Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Paseo

See the 2007 Paseo Arts Festival for 30+ pics in a supplemental Paseo post.

Places To Go Year Round
JRB Art At The ElmsOld TrinityCraig's EmporiumGrand Tour
Places To Live

HISTORY. According to Positively Paseo,
The Paseo was built in 1929 as the first commercial shopping district north of downtown Oklahoma City. This little Spanish village with it's stucco building and clay tile roofs is the home of Oklahoma City's artists' community. On this little tree lined street you will find painters, potters, photographers, writers, and actors. Within the two blocks of the Paseo you can visit a stained glass works, a pottery studio, watch a painter at work, see a performance of a children's theater group, have dinner, and shop.
Well, whether it was the "first" or not is at least arguable -- the 1st commercial shopping area north of downtown was the 1927 Plaza Court at 1100 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City's first suburban shopping center and original home of VZD's restaurant and Crescent Market, among other tenants. But, on the other hand, it wasn't a district like The Paseo, either. Maybe it's fair to say that each of these developments gets a "1st" in one similar category or another!

The Paseo area is shown in the map below from The Paseo Arts District:

Spanish Village. The "area" wasn't originally known as "The Paseo" -- it was known as "The Spanish Village." Daily Oklahoman articles show that, in 1928, G.A. Nichols, Inc., started developing this area then called, "The Spanish Village," and, by the end of 1930, businesses located there were Southwest Stores Co., American Shoe Repairers, Kitchen Cupboard Cafe, Sanitary Cleaners, a barber shop, Senorita Beauty Parlor, Clarence Saunders Store, Radio Service Company, Lee Drapery, Paseo Drug Store, a filling station, a Safeway grocery, and a Christian Church being built at 30th & Lee. Apartments were being added on NW 29th and NW 30th.

The Pool. In 1933, a swimming pool was added called the "Spanish Village Plunge," and it hosted swimming and diving competitions, having its own team. A 1933 article in The Daily Oklahoman noted that use of the pool would be "free" to tenants of G.A. Nichols. A May 1955 Oklahoman article noted that the pool had been rebuilt and expanded to become, "The Jamboree Surf Club." Some Oklahoman articles identify the pool's address as "3008 Paseo," others say "3009 Paseo," but a 8/30/1955 article locates the pool at "NW 30th & Paseo." All things considered, the majority of the Oklahoman's articles place the location at NW 29th & Paseo, though with slightly varying addresses, as noted. On edit and some further research, I'm quite satisfied that the pool was (actually, still is) located in the space shown as building "20" below:

As said above, the "pool" that took the place of the "Spanish Village Plunge" was the "Jamboree Surf Club."

It appears that the "new" pool's life was brief under its 1955 name. Shortly after the "Jamboree Surf Club" had its open house in July 1955, a severe wind storm blew through the city and an 8/30/1955 Oklahoman article reported that a large concrete block wall at the pool was, "toppled by slamming winds." I could locate no references to the "Jamboree Surf Club" after the August 1955 storm. But, in 1956 and continuing through 1958, ads like the following were frequent during the summer months ... now, the "Paseo Plunge":

After summer 1958, no such ads appeared. The last Oklahoman article I could locate which described the pool as an "alive" entity was an 8/24/1960 note saying that, "Pilot Club of Oklahoma City will have a swimming party ... at Paseo Plunge." Aritcles after this note refer to the pool in the past tense.

Some articles (the retrospective kind) indicate that the pool was "indoor". I learned today from one very knowledgeable about the whole Paseo area that, while exterior security walls were apparently originally in place, it didn't originally have a roof and wasn't "enclosed", so to speak. I don't presently know when the roof was added to enclose the pool altogether -- the "Jamboree Surf Club" certainly doesn't give that impression, does it? The "building" containing the pool is not presently occupied and is "for sale".

At the moment, this former "pool" property has got to be one large negative to The Paseo today. It is large, it is empty, it is in disrepair, and it will take significant investment to change all of that. Here are some "today" images ... click on a pic for a larger image.

The Exterior On The Paseo, Looking East

Looking Through A Window, Looking Up

From Dewey, Looking West

While the pool must surely have been cool in its day, it now stands out as an unmistakable blemish on all the progress that has been made.

Dawn of the Current Era. After some point in the 1950s decade, the area was no longer be referred to as "The Spanish Village." The last Oklahoman article I found using that phrase was an El Charrito restaurant ad in 1952, and I found no "phrase" references in the 1960s or later when searching the Oklahoman's archives. "The Spanish Village," as a descriptive phrase for this area, was apparently no more. Some time passing, the area would become known as, "The Paseo." In the 1960s, the area is said to have become the haven of "hippies" and those akin to "the drug culture," according to a May 26, 1985, Oklahoman article which discussed the 9th annual Paseo Arts Festival (the 1st such festival occurring in 1977). In a May 16, 1995, Oklahoman article, Ron T. Roberts, an artist in The Paseo, is quoted as saying,

I was here when Paseo was falling apart ... we hope to make this an art center of Oklahoma.
And, that, it has become.

Although The Paseo area suffered badly during many of the past several decades, it surely seems to have turned the corner during the past decade or so, big time! It hosts its annual Paseo Arts Festival over Memorial Day Weekend, so be sure to mix with the other 40,000 or so who are expected to visit during May 26-28, 2007.

For pics of the 31st Annual Paseo Arts Festival, click here for more than 30 Paseo pics.

PLACES TO GO YEAR ROUND. Why wait until the Arts Festival to visit The Paseo? There are cool places to go all year long! I'll add more as this post is expanded ... but ... trust me, you're gonna like the ones I've singled out below. For a look around the whole area, click here to skip to the overall tour.

JRB ART AT THE ELMS. Doug Dawg got a real treat last night, May 4, by a visit with my wife to an absolutely wonderful place called JRB Art At The Elms. It's located at the south end of The Paseo (#17 in the map, above) at 2810 North Walker.

The Elms was built in 1920 as the resident studio/gallery of Dr. and Mrs. Nan Sheets (1885-1976). Nan Sheets moved to Oklahoma City with her husband in 1912 and her history with the arts in Oklahoma and Oklahoma City is legendary -- to be covered in a separate "hero" blog post later. The Elms has been restored to its original purpose by Joy Reed Belt, owner and director of JRB Art at The Elms.

Soooo ... let's have a look at the going's on last night as Ms. Belt hosted 3 fantastic exibits by 3 Native American Artists, Tony Tiger (Seminole and Sac & Fox), Gerald Cournoyer (Lakota aka Souix), and Shane Brown (Cherokee). But, I'll show you much more than their stuff on this pictoral tour.

Click on any image below for a 1024 px wide view.

Arriving At The Elms Looking Northwest Into The Paseo

The Elms

Pastoral Dreamer by David Phelps (from Okc)
(aka Doug Dawg ... just kidding)

The Elms' Owner, Joy Reed Belt

Oklahoma Centenarians Exhibit by M.J. Alexander
An official Oklahoma Centennial Commission Project

Sculpture by David Phelps (Okc)
A woman apparently liking to be in serious trouble!

Kitchen Helpers

Looking South From The Kitchen
Paintings (left) by Linda Warren (Okc)

Looking Around In The Elms

Say, who was that masked dawg?

Tony Tiger (Seminole and Sac & Fox)

Gerald Cournoyer (Lakota)

Shane Brown (Cherokee)

OLD TRINITY ANGLICAN CHURCH. What do Blackville, New Brunswick, Canada, and The Paseo in Oklahoma City have in common? Both have served as the location of Old Trinity Anglican Church built in Blackville, NB, in 1842, and reassembled in The Paseo in 2000-2001.

Tom Lee, photographer, discovered that the old church was available on the internet and he bought it sight-unseen. Once declared a provincial historic site by the Canadian government, it had been deconsecrated as a church and was dismantled by a Halifax company that salvages old buildings. Two flatbed trucks brought it to Oklahoma City in November 2000. According to Google Maps, that's a 2,108 mile trip!

With that, I guess one could say that The Paseo became archetecturally ecclectic! It was reassembled on a vacant lot 3000 N. Lee (#11 in the Paseo map) and it's on Doug Dawgz Don't Miss List!

Have a look ... click on any image for a 1024 px wide view ...

Looking Northeast

Inside Looking Easterly

CRAIG'S EMPORIUM. Located at 3004 Paseo (#19 in the Paseo map), Craig Travis stocks this mind-boggling shop with unusual gifts from around the world.

Have a look ... click on a pic for a 1024 px wide view ...

Outside Looking East


THE GRAND TOUR. Most of the pics here were taken on a sleepy cloudy Sunday afternoon (5/7/2007). Generally, the "route" starts at the southeast end of the district, proceeds northwesterly on The Paseo to NW 30th and looks at buildings on the east side of the street, and, then, at NW 30th, loops south on The Paseo to NW 28th to see buildings on the west side of the street. There are a few exceptions. No detail about a building's business is provided here ... see The Paseo Arts District for that. Not every building is included just yet.

Click on any image for a 1024 px wide view

JRB Art at the Elms, #17 in the map, 2810 N. Walker
Go Here For More Detail

Sauced Cafe, #32 in the map, 2912 Paseo, and
Blue Moon, #31 in the map, 2916C Paseo

Art of Yoga, #33 in the map, 2929 Paseo, and
L. Jielle, #34 in the map, 2924 Paseo

ACLU, #18 in the map, 3000 Paseo, and
Craig's Emporium, #19 in the map, 3004 Paseo
Go Here For More Detail

Artscape, #21 in the map, 3014 Paseo, and
Sowzierre, #22 in the map, 3016 Paseo

Carousels & More, #23 in the map, 3018 Paseo,
Theatre Upon A Swawn, #24 in the map, 3022 Paseo,
Paseo Art Space, #25 in the map, 3022 Paseo and
Rainbow Fleet, #26 in the map, 3024 Paseo

Now at NW 30th, Looking Southeasterly

Rainbow Fleet, #26 in the map, 3024 Paseo, et al.

Studio Six, #1 in the map, 3021 Paseo

Looking South on Paseo, Generally

Galileo Restaurant, #3 in the map, 3009 Paseo

In Your Eye, #5 in the map, 3005A Paseo,
Isis, #4 in the map, 3007 Paseo,
Matlock Studio, #6 in the map, 3005 Paseo,
Studio Bleu, #7 in the map, 3003A Paseo, and
Adelante!, #8 in the map, 3003 Paseo

Gallery One, Paseo Studio, and Houx Studio
#52 in the map, 2927 Paseo

The Paseo Grill, #14 in the map, 2909A Paseo, and
Kathy's On Paseo, #15 in the map, 2909 Paseo

Kathy's On Paseo, looking northeast #15 in the map, 2909 Paseo

Avalon On Paseo, #16 in the map, 514 NW 28

Off The Path

Old Trinity Gallery, #11 in the map, 3000 N. Lee
Go Here For More Detail

A Fixer-Upper (south of Old Trinity Gallery), not in the map

Woodchuckchop, #35 in the map, 2924 Paseo

PLACES TO LIVE. These are some random pics of apartments in The Paseo, on the west side of the district. Greater detail is not provided. Click on an image for a 1024 px view.

On NW 30th Looking Southwest

On NW 30th Looking South

On Western Around NW 29th Looking East

On Lee Looking West

On Lee South of NW 30th Looking West

That's all for now on The Paseo. More to come, later!



Anonymous said...

Oh wow! The old Anglican church you mention in your blog used to stand just down the road from where I lived in Blackville, NB. Amazing that I came across it by chance on your site! I remember when it was dismantled, and it was a HUGE undertaking. I often wondered what happened to the building, and now I know. It's wonderful to see it being used as an art gallery. If I ever make it to OK from here in NB, I'll definitely make an effort to see it!

Doug Dawg said...

Hi to you, anon, way up there in NB! Glad you found this ... it appeared to me that the owner took care to do it right ... even has the altar area where it should be, I think.

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Old Trinity of Paseo is not used exclusively as an art gallery. In fact, I have never been that I have seen art displayed there. The main business of the chapel is that it hosts weddings.

Doug Dawg said...

When I wrote the above in May 2007, what I said was true. Mr. Lee sold the property in October 2007 and I haven't been in the property since.

Anonymous said...

My dad was born and raises in this area. His home was on 27th. We often visited our grandmother until she passed away. I spent many nights in that home on weekends when dad just dropped us off to get us out of his hair. But it was always a very joyous time for me and that was because of Paseo. Grandmother often walked with us to El Charitto to get wonderful food. I remember getting Icees at the convenience store. There was a grocery store near 24th or 25th.

Bob LaMascus said...

After moving from the Northeast side of town in the mid 50's we moved into a crazy little house at 2809 N. Lee which was a stone's throw to the "Paseo". I recall working Saturdays at Paul Brown's APCO Station there on the corner of 30th and Paseo. Mr Brown owned and operated that station for well over 30 years and I pumped gas, changed and lubed cars, and washed about 15 cars on a Saturday. I'm thinking, at that time, and on the opposite corner there was a beauty school for students. Even at that time things were getting run down and the Paseo Plunge was pretty iffy. Heck, even went to Harding High School as it was being toppled off its high horse by a new school called Northwest Classen!

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks for the great comment, Bob. You wouldn't have any old photos to share, would you?

Bob LaMascus said...

Doug, Sorry no photos. Kid running around with a Brownie Hawkeye would have been strange at that time. Heck, had our hands full thinking about girls, hot cars, drive-ins, and trying not to get whipped up on by bigger and badder dudes! Also, cigarettes, beer, and cool hubcaps were up on the list as important. Thank God for the US Army bringing order into my life!

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, Bob. Just thought I'd ask.

If you care to give a 1st hand description of what the Paseo Plunge (or anything else) was like, please do!

Bobby Cox LaMascus said...

Doug, Many of the photos of houses and apartment buildings are familiar and make the mind go ding! I think the photo of Studio 6 is the old Apco Gas Station definitely redone and I recall next to the station was a dry cleaners. When things were headed south for the Paseo there was a period of clubs, beer joints, that drove the neighbors to distraction; pretty seedy places! I went to four different high schools: McGuiness called Catholic High then, Northeast, Harding, and finally Harrah High out in Harrah, OK, graduating in '61. Headed to the Army and West Germany that Fall mostly, and like many other guys, I didn't know what to do with myself and I was just tired of the City and wanted to see something else. I'd have to say I was mostly a Northeast side of town kid attended a Catholic grade school, Corpus Christi, through the 8th grade and in the 10th grade we moved over to the Paseo area to get away from troubles between the races over on the Northeast side of town. If you're familiar with streets called "Lottie and 13th to 23rd, that was the mother road for us. Bootleggers and very hot cars for the time abounded. Even recall as a small boy getting on a streetcar on Lottie with my Mother to go downtown on a Saturday; everybody in the City would be shopping and having a good time and hang on to your Mother's hand because you would be lost among all the grown ups! Remember too many things to list but have always been glad to have grown up when I did. Did you ever do anything on Belle Isle? Beautiful Island was a ways before me but was always interested in what it was like back then. Best regards, Bob LaMascus, Tulsa, OK.

Doug Dawg said...

Bob, what an amazingly wonderful comment! I'm wondering if you might be willing to do an piece to be contained in <a href=">Old Stuff From Readers Like You</a> ... I had no idea about the stretch of Lottie between NW 13th & NW 23rd ... I live around NW 19th & Dewey not far away ... great stuff!

I've not done a piece on Belle Isle yet ... but I'll get to it eventually.

We both graduated from high school in 1961 ... though born in Okc, I didn't live here during my childhood and graduated from Lawton High. But, being of the same age group, I can easily identify with the kinds of things that you are saying ... we were members of the original rock & roll era ... Little Diamonds, Buddy Holley, Bill Haley & the Comets, etc. Maybe your piece could be called, "Little Darlin'", "Peggy Sue", or "Rock Around the Clock," "Recollections of a 1961 Graduate," or whatever you'd want!

If you're interested, send me an e-mail at and I'll give you my phone # and we can communicate more easily.

If not, thanks again for the great nostalgia ... some of the best ever posted in my blog's history.

By the way, I've got a vintage calendar put out by the Paseo neighborhood association or something similar which shows the addresses and business names of most shops in the Paseo district over its history but I've not gotten around to extracting and posting them. You've inspired me to get that little project done.

Anonymous said...

what a great collection of images and history. I was a frequent visitor to Paseo during the early 70s it was the hippies shangri la. thanks for taking the time to gather the media good job!!

Bruce Buckner said...

Just for the record, Doug, I was the one in charge of "sewing" Old Trinity back together and creating the new interior for Tom. It was a great experience because of the building itself and the getting to work with Tom. Both were wonderfully unique .

Bruce Buckner (USG'60 on OKCTalk)

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, Bruce. Did I get the Trinity description right, or does it need fixing? Your 1st hand report will trump anything that I've said.

Anonymous said...

I worked at the Paseo Plunge when I was a small boy in the 1930's. In return for cleaning the men's and women's dressing rooms early in the morning, I got to swim free. Incidentally, it certainly didn't have a roof in those days!