Art Deco in Tulsa


This summer we did something I’ve long wanted to do in Tulsa: take an architectural tour of the downtown deco area.


The Tulsa Historical Society offers a walking tour… on Friday morning. Not helpful for people with actual jobs.


So we did it our way. We found a self-guided tour online and dragged along the iPad.


My handsome tour guide was in charge of navigating us to each spot and reading the building description.


The bummer about doing the tour on a Saturday (and now why I totally get that they do the tours on a weekday) is that the lobbies of the buildings, featuring the same spectacular type of detail as the facades, aren’t open.


Never fear, however, we pressed our greasy noses up against many a plate glass window.


Near the end, there came a moment when we tried a door lobby, and it was actually open! Great! We went inside, inspected the described details of tile and brass, sucked in the cool, conditioned air, then turned to leave.

Except… the door was … locked?

I pulled. And rattled. My husband tried. We exchanged a look. Would we be sleeping here? As he pulled and pulled some more, panic started to rise in my throat as I imagined being stuck in an office building lobby all weekend. What about the kids? Would the babysitter keep them? Could she send someone to help?

And then I gave the door one more tug, and it popped open. Crisis averted.

The lobby that I feared I’d have to sleep in.

Our first stop was the Mayo Hotel and Topeca Coffee. The seed-to-cup family-owned spot set on vintage tiles provided fuel for the afternoon’s venture.


How many feet have trod these tiles?

Then we meandered up and down the blocks, reading the descriptions of the buildings fueled by oil barons’ dollars.


Many buildings had initials or other significant personal details embedded in their facades – a permanent testament to either the owner or his ego.



The detail on these buildings is simply incredible.


After a few hours walking, finally, it was back to the Mayo for a swing by up to their rooftop bar at sunset.


The ride in the vintage elevator is always fun. My worst fear ever, probably, (more than getting stuck in a lobby) is to get stuck in an elevator. One time, my dad got stuck in an elevator when the power went off… in AFGHANISTAN. Talk about a place where you’d never want to be stuck… he was there for 10 minutes before the power was restored. Man, in those 10 minutes, I’d be in a full-on panic mode.


Upstairs, the cooling summer air made it the perfect spot for relaxing on the outdoor patio.


From there, you have expansive views of the Arkansas River and downtown Tulsa.




It was the perfect place to end our day of exploring.


Downtown deco tour: done. Check one more off the life list… and add about 17 more.


2 thoughts on “Art Deco in Tulsa

  1. sounds great. Like the things I enjoy. I’m always staggered by the detail in some of the buildings I’ve seen and then I get to thinking about the time it would take to create it. Grandpa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s