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Memories of Hightower

Remembering OKC's pinnacle of upscale shopping



 



 WE PUT THE ‘PING’ in ‘shopping.’ And the zing. And the zest.”
 

That was the slogan for Hightower, an upscale boutique nestled in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. Beginning in 1956, Frank Hightower and his wife, Dannie Bea, set up shop in a charming three-story chateau at 412 Colcord Street, next door to the Hightower Building at 105 N. Hudson.

“The building was originally home to the Woodmansee-Abbott Music Company,” Hightower’s son, Johnson, tells 405 Magazine. “Dad bought it and remodeled the entire north façade because he wanted the appearance of a New York storefront. He and my mother traveled extensively and understood exquisitely crafted products – merchandise unavailable here at that time. So he decided he would bring it to Oklahoma City.”

When Hightower opened, the shop carried the finest Baccarat crystal, Old Sheffield silver and Royal Worcester china. A 1967 catalog lists a Vacheron & Constantin 18k gold timepiece for $1,395, while a pair of Edward Marshall Boehm porcelain songbirds sold for $3,500. (That’s the same buying power as roughly a quarter of a million dollars today.) And jewelry designer Julius Cohen traveled regularly from New York to design custom jewelry for store patrons.

“Mom was actively involved in buying but not in business operations; that was Dad’s domain,” Hightower says. “Dad ultimately hired a young New York merchandiser, Art Cella, as store manager, and they all would take trips routinely to the big city to find attractive lines to broaden inventory. Art was a big guy, and he would grab them both by the arms as they bustled through the crowded merchandise districts.”

The shop evolved with the times, Hightower said, with a new kitchen department that looked surprisingly like Williams Sonoma of today.

“We were the first merchandiser of the Cuisinart in Oklahoma, shortly after French chef Simone Beck delivered one to Dad after her cooking demonstration in Oklahoma City,” Hightower remembers. “We still have it, although it’s not in very good shape anymore. Another expansion was devoted to leather, including luggage by Fulton and desk accessories by Cross and The Alex. By then, the shop had grown to occupy the entire ground floor of both buildings. All was a testament to Dad’s vision and his conviction that our city wanted this.”

By 1980, Hightower says there was little support for high-end retail downtown, and his father decided to close.

“Penn Square Mall had many choices, Nichols Hills Plaza offered new boutiques and the ladies didn’t need to travel downtown anymore to shop,” Hightower said. “Quite a few still made a day of it – coming to The Cellar for lunch and then shopping at Hightower – but for the most part, downtown had become a place to drive to work and drive home at the end of the day.”

Today, the building’s façade remains largely as it was during its retail heyday. The crystal, silver, china and jewelry are long gone, and today the space is a multi-tenant office property still owned and managed by the Hightower family.

“For Dad, it was a labor of love bringing fine things to Oklahoma City. When he made the decision to close, which was announced by personal letter to all store patrons, many sent responding letters thanking him for his many years of service,” Hightower says. “It truly was the end of an era.”

 

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Calendar

September 2018

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

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This year will mark the eighth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated, honoring individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying...

Cost: $300

Where:
Skirvin Hilton Hotel
1 Park Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
Website »

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More than 20 speakers in a one-track session designed for the digital marketing professional, marketer, business owner or anyone interested in branding, PR, advertising, social media, SEO, search,...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tower Theatre
425 NW 23rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

A fabulous art auction to raise money to help support Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO.

Cost: $100

Where:
CHK|Central Boathouse
732 Riversport Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73129
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma A+ Schools at UCO
Telephone: 405.974.3791
Contact Name: Heather Bryant
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

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Join supporters in communities across the nation for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This family-friendly event raises funds to support the...

Cost: $10 for adults or children six and older

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive
Oklahoma City , OK  73116
View map »


Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Let’s end childhood cancer. Together! This September, supporters across the country will unite to participate in the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer, an exciting, family-friendly...

Cost: $10 for Registration

Where:
Stars and Stripes Park
3701 S Lake Hefner Dr
Oklahoma City, OK  73116
View map »


Sponsor: ALSAC St. Jude Oklahoma City
Telephone: 405.403.7762
Contact Name: Emily Drover
Website »

More information

Price Tower Art Gallery in Bartlesville will host Women Artists of the West's 48th annual juried art exhibition, featuring over 200 original art works, created by women in all mediums, subjects...

Cost: Free 2018-09-21,22,23

Where:
Price Tower Art Gallery
510 S. Dewey Ave.
Bartlesville, OK  74003
View map »


Sponsor: Price Tower Arts Center
Telephone: 918.336.4949
Contact Name: Angelina Bourgou
Website »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the viewing deck and listen...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
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