Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tulsa's Boston Avenue Methodist Church

Not too long ago (specifically on Sunday, March 6), after perhaps 33 years of knowing it was out there, I saw what could be called the "Holy of Holies" of Tulsa Art Deco, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church.

Here, I will add my joy to that of many other non-Tulsans over the years, encouraging your own visit to this 1929 pioneer of a new expression for an old activity.

My comments are limited and in a sense a litmus test of what I found interesting, partly because there is much more material on this edifice.

First, I was moved to see the front of a National Historic Landmark church for the first time, as attendees to an 11am Sunday service, including me, arrived....
and then to sit under its grand ceiling prior to the service....
during which I admired various components in the sanctuary, including the stained glass....
Afterwards, I was very fortunate to take a tour led by Bill Schillinger and his wife Shirley, at the right side just below, who were joined by a guide in training, Dick O'Neil, with all of them being members of the church, Bill for about 45 years or so....
Our tour, one of many over time which have begun shortly after Sunday services, started next to the Archives room of the church, and one of Bill Schillinger's first themes there was how the heartiness of early Methodists in Tulsa and of the later ones who opened the edifice just prior to the Great Depression is depicted through images of two plants in various materials throughout "Boston Avenue....". These are known as the coreopsis and the tritoma, seen here at the left and right side respectively in this photo in the Archives Room....
Repeatedly, we saw beautiful images of these plants in glorious "Deco" forms, including a "Tritoma Grill" (I'd eat there!) in the "Great Hall".....
a floor detail....
 ....seen at the bottom of this next image just before we entered a rear stairhall....
and in a segment with both plants in the sanctuary window seen here earlier....
Just outside of that stairhall and prior to entering the sanctuary, we stepped outside through a south portal on what may have been a typically windy day. Above us, near the top of the elevation pictured here, there were three carvings of circuit-riding Methodist preachers, a big part of the frontier toughness preceding the ecclesiastical elegance inside....
Later, a much smaller portal yielded a story of struggle, in a relative sense, between Boston Avenue preservationists and the Tulsa Fire Department, which at first did not accept a desire to keep this sign and similar ones....
but happily for the original aesthetic intentions here, the Department relented:)....

Before my final exit from the Church, the tour ended in its restful Columbarium, where a wooden seating structure paid homage to another part of the perseverance which started the church, when the early members of Boston Avenue met in a "brush arbor" near the Arkansas River in the 1890's....


Further acknowledgement for this blog - and perhaps all blogs about "Boston Avenue" - goes to the lady widely recognized as its architect, Adah Robinson, seen here:) in the Archives Room....

and, in spirit, seen not so far from the church, in her innovative house at 1119 S. Owasso.....


May we cross your portals again, BAMC....

Further notes

[As with previous blogs, thanks for bearing with the cut-and-paste use of url's if you would be interested in exploring further:)!]

Adah Robinson home - http://www.tulsapeople.com/Tulsa-People/March-2011/Tulsa-rsquos-25-most-notable-Homes/index.php?cp=23&mode=popup&play=1&si=22&view=slideshow#galleryanc, which notes that her home was designed by Bruce Goff, 
--and-- 
http://historictulsa.blogspot.com/2009/08/adah-robinson-residence-1927.html, which says that Goff originally designed the home, but modifications were made shortly thereafter.

Boston Avenue Methodist Church (BAMC) - earliest years - The Church's site, at http://www.bostonavenue.org/welcome/about-us/history, speaks of the earliest congregants in 1894 meeting under a brush arbor, with "pews made of wooden planks stretched over railroad ties", and the shelter of the brush arbor is also noted at a Sept. 18, 2005 article headed "75 or older / Look familiar? Here are 153 Tulsa-area businesses, organizations, schools and churches that are 75 or older", at http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/or-older/article_72c28803-2aa5-5fb1-88f3-af454daccc2b.html.

BAMC - ranking among the largest Methodist congregations in the U.S. - After our tour, Bill Schillinger noted that  (BAMC) and the nearby First Methodist Church are among the ten biggest Methodist churches in the nation, with BAMC likely the 6th-largest in this order and 1st Methodist likely in the no. 7 position. He believed that 1st Methodist Church in Houston was the biggest such church as of early March.

Goff, Bruce (1904-1982)  - http://www.artic.edu/research/bruce-goff-archive and http://www.architechgallery.com/arch_info/artists_pages/bruce_goff.html.


Robinson, Adah (1882-1962)  - At http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=RO008, she is spoken of as "articulat[ing] the intellectual concepts that guided the overall design of Tulsa's Boston Avenue Methodist Church...and [being] widely credited with responsibility for the elaborate decoration of the interior".

At http://www.docomomo-us.org/news/designer_57, in a BAMC entry she is noted as a key designer of the church, but listed as the second and last name right after Bruce Goff - arguably the most famous Oklahoma architect of the 20th century - and she is also recalled as an art teacher for Goff when he was in high school.








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