Art Deco Buildings in Tulsa
Boston Avenue Methodist Church
1301 South Boston Avenue (map it)
The Boston Avenue Methodist Church was hailed as the country’s first church designed in a strictly American style of architecture. Credit for the building’s design is still debated in Tulsa. One account credits Tulsa art teacher Adah Robinson, while others credit her former student, Bruce Goff. At best the design was a cooperative effort with iconography and color theory supplied by Robinson. The building’s structural plans undoubtedly were the work of Goff, while employed at the Tulsa architectural firm of Rush, Endicott and Rush.
The church was designed to accommodate the spiritual, educational and social needs of a large, 1,943 member church. Its 258-foot tower, on the north and on an axis with Boston Avenue, is the dominant feature. The tower entrance, opening into the 1,800 seat auditorium on the right (west), and the social lobby on the left (east), features a vaulted ceiling that extends the entire north and south depth of the church. Beyond the social lobby is the four-story educational wing.
The main auditorium and balcony fill the upper three levels. The pulpit is in the center on the east side adjacent to the social lobby, with seating in concentric circles facing it. Sunlight enters through the ceiling and through the eleven tall exterior windows behind audience seating. A 250-seat rectangular chapel is located in the northeast corner of the church on the same level with the main auditorium. Directly beneath the main auditorium is the Community Hall.
The fourteen tower floors, which have a usable space of 20 x 28 feet, are reached by both elevator and stairway. Besides the chimes, motor and blower floors, the tower accommodates a prayer room at the top, a history room, and church offices.
The site is at a turning point of Boston Avenue and is bounded by streets on three sides. There is really no rear to the church, although the educational area might be considered as such. Strikingly handsome when completed in 1929, it remains a remarkably effective blending of traditional church design and modern “skyscraper” techniques.
The church was listed in the National Register on August 31, 1978. It was listed under National Register Criterion C, a, g, and its NRIS number is 78002270. Boston Avenue was designated a National Landmark on January 20, 1999.