Frank Phillips Home A Slice Of Oklahoma History

Thursday, June 7th 2012, 5:43 pm
By: Craig Day

A lot of folks visit Woolaroc, oil baron Frank Phillips' famous ranch getaway, which is now a world-class museum and complex.

Phillips' home in Bartlesville is also worth a stop.

Risk-taking brought fame and fortune to Phillips.

The barber-turned-bond-salesman-turned-wildcatter struck oil on a string of 81 successful wells, and he struck it rich.

He left behind a colorful chapter in Oklahoma history and a magnificent mansion in Bartlesville.

"It is a home that was built to be comfortable and yet to be elegant," director of the Frank Phillips Home Jim Goss said.

The Frank Phillips Home accomplishes both.

There is plenty of elegance to the 26-room, Neo-Classical mansion, like the 1909 Waterford Crystal Chandelier, the beautiful Philippine mahogany woodwork.

"...the hand-carved wood, the plaster on the walls, the heavy crown molding," Goss said.

But Goss also said the 12,600-square foot house also reflects a homey feel, which gives visitors a glimpse into family life for an early Oklahoma legend.

"It is an extreme treasure," Goss said.

Construction on the home finished in 1909. Frank and Jane Phillips raised a son here, and adopted two daughters from a New York orphanage.

"One of the really interesting rooms is the bedroom that was used by the butler."

After Frank Phillips death in 1950, a granddaughter lived there.

It was given to the Oklahoma Historical Society in the 1970s.

What makes the home even more unique is almost everything is original, from the thousands of books to the furniture to the photographs and family heirlooms.

"The dining room was a very, very pleasant place to be," Goss said. "We are one of the few historic homes throughout the United States that still has 95 percent of everything being original to the home and in its original location."

They know that's the case because Jane Phillips hired a photographer to take extensive pictures of the home in the 1930s.

Those photos were invaluable for historians.

"We were able to take everything, bring it back in, and put it exactly where it was in 1930," Goss said.

Remarks from family members have also reinforced the authenticity, including those from the Phillips' grandson.

"He said, ‘I just want you to know this house is as though granny and grandfather have gone for the weekend and are expected back on Monday.' It's like it was when I came here to play."

The Phillips' played here and entertained here. It was also a place to unwind and relax.

Now it's a place visited by thousands of people each year.

"We have people coming in from all over the United States, coming in from all over the world and they're always amazed," Goss said.

They are amazed at its beauty, and interested in its unique place in Oklahoma history.

Visitors seem glad to get a glimpse of an early-Oklahoma version of lifestyles of the rich and famous. There's also an interpretive center next to the house.

Tours are held on the hour at the home Wednesday-Saturday, and cost $5.

On some days, you can also pay $10 for the director's behind-the-scenes tours.