When opera star Lily Pons came to town, she stayed in the Bliss Hotel in a fifth-floor suite named just for her.
The well-known singer with New York City’s Metropolitan Opera was one of many musicians to visit Tulsa often in the 1920s and ’30s. She was a friend of hotel proprietor Charles Bliss and his wife, who herself had a short-lived opera career.
Bliss was an oilman, lawyer and entrepreneur who came to Oklahoma in 1904 to practice law in Muskogee, according to the 2001 book "Tulsa Art Deco" by the Tulsa Foundation of Architecture.
Having owned hotels in Missouri and Kansas, Bliss moved to Tulsa in 1914, founding Bliss Oil and Gas Co. a year later. On Sept. 1, 1928, ground was broken for the 10-story Bliss Hotel at 123 S. Boston Ave., conveniently located near the excavation for the future Union Train Depot.
The 140-foot-tall beige structure of brick and glazed terra cotta opened May 9, 1929. Each of the 225 rooms had a bathtub, shower and "circulating ice water," likely a type of hydrotherapy. The hotel also had a restaurant and coffee shop.
Unfortunately, during the Depression the hotel went into receivership in 1933, but with the aid of a $200,000 loan, the Bliss family regained their hotel until 1960.
Not much is known about the Bliss Hotel during the following decade. A Tulsa World article from Aug. 15, 1970, noted the Bliss was purchased by Metro International Corp. of Oklahoma and renamed the Metro Plaza, according to Ian Swärt, archivist and curator of the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
But its new life was short-lived because it was demolished in 1973. The BOK Tower stands in its place.