Tulsa Union Depot
Tulsa Union Depot, 2009
|Other names||Tulsa Union Station|
|Location||111 East 1st St, Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|Status||School and Museum|
|Opened||May 13, 1931|
|Closed||May 13, 1967|
The Tulsa Union Depot (also known as the Tulsa Union Station) is the former central railway station for Tulsa, Oklahoma. It has since been turned into an office building. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is currently headquartered in the former Depot.
The Depot was built in 1931 by the Public Works Administration and was considered "the single best PWA symbol of hope for economic recovery during the bleak days of the depression." It cost $3.5 million, paid for by a bond issue passed in 1927. The Depot was the first central station in the city of Tulsa, and it unified the small Frisco, Katy, and Santa Fe depots. Upon its completion, a crowd of over 60,000 people came to see the opening ceremonies, which included speeches, singing, dancing, and Indian stomp dancing. The event was even broadcast on radio. A new locomotive was unveiled, and the locomotive said to have brought the first passenger train into the city (Frisco's "Old 94") was showcased. The depot opened "Tulsa's important front door." At its peak, the depot served 36 trains a day.
Because of declining passenger train travel and the rise of air travel and the Interstate Highway system, the depot was abandoned after hosting its last passenger train in 1967. In 1980, the Williams Companies purchased the structure, and tasked designer Urban Design Group and contractor Manhattan Construction (the same company that built the depot in 1931) with restoring the same. In 1983 after completion, those companies leased space to make it their headquarters and offices.
In 2004 Tulsa County purchased the building from the Williams Companies for $2.2 million, and used the balance of $4 million in Vision 2025 funds for renovations. The building was turned over to the Tulsa County Industrial Authority, which then signed a 99-year lease with the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame for $1. The Jazz Hall began operations at the site in 2007, though did not formally take control of the building until 2009. The lease calls for the Jazz Hall to cover its own operating expenses; and, some controversy has arisen on occasions when bill payments have been late. The Jazz Hall now calls the building the Jazz Depot.
With possible restoration of passenger train service to Tulsa, Tulsa city councilors have discussed the likelihood of using a portion of the Jazz Depot for its original purpose, serving as a downtown rail terminal for the city.
The Depot was built in an Art-Deco style by architect R.C. Stephens of St. Louis, MO. The Manhattan Construction Company served as the general contractor. The Art-Deco Style with machine styled elements was very popular, even a "something of a mania" in Tulsa.
- Curtis, Gene (May 2, 2007). "Only in Oklahoma: By any name, Tulsa's rail facility was a jewel". Tulsa World.
- "Tulsa Union Depot". Tulsa Preservation Commission. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- Wallis, Michael (2007). Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation: Writings from America's Heartland. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 133–134. ISBN 978-0-8061-3824-4. Retrieved June 25, 2010 – via Google Books.
- Underwood, Bill (March 19, 1997). "Union Depot Train Station Rescued by Williams Companies After Years of Neglect". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
- Hylton, Susan (May 18, 2004). "Jazz hall to call depot its home". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
- Canfield, Kevin (May 30, 2010). "Deal near for jazz nonprofit to run depot". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
- Canfield, Kevin (October 15, 2012). "Jazz Hall pays bills, will remain at Union Depot". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
- Wade, Jarrel (December 5, 2014). "Council discusses potential train station for downtown Tulsa". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 10, 2015.