Tulsa Time Warp: Ambassador Hotel

An aerial view of Ambassador Hotel, 1324 S. Main St., in an undated photo

April 6, 1929, was opening day for the Ambassador Hotel Apartment. Patrick Hurley, the Tulsa lawyer and real estate developer who built the hotel to not only house, but also impress his father-in-law during visits, was nowhere to be found.

The decorated war veteran and politician had been appointed assistant secretary of war by President Herbert Hoover just a month before the Ambassador’s opening. His new duties kept him from the celebration.

Meanwhile, the luxurious 10-story “apartment hotel” towered over the surrounding single-family residences in the neighborhood. The building was an answer to the housing crisis Tulsa faced at the time, but only for a select few. Many occupants were oilmen awaiting the completion of their own homes.

As the U.S. increased its dependence on foreign oil over the following decades, oil business declined in Tulsa and plummeted in the 1980s. This left many hotels like the Ambassador to become apartments or senior living facilities. In 1987 the Ambassador was closed and practically forgotten.

After a decade of decay, the building’s potential was realized once again. Despite vandalism and a crumbling interior, developer Paul Coury purchased the building and brought it back to life in 1999 with a $5.5 million renovation. It continues to operate under the Marriott Autograph Collection of independent hotels.

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