A Bruce Goff House in Tulsa – with Alterations

I was surprised to run across a real estate listing for a house in Tulsa originally designed by Bruce Goff.  Though somewhat altered, the 1925 Fred Hansen house was among Goff’s earliest commissions and could be restored to a more original appearance. If you are not familiar with Goff’s work, this video  is well worth watching. Heck, it’s worth watching even if you are familiar with his work!  I don’t when the alterations were made… but I suspect the house has had many changes at different times over the decades.   As one of his early works, it was always more “normal” than his later, overtly organic, work. Still, it’s safe to say that the house looked somewhat different when new than it does today.  Goff’s work in the 1920’s was modern for the period; it exhibited both Art Deco and Prairie influences.  The listing states “ONE of a KIND!! Bruce Goff Designed Home in the Prestigious Utica Square Area.”  And it is one of a kind; there’s not another one like it.  It just doesn’t look exactly like it did when it was first built (most older houses don’t come down through time without some changes).  The following images (unless noted otherwise) were taken from the listing on zillow.com – there are additional images there.


The various elements at the entry (skinny fluted columns, neo-Craftsman porch lights, entablature-free pediment, rustic “Old World Charm” studded doors, spiked fence, address plaque and 8-over-8 vinyl replacement windows with fake muntins) are at odds with the Art Deco and Prairie styling that characterized Goff’s early work.


The vertical banding and unusual roofline contrast stylistically with the new entry porch.


Here’s a c. 2007 view of the house before the porch was added. Image courtesy of Google Street view.  The canopy appears to be an earlier attempt to normalize the entry.  The shutters didn’t enhance the intended character.


Note the Neo-Victorian door casing (with bullseye corner blocks) around the new front doors.


More of the living room.  The flattened Gothic arches are definitely characteristic of his early work!


The dining room.


Well, the floor appears to be something that Goff might recognize.


Why is there a knob on the angled end panel of the desk?  And why is there a knob on the other end panel of the desk?


Aha!  Another surviving flattened Gothic arch… though the door may likely be a mid-century replacement.


I don’t think that Goff was a big fan of six-panel Colonial style doors.  Sliding glass doors weren’t a thing in 1925.






Surprise!  Much of the original bath has survived!


More of the bathroom.


Hmmm.  More neo-Victorian door casing is combined here with a white six-panel Colonial door.  The sliding glass doors have fake muntins, like the replacement windows.


Nice view of the toilet from bed (probably not an original amenity).


From the side, the house appears to foreshadow the 1970’s trend of fake mansard roofs (be sure to see this Thursday’s post!).  I’m assuming that this is part of Goff’s original design.  The privacy wall appears to be mid-century.  The portion of the rear facade which is covered in horizontal siding might be a later alteration; it is kind of awkward.  Note how the rear entry from the kitchen projects out and holds a small porch above; that appears to be original.


Here you can better see the siding-covered room at the rear where it protrudes a bit from the roof on the side of the house.  Image courtesy of Google Street View.


Cute matching garage!






7 Responses to A Bruce Goff House in Tulsa – with Alterations

  1. That place really is an awkward combination of poor “design” choices. Some homes are “designed by architect”, others “designed by walking through Home Depot”.

    The ill-proportioned pediment on the front would be bad enough on the typical McMansion-style home they’re used on, but it particularly clashes with the whimsical half-mansard roof of this house.

    That interior millwork is just bad. I think it’s funny how the front door is trimmed with those little jokes of Victorian trim, and the other doors in the room are capped with hilariously out-of-scale cornices. I have seen worse, though. I’ve seen cornices like that set on top of trim like what’s on the front door, with yet another flat band board between. The side casings were about 3 1/2″ wide, and the sum total of the head and cornices was close to 12″. It looked terrible. That was actually in a “fancy” banquet hall where I attended a wedding.

    • The interior woodwork is confusing! I started looking online for interior images of some of Goff’s other houses built around the same time as this one. Many of his earlier houses were surprisingly normal inside, including the woodwork. I suspect that all of the woodwork in this house was identical to what is still in the bathroom and kitchen, only not painted. Here are links to some other designs of his in Tulsa:

      1401 S. Quaker Avenue (1918)

      I think the new kitchen in the house on S. Quaker was done very well; it absolutely respects the rest of the house. Same for the bath!

      1732 S. Yorktown Road (1919)

      1712 S. Madison Avenue (1925)

  2. take away my architectural enthusiasts license. i never was aware or had seen any of Bruce Goff’s works. the 1925 house shows his start on eclecticism at least outside. don’t you think the interior has been gut reno’d?
    the shape of the one you featured is quirky enough but they’ve butchered it so much it’s hard to tell. i’m never in favor of demolishing an icon’s work but it would be really hard to bring this one back unless you could find the blueprints.
    i watched the video and to quote Warren Zevon “I’d like to meet his tailor”. God the loss of those two iconic Goff’s is like Fallingwater and the Robie house being demolished – unthinkable. I just read an article that said the parents of Hitler were considering an abortion when she was pregnant with the child who would become Adolf. I wish the Bavingers had considered this option. FLW houses are groundbreaking but Goff’s are on a Buckminster Fuller scale – uninhibited by what has gone before. Thinking outside the box – I don’t think the word “box” was in Goff’s lexicon once he hit his stride.

  3. Boy! Thanks for sharing those other Goff houses! As a fan of the Ford House, you can kind of see where he was coming from. I was so glad to see the exteriors on those others. Proto-weird!

  4. maybe the original front door (i don’t think the one under the canopy was original either) was more like the back door with the flattened arch and that diamond shaped window. also, considering the interesting portals in the privacy fence, maybe it was original – they seem to echo some of his pierced work from later.
    but my total favorite bit of remuddling is the the flush in the bedroom. i don’t know about you but i like a little more privacy no matter how intimate my bed mate and i are but this planet is a lot different from where i come from and people are funny.

  5. I’m happy that Goff is of interest to everyone. I’m traveling now and can’t type much, but I will expand on this in a few days. And yes, I was being snarky about the odd bathroom… I like privacy, too!

    • Goff’s early work, even though somewhat “normal”, did display evidence that he was thinking in a very different direction than what was mainstream. FLW had a similar path; his earliest work looked a lot like conventional Queen Anne style houses. I think Montana may be right about the front door… the flattened arch would make sense there. It might have been an unusually wide door rather than the present pair of narrow doors or the previous door-with-single-sidelight seen in the 2007 image. Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate; it appears that the working drawings survive; the Art Institute of Chicago retains Goff’s archives. They list one presentation drawing and eight sheets of working drawings for the Fred Hansen house, so documentation does exist. There are also lots of never-constructed works of his in the archives… wouldn’t they be fun to build!

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