Photo: Homes on South Carson Avenue in the Carlton Place Historic District, Tulsa. The DIstrict was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Photographed by Cynthia Savage, 2006 for the Historic District nomination documnet, National Park Service, accessed January, 2023.
The Carlton Place Historic District [†] was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The Carlton Place Historic District, located in Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, is a small residential district located less than a mile south of downtown Tulsa. The Carlton Place Historic District covers one-and-one-half blocks of the original three block Carlton Place Addition, filed in the Tulsa County Courthouse on September 13, 1909. The historic buildings in the east half of the original addition have been demolished with large parking lots and commercial buildings taking their place; as such, none of the historic residential character of that portion of the addition remains. However, the extant part of the neighborhood forms a cohesive group of predominately Prairie School and Bungalow/Craftsman Bungalow style homes, built between 1910 and 1915.
The Carlton Place Historic District contains a total of thirty-nine buildings and one object. The buildings are all residential in nature, with the majority being single family homes. There are no historic commercial or religious buildings within the Carlton Place Historic District; one house in the district is currently used as an office. The lone object in the Carlton Place Historic District is the remaining entry gate located on the north side of the district at West 14th Street and South Carson Avenue. Of the total forty resources, twenty-four are contributing and sixteen are noncontributing. Notably, nearly half of the noncontributing resources are garage/apartments or rear properties constructed after the period of significance or sufficiently modified so as to lose their historic integrity. Within the Carlton Place Historic District, there are no resources individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The period of significance for the Carlton Place Historic District extends from 1909 to 1923. The period of significance begins when the plat of the addition was filed and, presumably, the entry gate was erected. Construction began immediately within the neighborhood as three of the extant houses were constructed by 1910. Overwhelmingly, the main properties of the Carlton Place Historic District, the houses along South Carson Avenue, were constructed by 1915. The period of significance extends beyond this, however, to include several of the rear garage/apartments built shortly after this which blend stylistically with the dominant resources in the district and retain their historic integrity. The period of significance does not extend past 1923 as only three district properties were built after this time. All of these resources are rear properties and two are stylistically classified as Minimal Traditional, an architectural style which rose to prominence in Tulsa and nationally more than a decade after the majority of houses in the Carlton Place Historic District were constructed. The other property lacks any significant distinguishing features and is classified as having No Distinctive style.
The Carlton Place Historic District is composed of one-and-one-half blocks of the Carlton Place Addition. Notably, both the west and east blocks of the addition were originally half the size of the middle block so the remaining area constituting the Carlton Place Historic District are equal size, rectangular blocks. Notably, the west block was the only block not divided by an alleyway; the middle block had a brick-lined alley which remains extant and the east block was divided by an alley which also served as the dividing line between the Carlton Place Addition and the adjoining Bayne Addition on the east side. The Carlton Place blocks are nearly double the length of the blocks to the immediate north, west and south. The blocks were designed to front the properties onto Carson Avenue with no major buildings facing onto the east-west streets of West 14th Street and West 15th Street. The lots within both remaining blocks are evenly distributed to create a discernible rhythm. The setback of the properties between the two blocks is slightly different. This is attributable to the difference in elevation of the two sides of the street. The west side is on noticeably higher ground than the east side, causing the buildings to be set farther away from the street. While the east side houses have small, flat front yards, the west side buildings have a low concrete retaining wall adjacent to the concrete sidewalk and the yards rising above with a variety of landscaping methods used to maintain the slope.
The primary street in the Carlton Place Historic District is the north-south South Carson Avenue. Notably, Carson Avenue begins only at 11th Street; as such, unlike the majority of surrounding streets, it does not continue north into downtown Tulsa. Originally, the other north-south street in the Carlton Place Historic District, Carthage Avenue, was named Perryman Avenue, after the Perryman family that owned much of the surrounding land prior to its development as part of the city of Tulsa. The name of the street was changed in about 1930 to Carthage Avenue. Carthage Avenue extends from West 13th Street to only West 15th Street. The street is also smaller than the other area streets, measuring only fifteen feet wide, compared to the sixty feet of the other north-south streets and the forty feet of the east-west streets. Although there were historically single family dwellings located on Carthage Avenue, they were only located on the west side of the street and the majority of properties, especially between 14th and 15th streets, have been demolished.
The entrances to the addition from the north originally had large, brick entry gates. Currently, only one entry gate is extant. Located just off Fourteenth Street and Carson Avenue, the tall, red brick markers have tall concrete bases and are capped with flat, decorative, concrete tops. Immediately below the concrete tops, on both sides of each marker, are two concrete tablets, the top one horizontal and the lower one vertical. The upper tablet simply has a centrally located "M." The "M" likely stands for Magee, the name of the original developer of the neighborhood. Below this, the vertical tablet reads "09," representing the year the addition was platted. Extending off the side of the markers and over the sidewalk on both sides of the street are decorative, black, wrought iron arches, held aloft by shorter, slender, red brick columns.
The Carlton Place Historic District is dominated by the Prairie School style of architecture. Of the thirty-nine buildings in the Carlton Place Historic District, twenty are classified as Prairie School style. The Prairie School style was nationally popular from about 1900 to 1920. The style is typified in the Carlton Place Historic District by simple, two-story, square plans topped by low-pitched, hipped roofs with broad, overhanging eaves. The facades are typically symmetrical with a full-width, single story front porch. The low-pitched, hipped porch roofs are usually supported by massive piers topped by wood columns. Different textured wall materials, such as a the combination of weatherboard and wood shingle found on seven houses in the district, was also a common feature of Prairie School houses.
Also representing a major architectural style in the Carlton Place Historic District are the ten Bungalow/Craftsman style houses. This style of home, extremely compatible with the Prairie School style, flourished nationally from about 1905 to 1930. The typically one-story homes with front-gabled roofs are also identified by their full-width or partial, front-gabled porch roofs supported by tapered wood columns on brick or stone piers. Decorative details common to the Bungalow/Craftsman style include exposed rafters, double and triple windows and triangular knee braces. The third most prevalent style in the Carlton Place Historic District was No Distinctive Style. The buildings, usually garage/apartments, in this style are functional in design and lack distinguishing architectural features and decorative elements. Other styles present in the Carlton Place Historic District in nominal numbers are the Colonial Revival (1), Classical Revival (1) and Minimal Traditional (2).
The boundaries of the Carlton Place Historic District conform to the original boundaries of the Carlton Place Addition, excluding the area which no longer retains its historic integrity. Although the area to the immediate north retains a predominate residential character, it is outside the original Carlton Place Addition in an addition which was platted in 1906. The Friend Addition originally extended north of 13th Street but the construction of the Inner Dispersal Loop (also known as the Broken Arrow Expressway) in 1968 resulted in the demolition of the other blocks of the addition. However, prior to this in the late 1920s/early 1930s, the single family residences which predominated in the teens, had given way to multi-family, brick, Commercial style apartment buildings which set it apart from the single family character of the Carlton Place Historic District. As mentioned previously, the area to the east of the Carlton Place Historic District, which was originally part of the addition, has been adversely affected by more recent redevelopment efforts, resulting in large black-topped parking lots and modern office buildings. The area to the west of the Carlton Place Historic District has also been radically changed with few remaining historic properties of the Carlton Place's period. Additionally, this area does not maintain the block pattern evident in the Carlton Place Historic District. West 15th Street is the natural south boundary for the Carlton Place Historic District, being not only the historic southern limits of the addition but also a four-lane thoroughfare which serves as a visual and physical barrier between residential developments in this section of Tulsa.
The properties in the Carlton Place Historic District were dated using a combination of the available city directories and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Although the directories prior to 1912 do not include a crisscross listing of the streets, the properties dated to 1910 were referenced by the name of the owner. The Carlton Place area was not included on the 1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map. However, the 1915 map did include the area, revealing that the addition was essentially fully developed by that time.
The Carlton Place Historic District retains a good degree of integrity with a sixty percent contributing rate. Of the total forty resources, only sixteen are considered noncontributing. Nearly half of the noncontributing buildings are garage/apartments or rear dwellings which are secondary to the houses along South Carson Avenue. Notably, there has been no new construction on South Carson Avenue since the end of the period of significance.
Over the passage of time, minor modifications have been made to many of the individual houses. Although each house is assessed for its overall retention of historic integrity, there are several common alterations which affect the categorization of the property as contributing or noncontributing. The most frequent alteration is the covering of the original wall material with asbestos shingle or aluminum or vinyl siding. Buildings with replacement siding are usually counted as contributing unless the replacement wall material was applied in an inappropriate manner, such as a vertical direction.
A property is almost always considered noncontributing if the front porch has been completely infilled or enclosed in a permanent manner. The permanent enclosure of the porch dramatically alters the feel and design of the house, particularly for the Prairie School and Bungalow/Craftsman style where the porch is one of the major defining features. Typically in a porch enclosure, the original openings are filled with windows and some type of filler material such as wood or brick. If the porch is only screened, this does not impact the contributing/noncontributing status of the property. The enclosure of a side porch does not have as dramatic impact on the integrity of the house and consequently does not by itself impact the contributing/noncontributing determination.
Additions to the property impact the contributing/noncontributing status of the building depending largely on the location of the addition, as well as size. If the addition is confined to the back of the property, this does not affect the status of the house. If the addition is attached to the side and alters the view of the facade, the house is typically determined to be noncontributing. A second story addition after the period of significance automatically results in the classification of the property as noncontributing due to the radical change in the building's historic design. Similar to other modifications, other types of additions are viewed on an individual basis with the deciding factor being the impact on the house's integrity of design, feeling and association.
The Carlton Place Historic District is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the community planning and development of Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the time period of 1909 to 1923. The Carlton Place Historic District is an excellent example of a small, close-in neighborhood which developed in response to the early years of the Tulsa oil boom. The discovery of oil in the Red Fork area in what is now present day Tulsa, spurred a radical explosion of the previously tiny community. Within years of the oil discovery, the areas closest to downtown Tulsa were quickly platted into residential additions with growth quickly flourishing in all directions. Although surrounded by other residential additions, the Carlton Place Historic District remained distinct, set apart by its rhythmic, cohesive buildings, long tree-lined streets and the striking entry gate on the north side.
The town of Tulsa existed as early 1879 when a post office was established on the Perryman Ranch in the Creek Nation. The town, first called "Tulsey Town," grew slowly. During the early 1880s, the town was a haven for gamblers and "bad men" due to its isolation. At the time of the first government townsite survey in Indian Territory in 1900, Tulsa's population stood at merely 1,390.
Shortly after this survey, a momentous event occurred near Tulsa, Indian Territory. This event not only had a major impact on Tulsa but the entire state of Oklahoma. In 1901, the state's first important commercial oil well blew in. Located in Red Fork, this landmark well was across the Arkansas River from Tulsa. Two years later, the Secretary of the Interior allowed the leasing of restricted Indian Territory lands under Department of the Interior supervision. The oil rush was on as oil men from Pennsylvania and other states flocked to Indian Territory. In 1904, three men built a toll bridge over the Arkansas River connecting Red Fork and Tulsa. In addition to allowing Tulsa to benefit from the Red Fork strike, the toll bridge also enabled the town to profit from the fabulous 1905 Glenn Pool strike. Within months of the discovery, the Glenn Pool field was "famous throughout the industry as the richest small field in the world."
At the time of Oklahoma's statehood in 1907, Tulsa's population had jumped to 7,298, an increase of nearly six thousand in just seven years. In just three years, Tulsa's population more than doubled to reach 18,182 in 1910. As to be expected, a major commercial and residential building boom accompanied this tremendous population boom with brick plants working at capacity. Hotels, office buildings and fine residences were under construction as the streets were paved. By late August 1910, construction activity underway in Tulsa was valued at over one million dollars. Pipelines to the Gulf of Mexico opened as oil prices climbed. In 1912, a third major oil pool, the Gushing field, blew in. Although the incredible production from the Gushing field temporarily resulted in a drop in crude oil price by 1916, the United States' entrance into World War I rallied the market. Additionally, it was during this time that the first oil refining plant opened in Tulsa. By 1920, Tulsa's population had grown to 72,075, a tremendous increase of almost fifty-four thousand persons in merely ten years. Nearly doubling in the ensuing decade, Tulsa's population by 1930 was 141,258 and the city was the second largest in the state. Although oil drilling activity occurred all over eastern Oklahoma, the oil companies' headquarters were generally located at Tulsa and that is where the oil men in charge made their homes. As such, Tulsa became known as the "Oil Capital of the World."
On September 13, 1909, the Carlton Place Addition plat was filed at the Tulsa County Courthouse by the Magee Investment Company. According to the 1910 Tulsa city directory, the first year the firm was listed, the Magee Investment Company was composed of Carl C. Magee, president; Benjamin C. Conner, vice president; Percival E. Magee, secretary-treasurer; and, John C. Magee, manager. Both Carl and Percival were the sons of Reverend John C. Magee and were law partners in the firm of Magee, Magee and Conner. In 1911, Conner was no longer involved in the Magee Investment Company and the law office of Magee, Magee and Conner had apparently been dissolved. John C. Magee had also been promoted to vice president of the firm. By 1913, Percival was the firm's manager with Carl being listed only as a partner in the law firm of Hainer and Magee and John C. a notary public.
As president of the development company and namesake of the addition, Carl C. Magee was the apparent primary in the development of the Carlton Place Addition. In his business transactions, Magee preferred to use "Carl" rather than his full given name of "Carlton." Magee had previously placed at least the 1907 Owen Addition, located northwest of the original townsite, on the Tulsa real estate market. Similar to the Carlton Place Addition, Magee used the Tulsa Addition Company, of which he owned the majority of stock, to establish the addition. Born in Iowa in 1873, Magee moved to Tulsa in about 1903. He remained in the community until 1919 when his wife's health required a move to New Mexico. Magee then became a newspaper man, an occupation he maintained for several years and which was responsible for his first rise to national prominence. In the mid-1920s, Magee aided in exposing the "Teapot Dome" scandal and contributed to the downfall of Albert B. Fall, Secretary of the Interior. Related to this and other politically-motivated legal difficulties, Magee also accidently shot and killed a man, John B. Lassater, for which he was tried and acquitted in 1925-1926. Magee returned to Oklahoma, this time Oklahoma City, in 1927 and became editor of The Oklahoma News. In about 1933, Magee began work on a solution to the parking problem in Oklahoma City which he had been studying as chairman of the traffic committee of the Chamber of Commerce. With technical assistance provided by the engineering department at Oklahoma State University, the first parking meter was invented with Magee being given inventor status. The first meter was installed in Oklahoma City in July 1935 and quickly spread nationwide. Returning to the newspaper business for various periods, Magee was also president of both the Dual Parking Meter Company and Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter Company from 1935 to 1946. Magee died at the end of January 1946 at the age of 73.
As a small addition of less than ten acres, the opening of the Carlton Place Addition did not merit noticeable attention in the Tulsa newspapers. The Magee Investment Company, however, did place small advertisements in the 1910 city directory for both the firm and addition. The ad for the addition read "Carlton Place is the choice residence district. Ask C.W. Singleton." Singleton was a real estate man located in the Alexander Building. The advertisements did not appear in any of the subsequent city directories. The addition, however, proved immediately popular with three of the extant houses being constructed by 1910. The following year, an additional four existing houses were occupied with four more being built in 1912. 1913 proved to be a banner year for the addition's development with eleven of the remaining homes being constructed. Construction then fell to seven existing homes in 1914 and just three the following year. As revealed on the 1915 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, the Carlton Place Addition was essentially complete within six years of its platting. Two other remaining properties, garage/apartments, were constructed in 1918, a third garage/apartment in 1920 and a fourth garage/apartment was built in 1923, the end of the period of significance. After this, only three properties, again secondary dwellings, were built in the neighborhood to the present time.
The Carlton Place Historic District is significant as an excellent example of a small, upper middle class neighborhood that developed during an important period in Tulsa's history. Tulsa's development during the first half of the 20th century relied on the nearby discovery of oil and the location of many oil-related industries and businesses in the community. Although Carlton Place does not contain any of the mansions of the oil barons, it is an excellent example of the close-in upper middle class neighborhoods that developed in response to the excellent, booming economic conditions in Tulsa during the 1910s.
That the neighborhood was for the upper middle class is evidenced by the construction of many of the garage/apartments at the same time as the main dwellings. These facilities were not originally intended as rental properties, as was common in other Oklahoma communities which experienced housing shortages in the 1920, 1930s and 1940s, but instead to shelter servants working for the families, as well as the increasingly popular means of personal transportation, the automobile. Notably, the Tulsa Street Railway Company had cars running along South Main Street, just three blocks east of Carson Avenue, from downtown to 17th Street by 1910, providing ready transportation from businessmen locating in the Carlton Place Addition to their places of employment in downtown Tulsa. Thus, the automobiles in the neighborhood were luxury items rather than necessities.
Previous to the 2005 survey of the Riverview neighborhood, the Carlton Place Historic District was included in the proposed Riverview Historic District. The results of the intensive-level survey indicated that the Carlton Place Historic District was one of four areas which retained sufficient integrity and historic significance to merit consideration for nomination to the National Register. The four proposed districts are separated by areas which have been redeveloped into modern commercial or apartment buildings and, particularly along the east side, large, blacktopped parking lots.
Although the Carlton Place Historic District is smaller than the other Tulsa historic districts listed on the National Register, it is significant in the development of the community as a distinct, small, close-in residential neighborhood. The Carlton Place Historic District is composed of the remaining half of the original three-block addition. From its origins, the addition was intended to stand out from its surroundings with the striking, elegant entry gates located on the north side. The south side did not require such grand edifices as, although the area to the immediate south was platted, construction in this section of town did not occur as rapidly as that of the Carlton Place Addition. The Carlton Place Historic District reflects the tremendous growth of Tulsa in the second decade of the twentieth century. This was a critical era in Tulsa's history as the town evolved from its initial oil-boom days to begin its meteoric rise to prominence as the "Oil Capital of the World."
Burkhart's Tulsa City Directory. Available Oklahoma Historical Society Research Library, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 1909.
The Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 1 February 1946.
Debo, Angie. Tulsa: From Creek Town to Oil Capital. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943.
Dunn, Nina Lane. Tulsa's Magic Roots. Tulsa, Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Book Publishing Company, 1979.
Hoffhine's 1910 Tulsa Directory. Available Oklahoma Historical Society Research Library, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Schofield v. City of Tulsa (1925 OK 642, 111 Okla. 220, 239 P.236). Oklahoma Supreme Court Cases, The Oklahoma State Courts Network, www.ocn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=9452, accessed 26 September 2006.
Thuesen, H.G. "Reminiscences of the Development of the Parking Meter." Reprint from The Chronicles of Oklahoma. XLV:2 (Summer 1967). Available Parking Meter Vertical File, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Library, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma. Lawrence, Kansas: The University Press of Kansas, 1986.
‡ Adapted from: Cynthia Savage, architectural historian, City of Tulsa, Carlton Place Historic District, Tulsa, OK, nomination document, 2006, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.