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Price Tower: Wright and Wrong

Spending the night with Frank Lloyd Wright



 



The Bartlesville landmark named Price Tower, commissioned from legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, served as offices for the H.C. Price International Pipeline Company for a quarter-century, from 1956 to 1981.
 

When the Price businesses relocated to Dallas in 1981, Phillips Petroleum purchased the 19-story tower. After falling into disrepair, it was refurbished in 2000 and donated the following year to the nonprofit Price Tower Arts Center, formerly known as the Bartlesville Museum.

The transformation of the Price Tower into a gallery and hotel was led by New York-based architect Wendy Evans Joseph, who strove to avoid a sense of “Fake Lloyd Wright” while updating offices into guest lodgings.

The beautifully renovated 21-room boutique hotel, named the Inn at Price Tower, opened in 2003. And it’s unique in one sense, but possibly not the one you’re thinking of.



THE CLAIM: Bartlesville’s Price Tower is “the only one of Wright’s structures where you can book a hotel stay.”

THE SOURCE: “First, Best & Only,” published by the State of Oklahoma Tourism Department, travelok.com

FACT CHECK: False
 


It’s his only skyscraper, but the Bartlesville building is not the only Wright creation welcoming overnight guests: 515 miles northeast of Price Tower is the Iowa town of Mason City, home to The Park Inn.

Planned by Wright in his early 30s, the landmark hotel opened its doors in 1910. Of the six hotels for which Wright was the architect of record, it is the only one left standing.

A 33-year-old Wright envisioned The Park Inn as home to a bank, law offices and a hotel with 41 rooms, each measuring 10 feet by 10 feet. Scholars consider its design as inspiration for later work at Chicago’s Midway Gardens and Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. After a gala opening and several years of brisk business, The Park Inn was converted into rental apartments before falling onto even harder times and closing in 1972.  

Following decades of neglect – and attempts to find a buyer that included a 2004 listing of the property on eBay, with a minimum bid of $10 million – Mason City residents took charge and formed the nonprofit Wright on the Park to spearhead the restoration. Bolstered by state grants and tax credits, original architectural elements and stained glass windows were tracked down, and the hotel rooms were combined and refashioned into 27 modern suites.

The Park Inn reopened in 2011, after an $18.1 million restoration and under the approval of the Wright Foundation. The building is credited with sparking an economic renaissance in Mason City, which bills itself as home of “the last Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built hotel in the world.”

Around the nation, several Frank Lloyd Wright structures also are available to rent for the night. Among them: Palmer House in Ann Arbor, the Emil Bach House in Chicago, the Writer’s Cabin at Montana’s Alpine Meadows Ranch and the Duncan House in Western Pennsylvania’s Polymath Park, not far from Fallingwater.

So even if you find yourself far from the Sooner State, you can still get the Wright kind of sleep at night.


The Price Tower wasn’t meant to be a hotel. It wasn’t even meant to be a skyscraper.

Bartlesville businessman Harold Price’s vision for his pipeline company’s new corporate headquarters was a straightforward low-rise: maybe three stories tall, maybe four, with 8,000 or so square feet per floor. Budget: $750,000.

Bruce Goff, the dean of Oklahoma architects, was approached by the family to take on the project. But he suggested they might want to discuss their plans with America’s best-known architect: Frank Lloyd Wright, then in his 80s. And they did.

The result made history.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth and the 61st anniversary of the unveiling of the Price Tower, at Sixth Street and Dewey Avenue in Bartlesville.

The building’s design was based on a concept Wright had devised in 1929, just before the stock market crash, for an unbuilt New York skyscraper. The octogenarian was thrilled to resurrect his quarter-century-old design on the Oklahoma prairie. Final total cost: $2.1 million. Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum and the Price Tower would be Wright’s last major projects before his death three years later at the age of 91.

It was dedicated on Feb. 10, 1956, and would be his only realized skyscraper. He liked to call it “the tree that escaped the forest.”

 

The most famous of Frank Lloyd Wright’s six hotels was the 280-room Imperial Hotel, completed in 1923 across 40 acres of central Tokyo. Soon after its opening, the hotel became one of a handful of major buildings to survive the city’s 7.9-magnitude Great Kantō Earthquake. Damage was repaired after incendiary bombs hit the hotel’s south wing in 1945, during World War II. Over the years, however, the building’s foundation had sunk more than 40 inches (that’s not ideal). The hotel was demolished in 1968 to make way for a new high-rise. Its front lobby and reflecting pool were saved by Dr. Yoshiro Taniguchi and Motou Tsuchikawa, and remain on display at the Museum Meiji-Mura near Nagoya.

 

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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
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Sponsor: BigWing
Telephone: 405.475.4185
Contact Name: Janelle Archer
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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
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Sponsor: Santa Fe Family Life Center
Telephone: 405-840-1817
Contact Name: James Timberlake
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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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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 »

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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 »

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

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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
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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

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