History of our building

Beneath layers of renovations and changes through the last century, some of the original structure still exists. Built between 1917-1920, it was the congregation’s third location on Boulder Avenue in downtown.

Apart from its physical marvels, the congregation has kept a vast collection of photos and records in its archive room, including the blueprints and dedication programs from 100 years ago.

The foyer still has the ornate plaster molds that line the ceiling, though they’ve long been removed in the sanctuary. Original oak spindles still line the stairwells, and the carpet that used to cover century-old marble has been removed.

High above, the stained glass window still has a functional crank system to open a hole in the roof. Back when a congregation of 1,200 or more would fill the sanctuary (with overflow in a separate chapel listening to the organ and sermons through the intercom), the building had primitive air conditioning. Small fans and open windows helped circulate cool air from the basement into the sanctuary and out through the roof.

On February 9th, 2020 the congregation celebrated 100 years since the building was created.

See this Tulsa World Article about the gathering.

Humble Beginnings

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) sprang from the environment

of the American frontier movement in the early 19th century – a period when freedom was in the air. The atmosphere of the day was scented with relief from the strictness of a state church. Led by men like Barton Stone, Thomas Campbell, and Alexander Campbell, the denomination rejected the ideology that creeds should dictate what people believe. Alexander Campbell proposed accepting members based on a confession of faith and baptism. 

This new movement grew and spread as the frontier was pushed farther and farther west. As new areas were settled, followers of this new movement joined together to organize themselves into congregations. When the J. W. Marshall family came to Tulsa, Indian Territory, in 1901, they collected a group of people together in their farmhouse on Denver for the first meeting of the First Christian Church of Tulsa. On April 5, 1902, 18 people gathered in the Marshall home and heard Rev. W.L. Darland preach the first sermon. 

The congregation met in the Marshall home or other homes until the first building was finished. This building was dedicated on June 14, 1903 with Rev. D. A. Wickizer preaching the dedicatory sermon. It was a red brick building, seated 300 people, and was located at the northwest corner of 2nd and Boulder.

3rd Time's a charm

The second building, located at the southwest corner of 4th and Boulder, was dedicated on January 30, 1910. This was a gray brick building of old Spanish design and had the largest seating capacity  (1,500) of any church in Tulsa at the time. Rev. George Snively, a  well-known evangelist, brought the dedicatory message and conducted an evangelistic meeting for two weeks afterward. Rev. D. A. Wickizer was the first minister to serve in this new building. 

In March of 1917 the church building at 4th and Boulder was sold, and the congregation met in the Courthouse for almost 3 years while a new building was constructed at the southeast corner of 9th and Boulder. Dr. Meade E. Dutt was minister to the congregation during this interim period, and the first minister to serve in the new building.

The third building was dedicated February 1, 1920 by Rev. George Snively, just 10 years after he had dedicated the second building. This beautiful building, of modified Greek design, became a reality even though the restrictions of World War 1 made construction difficult. It provided splendid facilities for worship, a graded Sunday School, and all the activities which a modern church demanded in that day.

Constructed at an estimated cost of $200,000, the sanctuary building originally provided seating for 1,250 people. The design is a modification of classical Greco-Roman architecture, featuring a massive pillared entrance and a stained glass dome executed in a Byzantine style. This dome was designed by the architects and constructed by a firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Continuing to Grow

According to the original plans, the base of the plastered part of the dome is 37 feet above the Sanctuary floor, and is 50 feet in diameter. The stained

glass portion of the dome is 26 feet in diameter, extending to a height of 6 feet at the center of the dome. The dome rises more than 50 feet above the

floor of the Sanctuary. Originally a portion of the glass dome could be raised for ventilation. The stained glass dome is protected by a clear glass skylight, which allows sunlight to naturally light the sanctuary. The stained glass’ resurrection lily theme repeats Christ’s message of life and death throughout the room.

As the congregation grew, additional property was acquired south of the church. As many as five structures were erected at various times to serve as classrooms before the Educational Building was constructed. This building was

dedicated June 23, 1940. Advanced for its time, it included a bowling alley, fellowship hall, church offices and Sunday School rooms.

A 1966 renovation dramatically changed the look of the sanctuary. Walnut paneling was added along with a new organ, while chandeliers, plaster ornament and the original pews were removed. The Hazel B. Rogers Memorial Window, with its focal point a large anodized aluminum cross inset into the stained glass, was also added at that time. Several stained glass windows were removed at this time, including the panels that were originally located in the sanctuary’s entry doors. The door and transom located to the right of the chancel were reproduced from historic photographs, and are the congregation’s first efforts in returning some of the lost beauty to the sanctuary.

The Memorial Chapel

The Memorial Chapel, dedicated on November 27, 1960, completed this fine group of buildings on South Boulder Avenue. Property for parking was also acquired at various times, and in 1976 the congregation saw its dream of owning its entire block become a reality. 

The stained glass windows in the Shaw Memorial Chapel are completely

different from the sanctuary windows in theme, style and color. Designed by Emil Frei of St. Louis, the Chancel Window contains symbols representing The Father, The Son, and the Holy Sacraments. The east and west windows in the Chapel provide pictorial depictions of some of Jesus’ parables and of familiar Biblical scenes.


One highlight of First Christian Church’s architectural beauty may be seen at the entrance to the Rorschach garden. The wrought iron gate incorporates many of the symbols from the stained glass windows, as well as the Celtic Cross from the top of the dome. This gate was a gift to First Christian Church from Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Wiemann, and was designed by Mr. Wiemann.