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Memories of The Magnolia

Remembering OKC’s drive-through grande dame



 



It’s difficult now to imagine a time before drive-through, pump-it-yourself gas stations. You know the kind – park, fill up, then go inside and treat yourself to a Big Gulp.
 

One of the first of these “filling stations” was in downtown Oklahoma City at NW 7th and Broadway. The Magnolia Building was the regional headquarters for Magnolia Petroleum, which later became Mobil Oil. And on the ground floor, motorists in early 20th century Oklahoma could drive through and fill up their swanky Model Ts.

“The first level served as one of the city’s first drive-through service stations,” says Cy Prigmore, events coordinator for the newly renovated Magnolia Building. “The building was designed with archways that allowed you to drive right through and fill up. It was truly an innovative design for the day, and operated from 1919 until as recently as 1960.”

The five-story brick building sits in the heart of Automobile Alley. It was designed by Hawk-Parr Architects, a local firm that was responsible for a number of Oklahoma landmarks between 1915 and 1935.

“The Magnolia is one of their earliest and last surviving structures,” Prigmore says. “Some of their other works include Oklahoma City’s Municipal Auditorium, Guthrie’s Scottish Rite Hall and the fabulous Biltmore Hotel, which was demolished in the 1970s. The Magnolia was completed in about a year at a cost of $150,000.”

Besides being a drive-through service station, the second floor functioned as the headquarters for Hawk-Parr, and the top floors were reserved for Magnolia Petroleum’s land office records, legal department and an office for exploration.

“They were one of the top oil producers of their day,” Prigmore continues, “comparable today to Chesapeake or Devon. They got their start in Texas and expanded into Oklahoma, and by the time the Magnolia Building was built, their refinery capacity amounted to 47,000 barrels a day.”


During the chaotic Urban Renewal days of the 1960s, many Oklahoma City landmarks fell to the wrecking ball. But the Magnolia survived since it was technically not located within the “urban core,” Prigmore said.

Like many other structures downtown, the Magnolia suffered extensive damage during the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.

“It was just a few blocks from the Murrah Building, and had a lot of damage,” Prigmore remembers. “The roof was damaged, the windows were blown out – but it survived. Major renovations began to take place, and today we are home to law firms, advertising companies [and] an independent oil company, as well as a communications technology provider. And the Fit Pig restaurant occupies part of the first floor.”

Today local businessman Chris Salyer owns the building. He was on the founding team and past president of Automobile Alley Inc., a National Main Street Program dedicated to the restoration and revitalization of downtown Oklahoma City.

An event space occupies the top floor and is frequently used for everything from fashion shows to weddings. The nearly 100-year-old arches remain on the ground floor, and the space where motorists once filled their tanks is now a drive-through for First Fidelity Bank.

“I love this building,” Prigmore says. “It has really gone through a renaissance in the last few years. I consider it the grande dame of Automobile Alley and also just a beautiful reminder of historic downtown Oklahoma City and the way things used to be.”

 

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Calendar

September 2018

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

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Organizations making a positive impact on the health of Oklahomans will be honored at the 2018 Champions of Health Gala. All proceeds benefit the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, a non-profit...

Cost: TBD

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Sponsor: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918.551.2164
Contact Name: Ellen Devereux

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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...
Show Less...

Take Steps is the Foundation’s largest nationwide fundraising event where patients, loved ones, friends and supporters empower and inspire each other to continue the fight against...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
Telephone: 972.386.0607
Contact Name: Jackie Peterson
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...
Show Less...
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