Tour Boston Avenue
Guided tours of the building are given every Sunday at 12:15 p.m., beginning in the church library on the second floor. Guided tours for groups can also be arranged during the week by calling 918.583.5181 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Self-guided tours are also available any time the building is open.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, located in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, was completed in 1929. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical art deco architecture in the United States and has been designated by the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark. It is also an international United Methodist Historic Site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Like a sermon in stone, the limestone building was designed to honor God and identify its members as people of God. As Dr. Adah M. Robinson, building designer, writes, “All appointments have been designed with the hope of creating a place that is honest, harmonious, and spiritualized; that those who may not respond through their reason and those who may not react through their emotion may at least through visualization be moved to a higher conception of the Presence of Divine Power.”
DESIGN AND FEATURES
Hover or click or tap on an image for a description of each architectural feature.
Like many Art Deco buildings, Boston Avenue United Methodist Church reveled in the use of a variety of both modern and traditional building materials - metal, glass, terra cotta, Indiana limestone and Minnesota granite are all incorporated into the building design.
The building was one of the first Methodist churches to show the history of Methodism through the architectural design, as well as one of the first to have a circular worship space. It is replete with symbolism, including themes of light (representing spiritual growth), praying hands (open and symbolic of receiving God’s love), pointed arches (suggesting God’s blessing on all who pass through), seven-pointed stars (representing the seven virtues), tritoma flower (symbolizing the strength of the church), and coreopsis flower (reflecting the hardiness and Joy of the Christian faith).
At the top of the tower is a stylized sculpture that represents two hands raised upward in prayer. This motif of praying hands is one that is echoed throughout the building and is one of the areas of design that can be traced back to the early drawings by Adah Robinson. The feature of hands raised in prayer appears on many of the other high points of the church, and is utilized much in the same manner that churches in the middle ages featured crockets and finials.
The downward-flowing lines in the terra cotta motif above each doorway symbolize the outward pouring of God’s love on all who pass beneath. As we enter, we receive God’s love and blessings, which we take with us out into the world as we exit. This motif can be found throughout the building.
The exterior is decorated with numerous terra cotta sculptures by the Denver sculptor, Robert Garrison, who had also been a student of Adah Robinson's. These sculptures include several groups of people at prayer representing Spiritual Life, Religious Education, and Worship. In these groups can be found the motif of two hands together upward in prayer. Over the north entrance of the building are idealized statues of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, his brother Charles Wesley, a hymn writer and church organizer, and Susanna Wesley, their mother.
Above the south entrance are the equestrian Circuit Riders, statues of the early Methodists engaged in spreading the Good Word. Two of the three riders represent historic individuals, Bishop Francis Asbury, the first American Methodist bishop, and Bishop William McKendrie. The third figure, the one in the center, is symbolic of all the other men of God who did His bidding from horseback. The face for this rider was created by Garrison using the church minister's father-in-law, the Rev. T.L. Darnell, as his model. Rev. Darnell had in fact been a circuit rider for half a century.
Distinctive angled arch doorways suggest God's blessing on all who pass through. The arched form is used throughout the church for doors, windows, etched glass, and detailing of the brass hardware. The seven-pointed stars seen on the exterior and interior walls represent the seven virtues: patience, purity, knowledge, long-suffering, kindness, love and truth.
All lines in the sanctuary lead to the pulpit, emphasizing the importance of the Word of God. There is no center aisle, so that all aisles, and those who come down them, are viewed as equal. Added in 1961, the 750,000-piece mosaic behind the choir loft forms an aura of light radiating from the center cross and mirroring the design in the windows. The 13-foot bronze cross symbolizes the resurrection of Christ with an indentation that gives the impression of a figure, once there, now risen.
The circular dome, 40 feet above the floor, symbolizes the infinite. In 1991, the sanctuary dome was restored, receiving twelve shades of descending color and replacement of the gold leaf.
The beautiful Foley-Baker pipe organ (2019) is a rebuild of the 1961/87 Möller organ. The exposed pipes reflect the angled arches of the doorways. The organ now includes 63 stops, 76 ranks, and 4355 pipes which are controlled by a four-manual console with electro-pneumatic action and solid state combination action.
The downward-flowing lines in the stained glass windows reflect the symbolism of the outpouring of God's love. Light is a major symbol representing spiritual growth. As sunlight is essential to physical growth, so divine light is inherent to spiritual growth. Two flowers indigenous to Oklahoma are included in the window design. The coreopsis, growing in the driest soil, symbolizes the hardiness and joy of the Christian faith. The tritoma, or torch lily, with its unusual downward blossoms, represents the generosity of the faith. Its strong stem is indicative of the strength of the church.
The long terrazzo hallway on the east side of the sanctuary, known as Great Hall, was originally built as the "social lobby" for church gatherings and receptions. On Sunday mornings, it serves as a greeting place between services. With its wonderful acoustics, Great Hall is used for special musical Advent and Lenten worship services. Two 35-foot-tall art deco mosaics at either end of the hall were gifted by Mrs. W.K. Warren in 1993 as part of the church's centennial celebration. Each weighs 3,000 pounds and contains a quarter-million tiles, which were fired near Venice, Italy.
The north mosaic depicts God as revealed in the Hebrew scriptures, and includes the burning bush, Torah scrolls, prophet's staff or crozier, and "Adonai," the Hebrew name for God used most often in Jewish worship. The south mosaic shows how God is revealed in the Christian scriptures - the darkened cave where Jesus was born, the star announcing his birth, and the stylized cross. The two sacraments of the Protestant tradition are also depicted - water for baptism and wheat and grapes for Holy Communion. Radiating triangles remind us of the triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Rose Chapel, originally named Epworth Chapel after John Wesley's birthplace, received its current moniker due to the rosy hue from the windows. Lines in the Rose Chapel are straight, as opposed to the sanctuary, which are curved. The three carved figures in the organ screen denote the chapel's function: meditation, ceremony, and worship. Windows convey impressions of comfort and peace, and are reflected in the carpet borders in the adjoining parlor, which is used for services and receptions.
Bishops' Hall is the glassed-in area between the main building and the education building, which was added on in 1965. Stained glass doorways lead into the Columbarium.
The Columbarium was added in 2000. It is a sacred space containing 1,056 niches designed to hold the cremains of beloved church members. Now church members and their loved ones can be buried at the church, demonstrating faith in a God who created us and loves us, and to whom each of us returns. A 10-foot-wide skylight provides an impressive view of the church tower rising into the sky. A chapel in the center of the room provides a quiet space for meditation, reflection and prayer. It was designed by Tulsa architect Roger Coffey.
The Jubilee Center, opened and dedicated on May 5, 2002, provides 14 classrooms, a catering kitchen, offices, shower and locker facilities, a youth lounge and game room, and a large multipurpose gymnasium for basketball and large group meetings and dinners. Architect Roger Coffey designed the new addition to match the art deco architecture of the main building.
Boston Avenue Park
The latest addition to our church campus is a 1-acre park located just north of the church. The land was purchased in January 2004, and landscaping was completed that spring. The park is a great space for children and youth activities, family outings, and church group gatherings.
Our interfaith statue, located in Boston Avenue Park (on the north side of the church property), represents the importance of interfaith relations to our congregation. It was installed and dedicated to the Rev. Dr. Mouzon Biggs, former Senior Minister of Boston Avenue, in 2006. The statue is by artist Phyllis Mantik-Dequevedo and the
pedestal was designed by Roger Coffey.