Buildings in the National Register of Historic Places
2727 South Rockford Road (map it)
Villa Philbrook is significant as a remembrance of both Oklahoma’s oil industry and the Italian Renaissance architectural style. Stained glass windows in the Philbrook entry were made by the D’Ancenzo studios of Philadelphia. The scene in the large center window depicts the story of Dante and Beatrice. Ironwork throughout the home was designed by Oscar Back of New York, who also designed the columns in the Great Hall. The ceiling of the Great Hall was painted by Cooper and Gentihomo, mural decorators of New York. The ceiling’s motifs were taken from authentic Italian Renaissance ceilings. An integral part of Philbrook’s resources are the 23 acres of grounds, landscaped with Southwestern trees and plants to produce beautiful pictures in nature. The botanical gardens are both aesthetically pleasing and scientifically significant. Through the years, Philbrook has retained the appearance of an Italian residence. Much of the Italian Renaissance decoration on the main floor has been left unchanged.
Oil brought Waite Phillips to Tulsa in 1918, and brought him almost immediate wealth. He sold his oil interests in 1925 for $25 million. He promptly gave his employees $2.5 million; the Boy Scouts of America, $5 million; and the City of Tulsa, $6 million. In 1928, after his children were grown, Phillips gave his mansion to the City of Tulsa along with an endowment for maintaining it as a museum and art center. The Southwestern Art Association was created to administer the property. Philbrook Art Center opened in October, 1939. Since then, a series of gifts and purchases have made its continually-expanding permanent collections outstanding in Oklahoma, and have attracted nation-wide attention. The museum was renovated and an addition was added in the late 1980s.
Philbrook was listed in the National Register on December 1, 1978. It was listed under National Register Criteria C, and its NRIS number is 78002274.