Living History...

Courtesy of Bartlesville Area History Museum

Bartlesville Heritage Trail

Bartlesville was founded along the banks of the Caney River as a small mill operation and general store. With the discovery of oil, Bartlesville quickly grew into a thriving frontier town with the Caney River and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Depot as its anchors.

In its early years, Bartlesville, similar to all small towns, depended upon the river and the railroad for its livelihood. The Central Business District was the hub of the City with all residential, business and cultural activities located in close proximity to this thriving area. This pattern was typical of cities in the first half of the 20th Century when all city life revolved around its downtowns, railroads and rivers.

Today, Bartlesville’s citizens and visitors alike enjoy the rich, diverse heritage of a town built by the oil industry. Roaming herds of exotic animals on an oil baron's vast ranch, a chic hotel in Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper, plus a wealth of Western art, culture and history, make the Bartlesville area a treasured place to live. Since its early days in Indian Territory, Bartlesville's history has been told by the architecture still proudly on display. The Frank Phillips Home, built in 1909 as the 26-room mansion of a Bartlesville oil baron, still houses the family's original furnishings and art collection. Adding drama to the Bartlesville skyline, The Price Tower, completed in 1956, is the only built skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The rich architectural display found within the Central Business District led to Downtown Bartlesville’s listing as a Historic District in 1991 with the National Register of Historic Places. Specific buildings within the Downtown Redevelopment Area that are also listed on the Register include: Price Tower, Frank Phillips Home, the Old Washington County Courthouse, and Memorial Hospital. In 2006, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Bartlesville to its list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations as a top example of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States.
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