Oklahoma City Historical Buildings (Self Guided), Oklahoma City

Home to an attractive variety of historic edifices, the capital of Oklahoma State provides interesting sightseeing opportunities for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. Eye-catching religious sights and magnificent structures of great architectural and historic significance abound in downtown OKC. Take this self-guided walk to check out some of the top historical buildings of Oklahoma City.
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Oklahoma City Historical Buildings Map

Guide Name: Oklahoma City Historical Buildings
Guide Location: USA » Oklahoma City (See other walking tours in Oklahoma City)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: Sandra
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Henry Overholser Mansion
  • Robert A. Hefner Mansion
  • First Lutheran Church
  • First Baptist Church
  • First Christian Church
  • Central High School Building
  • St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral
  • E. K. Gaylord Building
  • First United Methodist Church
  • St Joseph's Old Cathedral
  • Federal Courthouse and Old Post Office
  • Oklahoma County Courthouse
  • First National Center
  • Skirvin Hotel
1
Henry Overholser Mansion

1) Henry Overholser Mansion (must see)

The Henry Overholser Museum is a beautiful historical mansion dating back to 1903. Today, the Oklahoma Historical Society owns the home, and Preservation Oklahoma, Inc. manages the property. Henry Overholser and his wife, Anna, were responsible for the construction of this mansion. This property has been a significant historical site accessible to the public since 1972.

The mansion's exterior has seen full restoration to help preserve its historical character. Several of the home's chimneys, the roof, and the windows have also been restored, helping to preserve the property's unique character. This preservation is important for maintaining the house's condition because of its place in educating the public about Oklahoma City.

This home sits on land acquired during the Great Land Run in 1889. The architectural style is a unique mixture of Chateau and Queen Anne in a stunning Victorian setting. During the time the Overholser family lived in the home, it was a major center for social events. The interior and the grounds stand as a testament to the home's historical importance.

All tours of this home are guided and include the first floor only. Italian light fixtures grace the home's rooms and perfectly complement the period decor. Hand-painted ceilings are also a vital part of the decor. Belgian woodwork and French stained-glass windows are also popular features.

Visitors will also be able to see the original English carpeting and furniture that the family used, as well as a grand piano. The walls feature canvas painting, with ornate features. Touring this mansion is the perfect way to get a look into the past.

Why You Should Visit

Henry Overholser Mansion has beautifully preserved historical furniture and artifacts, and is an excellent example of a distinctive architecture for its time.

Tips

Take the time to look at the original paintings on display in the living areas.
2
Robert A. Hefner Mansion

2) Robert A. Hefner Mansion

The Robert A. Hefner Museum dates back to 1917 and was Mr. Hefner's home from 1927 to 1947. This home's style is Greek Revival, designed by Albert F. Stewart. Over time, the building has served as a home to the Oklahoma Historical Association Hall of Fame.

Today, the home is owned by St. Luke's United Methodist Church, where it plays a significant role in the congregation's mission. One of the focal areas inside the house is the chapel, which the family donated. Baptisms, prayer, and meditation take place here regularly.

Visitors will enjoy being able to tour the grounds, which stand out as one of the city's top contemplative spaces. The courtyard is paved with bricks, many of which commemorate the loved ones of church members.

The statue known as the "Christmas Box Angel" that author Richard Paul Evans donated has its home on the museum grounds. Prayer and reflection are favorite activities for people who visit these grounds.
3
First Lutheran Church

3) First Lutheran Church

First Lutheran Church was constructed around 1912. It is an early religious structure facing North Robinson Avenue, next block north of the First Baptist Church. It features two Gothic style front towers, gable roof covered with red tiles, a combination of lancet, tall, narrow and rectangular windows, and the creamy colour of the facades. The church interior also has creamy shades of the ceiling and walls contrasting the dark altar, paintings and stained-glass windows.
4
First Baptist Church

4) First Baptist Church

This church is the largest religious complex located in the historic and cultural center of Oklahoma City occupying the entire block along North Robinson Avenue. It is home to the First Baptist Church established just after the 1889 Land Run. The church construction began soon after its founding.

The neo-Gothic brick building that houses the sanctuary has two front towers with entrances, gable roof covered with red tiles, and a concordant combination of arched and rectangular openings. The First Baptist Church is known for its interior comprising a substantial row of sumptuous stained-glass windows from 1910, the immense pipe organ of 1989, and the timber framework support the high ceiling.
5
First Christian Church

5) First Christian Church

City Church is located on the intersection of Northwest 10th Street and North Robinson Avenue. This century–old downtown Oklahoma City landmark was home to several churches since 1910. Originally the home of First Christian Church, today it houses a protestant non-denominational congregation.

It is notable for its original white façade with six Corinthian columns at the front, lofty foreside staircase, massive entablature, gilded center cupola set on cylindrical base, and smaller corner turrets similar to the main one. This city landmark was restored after the 1995 bombing to retain all its initial glory. City Church is also known for its brilliant stained glass depicting key scenes and figures in Christian history.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
6
Central High School Building

6) Central High School Building

Central High School building is situated downtown, two blocks north of the well-known National Memorial. This magnificent structure was built in 1911, one of the oldest buildings in Oklahoma City. Its architecture represents Late Gothic Revival. This symmetrical structure has prominent portico entrances facing Robinson Avenue, 8th Street, and the main façade articulated by a central tower. Every elevation features similar repetitive façade elements. The building has served as an office building since the end of the 20th century. It was added to the National Register in 1976.
7
St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral

7) St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral is an historic church building located in Oklahoma City. It is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.

St. Paul's began as a mission in 1891. The congregation met in several locations including the federal courthouse. The first frame building for the congregation was built in 1893 and the mission was raised to parish status on May 14, 1902. The cornerstone for the present church was laid in 1903 and the first service in the building was held on March 13, 1904. The parish house was opened the same year. The Diocese of Oklahoma elected in January 1909 to make St. Paul's its Cathedral.

Arthur J. Williams designed the church in the Norman Gothic style. The exterior features a Norman style tower. The interior has two Tiffany windows behind the altar. Stained glass windows on the Gospel side of the Church depict the Evangels: St. John, St. Paul and St. Luke. The windows on the Epistle side depict events from the life of Christ including the Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection. The altar, pulpit and the baptismal font are carved from Carrara marble.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
E. K. Gaylord Building

8) E. K. Gaylord Building

This impressive symmetrical building is located in the heart of the city facing 4th Street and Broadway Avenue. It was named after E. K. Gaylord. The Gaylord family owned this 5-storey tower that was constructed in 1909 and housed the local publishing empire.

E. K. Gaylord Building is also known as Daily Oklahoman and OPUBCO building. The historic building has front applied columns with richly adorned chapters separating rows of window openings, the upper floor is lined with cornices and balustrade, and there are refined entrances on two main facades.

The building is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
9
First United Methodist Church

9) First United Methodist Church

The church is located close to the City National Memorial at the corner of Robinson Avenue and 4th Street. The original structure was built at the end of the 19th century, after the Land Run of 1889. This historic church is a witness of the nation’s most challenging events. Its sanctuary and adjacent education building was badly damaged by the bombing in April 1995, and was essentially rebuilt and significantly enlarged.

The distinguished configuration of this church includes built-in corner and central towers of different shapes. The brick structure with white elements features an imposing portico entrance introducing the grand staircase, a significant rose window both on the front facade and its western side, and stained-glass windows.
10
St Joseph's Old Cathedral

10) St Joseph's Old Cathedral

St. Joseph Old Cathedral is a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City located in downtown Oklahoma City. It was the seat of the 'Diocese of Oklahoma City-Tulsa' from 1905-1931 and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The church was constructed of Coffeyville brick in the Gothic Revival style. It features a central tower with a spire that is flanked by two shorter towers that are crenellated at the top. The building measures 137 by 64 feet.

St. Joseph's Old Cathedral was extensively damaged when a bomb exploded at the nearby Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. Most of the stained glass windows on the east side of the church were shattered, and the pipe organ was extensively damaged. The explosion raised the roof several inches off its steel pillars and several of the rafters were broken. Plaster fell from the walls and ceiling and the painted, symbolic plaster medallions were destroyed.

The church was closed for nearly two years. A statue carved from Italian marble entitled And Jesus Wept was created to commemorate the event and is adjacent to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It was dedicated in May 1997 and the church was rededicated on December 1 of the same year.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Federal Courthouse and Old Post Office

11) Federal Courthouse and Old Post Office

The Federal Courthouse is a historic post office, courthouse, and Federal office building built in 1912. It previously served as a courthouse of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, and of the United States Court of Appeals, briefly housing the Eighth Circuit and, then the Tenth Circuit for several decades. It continues to house the Bankruptcy court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

The Federal Courthouse was the first monumental structure in Oklahoma City and served as an anchor for future federal development. This landmark building was designed by James Knox Taylor. The building was constructed in 1912 in the Beaux Arts Classicism style. This style of architecture was commonly used for important public buildings from the end of the 19th century until the early years of the 20th century. The building's symmetry, monumental form, balustrade, and pilasters (attached columns) are characteristic of Beaux Arts Classicism.

As part of the 1932 expansion, a centrally placed tower was added over the 1919 addition. The tower features stylized decorative motifs that are characteristic of Art Deco architecture, which emphasizes the verticality of the design and incorporates Classical forms while minimizing ornate elements.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Oklahoma County Courthouse

12) Oklahoma County Courthouse

Oklahoma County Courthouse was designed by prominent Oklahoma architect Solomon Layton, and was built in 1937. It replaced the original courthouse located at the intersection of California and Robinson. The building is located on Park Avenue and paid for with a bond issue and money from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a federal program to create jobs in The Great Depression.

The 11-floor concrete courthouse building is considered art deco and art moderne. Quotes are inscribed in the sandy-brown Indiana limestone and a carved mural depicts a scene of Oklahoma friendship between a Native American figure and a Mountain Man.

The building is said to be loosely abstracted from stepped-back Mayan temples and includes a two-story lobby with terrazzo floor with a compass design as well as abstracted wagon wheel chandeliers and third story overlooks.

The courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
First National Center

13) First National Center

The First National Center, formerly known as First National Bank Building, is a prominent skyscraper in downtown of the city. The art deco tower is 446 feet (136 m) tall at the roof, and is 493 feet (150 m) at its spire and contains 33 floors. The building was constructed in 1931 by the First National Bank and Trust Company of Oklahoma City.

First National Center was built with an Art Deco, Neoclassical style inside and out, featuring polished aluminum, granite, glass and several varieties of marble from around the world. Rising 446 feet above the sidewalk, the building was topped out with an aluminum aviation tower and a red beacon light above a polished aluminum notched roof line. The aviation tower originally housed a massive white rotating beacon that was visible for 75 miles on a clear day.

One First National's most distinctive features is its night lighting, where the upper-story setbacks are lit white. There have been times when the lighting has changed - after 9/11, the setbacks were lit in red, white and blue tiers - which is still done on July 4. For many years, a cross was created by lighting office windows during Christmas.
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Skirvin Hotel

14) Skirvin Hotel

The Skirvin Hotel, at the corner of 1st Street and Broadway, is the city's oldest hotel. First opened in 1911, the Skirvin Hotel contained 224 rooms in a ten-story two-winged tower. A third 12-story wing was added in 1925, and then in 1929–30 all three wings were leveled off to 14 floors with a total of 525 rooms. The hotel is named for its founder, William Balser "Bill" Skirvin.

The hotel closed down in 1988 and sat abandoned for the next 19 years. It reopened 26 February 2007 after a renovation project restored the original exterior finish, installed historically accurate windows, reconfigured guest rooms and added new guest elevators.

Skirvin Hotel is one of the best known haunted places in Oklahoma City. Rumors of a haunting in the hotel persist, and have even been cited by NBA teams, notably in 2010 when the New York Knicks famously blamed their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the haunting and when the Chicago Bulls reported doors slamming shut on their own and strange sounds outside their rooms.

As the story goes, the hotel's original owner, W. B. Skirvin, had an affair with a maid named "Effie", which led to a pregnancy. To protect his reputation and avoid a scandal, Skirvin locked the maid on the 10th floor. The maid became depressed and even after the birth of her child, she was still not let out of her room. She eventually jumped out a window killing herself and the baby, without notice in newspapers.

In some versions of the legend, this maid is described as "a woman of loose morals", and men who have stayed in the hotel have reported being propositioned by a female voice while alone in their rooms. Others claim to have seen the figure of a naked woman with them while taking a shower.

Skirvin Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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