Blair Mansion, Riverside Drive landmark, to be demolished

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BatesLine photo, October 15, 2011, All Rights Reserved

For over a half-century, motorists driving north on Riverside Drive in Tulsa, after navigating the tricky Midland Valley underpass, were rewarded with the sight of an elegant white mansion across a vast expanse of manicured lawn.

Tomorrow, all that will end. The site with its lawn and woods was sold by owner Dan Buford to the George Kaiser Family Foundation to be used for its "Gathering Place for Tulsa." GKFF did not include the Blair Mansion in its plans for the new park, although it might have been home to a restaurant, galleries, meeting space -- any number of functions complementary to the park. A lodge is shown on the plans for the park not far from the current site of the mansion. Judging by the outraged reactions on social media, it seems everyone assumed that the Blair Mansion would be the centerpiece of this new public space.

Kylie Earls McFerrin wrote on Facebook: "This is ridiculous!!!! I love driving by there. It makes me feel like a small part of Tulsa is still intact." Monica Hughes called the property "iconic. It was reassuring to drive by it on visits up. Slowly the Tulsa of my memory is disappearing."

Buford had the right to have the mansion moved to another location, but that proved to be impractical. The house was too large, the neighborhood streets too narrow, the surrounding overpasses too low:

Buford said he spent more than a year looking into relocating the house and even hired a local company to study the logistics of such a move.

They spent about four months in that process and they finally came back to me with a written report," Buford said. "They wouldn't say that it couldn't be moved, but they didn't see how that it was worthy or feasible."

So tomorrow morning the Blair Mansion will be demolished.

Our family has had a couple of opportunities to visit, when our homeschooling group had activities in the woods south of the house, although I never had the chance to see the interior. The Blair Mansion was designed by John Duncan Forsyth and built in 1958. Oilman B. B. Blair had owned and farmed the property since 1939. According to reports, Dan Buford bought the property in 1995 after the death of Blair's widow.

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Clark said:

Too bad -- it really is a Tulsa landmark. The house is also pretty historically significant, as it's a replica of Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis's residence in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Here's a good comparison photo:

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