My Little Corner of the Net

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Villa Philbrook

My son and I spent the other day exploring one of Tulsa's treasures, the Villa Philbrook.  The Villa was built by oil tycoon Waite Phillips back in 1926.  Waite was a founder of Phillips Petroleum and was one of the richest men in the U.S. during this period in our history.

The architect was Edward Buehler Delk and the home was built in a Mediterranean or Italian Villa style.  Today it serves as one of America's great museums.

Most of the ceilings in the original house are hand painted.

Here is a photograph of the stained glass window at the stair landing.  Two large tapestries flank each side of of the great hall as it opens up to the second floor.

The inspiration for the carved marble columns in the entry hall are the columns that surround the Pope's Alter in St Peter's Basilica.

The stone on the floor is called Pink Kasota

The original house was 72 rooms and built on 23 acres on the then outskirts of downtown Tulsa.  The Phillips family lived there for about 10 years before moving to a penthouse apartment in downtown Tulsa and giving the home and grounds to the city to be used as a museum and place for public gatherings. 

This photo shows the richness of the textured wall coverings and woodwork and one of the mansion's great fireplaces in the living room.

 The ceiling is beautiful with it's hand painted details and is actually stucco.

The immense house, with its spacious rooms, wide corridors and great halls, was a natural home for a museum and, due to its steel and concrete framework, minimal remodeling was required to transform the Villa into an art museum. In 1939, Villa Philbrook was opened to the public as The Philbrook Museum of Art 

The entry hall boasts an organ which can be closed off behind paneled doors.  There are decorative screens on either side for the pipes.

 There is also a decorative door in the entry hall that allows access to the organ pipes.

Opposite the organ is a massive fireplace.  It is currently where Santa was greeting guests when he was not on cookie breaks !

Here is a photo of the globe chandelier in the paneled library.  It features Leonardo da Vinci's map of the world.

Across the hall from the living room is the music room which features hand painted murals on each wall.

The former sun porch features an original glass tile floor.  The current Christmas tree looks great on the tile and lights below change color.  It was the dance floor.

Upstairs, Cole found a pair of bronze guard dogs

This photo shows another room upstairs which features hexagonal tile on the floor, another great fireplace and yet another painted ceiling.  

 Here is a detail of the painted ceiling which originally was part of the dining room ceiling.  It was moved to this location in the 1942.

The lower level originally featured the automobile entrance, a billiards room and a gymnasium.  Today the lower level houses part of the Southwest collection and native American collection including the Sana Fe room pictured below.  It is quite a contrast to the European styles featured on the upper floors.

I had the privilege of working for the design firm that designed the addition to the museum in the early 1990's.  

The addition also included a new entry, more gallery space, offices, an auditorium, conference spaces,  an underground parking structure and a restaurant.

 This view shows the original front door to the estate.  It is not as ornate as the rear of the house.

This view shows the rear of the estate which overlooks one of the formal gardens.

Visit my blog with historic photos of the estate  Here..


  1. Dear Troy,

    Thanks for sharing this building. It's impressive.
    I can't wait to see te garden.

    Greetings Dorien

  2. Your "tours" always make me want to visit...splendid, Tony!

  3. Philbrook is one of my favorite places. I live nearby and have visited many times but you told me many things I did not know. Thanks for a fine post.

    1. Thanks Bill, I purchased a book on the history of the museum a few years ago. I will put a few more tidbits when I post some of the historic photos.

  4. Wow, That globe lamp is incredible! So good to see the two post to compare, I wonder if there are any photos of the Phillips when they used the mansion? Dying to see what a dance looed like. Thank you and your Assistant! CM

  5. Hello Troy!
    Amazing pictures. It is such a wonderful building and really a work of art.
    I'd move in today if I could!
    Big hug,

  6. Absolument splendide.

  7. What an amazing building. So many wonderful features. I love the globe chandelier. I'd love to see it in real life if I ever get over to America one day.

  8. Better taste than the Hearst Castle.