the Tracy Park Historic District's 68 homes have new owners, attracted, as were the original owners by the strong residential character of the neighborhood, its proximity to the central business district, its tree-lined streets, and its park. The new owners have become actively involved in the homeowners' association that is dedicated to the preservation of their single-family residential status and enhancement of the quality of life in the neighborhood.
Tracy Park Historic District is significant because it is the only intact, 1920's single-family residential neighborhood left in Tulsa which is not intruded by commercial or multi-family uses. It contains a variety of modest residential styles of the period, ranging from simple frame Bungalows to rather grand 2-plus story bricks. A sense of historic and architectural cohesiveness is conveyed by the scale and use dictated by the building restrictions placed on the subdivision when it was platted.
Tracy Park is a remnant of the Ridgewood Subdivision platted on the Nola Childers Tracy Indian allotment in 1919. It was promoted by Theodore Cox, and advertised as a subdivision designed to attract "permanent residents;" a place where "birds of a feather would flock together."
The construction of the subdivision reflects the booming growth of Tulsa's oil-related middle-class during the 1920's; Tulsa grew from 72, 075 people in 1920 to 185,000 in 1929. In 1928 Tulsa was ranked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as first in construction per capita. These were not the homes of the oil barons, nor of manual laborers, but of the well-educated support society that gathered to provide the backbone of a growing city — doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants and merchants.
This was one of the first subdivisions in Oklahoma to have deed restrictions. It allowed only single-family dwellings, reflecting a move in the 20's toward segregation of single family, multi-family and commercial use of land, a philosophy now reflected in the Tulsa Comprehensive Plan for City Development. The restrictions also specified the minimum costs of construction, insuring that residents would be from similar economic backgrounds. They required uniform set backs from the street, and specified two-story construction south of 12th Street, which helped produce the neighborhood scale that unifies Tracy Park's eclectic architecture.
The area attracted Adah Robinson, a nationally-known local artist and teacher credited with the design of the Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa. Her Art Deco house, built in 1927, is listed on the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory. Theodore Cox and Harry Castle, part-owners of the Ridgewood Subdivision, also built homes in the district.
The Tulsa Urban Renewal Authority sought to include Tracy Park in its project area for rehabilitation — and clearance — in 1969. A homeowners' association was quickly formed to protest successfully against its inclusion. In 1977, homeowners successfully defeated a recommendation that the area accommodate medium density land use, and got the City Commission to approve a low-intensity land use for the district. They have successfully protested four requests for exception to zoning since 1978. In the fall of 1977, the same neighborhood group surveyed 100% of their area for the Tulsa Historic Preservation Office Inventory, eventually resulting in their nomination and listing on the Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory.
The same homeowners group pursued the Tracy Park Historic District's nomination to the National Register since the close of the Tulsa Historic Preservation Office in 1980, and plays an active role in local preservation efforts.
Tulsa Democrat, Sunday, April 6, 1919; Monday, April 7, 1919; Thursday, April 3, 1919; Wednesday, April 2, 1919; Sunday, March 30, 1919; Sunday, April 13, 1919; Sunday, April 20, 1919; Sunday, April 27, 1919.
Tulsa World, Sunday, April 3, 1921; Sunday, April 10, 1921.
Tulsa, the City Beautiful, Lerona Rosamund Morris, 1927, Tulsa City-County Library.
Oklahoma and the Mid-Continent Oil Field, pub. Oklahoma Biographic Ass'n, James O. Jones Co., 1930. Tulsa City-County Library. — Tulsa City Directory, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929 editions.
Warranty Deed No. 186534, dated Sept. 29, 1921 for Lots 15 & 16, Block 2, Ridgewood Addition to the City of Tulsa, private possession.
Oral History, Virginia Fenstermacher Vaughn, resident since 1927 of Ridgewood Subdivision, July 25, 1982.
Oklahoma Homes, Past and Present, Charles R. Coins and John W. Morris, 1980.
Tulsa Art Deco: An Architectural Era 1925-1942, Carol Newton Johnson, 1980.
Articles from the Tulsa World about Adah Robinson: 29 April, 1934; 16 April, 1945; December, 1949; 21 September 1954.
Tulsa World, Sept. 30, 1969, "Tracy Park Protest Group Formed Amid Fulmination."
Tulsa Tribune, Oct. 1, 1969, "City Drops Renewal Plan for Tracy Park."
Tulsa World, Oct. 27, 1977, "TMAPC Airs Map for District 4 Plans."
Tulsa Historic Preservation Newsletter, Nov., 1977, "A Success Story for Tracy Park Homeowners."
Tulsa World, Jan. 5, 1978, "Tulsa Panel Favors Land Use Proposal."
† Kathy Keith, Tracy Park Homeowners Association and Joe Bruce, AIA, Tracy Park Historic District, Tulsa, OK, nomination document, 1982, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.