Friday, November 13, 2009

Bartlesville a Haven for Architecture Buffs

Most people hear Bartlesville and think Phillips Petroleum Company. Even though the company merged with Conoco in 2002, and subsequently moved their headquarters to Houston, the impact of Phillips on the city and its skyline is unquestionable.

Old and New
Old and new architecture meet in downtown Bartlesville.The petroleum industry brought wealth to Bartlesville beginning with the first gusher in 1897. Since then a steady flow of people and money has followed the oil business. With the wildcatters came a flood of new construction- commercial and residential. Oil companies sought out the finest craftsmen and architects to create their corporate headquarters. The homes of these early oilmen must have seemed like palaces to the local Osage. Oil money is responsible for much of the distinctive architecture found in Bartlesville today.

Those boomtown days are long gone, but Bartlesville remains quite cosmopolitan for a town of 35,000. Public arts such as the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra and Civic Ballet are well supported by the city. Annual events like the National Biplane Association's fly-in and OK Mozart attract visitors from the world over.

Yes, there really is such a thing. Bartlesville is home to buildings designed by many famous architects including Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff, Edward Buehler Delk, John Duncan Forsyth and a proposed expansion of the Price Tower Arts Center by Zaha Hadid. Visitors can easily find interesting buildings built in the Teens and Twenties, right up through the Seventies.

The Price TowerThe most renowned building in Bartlesville has to be the Price Tower. The only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper ever built, the unusual design was cutting-edge for 1956. The 19-story tower featured retail, office and residential space anchored by the headquarters of the H.C. Price Company. Today the building is home to Price Tower Arts Center, a boutique hotel and the Copper restaurant/bar.

Across the street from the Price Tower is another unusual building. Some people have compared it to a circus tent, but I've always called it the hat box. The Bartlesville Community Center was designed by William Wesley Peters, a student of Wright's. Begun in 1979 the 94,000 square foot facility has been recognized for its excellent acoustics.

Rex and Brad in front of the Bartlesville Community CenterOther notable buildings in B'ville include the streamline Bartlesville High School designed by John Duncan Forsyth, the Santa Fe Depot, and the original Cities Services headquarters (now known as the Reda Building).

To explore more of Bartlesville's architecture you can download walking tours from the Bartlesville Area History Museum. Enjoy!

Two Wheel Oklahoma


OKmod said...

Great timing- the Price Tower Art Center is offering free admission on Sunday, November 15!

Lee said...

And speaking of the Symphony, they are having a concert Saturday, November 21st.

Call the symphony office for a special ticket price to bikers!!


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