By Susan Eberman – For Antique Trader
When the state’s first oil well was drilled here in 1897, a huge oil boom followed. The city’s largest employer remains Conoco-Phillips, founded in 1917 as Phillips Petroleum. Today visitors can see original furnishings in the 26-room Frank Phillips Historic Home, built by the company’s founder in 1909. Phillips named his nearby country estate Woolaroc after woods, lakes and rocks. Today Woolaroc Ranch and Museum is a 3,600-acre wildlife preserve that’s home to 700 species of animals, as well as the site of a museum with a world-class collection of Western art and artifacts.
Bartlesville is the only place in the world where you can book a hotel room in a structure designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Inspired by a tree, the 221-foot-tall Price Tower is designed with thirty 60-degree triangles. It was originally built for pipeline construction pioneer H.C. Price as his company’s headquarters. When it was completed in 1956, it changed not only the horizon of the Oklahoma prairie but also the world of architecture. Wright designed many other skyscrapers, but this is the only tall building he actually completed. Today you can check into a truly unique room at the Inn at Price Tower, or view modern art exhibits at the Price Tower Art Center.
Founded by the Creek Indians, Tulsa boomed after oil was discovered here in 1901. The world’s most comprehensive collection of American Indian and Western art is at the Gilcrease Museum. The Richardson Asian Art Museum, The Ida Dennis Willis Museum of Miniature Dolls and Toys, and the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art have noteworthy specialty collections. Philbrook Museum of Art is one of only five American art museums that combine a historic home, gardens and a world-renowned art collection. This Tuscan-style estate was built in 1927 by oil baron Waite Phillips. Located on the upper level of Promenade Mall, the International Linen Registry Museum displays antique linens and needlework from around the world. The Tulsa Air and Space Museum showcases the area’s aerospace heritage. See Spartan C-2 and C-3 aircraft that were made in Tulsa during the 1930s.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, formerly the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, has tripled in size during the past decade. Major exhibition galleries include the American Cowboy Gallery, the American Rodeo Gallery and the Western Performers Gallery. An architectural masterpiece located across the street from the state capitol building, the Oklahoma History Center is an 18-acre, 215,000 square-foot learning facility that explores Oklahoma’s unique heritage. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was created to honor “those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever” by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Oklahoma has two museums dedicated exclusively to Route 66, the historic highway that linked Chicago and Los Angeles. Open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City displays historical documents, antique cars and other memorabilia from all eight states on “The Mother Road.” The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton focuses on transportation and Oklahoma’s portion of Route 66. See “the world’s largest curio cabinet” offering special treasures collected from along the route. Listen to an audio tour written and narrated by Michael Wallis, author of Route 66: The Mother Road, as you explore six decades of history.
Fort Sill was established in 1869 as a cavalry outpost. African-American men known as Buffalo Soldiers were stationed here in the 1870s and provided major assistance in the construction of the post. Forty-six of the original structures are still in use and in mint condition at the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum. The Post Quadrangle features historic homes, museum buildings and the Post Chapel.