|City/Town: • Tulsa|
|Location Class: • Commercial|
|Built: • 1927 | Abandoned: • 1994|
|Status: • Restored (2019)|
|Photojournalist: • David Linde|
The Tulsa Club Building at East Fifth Street and South Cincinnati Avenue was designed by Bruce Goff a creative American architect. His work was distinguished by his unique and eccentric designs in buildings throughout Oklahoma and other Midwest states. In 1927 the 11-floor, 92,000 sq. ft. building that would become The Tulsa Club Building was constructed through the joint efforts of The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the Tulsa Club.
Known for its elite members, businessmen often used the Club Building for many business deals, elaborate dinners, and being an urban escape for Tulsans. Club members enjoyed all the perks including elaborate mosaic fireplaces, and most famously, the grand ballroom located on the ninth floor. Featuring two-story ceilings, velvet drape curtains, and endless partying. The building has 11 floors, which were dedicated to giant dining halls, smaller dining rooms, dormitories for men staying overnight, dozens of small lounges and libraries. It was also home to the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce on floors two-five for many years. The club also featured an athletic facility and barbershop to keep their members looking in tiptop shape. The top floor of the Club Building was known as the Sky Terrace, it had seating for a hundred guests to enjoy lunches and dinners.
Club members were made to pay a $50 initiation fee and $19 in monthly dues, and $119 for club amenities. But with the fluctuation of the economy in the late nineties club members struggled to pay dues and eventually The Tulsa Club dissolved. For many years after that, the building changed hands several times and was even repossessed by the City of Tulsa in 2010. Eventually, the building was officially abandoned and started to fall into disarray. Soon people started to make a temporary home out of the building, drug activity and kids wanting a thrill made cops frequent the area and install cameras to deter them.
With the unwelcomed visitors and activity came a numerous amount of fires. Within its first year of abandonment, there were four fires that Tulsa Fire Department was called to put out over the years. On October 15, 2010 a significant blaze ravaged its way through the upper floor of the derelict Tulsa Club Building. One firefighter who had suffered from heat exhaustion was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
In 2015, The Ross Group started a hefty $36 million renovation on the almost century-old building. The cost was offset by state and federal historic tax credits and helped to keep the Tulsa Club Building in almost the same design as it was previously. It was fully restored into a 96-room hotel that opened in April of 2019. Take a look at the construction and newly renovated hotel in the video below and then the gallery of when it was abandoned after that.
Article by AOK Photojournalists Emily Cowan and David Linde.