Frank Lloyd Wright: Prairie Skyscraper

On a “snowy” day in Northeastern Oklahoma where me and my wife both had the day off work, instead of staying at home and relaxing in the warm house we decided to venture up highway 75 to Bartlesville. Partly inspired by the book I received in the mail yesterday, a postcard history of Bartlesville. We decided we would go grab lunch at the Price Tower and then grab some coffee downtown. Neither one of us had ever been to the Price Tower and we were pretty excited to see it.


Entrance to Copper Restaurant and Bar on the 15th floor.

Now I know this isn’t a food blog but if you are ever in the area and decide to go to the Copper Restaurant and Bar you will not be disappointed the food was great.

Moving on, I thought the tower looked smaller than it actually is. We talked to a lady inside who told us it was 19 stories and that there are hotel rooms on every other floor for a grand total of 19 rooms. We looked it up and rooms run from $145 a night for one bedroom suite with king bed to $245 a night for a two bedroom suite. They also offer a tour of the building for a nominal fee, which we opted out of but would still like to do sometime.The Price Tower was designed by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright and is the tallest structure he designed that was ever built.

The tower was originally designed in 1929 as a three tower group called St. Marks in the

Sketch of what the tower arrangement in New York, around St. Marks Church, would have looked like.

Bowery in New York City. The St. Marks Church was to be the center piece with these buildings surrounding it. This obviously never happened and FLW had to sit on his plans for a little while longer.Now for those of you who don’t know FLW came up with an innovative design using a center “taproot” for his building and having lightweight floors and walls hanging off it much like a tree has a center trunk and branches hanging from it.

This design allowed for less materials and thus a cheaper total cost to build tall structures. Although it was FLW’s idea other architects adapted it and had buildings built before he could. FLW’s thought process was that you could build this tower and sort of get the city started around this central tower and these could be built anywhere.

Plans for the Price Tower showing the center taproot design.


It wasn’t until 1952 that FLW’s first and last skyscraper would start to be realized when Howard C. Price owner of H.C. Price Company, which built oil and gas pipelines, decided to construct a new headquarters building in Bartlesville.It wasn’t until 1954 that construction began and was finally finished on January 2nd 1956. Frank Lloyd Wright died not long after on March 16th 1959.

Inside of one of the four elevators depicting the construction of the tower.

There is a little more on the timeline at the Price Tower website here: Price TowerYou can also learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture here: Frank Lloyd Wright




Picture Sketch with around St. Marks Church, Source: PIcture of Price Tower source:

Follow me on Twitter @okiehistorypics 


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