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Tulsa Warehouse Market


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#1 Dismuke

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 12:29 AM

I have decided that the first batch of pictures I will post from my Tulsa trip will be of the old Warehouse Market - or rather the facade of what once was the old Warehouse Market - as there are some parallels between this beautiful art deco retail complex and our own Montgomery Ward Building.

The Market is located right where the old Route 66 entered downtown Tulsa. It was built in 1929 as a sort of public market where people could buy grocery items directly from farmers. By 1938, it became the Warehouse Market which eventually evolved into a Tulsa area discount grocery chain that still exists. The original location closed during the 1970s and the building was abandoned.

In the mid 1990s Home Depot purchased the property and planned to build a store behind the Market building which was to be torn down for parking. Art deco fans from around the world rallied to save the building and Home Depot finally agreed to a compromise: the building's art deco facade and tower would be preserved but the rest of the building would be demolished and much smaller brand new structure would be built behind it. From what I could see in the photos that are on display in the tower, the building went back quite a ways and its rear portion was on two levels with loading docks on the lower level. While I agree that it is a big shame that the building itself had to go, from what I could tell from the pictures, the facade was the only portion which appeared to be architecturally significant.

What I find interesting about the building other than the fact that it is beautiful is that it sits directly in front of the Home Depot and obscures the view of the store for most of the property's frontage along the main thoroughfare. The entire property sits on a hill and the street in front is partially below grade - so even on the parts of the frontage where the Market is not directly in front of the Home Depot, because of the hill, passing motorists still have a hard time seeing the store building itself. Nevertheless, the Home Depot parking lot was nearly full the day I visited so people apparently know that it is back there. My guess is that they know about the store because of a radical innovation that SuperTarget and the developer of the Montgomery Ward Building have apparently never heard of: a sign.


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Here's a view of the building from the front. Undoubtedly if Mitchell Schnurman lived in Tulsa, he would be of the opinion that the facade has a "flat face" and suggest that a pedestrian walkway or a road be cut through the center portion underneath the tower in order to make it more exciting and not so "one dimensional."

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Detail of tower top.


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Here you can see the side wall of the new structure built behind the facade. When I first saw the building from this side, I immediately knew that it was just a facade and that the original structure had been somehow destroyed. How could I tell it was modern? Easy - the side wall as well as the rear wall was bland and sterile. My understanding is that the original structure was about 3 times as deep.


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Detail along top of facade.


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Detail of tower entry.


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Detail of decal on facade. Railroads and oil were major sources of Tulsa's substantial wealth during the 1920s.

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Detail of decal on facade. Notice the cornucopia of produce such as could be bought from the farmers at the Market.

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Here is how people know that there is a Home Depot behind the Market. Note the slope of the hill that makes it difficult to see the Home Depot even along the frontage past the Market Building. Why couldn't such a sign work with the Montgomery Ward Building? In fact, if this dinky little sign works, think what a huge rooftop sign with a SuperTarget logo on top of Montgomery Ward building which could be seen for miles could do. Such a sign, I think, would be much preferable than putting a cheesy hole through the building. Unless, of course, you prefer cheese - as in Swiss cheese which has lots of holes in it and is, therefore, not "one dimensional" with a "flat face."

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Here is the Home Depot store behind the Market. Observe how they tried to add a bit of detail to the building to make it match the Market - and observe how utterly cheap and sterile it looks by comparison despite the halfhearted effort.
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#2 mosteijn

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 09:09 AM

Here is the Home Depot store behind the Market.  Observe how they tried to add a bit of detail to the building to make it match the Market - and observe how utterly cheap and sterile it looks by comparison despite the halfhearted effort.

I wholeheartedly agree. That's exactly what's going to happen with the Super Target, too, and it just aint gonna work. It's a shame they demolished most of the store too, the facade looks extremely nice though. And about that sign, it sounds like a fantastic idea. I don't see any harm in putting up a sign on the roof or something on MW using red neon letters that say "Super Target", as long as the old sign remains somewhat intact.

#3 John T Roberts

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 10:50 AM

The plan for the sign at Mongtomery Ward is for "Ward" to be replaced by "Plaza".

It is a shame that most of the market was demolished. It was obviously a beautiful building. I guess, as in the case of Montgomery Ward, something left of the original is better than nothing. :cry:

#4 normanfd

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 01:53 PM

The tower and the brick remind me of Fort Worth's old Public Market. I'm glad that our Public Market has survived intact over the years. I remember when earlier plans for the I-30 expansion threatened the building with demolition.

I just wish our Public Market building had tenants that would attract the public.

#5 John T Roberts

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 06:19 PM

Norman, which Public Market are you talking about -- The Fort Worth Public Market on Henderson, the Fort Worth Rail Market on Jones, or both?

#6 normanfd

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 02:49 PM

The one on Henderson.

#7 Dismuke

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 12:06 AM

The one on Henderson.

It has been a while since I looked at that page on John's site. So when I saw your post and clocked on the link, I realized that the Public Market here in Fort Worth was designed by the same architect, B. Gaylord Noftsger, who did the Market I photographed in Tulsa. Turns out that he also built an earlier and much larger one in Oklahoma City for John J. Harden, the same man who built the one in Fort Worth. Here is an article about the Oklahoma City market along with a photo: http://www.fyicng.co...icle.php?id=384

I have not been able to find out through web searches if John J. Harden was also responsible for the Tulsa market - but my strong guess is he was considering the similarity of the projects and the fact that each was done by the same architect. Apparently the concept was not particularly successful. The Tulsa market had gone out by 1938 when it became the Warehouse Market grocery store and the Fort Worth one went out in 1941. I would have thought that the opportunity to save money by buying directly from farmers would have been popular during the Depression years - but apparently it wasn't in Fort Worth and Tulsa. It would be interesting to know if Harden/Noftsger built similar markets in any other cities.
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#8 normanfd

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 01:30 AM

Dismuke, this is fascinating information. I wish the site you provided offered more than the very rudimentary colorless image. I, too, would like to know whether Noftseger or Harden were responsible for other similar facilities elsewhere and whether such buildings may still exist.

#9 Dismuke

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 01:42 AM

Dismuke, this is fascinating information. I wish the site you provided offered more than the very rudimentary colorless image.

Here are a couple of other sites about the OKC Public Market that you might be interested in.

You can see a color photo of the building at: http://www.blwarchit...com/page12.html You will need to scroll down a bit to see the picture of the market.

Also, the market has its own website at: http://www.okcfarmersmarket.com/ Unfortunately, the site is short on photos. But it does contain some interesting information in the "history" and "renovation" sections. It is quite a bit larger and different than the Fort Worth and Tulsa markets which opened two years later. The OKC market actually has an auditorium on the second floor. Happily the building is being restored and still serves its original function. It is definintely something I will need to check out next time I am up that way.
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#10 normanfd

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 01:49 AM

Thanks for the additional links. The OKC market looks very interesting! I'm glad to hear their facility has been successful.

#11 Dismuke

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Posted 17 June 2004 - 02:46 AM

Thanks for the additional links. The OKC market looks very interesting! I'm glad to hear their facility has been successful.

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Here is a link to the image file on the architects site I provided the link for in my previous posting.

Observe that it has what appears to be a red tiled awning. Also observe the two tower-like columns that stick up above the top of the facade with the long expanse of a wall with windows between the them. Does that not remind you of a building here in Fort Worth with red tiles up near the top of the facade and similar tower like columns that stick up above the top of the facade with an expanse of windows between them? What does this mean? It means that the Oklahoma City Public Market has a "flat face" and is "one dimensional." Obviously that makes it an eyesore and something needs to be done about it to make the building and the surrounding area more exciting.

What they should do is demolish the center portion of the building except for the very top part of it which could be retained and used to form an archway over the roadway that could be built through it. Oh - but there is an auditorium on the second floor which would be cut in two? No problem. They could build a brand new auditorium behind it out of pre-fabricated concrete panels. Then they could hire a historical preservation architect to slap on a few features here and there which will remind people of the Public Market building.

Of course, the new concrete box which will be built behind and be visible through the hole cut through the Market will not have a flat face - it will be built by some modern architect who knows what he is doing when it comes to aesthetics. Maybe they could even get the same hippie.....er...uhhh... I mean architect.... who put up the lovely new base on the Baker Building back in the 1960s. The architects back in the 1920s when the Montgomery Ward Building and the Market were built didn't know what they were doing and lacked the aesthetic refinement that is universal amongst today's architects. One would NEVER accuse a modern building of having a flat face because modern buildings are NEVER flat. Modern buildings ALWAYS feature lots and lots of texture and detail and are ALWAYS multi-dimensional. You can rest secure in the knowledge that the Fort Worth SuperTarget building that it is so important that we be able to see will be multi-dimensional and that nobody will be able to accuse it of having a flat face.
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#12 Spartan65

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 08:13 PM

Nice pics. There was actually a TIF behind redeveloping the Warehouse Market project, but alas, all good news IMHO. The Farmers Market in OKC (the above photographed venue) is interesting because of it's location in Riverside. Future plans for an overhaul of that district should put it in the fray of a lot of future excitement.




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