The Tulsa Club at East Fifth Street and South Cincinnati Avenue was originally constructed in 1927 to serve as the social epicenter for Tulsa’s elite. Not only was the building an urban escape for Tulsa society, it also accommodated the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce on floors two through five for approximately 25 years.
The 11-floor, 92,000 sq. ft. high-rise was an architectural gem. Designed by renowned art deco architect Bruce Goff, the building featured unique and intricate design entwined in the overall opulent structure. Club members enjoyed ornate, mosaic fire places and modern, indoor recreation alongside architectural oddities like Goff’s famous echoing corridor. However, the crown jewel of the club was decidedly the Grand Ballroom on the ninth floor. Two-story ceilings, velvet drape curtains, and endless imbibing—this was the epitome of Tulsa highlife.
Through the years, the more extravagant architectural elements fell out of fashion and after World War II many of the art deco details were renovated in favor of midcentury design elements. The atrium’s statuesque two-story ceilings were lowered and filled in. The original marble edifice was covered with simple stone. And the once popular fireplaces were walled over with wood paneling.
With the wax and wane of the economy, the Club struggled with membership until it was finally dissolved in 1994. Since then, The Tulsa Club Building has changed hands several times and was repossessed by the City of Tulsa in 2010. For many years, good-intentioned owners struggled and failed to keep the building from falling into disrepair. In addition to the long spell of neglect, vagrants and urban explorers took their toll on the once grand building. Graffiti wallpapered the interiors and the scarce remaining original architectural facets, like marble-ensconced pillars and the signature-tiled fireplace, had been desecrated. The fire department was familiar with the building, having battled numerous significant blazes there since its abandonment.
Once the beacon of Tulsa social life, The Tulsa Club hasn’t been forgotten and now has been restored to a 96-room boutique hotel joining the Curio Collection of Hilton and adding to the revitalization of Tulsa’s downtown.