Sophian Plaza

Kristin Pack Historic Buildings

Sophian Plaza

The Sophian Plaza is located on an irregularly-shaped parcel of land approximately five blocks south of downtown Tulsa and two blocks east of the Arkansas River. The Sophian Plaza is sited at a 45-degree angle to the intersection of Fifteenth Street and Frisco Avenue to take advantage of prevailing breezes. When constructed, the Tulsa Street Railway (TSR) trolley line ended at Fifteenth and Frisco, providing convenient transportation into downtown.

The Kansas City-based architecture firm of Shepard and Wiser designed the Sophian Plaza in Kansas City (1922-23) for Harry J. Sophian, a New Yorker who moved to Kansas City in 1916. At that time, Sophian “had gained a reputation as an authority on deluxe apartment construction.” Manhattan Construction Company (headquartered in Kansas City, but with a branch office in Muskogee, Oklahoma) erected the building in Tulsa. The cost of construction was estimated to be in excess of \$1,000,000.

The Sophian Plaza was the first high rise apartment building constructed in Tulsa. Its striking appearance and height were in direct response to the surrounding neighborhood and planned to be highly visible from the city’s busy thoroughfares. It provided housing for wealthy Tulsans moving from the city core and played a significant role in the early suburbanization of Tulsa. The Sophian Plaza is also the only example of a high-rise apartment building in Tulsa in the Italian Renaissance style.

The Sophian Plaza converted to condominium status in 1978. A green belt near the west property line is designated as a “Backyard Wildlife Habitat” by the National Wildlife Federation.