A tradition since 1926, the Coney Island Hot Weiner shop is the second-oldest continuously operated restaurant in Tulsa (after Ike’s Chili). Coney Island was originally located in the Tulsa World building at 311 S. Boulder. In 1946 the restaurant moved to 108 W. 4th St. and in 1995 moved to 123 W. Fourth St in the former Downtowner Motel. The restaurant moved back to 108 W. 4th Street in 2012 as the motel was slated to be torn down to make way for a parking lot (because Downtown Tulsa needs more of those!) In 2015 Coney Island will find a new home in the Brady District.
When I photographed the former Downtowner Motel in 2008 it was rundown and neglected. It would have been nice if someone had been able to save this example of mid century architecture and return it to its former glory as a motel. Part of the reason I started Forgotten Tulsa was to document locations just like this-places that now just exist in pictures and in memories.
Have you ever had a fried apple pie from McDonald's? If so, odds are that the iconic dessert you enjoyed was made right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma! Since 1965 Bama Pie Company has been a major supplier of the fried pies for McDonald's-producing over one million pies daily. At the end of the twentieth century the company was one of the nation's largest manufacturers of flour-based products.
Founded in 1927 in Dallas, Texas, by Henry and Alabama Marshall, the Bama Pie Shop originally served a small clientele but gradually had customers in other Texas communities. The Marshalls' son Paul established a branch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1937 that became the company's headquarters. Link
This 2012 Youtube video details more of the history of Bama Pie in Tulsa and also talks to some current employees about their experiences. Seems like a great place to work!
The First Church of Christ Scientist is located at 11th and Boulder. Completed in 1923 its design is reminiscent of the Pantheon with a dome, a front pediment with 10 Ionic columns, and exterior of Bedford polished limestone. The dome exterior is masonry tile with a wood structure support and a center glass oculus. The interior was remodeled in the mid-1930s by Adah Robinson, who is best known for designing Tulsa's Boston Avenue Methodist Church. Link
One building that I find interesting is the Beacon Building. Located on the Southwest corner of 4th and Boulder it was built by Waite Phillips in 1923. Many Tulsans remember it for a beacon light tower (removed in 1976) that symbolized its long-time tenant, the Beacon Life Insurance Company and served as a aircraft navigational aid in the 1930's. Link
Compare the two images below. In the first the beacon is visible in the background of the picture. In the second picture, taken in 2008, the beacon is no longer present.
Another view of the Beacon Building with the Mayo Building in the background and the Adams Building to the side.
The Beacon Building in 1935.
Black and white photos courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and the Tulsa Historical Society.
The Beacon Building Today
One of the most frustrating problems Tulsa has is that it as a whole seems to have little desire to embrace its wonderful history. I watched with amazement at the Jack Frank Tulsa DVD’s that showed just how many wonderful buildings were torn down in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the name of progress. Especially upsetting for film lovers are the movie theaters that were demolished, such as the Orpheum.
The second Orpheum was located at 12 East 4th Street in Downtown Tulsa and opened in 1917."The Orpheum Theater began as a vaudeville venue and got some of the top acts in the country. In 1931, the theater switched to showing first-run films. It closed in 1969." Link
Out of curiosity I ventured Downtown to see where the Orpheum had been located.
The green building behind the Mid-Continent building is approximately where the Orpheum was located. Notice the Kennedy Building and First National Bank Building on the right of the both pictures.
According to the poster Oklahoma Cowboy "Today the Orpheum kinda sorta still lives inside the (hopefully) temporarily shuttered Casa Bonita Restaurant as many ornate fixtures from both the Orpheum and Ritz were incorporated into this fantastic atmospheric eatery." Link I look forward to Casa Bonita reopening one day to see if I can spot these fixtures. With the renewed interest in Downtown I hope that there will soon be a movie theatre development.
Started in 2007, Forgotten Tulsa's goal is to document the city's rich history. Any pictures that I have not created will be credited. All suggestions and memories are encouraged and appreciated. Follow on Instagram @forgottentulsa.