Photo: Home in the Ranch Acres Historic District, Tulsa, OK. The District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Photographed by User:W. R. Oswald, own work, 2012, creative commons [cc-3.0], via wikimedia, accessed January, 2023.
The Ranch Acres Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. [†]
The Ranch Acres Historic District is approximately three and three-quarters miles from the center of downtown Tulsa. The Ranch Acres Historic District boundaries roughly are East 31st Street on the north, South Harvard Avenue on the east, East 41st Street on the south, and South Delaware Avenue and South Florence Avenue on the west. The Ranch Acres Historic District includes three hundred twenty-four residences, two commercial properties, five objects, and three sites. Shaped like a boot, the Ranch Acres Historic District encompasses the 182.2 acres in the four Ranch Acres plats which were filed in 1949, 1951, 1953, and 1956.
The street on the east and south of the Ranch Acres Historic District are busy Tulsa thoroughfares. East 31st Street and East 36th Street provide east/west car access through the district, but do not separate the district into different areas. The subdivision has a sense of privacy because of the mature and plentiful trees, and the winding streets and undulating topography prevents cars from using the subdivision's residential streets as throughways to other parts of town. Privacy has been preserved such that there are few backyard fences. The setting and continuity among houses in mass scale and setbacks unify the district. This Ranch Acres Historic District is without sidewalks except along the east side of South Delaware Avenue. Edison School (1953) is just south of the historic district along East 41st Street, and South Delaware Avenue is a natural conduit for walking students who live in the area.
The presence of Little Joe Creek has been important to the Ranch Acres Historic District. It flows from north to south. It no longer is visible as a running stream because the city diverted the running water into a drainage culvert, c.1960, which partially rerouted it to the rear of housing lots to prevent the reoccurrence of flooding in the neighborhood. However the creek fostered the growth of a large number of native pecan trees giving the subdivision a park-like setting. The area is also a woodland setting so the creek and rolling topography created the opportunity for houses to adapt to the landscape particularly in the rear by the way the lots were laid out along building plateaus that are street side. The arrangement facilitates maintaining a long linear one-story Ranch house appearance on the street, although some houses have walk-outs or lower stories that are not noticeable from the street.
The Ranch Acres Historic District includes three hundred twenty-four residences, of which two hundred ninety-one or nearly ninety percent are contributing to the historic character of the district. Two other buildings are commercial. The Ranch Acres Historic District's period of significance is from 1949 to 1962. The period of significance was chosen because almost all of the houses constructed during this period share similar Ranch house characteristics. Architecture from the later 1960s began a gradual change as the standard Ranch constructed earlier in Ranch Acres fell somewhat out of favor. The Ranch houses built in the district after 1962 reflect changing tastes. For example the six houses constructed between 1963 and 1964 include a split level which had not been constructed in the district previously. Clay tile is used for roofing, which also was not used previously. Some of the houses built after 1962 exhibit references to Neo-Eclectic styles which are not strongly present in houses from the period of significance.
For the Ranch Acres Historic District, the Ranch house is defined as one-story in height when viewed from the street. Nearly all the houses in the Ranch Acres Historic District are one-story. While story and one-half houses were allowed by covenants, they are anomalies when compared to the rest of the housing stock.
Ranch Acres houses spread out across their lots. The subdivision has oversized lots when compared to surrounding and other Ranch house subdivisions, so Ranch Acre homes with their long, horizontal and ground-hugging nature, conform to changes in the topography or expand out from the center core in nearly any direction on the lot. Private spaces are on the rear of the house, where patios and swimming pools are located and rarely seen from the street. The scale, setbacks, height and mass are similar for housing within the district.
The houses in Ranch Acres Historic District have characteristics such as low or moderately low-pitched roofs which are either hipped or gable. Occasionally Ranches in this district have steeper roofs but contributing houses are still one-story in height. In the Ranch Acres Historic District, sixty percent of the roofs are hipped; thirty-eight percent are gable. Almost always, houses have wide or moderately wide eaves and are boxed. Eave width can depend though, on the particular style of Ranch, and those with Colonial details are almost always close.
Native stone, brick, board-and-batten or horizontal siding or a combination of these are typical wall materials. The most frequently found combination in the Ranch Acres Historic District other than a full brick or stone wall cladding is wainscot with siding above. In the Ranch Acres Historic District, thirty-six percent of the houses are clad in brick, forty percent are clad mostly in two varieties of sandstone, and twenty-two percent of the houses have a combination of brick or stone wainscot and siding.
Garages are an integral part of the Ranch houses and two-car garages dominate. Only one house in the Ranch Acres Historic District has a single car garage, four houses have three garages, and one heavily altered house has four. One home has a detached three-car garage in addition to the home garage. Garages can be fully integrated into the house or partially integrated, or sometimes the garage is the "L" or "T" on a house front or rear facade. The houses generally accommodate the site's topography even on the front facade, usually when garages sit slightly lower than the main house.
The entry doors are recessed most often under the principal roof. In the Ranch Acres Historic District, door types vary from front facade to those facing a side of the house instead of the street. Chimneys are generally rectangular in shape and are often near the center of the house on either the front or rear roof slope.
Original windows are usually multi-pane fixed windows and multi-pane casements. They are metal or wood and are found in fixed window and casement combinations. Original windows can also be a variety of double-hung or single-pane windows, or a combination of single panes. Windows range in types, shapes and placement but picture windows and horizontal/narrow windows at the roof/wall junction are very commonly found.
The houses surveyed in the Ranch Acres Historic District have been organized by plan. The plans include: Linear, "L", Complex, Massed, "T", "U", "V" and "Y".
Linear Ranch — This is the most common form of Ranch house in Ranch Acres Historic District. There are one hundred forty-eight linear Ranches which is forty-six percent of the district's houses. These houses have an elongated rectangle footprint and are one-story. Houses considered linear may have secondary side wings and secondary front extensions, but they are not full room extensions.
"T" Ranch — This form of Ranch is in the shape of a "T". There are twenty-nine of these houses, or about nine percent. Moderate wings or extensions which create a "T" appearance can be found at the narrow end of a linear Ranch, in the middle on the back or front facades, or along the back or front and perhaps the extensions are not necessarily the same length. These wings or extensions are generally a full room, and many times the "T" is an addition, especially on the rear.
"L" Ranch — The house plan is in the shape of an "L" and there are forty-nine of these houses, or fifteen percent of the housing stock. The "L" is created by a moderate wing or extension on the front or rear, but these houses also can have secondary roofs and minor wings or extensions which are full rooms, or in some cases garage wings.
Complex Ranch — This form of Ranch is noted as such for a combination of wings, "T"s, or "L"s, and many times are combined with massing which result in irregular plans. There are thirty-five of these houses or about eleven percent. There can be roof extensions on front or back, but they generally are not full room extensions. Houses with complex plans are considered Ranch houses if the house exterior embodies basic Ranch house characteristics from the street.
"V" Ranch — This form of Ranch house is noted for its shape which can be asymmetric, and angled wings can be either on the front or rear. The angle of the "V" can be rather sharp, or very slight. There are twenty-eight of this plan, or about nine percent. Many of these houses sit on corner lots. There can be secondary roof extensions on front or back on the wings, but they are not full-room. The extensions are not necessarily the same lengths.
Massed Ranch — This Ranch house is at least two rooms in depth and rectangular. There can be secondary roof extensions on front or back, but may have room additions. There are only five of these houses, about one percent. Some massed Ranches become complex plans when many additions or wings are present. Houses with massed plans are considered Ranch houses if the house exterior embodies basic Ranch house characteristics from the street.
"U" Ranch — This Ranch house usually has additions to the linear form. The "U" wings need not be the same size or length and in this neighborhood the "U" is in the rear. There are five of these houses in the district, which is just over one percent. There can be secondary roof extensions on front or back, but they are not full-room.
"Y" Ranch — This Ranch is distinguished by its three wings around a center core. There are two of these houses in the district, or slightly more than one-half percent. There can be secondary roof extensions on front or back, but they are not full-room. The extensions are not necessarily the same length.
Ranch Acres Ranch Houses
While the houses vary in plan, they also can exhibit stylistic taste. In Ranch Acres Historic District, however, most houses make few references to previous historical styles, except that their basic traits are inherited from the Prairie style, the Usonian house and the Moderne house in a quest for simplicity, privacy and informality that is close to nature. The traits that were deemed necessary to create a house form for modern life include low-pitched roofs, the wide eaves, ground hugging horizontal lines, a central chimney and open floor plans. The houses of Ranch Acres Historic District incorporate these basic features.
Traits common in Ranch Acres Historic District is one at 3424 South Gary Place, a hipped-roof house with two front secondary hip roof extensions and the partial facade porch recessed under the principal roof. There is a picture window and double-hung windows. In Ranch Acres Historic District, a commonly found feature on many houses is the decorative open work metal porch posts with brackets. The entry door faces the side of the house rather than the street, and provides privacy to the home owner.
A larger version of almost the same house is at 3519 South Florence Avenue. The house can be described in almost the same way but with changes in the description of windows and porch posts. Both houses have chimneys on the rear slope and nearly centered in the house. This is the most often found pattern in the Ranch Acres Historic District and occurs on houses of various sizes.
The exception, the lack of historical styles is the use of Colonial details, which can be seen at 3152 East 38th Street (a "T" Ranch, Colonial) and 3843 South Gary Place (a Linear Ranch, Colonial). There are twenty-four linear Colonials, and there are twenty more houses with Colonial characteristics in complex plans, "T", "L", "Y", and "V" Ranches. They have details such as shutters, columns with small capitals at the porches, trimmed wood panels beneath windows and double-hung windows. Some houses have eaves that wrap to the front of the gables, and generally the eaves are close rather than wide.
Examples of Contemporary houses of which there are thirteen can be seen at 2926 East 39th Street (a "V" Ranch, Contemporary) and 3910 South Florence Place (a Linear Ranch, Contemporary).
3826 South Florence Avenue, 3157 East 39th Street, 3819 South Florence Avenue, 3171 East 33rd Street, and 2922 East 39th Street are five other houses that exhibit stylistic details from Neoclassical, Eclectic, Traditional, French, and Prairie. These complete the range of historical references to styles in the Ranch Acres Historic District, and with the Colonial ranches, these houses represent only nineteen percent of all Ranch Acres houses.
The Linear Ranch remained the most popular house form in all four platted areas. Of those with historical references, Colonial was the most popular style. Some were constructed in the 1949 and 1951 plat areas, but most were constructed after 1952. The Contemporary homes also occur more frequently after 1952.
A distinct design trait in the Ranch Acres Historic District is the placement of houses at corners. Where streets join, all but four corner houses in the district are angled to face the street junctions. The corner houses visually tie together the streets and for the house owners, there are no back yards to be easily seen from the street which maintains the privacy of the outdoor living space. These houses are either the "V" houses that wrap around the corners of the lot, angled "L"s, or Linear houses. The Linear houses sit angled across the lot which creates a very large front yard and space for circular drives and the porte-cocheres. Versions of the "V" Ranches were standard plans offered by I.A. Jacobson, builder and developer of Ranch Acres. Corner lots allow houses to spread in unique ways. The house at 2648 East 38th Street is a complex plan, but has a "Z" appearance from the street.
Space allows for a unique trait to the Ranch Acres Historic District — porte-cocheres in front of houses. Six houses have them; four of the houses are contributing. With such large corner lots, there is plenty of room for such features.
Housing plans have repeated use in the district, and while there is no evidence that Jacobson provided interested buyers with sets of plans from which to choose, that is likely to have happened. He built approximately seventy-five percent of the homes in the district which helps account for the continuity of district characteristics, and the lack of houses that have historical reference. Home owners today may have plans for their homes, but no architect name is written on them. However there are architect-designed houses scattered among those built from plans used by Jacobson. Also, other builders worked in the neighborhood and brought their own patterns into the district, but covenants established certain construction parameters that applied to all.
The covenants specified that houses could not be higher than one and one-half story and there had to be an attached two-car garage. Plans had to be submitted to a committee that approved house locations on the lot, and the plan's "conformity and harmony of external design with existing structures in the subdivision." How the house accommodated topography was also part of the review process. There were to be no outbuildings, and the size of houses, determined by block, could be no smaller than 1,200 square feet and at least 1,800 square feet on some blocks. The covenants for Plat 2 were nearly identical except that they specified that there had to be at least stone or brick wainscot on every structure, and that houses were to have gutters, downspouts, and wood or shake wood shingles, or a specific kind of asphalt shingle. The size of houses in Plat 3 increased to no less than 1,800 sq.ft. By Plat 4, houses were to be at least 2,000 to 2,200 sq.ft.
Despite Jacobson's influence and the covenant stipulations, it does not mean that all the houses look the same. The variability of using segmented units such as a garage, center portion, zoned living spaces, and wings can be arranged in a variety of ways, with hip or gable roofs that are angled and layered. The Ranch house has the ability, through arranging these blocks of space, to become a house that accommodates personal taste and the lot space that is available. The district's houses are each unique. The size of lots, the lack of a "cookie-cutter" approach to construction, and use of varied material makes it nearly impossible to find houses that look exactly alike.
Materials used in the Ranch Acres Historic District are worth note especially the Colorado pink sandstone and crab orchard sandstone from Tennessee. While some residents have painted the pink sandstone over time as the color fell out of favor, many houses still have this stone as cladding or wainscot, or the much more colorful, lighter and variegated crab orchard sandstone. The frequent use of these materials helps connect the houses as belonging to the district. Openwork metal porch posts and hand rails are another frequently used detail seen on many homes. They can be very elaborate as porch posts, bracketed posts, or brackets may be used at entry openings.
Most of Ranch Acre houses are remarkably well-preserved with much original material intact. Probably the most significant alterations have been additions. Additions have been frequent, but because of the spreading nature of Ranches, it is not always easy to detect their location. Many have been made to the rear of Linear Ranches. Some have easily become part of the existing house. The addition to the right side of the Ranch at 3923 South Florence Avenue is well done and does not detract from its integrity.
Additions have been made, however, that detract from established patterns, and these houses are non-contributing. The house at 3062 East 38th Place, for example, shows the conversion of attic space into living space. These houses with conversion of the attic are no longer Ranch houses, which are defined for this district as having one story. Other additions that have been made and visible from the street can be character changing such as visual evidence of two-story rear additions, for example, at 3474 South Florence Place.
Alterations in roofing have been the migration to asphalt rather than cedar shakes singles, and there has been some replacement of wood siding with vinyl siding which is similar in appearance.
Another common alteration is the replacement of windows. Most replacement windows match originals reasonably well, especially double-hung windows. The original metal and wood casements have sometimes been replaced with combinations of wood single panes or multi-panes, but the replacement windows are similar to other windows in other houses in the district. Original windows that were narrow and horizontal and located at the roof/wall junction are almost always replaced in the same location with similar windows. Picture windows are generally replaced with similar replacement panes, but side casements may vary from multi-pane to single pane. Replacement windows are generally sympathetic and not detract from the contributing characteristics of the Ranch houses. One exception to the selection of replacement windows was a window choice out of character with other Ranch houses.
Doors are a house feature that has changed over time, and replacements doors were not seen as a critical factor in making determinations of contributing status. There are many original slab doors still in the district, but they cannot be seen easily because they may face the side instead of the street. Most replacements are glazed wood panel doors and because of their location, primarily recessed under a roof extension or porch, cannot be seen well either.
Original garage doors on the Ranch Acres Historic District Ranch houses are wood, paneled, overhead and segmented. These doors have been replaced with lighter weight replicas, usually of metal. They are both glazed and unglazed. Garage additions were infrequent, but the plan of the Ranch house facilitates additions since they can be placed nearly anywhere along the rear, side or even front of a house. The garage additions which occur in the Ranch Acres Historic District are sympathetic to the existing house, and clad in similar materials.
One alteration already mentioned is the painting of the Colorado pink sandstone, crab orchard sandstone or brick. This is not an irreversible alteration and some residents have been removing the paint and revealing the original stone colors. Some original wood siding has been replaced with vinyl, but it does not detract from the houses' integrity.
The only known modification to the original landscape other than maintenance and replacement of the streets is the diversion of the Little Joe Creek into a drainage culvert, c.1960 that runs to the backs of residential lots to prevent flooding.
Five objects which include two sandstone culvert walls, two tree street circles and a garden circle, contribute to the period of significance.
There are thirty-seven non-contributing elements of the three hundred thirty-four resources. Two are empty lots where houses once stood and two are commercial buildings. Eleven are houses whose age does not fall within the period of significance. Fourteen have inappropriate alterations, and eight are houses that are not Ranches as defined here.
The Ranch Acres Historic District retains a high number of contributing properties and the neighborhood has a distinctive look and feel. The area has an undulating landscape, and when Little Joe Creek ran openly through the subdivision it fostered the growth of a large number of native pecan trees which has given the subdivision a parklike setting which has persisted. Houses are constructed on large lots and the winding streets give Ranch Acres distinction from surrounding Ranch neighborhoods built on a grid pattern. The Ranch houses within this subdivision have a high degree of integrity in design since approximately seventy-five percent were constructed by the same builder. The construction materials, the designs, and workmanship are very similar such that there is a strong sense of association, yet the spaciousness of the lots and the house's living spaces can be reconfigured to give individuality to the homes. There is no impression that Ranch Acres is a tract house neighborhood. The mass, scale, height and setback of the houses remain uniform and these elements also create a sense of cohesiveness in the district. Other builders and architects designed houses in Ranch Acres, but covenants helped preserve consistency in construction patterns; thus Ranch Acres has integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association and the district is unique among Tulsa's many Ranch house neighborhoods.
There are no buildings that appear individually eligible for the National Register in the historic district; however, a potential historic district may exist in Charlene Estates which is to the west of Ranch Acres Historic District.
The Ranch Acres Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent example of an intact post-World War II Ranch house subdivision. It has a high degree of integrity with almost ninety percent (89.8%) of the residences contributing. The Ranch Acres housing, landscape, and subdivision plan was the ideal home location for many of Tulsa's up and coming young professionals who aspired to live the modern life. When constructed, it was a Ranch house neighborhood that symbolized modern living with simplicity, privacy and informality in a setting close to nature. It was designed to attract those who could purchase above-average housing. Ranch Acres was Tulsa's earliest Ranch house subdivision that provided extra large lots and streets that conformed to the topography instead of a grid-based pattern. It became the largest single development of post-war luxury homes in Tulsa. This spaciousness allowed most of the subdivision's Ranch houses to sprawl across their lots and gave individuality to the houses in a unique naturalistic landscape. As ideal Ranch houses, they provided privacy for owners and the informal lifestyle so desired after the war. Ranch Acres, through its landscape elements and housing, demonstrates a clear sense of cohesiveness and compatibility in designs, settings, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.
Before World War II began, Tulsa was similar to other cities across the United States struggling economically at the end of the Depression. Tulsa had a significant problem because the city had been a one-industry community dependent on oil. Once the sole source of wealth for many in the community, oversupply depressed the oil market and left those whose livelihood depended on the oil living in difficult times, especially the oil workers who lived in working-class neighborhoods. With such conditions, the city's population stagnated.
The Ranch Acres neighborhood cannot be understood without some background of pre-war housing in Tulsa. For the many who did get rich from the oil fields, plenty of developers were available to build their luxurious new houses in new subdivisions close to downtown, but few developers ventured to built houses for the less well off. Oil money encouraged the development of areas of expensive homes, but the solid working class had little affordable housing. The lack of and disparity of housing was a considerable issue for the city. When the United States entered World War II, the housing shortage was a problem especially when Tulsa sought to secure lucrative defense contracts which were going mainly to firms on the east and west coasts. The city's housing shortage detracted from the community's ability to compete for defense contracts. With few places to house workers, new defense plants were not locating in Tulsa. This shortage played an important role because it affected how Tulsa's future housing stock would emerge.
The housing situation helped the city make a successful effort to secure wartime housing in 1941 when the federal government agreed to construct hundreds of new dwellings. Most of what was constructed was done cheaply though, and it would provide little appeal for ready home buyers after the war. With houses to shelter new workers, however, Tulsa was in a better position to solicit war time defense dollars. In 1941 Tulsa was chosen as a site for Douglas Aircraft Company for the production of bombers, and Spartan Aircraft Company built trainer aircraft and trained pilots. By 1945, and for the first time in Tulsa's history, large numbers of workers were employed in non-oil related manufacturing.
At the end of the war, Tulsa's war-associated economy continued to thrive by migrating into peacetime industries. Spartan School of Aeronautics trained airplane mechanics in the United States and from other nations; Douglas Aircraft continued building bombers, as well as Nike, Thor and Minuteman missiles. Douglas merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 and grew even larger. American Airlines began concentrating all its maintenance operations in Tulsa in 1950. These production and manufacturing giants, along with the side industries that supported them, provided many new jobs for the well-educated and upper middle-class residents. The emergence of these industries should not be underestimated in the roll they played in the development of Tulsa's housing stock. These industries brought a different level of workers into the city than the early oil business had. Engineers, geologists, attorneys, accountants, and research scientists were in Tulsa to serve the now maturing oil industry and the emerging aeronautics companies. By the 1950s, Tulsa was home to more engineers and scientists per capita than any city in America. These new Tulsa residents would place a different demand on housing — housing that a subdivision like Ranch Acres could provide.
Tulsa's growth and the influx of new residents meant that developers would respond by platting new subdivisions further away from the city center. Their ability to do so was determined by two significant factors. One was the ability to mass produce, and the other the use of the automobile. Builders had learned new skills during the war and they could build faster and at less cost with new technologies. They learned to use prefabricated products, heavier and more efficient power tools, prepackaged windows and doors and factory-built cabinets. They embraced new building products such as asphalt shingles. When the war was over, in Tulsa as everywhere else, they were ready to build more standardized houses with mass-produced and prefabricated components.
The rise in automobile use aided the spread of Tulsa, particularly to the south and east, and the car made the diffusion of housing tracts possible. Shopping centers began to appear which offered a highly sought after amenity — acres of parking. Shopping centers could draw consumers from the nearby neighborhoods and from surrounding rural areas who could avoid a trip to downtown where there were too few places to park. The construction of this type of shopping center which catered to large numbers of automobiles was different than what Tulsa had experienced in the past as the town had grown outward. Most shopping areas that developed in places away from downtown had spread along street corridors. Pedestrians could access these on foot, trolley or bus. If using an automobile, there was limited parking along city streets in front of stores, rather than in large lots which surrounded a place of business. The spread of shopping centers continued as housing tracts spiraled outward and residents with automobiles commuted to their jobs. Utica Square was the first shopping center in Tulsa, constructed in 1952 with acres of parking, and in 1954, Ranch Acres Shopping Center had been completed. By the early 1960s, Tulsa's work force might work in the town core, but lived and shopped somewhere else.
Tulsa enjoyed prosperity after the war as consumers bought what they could not during war restrictions, such as houses. The Federal Housing Administration passed the G.I. Bill in 1944, and provided government guaranteed mortgage loans for returning servicemen and women. Men and women could buy houses that they could not have before the bill was passed, and builders were willing to respond to their demand for residences. The profile of those looking for new homes in Tulsa at the end of the war included the up-and-coming in the city. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, university professors, oil drilling company executives, grocery store owners, and department store owners; they included those in the management of public utilities, real estate investment companies, as well as the influx of educated and well-paid professionals drawn to Tulsa by the defense industries. The Ranch house represented an image that captured the promise of new possibilities for individualism, self-determination, ease and convenience, informality, and wide open spaces. The Ranch house in Tulsa represented the future and the new Ranch Acres subdivision appeared at the right time with homes for the now-flourishing with money to spend. The Ranch house was becoming popular across the United States with consumers, and Tulsa developers who had traveled on the coasts also recognized that this house form and its possibility for mass production would change the type of houses they built.
One individual, I.A. "Jake" Jacobson, was integrally a part of the war process, having worked as the assistant director of the War Assets Administration in Tulsa. Savvy to the need for housing and knowledgeable about processes available for the mass construction of houses, Jacobson established his company, Lifetime Buildings, Inc., in 1946. His knowledge of the housing demand for returning G.I.s was evident in his attempt to provide economical housing. In April 1946, Jacobson built and put on public display what he considered at the time to be Tulsa's nomination for the housing unit which would solve the nation's shortage of suitable places to live for men and women. It was an all-steel, 300 sq.ft. house containing a kitchen, dinette, bath and combination living and bedroom. It even had a fireplace and it was portable. It was modernistic steel construction and the little structure was designed to sell on a mass-produced basis for $2,500 each (about $26,000 today). The housing shortage was critical, but so was the shortage of steel. His small homes were never produced and Jacobson turned his attention to building homes that could capture a different market — those that had money to spend.
Jacobson's ideas for a Ranch house subdivision came from his travels to get ideas for possible new housing. He wanted to avoid the G.I. housing image seen in places such as Levittown (1947-1951) where a "cookie cutter" approach was used for tract housing development. Jacobson noticed in California and Arizona the popularity of the Ranch style. "Ranching seemed pretty popular those days, so we combined the names — ranch with acres." Modest transitional and tract Ranches had started to appear in Tulsa after 1947, and realtors were noting how they were favorites among new home buyers. Tulsa houses had been almost all two-story until 1947, but Jacobson's vision was for sprawling one-story Ranches was in tune and timely with Tulsan's interest in the Ranch house.
Jacobson had been approached about buying property "way out in the country" by Ben Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick owned a Tulsa real estate investment company and his suggested site was East 31st Street and South Harvard Avenue. Part of the first Ranch Acres plat was owned by the Sand Springs Home, oilman Charles Page's investment organization used to fund an orphanage. The area was undeveloped and Page had used it for hunting and riding. There was also a small lake present near what is now East 38th Street and the 3700 block of South Florence Place. Kirkpatrick purchased the Sand Springs Home property in 1949 and transferred it to Jacobson almost immediately. Other parcel owners who sold to Jacobson were Charlotte and Elfred Beck and E.N. and Jessie Holmes. Beck was involved in the oil business and had farm land in the area, and Holmes was the Vice President of Federal Security Savings and Loan. The area was outside the city limits at the time, but the march of homes east and south of Tulsa was moving in the same direction.
The engineering company of Owen and Mansur was hired to lay out the subdivision in the hilly area, platting streets and lots for construction. Owen is credited with going out of the way to preserve trees and the natural contour of the land. He accomplished this by laying out gently curving streets and developed housing plateaus along these streets which emphasized the natural beauty of the acreage. Jacobson also believed that the extensive wood areas and rolling topography would bring out the best in residential design and many of the lots would enable a family to create a protected "country estate" since the tract had many large native pecan trees. He intended to build most of the houses, although he made a number of lots available to other builders.
A drawing in a newspaper article emphasized to the buying public Ranch Acres' physical assets. Trees, the curving streets and Upper Joe Creek are evident in the section of land purchased from the Sand Spring Home.
Jacobson filed Ranch Acres Plat 1 in September 1949, and immediately built five houses to sell. He began to promote the area by hosting free barbecues to attract potential buyers. He also built a house at the corner of East 31st and South Gary Place as a real estate and construction office, and the house is still used but today as a dentist's office. The immediate success of Ranch Acres was evident in sales, and in early 1951, Jacobson's company began to purchase property for Plat 2 which was filed in October 1951. Within five years, Jacobson had purchased all of the property from 31st to 41st, which included 182 acres. Plats 3 and 4 were filed in 1953 and 1956. It became the largest single development of post-war luxury homes in Tulsa. The newspaper called "Ranch Acres" a magic name because its Ranch style architecture was so attractive to the people of Tulsa. The same article noted that all the subdivision houses "had masonry or masonry and frame construction, and all have cedar or cedar shake shingles. Lots are such size that there is plenty of room between houses. There is no crowded "look" to the development and definitely its fresh air, wood and green setting lends authority in its name of "Ranch Acres."
Jacobson became a leading developer in Tulsa. He was president of the Tulsa Home Builders Association in 1951, and on the board of the National Association of Home Builders beginning in 1950. He entered two of his Ranch Acres homes in a national contest for house designs in 1954 and continued to promote his development.
Ranch Acre homes were not inexpensive — they ranged in price from $25,000 to $100,000 in 1954. In today's dollars the prices would be from $210,000 to $850,000 which are well above what most average home buyer could purchase now or then. It is little wonder that the neighborhood attracted Tulsa's up and coming professionals and businessmen, those who could afford to purchase their ideal home for modern living. Ranch Acres offered them access to own a sprawling Ranch house on a spacious lot. Sales were also helped by the construction of a new school, Edison, which was finished in 1954, just south of Ranch Acres on East 41st Street.
Modern living in Ranch Acres meant having air conditioning, a full complement of built-in kitchen appliances with "such prominent brand names as Western Holly and General Electric." The houses had a range of built-in cabinets, utility rooms, and walk-in closets. Master bedrooms came with their own bathrooms (with two levels of soap trays "for the convenience of the bather." The brand names for medicine cabinets, overhead garage doors, the air-conditioners, etc., were proudly marketed as indicators of the quality of construction and the "livability" of the houses. Indeed, those purchasing new homes in Ranch Acres were getting the latest technologies and the latest products available on the market.
By 1954 Jacobson had constructed the last of the houses he would build in the neighborhood in just a five-year period. Considering that he constructed approximately seventy-five percent of the homes, it was rather an amazing accomplishment. Jacobson had a vision for Ranch Acres though that included more than just the housing tract. He envisioned a shopping center nearby so that residents could shop close to home. In 1953 he announced his plans for both a new medical and shopping center just east of Ranch Acres. He finished both the half million dollar Ranch Acres Medical Center and the two and one-half million dollar Ranch Acres Shopping Center in 1954. The medical center was at the southwest corner of East 31st Street and South Harvard Avenue on the commercial lots included in the first plat. The shopping center was at the southeast corner of the same intersection. The exterior of both the medical and shopping centers conformed to the decor of the Ranch Acres neighborhood, visually uniting the neighborhood with commercial and service buildings. The center and medical building were clad, as were many of Ranch Acres houses, in the Colorado pink sandstone which helped give the subdivision an element of unity throughout. Unfortunately, Jacobson's medical center is no longer extant, and the shopping center has lost its integrity through major renovations and modifications such as the resurfacing of the Colorado pink sandstone with brick.
The Ranch house is one of America's housing success stories and it was certainly a popular house form in Tulsa. It is an iconic housing form, the result of technological, cultural and economic forces that made it possible. Its form is a synthesis of modern architecture using modern building techniques, materials and prefabrication systems. The house form and these construction methods made its wide distribution possible and thus it provided much needed and decent housing for many people.
The Ranch house has a mix of historical precedents and is an adaptation of ideas from several sources. Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style, while mostly on two-story houses, had gently sloping roofs rather than steep ones. The style had wide eaves that projected over windows to provide shelter for bands of casement windows and to emphasize horizontal lines. Wright also created more open floor plans allowing rooms to flow together by eliminating unnecessary walls and doors. Craftsman houses or California Bungalows also had low-pitched roofs but they were one-story houses and they contributed informality and openness into new thoughts about housing, and that houses should be attuned to a family's needs. Wright's Usonian houses were also homes designed for families but he was interested in building beautiful homes for families of moderate income. In other words, a kind of house for everyone, much like the Ranch would become. These architectural hearths were in conflict with the popular traditional housing of the time which was much more formal and focused on symmetry. Traditional housing was, as some architects observed, two-story boxes with boxes (rooms) inside.
Wright built his Usonian house in 1936, and it was a one-story, L-shaped, flat-roofed and nearly windowless in front except for clerestory windows. The back of the house was entirely open with full length glass doors. Wright built privacy and freedom of movement within the house. The house became an inspiration for later aspects of Ranch house architecture.
Economic troubles spawned by the Great Depression also fostered new ideas in housing. William Wilson Wurster, a San Francisco architect, responded to the Depression by designing smaller houses so that they felt larger than they were. These houses were transitional in their details using double-hung windows and shutters, while incorporating modernism into the house's open plans. Wurster found a way to mediate modernism with more traditional elements that were familiar to people.
Cliff May, long associated with California Ranch House designs, incorporated elements of California hacienda dwellings into houses that he had known as a child. An important element was ventilation. May's houses had at least two, some times three sides so that breezes could blow through the house. May incorporated many modernist concepts into his designs such as slab foundations, the use of machine-made and prefabricated components, and new materials such as plastics, but May also understood as did Wurster that most Americans rejected modernist houses as too abstract and cold.
Early prototype Ranches emphasized the concept of living both indoors and outdoors at the same time. Patios had large window walls or sliding glass doors that could be opened to merge an interior living area with the private back yard and the patio area. The house still faced the main street, but the family area focused on the rear, many times in a sheltered U-house form. House construction generally was such that house wings or the siting of the house protected this private space from the street and eyes of the public. The once used and popular front porch of more traditional homes disappeared on the Ranch house. Instead of a large welcoming porch and open entry, the Ranch house generally has a recessed, small and sheltered entry under the principal roof. Entry doors often face to the side of the house rather than the street, suggesting a very private world inside. The Ranch, although having a wide street frontage, turns its back on the street.
Cliff May proved that Ranch houses would be embraced by Americans when he built his G.I. Ranch House in 1945. It was 1,000 square feet, but it had an open plan which made it comfortable and livable. Indoor and outdoor spaces merged through sliding glass doors, picture windows and skylights. He used board-and-batten siding for a rustic quality, exposed beams, and a relaxed layout of space. It was House Beautiful's "Pacesetter House for 1947." The spread of May's Ranch house designs was due in part to the promotion of the Ranch house by Sunset Magazine. May wrote, "Western Ranch Houses," which was published by Sunset in 1946. The house form's introduction into Oklahoma may have also been encouraged because May built a rambling Ranch in Bartlesville for H.C. Price in 1948-49. It may have helped to capture the imagination of some Tulsa builders to see an example of Cliff May's high-style Ranch in the area.
The Ranch house name derivation is often credited from the working ranch house or composition of buildings situated often on the prairies. The suburban translation was that the home needed a large yard to create that sensation of the space of the prairies. The long side of the house faced the street suggesting that using so much land should be no issue. The front of the house protected everyday uses that went on behind the house from the mundane of washing clothes to entertaining friends out-of-doors. Regardless, the house was a departure from traditional housing that most Americans were ready to make.
The Prairie style, the Usonian house, and the Modern house were all powerful influences although they never reached the popularity or distribution of Ranch houses. What these predecessors did however, was to provide the basic elements that define now what the Ranch house style is. The 1950s Ranch house emerged from the synthesis of past influences, styles and ideas to exhibit certain characteristics. The houses are low, ground-hugging structures; they spread out and "ramble" across space; they are defined by rustic elements such as board-and-batten siding, shake roofs, porches along the sides of the houses or are recessed into the house structure itself; they use natural materials such as brick and stone both inside and out; they have open floor plans; and they emphasize privacy for the home owner.
The media helped promote the Ranch as a way of living through movies, books, television and magazines. It was a house style that was mass marketed because it could be mass produced. It was single story, making it easier to construct than a platform frame two-story house. The Ranch house was represented in a range of new images that suggested new possibilities: rugged individualism, self-determination, ease and convenience, informality, and wide open spaces. Those returning from World War II who wanted to focus on new possibilities saw Ranch houses as representing the future.
After winning World War II, the nation's housing shortage and demand created a construction boom. Pent-up demand from lack of building materials, and a desire to focus on a more certain future created the largest surge of home construction since the 1920s. The media had suggested that the American home was, after all, what fighting the war had been all about. The demand for housing that came with returning service men and women may have proved the idea to be right, or at least the media had successfully created the notion that it was. The media certainly helped create the American dream of home ownership.
With the passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944, and the increase in mass production techniques, the war industries were ready to switch to building homes. Standardized building products such as the size of sheetrock or preassembled windows units made construction cheaper and faster. Instead of contractors building five houses a year, developers moved to the outskirts of town to inexpensive sites and changed building practices from custom building to mass production. Instead of carpenters building an entire house, specialists emerged such as framers, or concrete workers — those who only did part of the construction job and then moved on to work on another project. The post-World War II period was an ideal time for the Ranch to become a mass housing product. The past efforts of architects to form new ideas about housing, changes in cultural, technological and economic forces, an unprecedented demand, and the desire for less formal life styles, all aligned at the right moment to ensure the spread of the Ranch house. In Tulsa, the post war industrial complex provided the economic engine to ensure that there would be buyers for housing and a new group of well-off that were not necessarily associated with Tulsa's oil economy who could buy in Ranch Acres. Ranch house tracts spread in cities all over the United States as they did in Tulsa. One estimate is that seventy percent of American homes built in the twenty-five years after were Ranch houses.Another suggests that in 1950, every nine of ten houses constructed were Ranches. The house form appealed to all classes of people, and builders successfully adapted the house form in tracts that varied the price of Ranch houses for a range of consumers. Many Ranch house tracts were planned not just for housing, but new communities within communities with their own parks, schools, churches, and nearby shopping centers. Jacobson's Ranch Acres Shopping Center and medical center were examples of just such extended subdivision services.
The construction of Ranch Acres occurred at an opportune time in Tulsa's post world war period. A newspaper article in 1949 outlined housing trends in the city at the same time Jacobson made his announcement about his new planned subdivision. The article noted that there were three ranch housing areas either developed or in process, all in the southeastern part of Tulsa and to the west of what would be Ranch Acres. These were the Adams Estates, Oaknoll and Timberland. Prior to World War II, this area was vacant, and would never materialize.
Adams Estates subdivision was the most complete of the mentioned subdivisions in 1949 with one-hundred and twenty-five Ranch houses. These were mostly the small early and massed transitional Ranch form, designed to fit on small lots, close together, although many had one-car garages. The houses have traditional details but there is little continuity in design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association in these rather modest homes.
The Oaknoll subdivision also had houses under construction and while the houses were more mixed in size, many were only slightly larger than found in Adams Estates. Most of these houses have two-car garages, but they still sit tightly together on lots aligned to a grid street system. There is also little continuity in design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association in these homes.
By 1949, Timberland, which is closest to the Ranch Acres area, had thirty-seven houses under construction and this subdivision had somewhat larger lots and houses, but these houses too sat somewhat close together on primarily a grid street system. These also lack the continuity of design materials, workmanship, feeling and association that is so noticeable in Ranch Acres although the houses are more similar to Ranch Acres than the previous two subdivisions. Houses in this subdivision today  are being demolished for the construction of large multi-story homes.
Also according to the 1949 newspaper, "lower price" homes were the major portion of construction in Tulsa. These were homes that fell within the $6,500 to $9,000 range, compared to Ranch Acres range of prices, which were at first priced from $15,000 to $35,000 but then quickly moved into the $25,000 to $100,000 range. Most lower priced homes, even those built in very small numbers were early small transitional Ranches, some with one-car garages and some without, mostly without decorative features, but all were one story.
Plats were registered on the east side of Harvard and east and south of the land that would eventually be close to Jacobson's shopping center, such as Dartmore Addition whose plat was registered in 1947. In fact a 1948 map and a 1952 map show that there was a significant amount of housing east of Harvard between East 31st Street and East 41st Street, though the housing differed significantly from what Jacobson had in mind — it was nearly all the tract type housing which he wished to avoid.
Still typical of development in Tulsa today, additions hop-scotched over one another as the community spiraled outward. Subdivisions were marching east and south from the center city into the Ranch Acres area rather quickly as demand for housing was high. Construction patterns followed in these areas much as they did in Ranch Acres with developers and builders taking several years to complete housing within the plats.
The 1954 Ranch Acres Shopping Center was certainly located at an optimal position within the rapid spread of Tulsa housing. While it is difficult to prove a direct connection, the presence of this popular place to shop is likely to have encouraged further housing development that is difficult to measure, but perhaps more importantly for developers, it likely encouraged the purchase of homes around the area since quality shopping was so close by. Shopping center stores included a large Safeway, TG&Y, Crawford Drugstore, Ray Allen Shoes, El Mar sports shop, C.R. Anthony's, Empire Furniture, Standard Electric Supply, Buhl Cleaners, Western Beauty and Barber Shop, Ranch Acres Beauty Shop and Oklahoma Tire and Supply.
It is possible that Charlene Estates to the west of Ranch Acres, platted by Charlotte and Elfred Beck in 1952, was also influenced by Jacobson's efforts. The Becks had sold Jacobson land in 1949 for Ranch Acres Plat 1, and their remaining property was in prime position to take advantage of Jacobson's attractive new subdivision's surroundings. Charlene Estates was sandwiched between Ranch Acres and the 1949 addition of Timberland which also had somewhat larger than average homes. Charlene Estates today is reminiscent of Ranch Acres with larger homes on larger lots, however, Charlene Estates has its own personality and collection of Ranch houses, and is worthy of further review as a potential historic district.
The area around Ranch Acres in 1955 appeared nearly complete although the last plat had yet to be filed, and South Florence Place and East 38th Street were not through streets.
A distinguishing factor in this historic neighborhood is the plat layout and use of the topography. Its essence captures the importance of nature in the new concept of modern living so promoted by magazines such as House and Garden, Better Homes and Gardens, and House Beautiful. These magazines emphasized that houses should "grow" out of natural landscapes so they could maintain the indoor/outdoor connection. Ranch Acres is in the Little Joe Creek drainage area which is rolling and hilly, heavily canopied with trees, and the building sites for the most part are sited to promote the use of large and private back yards, and are situated on building platforms which take advantage of the topography. While houses whose backsides face South Harvard Avenue are an exception to having absolute privacy from this busy street, they too have the advantage of the neighborhood's feeling, setting and have a distinct visual and character association within the neighborhood.
The "taste" magazines through the late 1940s and very early 1950s tended to promote most significantly the "American way of life," which Ranch Acres houses capture. House Beautiful defined this way of living in 1950 in the following points which include: merging indoors and out by way of glass (access to patios); dominance of family in how land was used (large back yards and patios); insistence on privacy (cannot be seen by neighbors or from the street); use of durable materials in construction and decoration (stone, brick, wood); relaxed, friendly atmosphere by mixing old and new ideas (from the Ranch house form in contemporary to Colonial); absence of ostentatious show-offism (little formality in the front year's organized space or overly large and formal yard attributes); the design of the house and land as one integrated thing (a defining factor in Ranch Acres house sites)
These same magazines, especially House Beautiful in pre-1950 issues, did not actually use the term "ranch house," rather it used the term "American house," arguing in 1949 that the new houses should not be labeled with a stylistic name since the house form was a merging of old and new architectural ideas that had virtues of both period and modern homes. Better Homes and Gardens was offering ranch house forms as packaged plans with traditional elements such as shake cedar siding, Colonial shutters, etc. in 1949. These plans for what the magazine called their "Five Star Homes," continued in 1952 to feature forms of ranch houses that had traditional elements rather than being contemporary or modernistic.
House and Garden carried Cliff May's "Pacesetter" house, and the "Modern House with a Classic Air," which are both houses with more traditional features. Ranch Acres houses are very similar in many ways to the "Modern House with a Classic Air" house with its "U" shape, openwork metal porch posts, rear patio, and Colonial references. Ranch Acres houses found most often in the Ranch Acres Historic District are more frequently forms of William Wurster's or Cliff May's interpretation of the Ranch, although they are not small homes. They are mostly modern houses mediated with familiar traditional construction elements. They predominate in the district rather than the stark contemporary or modernistic houses which many magazines tended to feature quite often.
Ranch Acres house plans were also frequently found in magazines more in tune with popular culture such as Good Housekeeping. Cliff May published a different house design from his 1947 house in Good Housekeeping, July 1951. It was part of the magazine's Building Forum, and it presented a "U" Plan. Many plans in Good Housekeeping are very like those in Ranch Acres.
Modern living was also extremely important in the Ranch or American home, therefore more efficient kitchens with the latest gadgets to make life easier for the homemaker were essential. Lists of what the kitchen should contain, and other amenities deemed important to the modern life were listed time and again in popular magazines. Jacobson used such kitchen amenities to market his homes and promoted Ranch Acres as a means of living the modern life. The district's houses were luxury homes with the best that the market could offer in products.
Ranch Acres houses and their setting exemplify a housing area that fits an ideal form and plan for the American house — the Ranch. They are low, ground hugging structures; they spread out and "ramble" across space; they are defined by rustic elements such as board-and-batten siding, porches along the sides of the houses or are recessed into the house structure itself; they use natural materials such as brick and stone both inside and out; and they emphasize privacy for the home owner. With large lots, houses sprawl, and common materials unite them in feeling and association. Even today, because of the privacy offered by house placement, there are very few fences to break the open spaces around and near houses. Decorative elements such as street tree rings and a subdivision entry street garden add unique elements to the district. Because of covenants the houses share compatibility in designs, settings, materials, and workmanship. For Tulsa, Ranch Acres could include the more radically "modern" contemporary house, or architect designed house published in magazines of the time, but most houses are the Wurster/May or Good Housekeeping form, ideally comfortable with ties to past traditional elements, especially in materials. They provided access to the modern life style so important to many home purchasers after as it symbolized the future.
The Ranch Acres Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent example of an intact post-war Ranch house subdivision. It has a high degree of integrity with almost ninety percent (89.8%) of the residences contributing. The Ranch Acres housing, landscape, and subdivision plan was the ideal home location for many of Tulsa's up and coming young professionals who aspired to live the modern life. When constructed, it was a modern Ranch house neighborhood that symbolized modern living with simplicity, privacy and informality in a setting close to nature. It was designed to attract those who could purchase above average housing. Ranch Acres was Tulsa's earliest Ranch house subdivision that provided extra large lots, and streets that conformed to the topography instead of a grid-based pattern. It became the largest single development of post-war luxury homes in Tulsa. This spaciousness allowed most of the subdivision's Ranch houses to sprawl across their lots and gave individuality to the houses in a unique naturalistic landscape. As ideal Ranch houses, they provided privacy for owners and the informal lifestyle so desired after the war. Ranch Acres Historic District, through its landscape elements and housing, demonstrates a clear sense of cohesiveness and compatibility in designs, settings, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.
The area was computed by Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 13, 2007.
Block 27 in the 1956 Ranch Acres plat shows five lots on the west side of South Delaware as belonging to the neighborhood. However, these five houses are not included in the district because South Delaware Avenue is a natural boundary and the street is a traditional dividing line between different neighborhoods.
Letter to Marketa Felts, Tulsa Garden Club from Addabelle Steele, March 29, 2002. Her husband Robert Steele was a partner in the engineering firm of Owens, Mansur and Steele, and the Steeles lived in Ranch Acres. Ms. S. Kobey, interview July 27, 2007 provided the date for the modification of Little Joe Creek.
Houses were dated by the year they appeared first in the Tulsa City Directory. The telephone books often noted when houses were under construction. Otherwise houses were dated to the year prior to their first appearance in the telephone book. Telephone books from 1949 to 2005 were used to track the addition of new houses. Polk, R. L. and Company, Tulsa City Directory. Sioux City, Iowa: R. L. Polk & Co.
There are two commercial buildings in the district which are on lots that were designated for commercial use in the 1949 plat. There are two non-contributing vacated sites where houses once stood, and there is one contributing site which has always been vacant.
I. A. (Jake) Jacobson built about seventy-five percent of the houses in this district. Both Jacobson and his wife occasionally noted that these homes are "modified ranches," however plans and photos exist for Jacobson's homes, and they are all one-story and the descriptions of the inside of the homes indicate that they were all one-story. Mr. Jacobson said he decided to build a ranch house neighborhood after visiting around the country to get ideas for a housing addition, and noticed the growing popularity of the ranch style, which suggests that perhaps any modification the Jacobsons had in mind was of a real ranch house. Clipping from the Tulsa World February 19, 1990, "Ranch Acres — Quiet Neighborhood Matures Gracefully." Article provided by the Ranch Acres Garden Club.
Three are flat roofed, and two houses have both gable and hip, or gable on hip combination. The flat roofs are two commercial buildings, and an unfinished residence.
The statistics on wall cladding is based on the predominant material on a house. Some houses have mostly stone, but perhaps a bit of siding or wainscot and siding.
The plan of the houses was determined from an aerial photography map which was photographed while flying at 9,000 ft. The map was provided by INCOG, June 13, 2007. While there is room for error based on this method because of trees which obscure the overhead view, it provides a reasonable means for categorization.
Not all houses are covered by the percentages below, because some houses do not fit into this typology.
It is difficult to do more than generalize since many of the non-contributing houses are from Plat 4, filed in 1956. Some of these houses may have been altered and are no longer recognizable as having their original style.
Letter from I. A. Jacobson, written to Edward I. Cohen then president of Tulsa Home Builders Association, Ranch Acres Scrapbook September 27, 1954.
Jacobson had a nephew, Mack Hullum, who designed homes in the neighborhood. He may have provided a variety of house plans for Jacobson although he and Jacobson did not have a long-term relationship, according to Ms. Sharon Braly, Hullum's cousin. Hullum's obituary notes that he designed "a unique style of the California coastal building with a low roofed ground hugging look." The obituary also notes that some of Hullum's homes were featured in American Home Magazine and Good Housekeeping although the author has been unable to locate these. The Henry family, who live at 3151 South Florence Place, had their home designed by Hullum, and Ms. Henry told the author that Hullum designed many houses in the Ranch Acres first plat. The obituary was provided to the author at an interview with Ms. Mary Jane Henry and Ms. Marketa Felts, June 27, 2007.
Ranch Acre Plat 1-1949, Plat 2-1951, Plat 3-1953, and Plat 4-1956.
There are obviously houses with the same plan in the district, but the construction variables make individuality possible and avoid any semblance of a tract house look. The ability to create variability in simple units is well illustrated in House Beautiful. "This [house] Plus [garage] Equals = [graphic], Vol.89, #4, April 1947, 108-9. Also see "Industrialized Housing," House and Garden. Vol.89, #4, April 1947, 106-7, 117, 194-6. The point of both articles is that industrialization has created the ability to take units and merge them to create variability. In this article the author shows how a house and garage can make forty-eight combinations of house plans.
Alterations were made to the Ranch Acres I plat in January 1950, September 1950, and March 1951. All re-subdivisions to increase or alter certain lot sizes.
This history provides the background for why Ranch Acres was able to come into existence.
Goble, Danney. Tulsa! Biography of the American City, (Tulsa, OK: Tulsa Oaks Books, 1997), 171. Also see Courtney and Glen Vaughn Roberson. City in the Osage Hills (Boulder. CO: Pruett Publishing Co., 1984), 145.
A good example of this is the corridor shopping which sprang up in the 1920s along 6th Street just east of the downtown area. Today, the vacant shops are still present, but there is now no street parking as it has been preempted for a traffic lane.
Vaughn-Roberson's book claims that forty new shopping centers developed in Tulsa between 1945 and 1950, 150. It is most likely that these were strip-type developments, since the first large shopping center did not open until 1952.
Ranch Acres residents provided this profile of those who originally had lived in the neighborhood and in some cases, continue to live there.
Vertical Files, Tulsa City and County Public Library. Tulsa Housing Subdivisions Folder, Ranch Acres, Newspaper clipping.
Tulsa Tribune, September 1954.
Tulsa World. "Ranch Acres — Quiet Neighborhood Matures Gracefully," February 19, 1990. Jacobson noted that the ranch architecture if modified into ranch homes would be well accepted in Tulsa. Clipping from the Ranch Acres Scrapbook, courtesy of Sharon Braly.
Tulsa Sunday World. November 6, 1949.
Tulsa Garden Club History of Ranch Acres, provided by Marketa Felts, June 19, 2007. Hand written document with information provided by year.
"Map of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Vicinity." 1947 Main Street Publications, 4511 East 5th Street, Tulsa Oklahoma. The map is from the uncatalogued box of Tulsa Maps at the University of Tulsa Library Special Collections Department.
Tulsa County Land Records.
Because of the location, owners had a special $300 assessment fee for fire protection. Notes provided by the Ranch Acres Garden Club.
Klein Mansur. Mr. Mansur was partner with Owens in the engineering company. Telephone interview July 9, 2007. This is also confirmed in the history of Ranch Acres Garden Club. The company later became Owens, Mansur and Steele.
Vertical Files, Tulsa City and County Public Library. Tulsa Housing Subdivisions Folder, Ranch Acres.
Ibid. The drawing is a photocopy from the files and is only partially complete. The newspaper date is probably in 1949, since the first plat was filed in that year.
The list of his companies included Jacobson's Lifetime Buildings, Inc, Jacobson Company, Realtors, Jacobson-Evans Stone Company, Inc., and Jacobson Investment Co., Inc. The Jacobson-Evans Stone Company in Lyons, Colorado, supplied the Colorado pink stone used on the Ranch Acres houses, and in the Ranch Acres shopping center.
Ranch Acres Scrapbook. Newspaper clipping, "Ranch Acres 'Magic Name,' 350 Homes Erected in Luxury Addition." Tulsa Daily World, September 23, 1954.
Tulsa Daily World, September 19, 1954. These homes were at 3707 South Florence Place, and 2934 East 39th Street.
www.minneapolisfed.org/research/data/us/calc/. This website calculates values from any years into today's equivalent. Referenced July 18, 2007.
Interview with Ranch Acres resident Ms. S. Kobey, July 27, 2007.
Ranch Acres Scrapbook. A page called "Livability" has a flyer "Livability of the Homes Sold ...," written for speculation houses that were on for sale.
Tulsa World, March 19, 1953.
Samson, Katherine. Ranch House Style. (New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2003), 13-14.
Faragher, John Mack. "Bungalow and Ranch House: The Architectural Backwash of California," The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol.32, #2, June 23, 2005, 21-24.
Adamson, Paul. Eichler/Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream (Salt Lake City. UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher). Forward by Gwendolyn Wright, "Reconstructing Suburbia," 10.
www.nahbmonday.com/consumer/issues/2006-12-12/5.html. This website is House Keys, which provides "consumer news from America's homebuilders." Referenced July 26, 2007.
www.slate.eom/id/2163970. Slate Magazine. Referenced July 26, 2007.
Hess, Alan. The Ranch House. (New York: NY, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.), 11-17.
Note that housing to the north is not ranch type housing, rather large, two-story houses constructed during the 1920s.
Tulsa Sunday World. November 6, 1949.
Most of these houses are now gone with apartment infill.
Prior to World War II the city moved eastward between East Archer south to East 21st Street.
In 1953, the city limits on the south were at East 41st Street.
This is from a newspaper clipping, but the name of the paper was not given. Dated September 3, 1954. From the Ranch Acres Scrapbook.
Ms. S. Kobey, interview. Ms. Kobey lives at E. 38th and S. Florence Place and remembers the dead end streets in 1953.
Carrick, Robert W. "What is Leading us to Merge Indoors and Outdoors?," House Beautiful. Vol.93, #7, July 1951, 40. Similar articles appear in House Beautiful in September 1948, Vol.90, #9, 93, and February 1951, Vol.93, #2, 80. Also see "A Small House That Acts Large," House and Garden, Vol.93., #4, April 1948, 120. The article emphasizes that houses should contour to the shape of the land upon which they sit.
"American's Emerging Pattern of Living," House Beautiful. Vol.92, #5, May 1950, 148.
Gordon, Elizabeth. "The New American Look," House Beautiful. Vol.91, #3, March 1949, 118.
"Designed for Expansion," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.27, #10, June 1949, Five Star House Plans #1906, 49, and "Lots of Space to Live In," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.27, #11, July 1949, Five Star House Plans #1907, 44.
Normile, John. "It's Serene on the Outside and Smart Inside," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.30, #12, 60-1; "Comfort and Economy Do Mix!," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.30, #7, 54-5; and "Are You Looking for a Home Like This?," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.30, #4, April 1952, 74.
Vol. 95, #10, October 1950, 150-151.
It is not possible to know how Ranch Acres houses are arranged inside, however; so interiors in these samples are not meant to indicate the interiors of the district's houses are the same.
"The POST, Postwar House," House Beautiful. Vol.93, #10, October 1951, 196-7.
Code requires fencing around swimming pools, and these are found throughout the neighborhood. There are few privacy fences, however.
Books and Articles
Adamson, Paul. Eichler/Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher. Foreword by Gwendolyn Wright, "Reconstructing Suburbia."
Faragher, John Mack. "Bungalow and Ranch House: The Architectural Backwash of California," The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol.32, #2, June 23, 2005.
Goble, Danney. Tulsa! Biography of the American City. Tulsa, OK: Tulsa Oaks Books, 1997.
Hess, Alan. The Ranch House. New York: NY, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2004.
Polk, R. L. and Company, Tulsa City Directory. Sioux City, Iowa: R. L. Polk & Co., 1945 to 2005. Samson, Katherine. Ranch House Style. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2003.
Sunset Western Ranch Houses. The Editorial Staff of Sunset Magazine in collaboration with Cliff May. Santa Monica, CA: Hennessey-Ingalls, 1999.
Vaughn Roberson, Courtney and Glen. City in the Osage Hills. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Co., 1984.
Maps and Aerial Photography
1940 Traffic Circulation Map, Traffic Audit Bureau. Shleppey Outdoor Advertising Company, 409 North Denver, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ashburn's Tulsa City Map, 1955. J. Foster Asburn, 309 W. 13th Street, Forth Worth 2, Texas. The map is from the uncatalogued box of Tulsa Maps at the University of Tulsa Library Special Collections Department.
Ashburn's Tulsa City Map. 1952. J. Foster Ashburn, 1205 S. Denver, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The map is from the uncatalogued box of Tulsa Maps at the University of Tulsa Library Special Collections Department.
D.X. Map of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Vicinity, 1948. Mid-continent Petroleum Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The map is from the uncatalogued box of Tulsa Maps at the University of Tulsa Library Special Collections Department.
Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 13, 2007.
Map of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Vicinity. 1947. Main Street Publications, 4511 East 5th Street, Tulsa Oklahoma. The map is from the uncatalogued box of Tulsa Maps at the University of Tulsa Library Special Collections Department.
Tulsa Garden Club clippings, letters, newspaper articles and written history of the neighborhood, courtesy of Marketa Felts.
Ranch Acres Scrapbook, courtesy of Sharon Braly, I. A. Jacobson's daughter.
Ms. Sharon Braly, June 27, 2007.
Ms. Mary Jane Henry and Ms. Marketa Felts, Ranch Acre residents and Garden Club Members, June 27, 2007.
Ms. S. Kobey, July 27, 2007, Ranch Acres resident.
Mr. Klein Mansur, July 9, 2007, Ranch Acres resident.
Mr. Tom Williams, Ranch Acres resident, June 29, 2007.
Tulsa World. March 19, 1953, and February 19, 1990.
Tulsa Tribune, September 1954.
Tulsa Sunday World, November 6, 1949.
Tulsa Daily World, September 19, 1954, and September 23, 1954.
Carrick, Robert W. "What is Leading us to Merge Indoors and Outdoors?," House Beautiful, Vol.93, #7, July 1951, 40-3.
Gordon, Elizabeth. "The New American Look," House Beautiful, Vol.91, #3, March 1949, 118-123.
Mason, Joseph B., "Enter the California Way," Good Housekeeping, Building Forum, Vol.133, #1, July 1951, 81-6.
Normile, John. "Are You Looking for a Home Like This?," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.30, #4, April 1952, 73-4.
Normile, John. "Its Serene on the Outside and Smart Inside," Better Homes and Gardens, Vol.30, #12, December 1952, 60-1, 136.
Normile, John. "Comfort and Economy Do Mix!," Better Homes and Gardens, Vol.30, #7, July 1952, 54-5.
Unauthored Periodical Articles
"3 Pace-Setter Houses and What They Mean to You," House Beautiful. Vol.92, #6, June 1950, 86-7.
"A Small House That Acts Large." House and Garden. Vol.93., #4, April 1948, 120-3.
"American's Emerging Pattern of Living," House Beautiful. Vol.92, #5, May 1950, 147-9.
"Big and Roomy," Good Housekeeping. Vol.131, #9, September 1950, 94-5.
"Designed for Expansion," Better Homes and Gardens. Vol.27, #10, June 1949,49-50, 150. "Do You Yearn for A Bath with Every Bedroom?," Good Housekeeping. Vol.140, #1, January 1955, 74-5.
"Here's How You Borrow from the West Indies," Good Housekeeping. Vol.134, #1, January 1952, 118-20.
"Industrialized Housing," House and Garden. Vol 89, #4, April 1947, 106-7, 117, 194-6.
"Lots of Space to Live In," Better Homes and Gardens, Vol.27, #11, July 1949, 44-5, 140.
"Modern House with a Classic Air," House and Garden, Vol.96, #10, October 1951, 150-1.
"Perfect Privacy in a V-shaped House," Good Housekeeping, Building Forum, Vol.137, #1, January 1955, 59-60.
"That Pretty White House," Good Housekeeping, Vol.137, #9, September 1953, 64-5.
"The POST, Postwar House," House Beautiful. Vol.93, #10, October 1951, 196-203.
"This [house] Plus [garage] Equals = [graphic], House Beautiful, Vol.89, #4, April 1947, 108-9.
"Three Sides Enclose Patio," House and Garden, Vol.93, #3, March 1948, 106-7.
"Spectacular for its Charm, Its Color," Good Housekeeping, Vol.141, #1, January 1956, 62-3.
Tulsa County Land Records.
Vertical Files, Tulsa City and County Public Library. Tulsa Housing Subdivisions Folder, Ranch Acres.
Beryl Ford Photo Collection, Tulsa City and County Public Library.
www.minneapolisfed.org/research/data/us/calc/. This website calculates monetary values from any year into today's equivalent. Referenced July 18, 2007
www.nahbmonday.com/consumer/issues/2006-12-12/5.html. This website is House Keys, which provides "consumer news from America's homebuilders." Referenced July 26, 2007.
www.slate.eom/id/2163970. Slate Magazine. Rybszynski, Witold. "The Ranch House Anomaly: How America Fell In and Out of Love With Them." Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007, at 7:24 AM ET. Referenced July 26, 2007.
† Adapted from: Cathy Ambler, Ph.D., preservation consultant, Ranch Acres Historic District, Tulsa, Oklahoma, nomination document, 2007, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
31st Street East • 32nd Place East • 32nd Street East • 33rd Street East • 34th Street East • 37th Street East • 38th Street East • 39th Street South • 41st Street East • Delaware Avenue South • Delaware Place South • Evanston Avenue South • Florence Avenue South • Florence Place South • Gary Avenue South • Harvard Avenue South