Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Boulder on the Park

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

These Walls: Boulder on the Park

Article excerpt

TULSA - Historic building restorations do not always focus on the original design. As Tulsa architect Larry McIntosh demonstrated with the 8,200-square-foot Boulder on the Park, such projects may instead choose a more important era.

In this case, the 1940s.

This 1850 S. Boulder Ave. building opened in 1923 as the first home for Tulsa's Holland Hall School. With Waite Phillips, W.G. Skelly and other historic city leaders helping on financing, builders Charles A. and Roy Wesley Sanderson squeezed nine classrooms, a shop, gymnasium, laboratory, and more into this little red brick building carved into a hill facing Boulder Park.

While the interior showed ingenuity, its exterior decor offered little to impress the eye. Adornments were limited to a white stone sheath about its entryway and a plethora of uniformly cut windows, their pattern broken once by a small set of portals bracketing the front stairwell.

Holland Hall moved to a larger campus in 1932. With no strong anchor stepping in through the Depression, 1850 S. Boulder followed many other buildings into repossession. The aerial mapping service Aero Exploration Co. acquired the site in 1938, lending it a bit of oil-patch heritage, but the building's stature didn't truly change until 1947. That's when KTUL Radio started broadcasting its CBS signal from those walls. That soon gained global significance as KTUL discovered the silky-voiced Patti Page and launched her seven- decade career.

For a business focused on airwave transmissions, the station paid a lot of attention on its brick and mortar. KTUL decided to give the building a more striking presence through an Art Moderne renovation.

Painters recast the brick exterior with bands of brown. A frame of shimmering deep blue Vitrolite tiles was glued around the front door, capped by a steel canopy.

The radio station took out the front stairwell and its main windows, installing in its place a pillar of glass blocks extending from the sleek Vitrolite to the rooftop crown. KTUL also took out the small first-floor windows, replacing them with a set of octagonal portals. The matching small windows on the second and third floors were vertically enveloped with light blue tiles. This created two small blue columns to bracket the large glass-block bar.

These touches gave new personality to Boulder on the Park, the name KTUL bestowed on its broadcasting home. The radio station would stay there just eight years, moving to larger studios in 1955 as it transitioned into television. …

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