The Travel Advisory

How to see Bartlesville in style

By Wayne Curtis

Bartlesville is about an hour’s drive north of the Tulsa International Airport. Tulsa has an excellent collection of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne buildings worth lingering for, if you’re an architecture buff. The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture (www.tulsaarchitecture.com; 918-583-5550) offers a brochure and laminated map.

Inn at Price Tower (www.innatpricetower.com; 918-336-1000) has 19 rooms; prices start at $145 for a double. Tours of the tower are offered Tuesday through Sunday. The arts center, on the ground floor, has several permanent exhibitions, including an elaborate architectural model of the tower and a collection of Wright-designed office furniture.

Forty-five minutes west of town is the Nature Conservancy’s vast Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the largest such protected tract in the world. You can drive its 40 miles of gravel roads while remaining alert for some of the 2,500 free-roaming bison.

Bartlesville grew to prominence in the early 20th century, when Frank Phillips and others tapped into the tremendous reserves of oil thereabouts. Much of the oil money stayed local, and Oklahoma’s gilded age can be seen in the neoclassical Frank Phillips Home (www.frankphillipshome.org; 918-336-2491) and in Phillips’s haute-Western ranch house, Woolaroc, a rustic 1925 lodge 12 miles southwest of Bartlesville, with nearly 100 mounted heads of game on the walls (www.woolaroc.org; 918-336-0307).

More about the Phillips family and their enterprises can be found in the bright, airy, and surprisingly extensive Phillips 66 Museum, located downtown at 410 South Keeler Avenue. Architecture fans will like the exhibit depicting the evolution of the prototype gas station, from faux-Cotswold cottage to mid-century batwing (www.phillips66museum.com; 918-661-8687).

Among the early residents of Price Tower was Bruce Goff, an impossible-to-categorize architect who practiced from the 1920s into the 1960s, in styles ranging from Art Deco to intergalactic. A number of his striking homes are in and around Bartlesville, though none are open to the public. However, you can stop inside the education building of his Redeemer Lutheran Church, built partly with blue-green cullet glass, and you can find a compendium of his other buildings at www.brucegoffbartlesville.blogspot.com.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/the-travel-advisory/306842/