5th Boston, Tulsa Ok.
Above: Exterior facing 5th Street (all color photos by: William A. Franklin for DECOPOLIS)
BEGINNINGS: The Philcade is located at the corner of 5th & Boston in the heart of downtown Tulsa which was the original site of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church. The church had grown so large that they moved to their new location at 13th & Boston on the outer edge of downtown. Waite Phillips purchased the property from Boston Avenue United Methodist Church with the intent of building a six story building on the property. The original purpose of the building was to compliment Phillips' newly completed Philtower and not overshadow the building. The building was designed by Architect Leon Senter who was at one time a neighbor to Waite Phillips in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Leon Senter came to Tulsa specifically to design the Philcade and he stayed becoming one of Tulsa’s most notable architects. The original design included a six story building with a two story shopping arcade on the first two floors and four floors of offices. However, before the footings were poured, the design was changed to nine floors and the foundation was changed accordingly
Philcade with early 9 story configuration. Historic photo courtesy of Tulsa Historical Society, Tulsa City-County Library, and Rotary Club of Tulsa.
Philcade at its final 14 story (including the penthouse) configuration. Historic photo courtesy of Tulsa Historical Society, Tulsa City-County Library, and Rotary Club of Tulsa.
Philcade on the right, and the Philtower (having the pyramid top) on the left. Historic photo courtesy of Tulsa Historical Society, Tulsa City-County Library, and Rotary Club of Tulsa.
In the fall of 1930 as the building was nearing completion, an additional four floors were added bringing the floor count to a total of 13 floors. These four floors were leased by the Standard Oil Company of Indiana who later purchased the building in 1942. The Philcade was finally completed in 1931. In 1937, the south side of the building was enclosed to house the air-conditioning equipment, thus making this building the first fully air-conditioned office building in Tulsa. After the enclosure of the south side of the building, a penthouse was completed on the 14th floor.
THE FACADE. At the two main entrances, the terracotta detailing becomes very formal. Each entrance has fluted, Egyptian-style columns, which terminate at a papyrus reed inspired terra-cotta beam. The formal treatment of the entryway continues upward through the second floor façade and terminates in the elevated base relief details of papyrus reeds at the courtyard level. The chevron columns link the base terra-cotta all the way to the top floor, giving a strong sense of verticality. The exterior of the Philcade was intended to be "plain" so as not to compete with the Gothic ornamentation of the Philtower.
Glazed terra-cotta during this period became a very popular alternative to marble and granite. The first two floors are covered with glazed terra-cotta ornamentation. This glazing resembles marble and was a cheaper alternative to hand-carved marble or granite. The glaze does not wear or fade, making it a very durable building material. Manufacturers were able to form a mold and pour the same design into the mold multiple times. On the Philcade, above each corner window, birds, reptiles, and animals are all hidden in stylized Art-Deco foliage.
How many different animals can you spot?
The floral and leaf patterns in this segment are classic Art Deco
THE LOBBY: The lobby of the Philcade is in a shape of a “T” for Tulsa. The lobby and the 2nd floor mezzanine level was a shopping arcade, and the Philcade derives its name from “Phillips” and “arcade”. The Philcade Lobby was Tulsa’s first indoor shopping mall. Shops on the ground floor were located behind the windows that are now part of the Museum. Each shop entrance has a doorknob with the initials WP for Waite Phillips. Original shops on the first floor included a cigar store, a newsstand, a barber, a drug store, interior decorating shop, India import shop, and several ladies clothing stores.
The Art-Deco ceiling design is complimented by mahogany woodwork, bronze accents, marbled walls, and the black and tan terrazzo floor. When the ceiling was first painted, it featured classical Roman "Grottesca" designs, and when Waite Phillips walked in upon its completion, he ordered it redone in the gold leaf having a glazed overlay of modern, Art Deco designs. Waite's wife was named Genevieve, so it was only fitting that he chose the beautiful St. Genevieve marble to grace the lobby walls.
Above: Gold leaf border and grate. Note the designs are not Art Deco for they reflect the initial "Grottesca" designs that were on the ceiling.
Today, the lobby is open to the public, housing part of the Tulsa Art Deco Museum within the window displays. More displays, and a Visitor Center and Gift shop can be found directly across the street in DECOPOLIS itself.