Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Pythian Building

The Pythian Building was the dream of two early Tulsa oilmen- J.M. Gillette and H.C. Tyrrell.  These 2 civic-minded men wanted to build a beautiful 13-story showcase of a building, topped with a golden hall.  Sitting at 423 S. Boulder Ave, it was to have a hotel on the top 10 floors, be called the Gillette-Tyrrell Building and look like this when finished:

Construction began in 1929 and no expense was spared.  Designer Edward Saunders' extensive use of decorative fired bricks earned Tulsa another nickname, the "Terra Cotta City".

But the Depression hit and hit hard.  Gillette lost much of his fortune as did Tyrrell.  Construction was halted when the 3rd story was finished and they sold the building to the Knights of Pythias in 1931.

It is said that if you go to the top of the building, you can see the stubbed columns where they were to take the structure on up.   Italian, Spanish and American Indian derived motifs on the outside are carried inside. The 2-story lobby takes one's breath away with its ornate tile patterns and metalwork, done mostly by Tulsa artisans.   Above the staircase is a fluted glass skylight.  Hanging chandeliers adorn other parts of the L-shaped area.

It is truly a stop worth making when downtown.


DrillerAA09 said...

This is simply stunning. One can only imagine what the rest of the building would have looked like if completed.

Beverly said...

My mother worked in the Pythian Building before I was born. I love the part in Jack Frank's "Deco" DVD where Robert Powers talks about it. Such a beautiful building!

Debra Jane Seltzer (aka agilitynut) said...

I wonder how many buildings were "stunted" because of the Depression. The building where I work in NYC was supposed to be 100 stories -- see illustration far right:
But wound up looking like this (center):