Having spent many, many hours at Mercury Lounge (a former DX gas station) it was interesting to see how the 18th and Boston area has changed. I was surprised to see how many buildings are still around from the 1930s-1950s. The red building on the north side of 18th was the former swanky eatery Louisiane Sea Food, which was open from the 1930's to the 1990's. The current home of the Venue Shrine was a Safeway Grocery Store, as was Dalesandro's. Great to see these old buildings being repurposed instead of town down.
For those of us who grew up in East Tulsa during the mid 1980s and early 1990s Eastland Mall was the place to be. Woodland Hills Mall was still thought of as “down South” so most shopping trips took place at Eastland.
Construction of the mall started in the mid-1970s but the property sat unfinished and empty for almost a decade. It finally opened in 1984 and by the late 80s had a JCPenney, Service Merchandise, Dillard’s and movie theatre. Who else loved riding the escalator down to the food court? However, in the late 1990s Eastland mirrored East Tulsa’s decline in development and most of major retailers closed their locations in the mall.
In 2007 the renovated mall found new life as a regional headquarters of Coca-Cola Enterprises. As of 2015 it houses tenants such as the DMV, University of Phoenix and the Paul Mitchell Beauty School.
I took these pictures back in 2007 and I wish I had taken more. This Land has a nice article on the rise and fall of Eastland that is worth checking out.
According to Michael Bates three early 20th century Plains Commercial buildings on this site were pulled down by Arvest in the early 2000s (I couldn't find out if that included the buildings Peacock, Babyland and Megee's were located in.) Buildings being torn down in the name of “progress” and “urban renewal” is a story Tulsans know all too well (Greenwood, anyone?) Even so, that doesn’t make it any less disheartening to look at picture after picture of the vibrant downtown Tulsa once had and see what has been lost. But hey, Tulsa won the Golden Crater award for most surface parking so we got that goin’ for us.
The above photo of Peacock Jewelers is one of my favorite images of Downtown Tulsa. While I knew both the sign and business were gone I had high hopes that the building was still standing. After a bit of searching I found the exact address and as I read it my heart sank: 518 S. Main Street. Driving to 6th and Main confirmed what I already knew: the buildings were gone, replaced with a parking lot.
The two buildings next to the McFarlin Building in the 1943 photo were torn down around 2003 to make room for a parking lot.
Seidenbach’s Specialty Department Store was built on Main Street around 1926. It had a four-story gothic façade with an interior modeled on an open Italian villa. The store closed in 1963 and sadly the building was destroyed soon after. Link
Located on the corner of 6th and Main was the Atco Building. Next to the Atco Building is Jenkins Music Store and Vandevers. The McFarlin and Thompson buildings are shown in the background. Photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.
Before the electric refrigerator became a ubiquitous household appliance people used iceboxes to store food. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, and peaking around 1890-1900, ice houses stored ice that had either been naturally harvested or artificially created until it made it’s way to the customer. The ice man in his horse-drawn ice wagon (and later in ice trucks) would then make regular door-to-door deliveries of block ice and was as much a social institution as the milk man.
One such ice house was Tulsa Ice Co. Located at East Sixth Street and Xanthus Avenue, it was renovated in 2013 and is now home to Selser Schaefer Architects.
When I started photographing Tulsa back in 2007 Downtown was just starting to be redeveloped. It has been exciting to watch all the changes as they happen, especially in the Brady District.
In 2012 the Fairfield became the first hotel opened in the Brady District. Now in addition to the hotel there are two restaurants (Laffa and Prhyme) and two bars (Mainline and Zin). As the photo of Main Street and Archer in the 1940's shows Downtown Tulsa still has a lot of redevelopment potential but it is on the right track!
Today the historic Brady Theater is known for hosting performances from some of the greatest names in show business: Tony Bennett, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Pixies…the list goes on and on. Completed in 1914, it was originally named Convention Hall and was billed as the largest hall between Kansas City and Houston. The theater was updated in 1930 and again in 1952 when it was renamed the Tulsa Municipal Theater.
In addition to hosting thousands of performances Brady Theater also played a part in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 as it was used to detain black men rounded up by the National Guard. This shameful portion of Tulsa’s history was covered up for many years. An article from This Land newspaper recounted the life of the namesake of Brady Theater Tate Brady and his alleged role in the 1921 race riot. For more information on the Tulsa Race Riot check out Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War and its Legacy by James S. Hirsch.
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.