Boston Avenue Methodist Church

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Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, South
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Location1301 South Boston Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Coordinates 36°8′38″N95°59′4″W / 36.14389°N 95.98444°W / 36.14389; -95.98444 Coordinates: 36°8′38″N95°59′4″W / 36.14389°N 95.98444°W / 36.14389; -95.98444
Architect Bruce Goff from a design by Adah Robinson
Architectural style Art Deco
NRHP reference # 78002270
Significant dates
Added to NRHPAugust 31, 1978 [1]
Designated NHLJanuary 20, 1999 [2]

The Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, located in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma and completed in 1929, is considered to be one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical Art Deco architecture in the United States, and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built by a congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1999. [2] [3]

Tulsa, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 45th-most populous city in the United States. As of July 2016, the population was 413,505, an increase of 12,591 over that reported in the 2010 Census. It is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 991,005 residents in the MSA and 1,251,172 in the CSA. The city serves as the county seat of Tulsa County, the most densely populated county in Oklahoma, with urban development extending into Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner counties.

Art Deco Influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s

Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.



The design of the US$1.25 million edifice is credited to two individuals: Adah Robinson and Bruce Goff. Robinson was an art teacher at Central High School in Tulsa, and eventually was chair of the art department in the University of Tulsa. Robinson sketched the original ideas for the church. Bruce Goff, formerly one of her high school students, and the architect in 1924–1926 of her home and studio, then took the sketches and came up with the design for the church. Officially, the architecture firm credited is Rush, Endacott and Rush where Goff apprenticed (from age 12 and became a partner in 1930). There is still some debate over who was more responsible for the building. The church credits Adah Robinson with the design of this building, while Goff experts maintain that it is clearly his design. The definitive book on the subject, Tulsa Art Deco [see References, below] says of that issue that "it is not the purpose of this book to offer a resolution to that controversy."

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

Adah Matilda Robinson was an American artist, designer and teacher, who influenced many other artists, especially architects, during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Indiana, she was educated in art schools in the Chicago area, as well as receiving private lessons from noted artist there during the late 19th century. Adah moved with her family to Oklahoma City, where she began teaching art. She moved to Tulsa and became the first art teacher at Tulsa High School. One of the pupils in her first class was the aspiring artist, Bruce Goff. Later, she taught another student, Joseph R. Koberling, Jr., who would also become a noted architect. In 1928, she was hired as the founder and chairperson of the Art Department at the University of Tulsa.

Bruce Alonzo Goff was an American architect, distinguished by his organic, eclectic, and often flamboyant designs for houses and other buildings in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

The original building consisted of a semicircular auditorium, a soaring 225-foot (68.5 m) tower, and a wing containing class rooms. The soaring straight lines of the tower provide physical, visual, and philosophical linkage to the Gothic Cathedrals of past ages as well as allowing the designers to indulge in the Art Deco celebration of the vertical.

Tower detail Boston Avenue Methodist Detail.jpg
Tower detail

At the top of the tower, as well as on many of the other high points and used much in the same manner that churches in the Middle Ages utilized crockets and finials, is a stylized sculpture that represents two hands raised upward in prayer. This motif of praying hands is one that is echoed throughout the building and is one of the areas of design that can be traced back to the early drawings by Robinson.

While the building is in many ways unique, the idea of the large, semi-circular main auditorium has an earlier precursor in another Methodist church, Louis Sullivan's St. Paul's Methodist Church, designed in 1910 and built, somewhat modified, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1914.

Louis Sullivan American architect

Louis Henry Sullivan was an American architect, and has been called the "father of skyscrapers" and "father of modernism". He is considered by many as the creator of the modern skyscraper, was an influential architect and critic of the Chicago School, was a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, and an inspiration to the Chicago group of architects who have come to be known as the Prairie School. Along with Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson, Sullivan is one of "the recognized trinity of American architecture". The phrase "Form follows function" is attributed to him, although he credited the origin of the concept to an ancient Roman architect. In 1944, Sullivan was the second architect to posthumously receive the AIA Gold Medal.

St. Paul United Methodist Church (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) church building in Iowa, United States of America

St. Paul's United Methodist Church is located in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States. The Louis Sullivan-designed building has been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985. In 2000 it was included as a contributing property in the Second and Third Avenue Historic District.

Iowa State of the United States of America

Iowa is a state in the Midwestern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states; Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest and Minnesota to the north.

Like many other Art Deco buildings, the Boston Avenue Church reveled in the use of various building materials, so metal, glass, terra cotta, Indiana limestone and Minnesota granite can all be found. The exterior is decorated with numerous terra cotta sculptures by the Denver sculptor, Robert Garrison, who had been a student of Adah Robinson's in Oklahoma City. These sculptures include several groups of people at prayer representing Spiritual life, Religious Education and Worship. In these groups again can be found the two hands together motif.

Robert Garrison American sculptor

Robert Ernest Garrison was an American sculptor. He was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Son of Fred A. Garrison and Anna Timms.

Above the south entrance are the equestrian Circuit Riders, statues of the early Methodists engaged in spreading the Good Word. Two of the three riders represent historic individuals, Bishop Francis Asbury, the first American Methodist bishop and Bishop William McKendree, while the third figure, the one in the center, is symbolic of all the other men of God who did His bidding from horseback. The face on this rider was created by Garrison using the church minister's father-in-law, the Rev. T.L. Darnell, of as his model. Rev. Darnell had in fact been a circuit rider for half a century. Over the north entrance of the building there can be found idealized statues of John Wesley his brother Charles Wesley and Susanna Wesley, their mother. Other places on the exterior reveal classic art deco styles organic plant designs, which. like the stained glass windows were based on designs drawn from Oklahoma flora, most notably the tritomas and coreopsis flowers.

Francis Asbury Methodist bishop in America

Francis Asbury was one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. As a young man in October 1771, the Englishman traveled to America and, during his 45 years there, he devoted his life to ministry, traveling on horseback and by carriage thousands of miles to those living on the frontier.

William McKendree American bishop

William McKendree was an Evangelist and the fourth Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the first Methodist bishop born in the United States. He was elected in 1808.

John Wesley Christian theologian

John Wesley was an English cleric, theologian and evangelist who was a leader of a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism. The societies he founded became the dominant form of the independent Methodist movement that continues to present.

Detail above entryway Boston Avenue Methodist Church.jpg
Detail above entryway

The building was not long in making an impression on the architectural world. Influential art critic of the day, Sheldon Chaney, allows it 5 pictures in his book [see References. below] and praises it saying that, "its detail is daringly new, its ornamental idioms fresh and vital, its masses fairly well sculpted and perfectly expressive of the plan," and adding, "But why for the Methodists?"

In 1978 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1999.

In 1993, murals were installed on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the congregation. They were designed by Chicago artist Angelo Gherardi who continued the Art Deco design to be consistent with the building's interior and exterior design.

The construction of a Columbarium inside the building was completed in 2000. Designed by Tulsa architect Roger Coffey, it allowed for the cremains of church members and their immediate family members to be interred there. The columbarium contains a 6-foot (1.8 m) by 25-foot (7.6 m) cut glass window created by Richard Bohm of the Tulsa Stained Glass company.

A stone from the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church is one of the stones embedded in the walls of the Chicago Tribune Building, along with over 100 others picked from historic buildings and famous sites from around the world.

The Boston Avenue Church contains a 105 rank Möller pipe organ, dedicated in 1962 at 72 playable ranks of pipes and expanded in 1986. The organ was further modified in 1995 by Daniel Angerstein. In 1999 a new Trompette-en-chamade was added. A complete stoplist for the organ can be found on the Organ Page for the Boston Avenue Church. [4]

The church was built by W. S. Bellows Construction Corporation. [5]

See also

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  1. National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service.
  2. 1 2 "Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, South". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
  3. Diana Everitt and Carolyn Pitts (July 7, 1998). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Bostan Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, South / Boston Avenue Methodist Church". National Park Service. and Accompanying 21 photos, exterior and interior, from 1998  (3.97 MB)