Tour de force
A walk through the Riverview Historic District highlights Tulsa’s architectural diversity.
Tulsa Foundation for Architecture trustees Susie Wallace and Rhonda Hinrichs and TFA Executive Director Amanda DeCort at the McBirney Mansion in the Riverview Historic District.
When the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture organized a fall 2015 walking tour of the eclectic Reservoir Hill neighborhood in north Tulsa, the group’s leadership wasn’t sure what to expect.
They were pleasantly surprised when the event attracted approximately 500 curious Tulsans to see inside the area’s historic homes, including the one owned by TFA trustee Rhonda Hinrichs.
“I stood for four or five hours in my home entertaining people,” she recalls. “It was a fun experience as a homeowner.”
This month, TFA hopes to build on the success of the Reservoir Hill experience — and its wildly popular Second Saturday tours — by inviting Tulsans to tour the lesser-known Riverview Historic District on Sept. 18.
Comprised of four early Tulsa districts, the meandering Riverview neighborhood runs from Riverside Drive to Boulder Avenue and from the Inner Dispersal Loop to West 21st Street.
The area’s original houses and apartment buildings were constructed from 1911-1938, according to the Tulsa Preservation Commission. They exhibit a range of architectural styles and sizes, from Craftsman bungalows, to Tudor Revival and Mission-style homes, to the neighborhood’s few remaining oil mansions: the Italian Renaissance Dresser and the Gothic Revival McBirney.
Riverview also features landmarks new and old, such as Crybaby Hill of Tulsa Tough fame, the art deco-influenced Spotlight Theater and the Creek Council oak tree, where Tulsa was founded in 1836 by the Lochapoka clan of Creek Indians.
Between seven and 10 properties, most of them private residences, will be opened up for the TFA tour, says Executive Director Amanda DeCort.
“This is an opportunity for us to promote the architectural diversity of our houses and an appreciation for historic homes,” says DeCort, who herself lives in Riverview.
The tour is self-guided, but participants must obtain a map and purchase their tickets for the TFA fundraiser at one of two tour starting points (see box). TFA docents will be stationed at homes, which should each take about 20 minutes to walk through.
Hinrichs, the tour’s chairwoman, and DeCort agree that downtown’s soaring property values have spurred the revitalization of surrounding neighborhoods like Riverview, Owen Park and Brady Heights. The neighborhoods offer traditional home ownership near bustling downtown, and the Sept. 18 tour is a chance to experience what residing there might be like.
If nothing else, seeing how others live is always fascinating, DeCort says, though she hopes tours like this one will also help Tulsans recognize the value of their city’s historic architecture.
“After the Reservoir Hill tour, a person contacted me and said, ‘Thank you for showing me a neighborhood I didn’t know anything about,’” DeCort recalls. “That was kind of cool.”
Sept. 18 — Riverview Tour
Noon-5 p.m. Two tour starting points: Langdon Publishing offices, home of TulsaPeople and The Tulsa Voice, 1603 S. Boulder Ave., and the Spotlight Theater, 1381 Riverside Drive. Free parking is available at both sites or on neighborhood streets. $20, general admission; $17.50, pre-sale for TFA members; free, 12 and under. Benefits Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. Purchase tickets at www.tulsaarchitecture.com.