Bartlesville, Oklahoma is a small town with a population of approximately 35,000, located 45 miles north of Tulsa. The town embraces the rich, diverse heritage built by the oil industry. Bartlesville features attractions like Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper the Price Tower, Frank Phillips Home (founder of Phillips Petroleum) and Woolaroc Ranch, Museum & Wildlife Preserve. Bartlesville not only features the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, but also Bruce Goff – and that was exactly why I drove 200 miles to visit Bartlesville.
Bruce Goff (1904–1982) was an American architect, who spent most of his life practicing in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Texas. Goff designed numerous residences in the American Midwest as well as commercial and civic buildings. His remarkable style of organic architecture was influenced by a variety of sources, including the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan.
My first encounter with the architecture of Bruce Goff was the Bavinger House, the last stop of the Oklahoma Modernism Architecture Tour in May, 2009. The world renowned Bavinger House is considered to be one of the most significant designs of Bruce Goff. I was impressed with the Bavinger House so much that I wanted to visit other buildings by Bruce Goff. I have known that there were many buildings designed by Goff in Bartlesville, so I planned a mini self-guided tour of Bruce Goff architecture.
Between 1956 and 1964, Bruce Goff set up his home and studio in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. So I thought it was appropriate to start my tour at the Price Tower. The Price Tower is the only realized skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was commissioned by Harold C. Price of the H. C. Price Company, a local oil pipeline construction firm. The 19 story tower was open to the public in 1956 – the tallest building in Bartlesville at the time. It was Bruce Goff who referred Harold C. Price to Frank Lloyd Wright.
My next stop was the Redeemer Lutheran Church Education Building (1959). The two story rectangular building is located behind the main church building. The building is sheathed with stone and the same green glass cullets seen at the Bavinger House in Norman. It is located at 3700 SE Woodland Road, Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The tour of the building may be arranged by contacting the church office in advance.
There are two houses located just down the street from the church: Harold Jones House (1958) at 3411 SE Wildwood Court and Russell Collins House (1959) at 3400 SE Wildwood Court. Both of them are pretty much hidden behind the trees. Needless to say, these are private properties and you can only view them from the street.
I drove by two more houses: J.R. Akright House (1959) at 2412 SE Circle Drive and J.O. and Mary Motsenbocker House (1957) at 2416 SE Circle Drive.
I then drove a few miles north of Bartlesville to see C.A. Comer House (1957), located at 1316 N. Creek in Dewey, Oklahoma. This amazing house stands out on an quite neighborhood filled with ordinary houses.
There are few more structures designed by Bruce Goff (that I didn’t get to see) in Bartlesville:
Play Tower (1963) at Sooner Park
Robert White House (1958) at 1525 SW Whiteway Court
James Fitchette House (1961) at 1900 SE Saturn Court
Richard Bennett House (1959) at 2841 Silver Lake Road
The details of the structures mentioned here are listed in the Bruce Goff Oklahoma Guide published by Friends of Kebyar. If you are interested in visiting Bruce Goff’s buildings in Oklahoma, I recommend you pick up a copy. If you are visiting any of these properties, please remember to respect the privacy of the owners.