The Price Tower Arts Center

A little time travel back to the ’60s…………………………………….

Welcome back. History is defined as the study of the past, particularly how it relates to humans. It is a term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events.

With that said, the year was 1960 when Adolph Coors III, Chairman of the Board of Coors Brewing Company, was kidnapped. After being held for a $500,000 ransom, Coors was eventually found murdered. In sports that year the Dallas Cowboys played their first season in the NFL and Wilt Chamberlain, who was playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, got 55 rebounds in an NBA game against the Boston Celtics. A young Cassius Clay (now known as Muhammed Ali) won a gold medal at the Olympic Games. 1960 was also the year that that 3500 American soldiers were sent to a place called Vietnam and John F. Kennedy was nominated for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

History was being made in Bartlesville as well. Phillips Petroleum was led by a man named Kenneth S. Adams, also known as “Boots”. He had started his career with the company as a young man working for $125 a month clerking in a warehouse. After twelve years he was personally selected by Frank Phillips to be his assistant and when Phillips retired Adams became the Chief Executive Officer. In 1960 he had been running the company for eleven years and it was growing by leaps and bounds. Adams was making plenty of money and he gave plenty of it away to local organizations.

Another successful businessman making headlines in the community was H.C. Price. Price had come to Bartlesville in 1915 to work as a chemist for the Zinc Company. In 1921, with a $2,500 loan, he started an electric welding company which grew into one of the largest pipeline construction and maintenance companies in the country. In 1952 Price signed the building contract for what would become the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Designed by world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the multi-story office building was completed in 1956 and in 1960 it was fully occupied by a wide array of professionals. Doctors, lawyers, dentists and insurance brokers were among the many tenants spread out across nineteen floors which also included spacious apartments for the Price family.

Barbara’s Beauty Shop was located in a two story wing and catered to affluent executives and their wives. As a young boy I knew Barbara Curtis who was married to big time rodeo stock contractor Eddie Curtis. She had started her business on one of the upper floors of the building with just a handful of hairdressers working for her. The business grew quickly and she expanded, adding a women’s fancy dress shop to the beauty shop. In the 1960s both men and women came there to get their hair cut which was unusual at the time and the men could shop for their wives at the same time.

With some many diverse tenants, the Price Tower was a mall in the sky. It was also a place where big deals were put together and where major newsworthy announcements were made.Within the next few weeks another important announcement will be made in this setting and I’ll be inviting you all to be a part of it. More details will be coming as things develop.

Today, not unlike in 1960, the Price Tower is a busy place with a variety of tenants. The Price Tower Arts Center offers exhibits and educational programs and there is also a full service hotel (the Inn at Price Tower) and a rooftop bar and restaurant (Copper where live music frequently fills the sky. As Frank Lloyd Wright’s only constructed skyscraper, the Price Tower is a National Historic Landmark and has also been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is a magical place where I hope to see you soon. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….