Former Tulsa Tribune Building is on National Register

Editor’s Note: Author Roger Cole Coffey, AIA, received his architecture degree from Oklahoma State University and was a partner with Olsen Coffey Architects in Tulsa for 38 years. He is a founding member of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and past president of the Eastern Oklahoma chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  

GTR Media Group photo
NEWSPAPER HEADQUARTERS: The Tulsa Tribune opened this building in 1924 to house Tulsa’s evening newspaper headquarters. In 1941 the Tribune entered into a joint operating agreement with the morning Tulsa World and the two companies established the Newspaper Printing Corporation. With the agreement, the Tribune moved its operation to the Tulsa World headquarters in downtown Tulsa. The Tribune ceased operations in 1997.

For 77 years, Tulsa had an evening newspaper called the Tulsa Tribune. I always had a strong affinity for the Tribune, probably because I spent my after school high school years folding and throwing Tribune papers for my 132 customers.
My delivery was by bicycle except on really cold days. Then I was allowed to use my parent’s 1952 stick shift Plymouth. My customers expected and demanded front porch paper placement. I promised my dad that my carrier (newspaper speak for paper boy) earnings would go to my college savings account.
As his part of the bargain, he provided me with an allowance and spending money.
The Tulsa Tribune began operation in 1920. The editor and publisher, Richard Lloyd Jones, a cousin of Frank Lloyd Wright was responsible for the only Frank Lloyd Wright project, his residence, Westhope, in Tulsa.
The Tribune built an imposing six-story building at 20 East Archer Street in 1924, which was originally the southwest corner of Boston Avenue and Archer Street. Two floors were dedicated to massive printing presses and other related equipment. The others provided space for staff bullpens and offices.
Faced in red brick, the exterior is accented with warm beige limestone trim. A series of tall brick arches with scrolled stone keystones define the first two floors.
Eight arches face Archer on the north. Four arches complete the east façade. Between arches is a brick pilaster with a stone Ionic scroll capital and base.
Centered at the north elevation is the main entrance framed with Ionic stone columns supporting a stone architrave with intaglio letters indicating “Tribune.” Above the architrave is a projecting steel canopy providing weather shelter for staff and visitors.
Glazing within the arches is accomplished with glass set in steel framing. A transition spandrel separating the floors creates handsome half-round windows for the second floor.
Above the arches is a heavy limestone band with dentil molding and round medallions. This is surmounted with four floors of paired double hung steel windows with limestone sills.
Stone-facing beginning immediately below window pairs sets the top floor apart from the rest of the building. Above the sixth floor window heads is a very massive projecting limestone cornice with more dentil molding. A high mechanical penthouse projects above the roof in a central location.
Sadly, the Tribune published its final edition in 1997. In the early 2000s, the American Residential Group, under the leadership of Steve Ganzkow, succeeded in getting the former Tribune Building, which was in near derelict condition, listed on the National Register. Soon afterwards the building was converted to urban lofts and dwelling spaces, one of the first historic building rehab projects in Tulsa as our city slowly began developing new downtown living spaces.