Original Home Federal Building Has Staying Power
When I was a young architect, I met and worked (through a mutual non-profit volunteer organization) with a remarkable woman, Phyllis Edmonds.
She had recently retired from a long career with Home Federal Savings & Loan (later to become Sooner Federal) where she was one of the first women to break the glass ceiling of upper management to become head of marketing.
One of her most successful projects was the creation of a new company headquarters building at the corner of Fourth Street and Boston Avenue.
Home Federal was founded in 1920 and grew to be one of the largest savings and loan businesses in Oklahoma with more than 28 branches throughout the eastern portion of the state, some of which were designed by my architectural firm.
In 1965, the company purchased the site of the former Pioneer Telephone Building and retained the architectural firm of McCune, McCune and Associates to design the new Home Federal Savings & Loan Building. The project was completed in 1967.
This building was a handsome 12-story glass curtain wall structure presumed to have been inspired by the Ludwig Mies Vander Rohe’s famous 1958 New York Seagram Building on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The McCune brothers (sons of Malcolm McCune who designed Utica Square) had recently designed a major children’s wing addition to the Boston Avenue Church, the Shell Building, John Knox Presbyterian Church and had been heavily involved in the design of Tulsa’s new Civic Center.
The simplicity of the Home Federal building is striking. Even more so is its color. Its skin was originally bronze aluminum with dark gray glazing and dark gray polished concrete aggregate at its south end. Age and weathering have given the aluminum and concrete exterior a pleasing bronze green color, which boldly contrasts with buildings nearby.
The restroom and elevator core of this structure was placed at its southern end, unlike the typical center core design of most high-rises. At the exterior, it appears as a separate element, which can be identified by its unbroken wrap of concrete. Beyond this element are five bays of slender aluminum faced columns at the east and west elevations and three bays at the north elevation. Within each bay is a pair of single glazed curtain wall glass panels with bronze colored spandrels. The exterior columns create a strong vertical appearance.
There is no penthouse apartment at the top of this building. Rather there is a VIP conference boardroom suite with a pegged oak plank floor, a large fireplace with a brass and copper hood and 18 foot high walnut wall panels.
Sadly, Home Federal is no more. After the name change to Sooner Federal, in the 1990’s the company was taken over by BOK and 4th Finance of Wichita, Kansas. BOK acquired 19 Sooner branches and 4th acquired the other nine. The headquarters building was finally purchased by a development company owned by the Hawkins family. For many years it had a commercial office occupancy. Today the interior is being remodeled to create a 103-unit hotel to be called Hyatt Place.