Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Sophian Plaza

It sits there majestically blending Tulsa's past with it's present.  The Sophian Plaza, built in the late 1920's by Dr. Harry Sophian of Kansas City and his brother, has hosted many affluent and famous people in its history.  It was one of Tulsa's first luxury high-rise apartments, costing around $1 million to build (though some say it was more), and opened with much fanfare.  Back then it boasted a restaurant, tennis court, pool, delicatessen, beauty parlor, elevator operator and garage attendant.  The basement housed the servant's quarters, however larger units actually had a servants room and bath in them. The building was on land owned all the way to the river with riding stables available along Riverside Drive.

The 15th and Frisco site was chosen for the building to take advantage of the prevailing breezes from the southwest.  Dr. Sophian had the building designed using louvered doors and placed the building diagonally on the lot for the best circulation of air during the summer evenings. 

The 8-story tall, H-shaped building featured 45 apartments ranging from 5-room efficiencies to 7-room units with 3 baths and were primarily rented to well-known, wealthy residents who would agree to stay a minimum of 3 years.  This worked well for oilmen and their mistresses.

The Sophian was built by Manhattan Construction at the same time as the Tulsa Club and the Tulsa Union Depot.  Similar details such as the railings and granite are evident in all three buildings.  Each unit is encased in concrete while concrete columns and floors support the building.  The hardwood floors are nailed to wood that is embedded in concrete.  The use of so much concrete provides a good firewall as well as sound-proofing.  

And the views.........

The lobby features Kasta marble and and floors are white Italian marble.  One can easily visualize the lavish parties held here. 

The building was sold in the 1960's to New York investors whose neglect allowed the building to get run down.  It was bought back by local owners in 1973 who renovated it and converted it to condominium status in 1978.  The old kitchen is now the bicycle storage room and the old dining room is the meeting room.  The maids rooms are now storage rooms available to each apartment.  

The Sophian Brothers also built a sister building located in Kansas City, MO across from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  


Unknown said...

This is a nice post on the old Sophian Plaza. I think it is a fascinating place. I did a post on it in my Historic Tulsa blog but didn't go inside. Is it possible to just walk in and ride the elevator to the top? That would be fun. Oh the stories that place could tell.

Anonymous said...

My late father told me that he once drove a cab in the late 40's for a part time job and the Sophian Plaza residents would call in to the cab company and arrange for a cab to pick up dinner from one of the local restaurants for home delivery. This was back before fast food and he said they generally gave what were big tips for that era. M Terry

Nancy said...

Not sure if you can just walk in there; security is pretty tight.
M- I love those stories from way back!

Anonymous said...

My Grandparents would have downsized to the Sophian Plaza except she did not like window air conditioning units.

Tula Cain....Making It Up said...

My husband and I live very near the Sophian. It is our plan to buy an apartment there when we can no longer tolerate the stairs in our house built in 1935.

Anonymous said...

Lovely building with an amazing history! There appears to be a statue or sculpture of a large bird (?) on the top. Hard to really tell from a car just driving through the area. Please advise on what this really is. Thank you so much. Monica