POSTED ON NOVEMBER 23, 2011:
Historical Society glances to the past and presses toward the future
In order to fully understand Tulsa history, one must take a moment to consider its creative legacy. It seems only fitting to look to The Tulsa Historical Society when contemplating who we are as a city. Rich in heritage, even the Tulsa Historical Society building imparts a story that is unique to each of us as Tulsans. So tightly woven into our identity and into our lives, Tulsa's story is one that we often take for granted. Lest we forget, we most certainly have our distinct art, music and architecture to remind us.
Originally regarded as the Samuel Travis Mansion, The Tulsa Historical Society building was built by Samuel Travis (formerly Samuel Robinowitz) in 1919 during the second wave of the oil boom in the early 20th century.
As Jewish Russian immigrants, Samuel Travis and his brother David capitalized on the Tulsa Oil Boom in the early 1900s and like many Tulsans, became quite wealthy as a result of it. Together, the brothers acquired the massive 160-acre parcel of land between 21st and 25th and Peoria Ave., formerly a Creek Indian land allotment. They commissioned local architect Nobel Flemming to construct two complementary residences, both similar in arguably Beaux Arts Classical style and grandeur. One residence was to become the Tulsa Garden Center (1954), the other The Tulsa Historical Society (1997), as we've come to know them today. Both have stood as architectural monuments of the American Ideal, opulent, stately and most certainly beacons of prosperity and optimism.
Set Your Sights.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, America as a country began to experience unprecedented wealth and global influence. As the Oil Capital of the World during such a nationally prosperous period, architects flocked to our tiny town to heed the call of the local mood and desire for civic grandeur and lofty idealism. T-Town was booming in every regard.
And so the Samuel Travis Mansion was constructed. It is an appropriate space for paying tribute to our rich heritage. The numerous exhibits showcase Tulsa over the years and pay tribute to the citizens who have helped shape it.
The Samuel Travis Mansion now houses several exhibits as The Tulsa Historical Society. Many are ongoing, though some are only available for viewing for a limited time.
Life of a House: A History of the Travis Mansion is an ongoing photographic exhibit that offers a glimpse of the architectural renovation that has transpired over time to shape the structure we now know as the Tulsa Historical Society.
Becoming Tulsa: Cultivating City Life from a Prairie Town, 1878-1900 walks patrons through the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 to the diverse new settlements that resulted from the Trail of Tears. In the short time period of two decades, great progress can be observed as Tulsa began to take shape as a flourishing community.
The Big 97: Tulsa's KAKC Radio gives a glimpse to life behind the scenes at Tulsa's top radio station in the mid-century. The Tulsa Historical Society promises some entertaining insight to "...a time of cruising Tulsa's restless ribbon and Pennington's Restaurant; dance crazes and hula hoops; seeing the USA in your Chevrolet; the 60's counterculture and Vietnam War protests." This exhibit runs through June 2, 2012.
Portrait of a Generation: Sons and Daughters of the Red Earth showcases the work of photographer M.J. Alexander. Alexander has captured wonderful snapshots in time depicting the childhood rites of passage and familial traditions of many young Oklahomans. According to the artist, "each child is unique, a self-contained poem, arranged here into verses, stanzas, chapters. Their portraits distill something of their essence, and the story of Oklahoma in the 21st century."
Starmaker: Jim Halsey & the Legends of Country Music profiles the career of an Oklahoma music management legend who built an entertainment empire from his office here in Tulsa. Visitors can expect some insight into "how to make it in the music business" through the displays of Halsey's business principles and the personal stories of those principles in practice with the careers of artists such as Reba McEntire, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tammy Wynette, Wanda Jackson and many more. Starmaker runs through July 2012.
Dream Exhibit: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes is an interactive exhibit that will surely inspire visitors of all ages. It features the artwork created for the book "Dream" as well as digital interactives and 3-D modeling clay that give a glimpse into the creative process. "The exhibit gets you thinking about your life and the generations, and inspires you to dream better things for your community," says the author of "Dream," Susan Bosak. Dream Exhibit will be on display through August 21, 2012.
Admission to all exhibits is $5 for adults; children and students are free. For a complete list of exhibits and events, visit the Tulsa Historical Society website at tulsahistory.org.
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