Philbrook Museum of Art is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the former Waite Phillips estate. The museum housed in the Villa Philbrook, an Italianate mansion surrounded by of 25 acres of gardens. The estate was created for the wealthy oilman and philanthropist Waite Phillips (1883-1964) and his wife Genevieve Elliott Phillips (1887-1979) and their two children in 1926-1927. The gardens around the mansion were the result of a collaboration of the owners, the house's architect, and the firm of Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects & City Planners. To complement Delk's architectural designs, the garden design combined French, and English garden iconography with inspiration from Villa Lante, an Italian country estate by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola in 1566. They followed Renaissance models with features such as formal gardens, cascading water feature, rock garden and pond terminated by a tempietto. The main emphasis was placed on the East Formal Garden, which was designed on axis with the villa's grand hall. The Italian preference for a predominately green palette was achieved with beds of English ivy, low hedges of Chinese privet, clipped spheres of bay or boxwood and tall red cedars chosen to mimic Italian cypress. Beyond the formal garden stretches a pastoral grove. Important to Genevie Philips was a scheme that featured plants native to the area. Specimens were collected from the native woods on the property, and used in along the flagstone walkways, in borders, and on slopes near house. Yuccas, cedars, dogwood, elder, and serviceberry were among the varieties incorporated into the Italianate design. Structures found throughout the gardens include the Tempietto, the Summer House built in 1933, fountains in the East Formal Garden, the grotto, and a fireplace.
To design their home, the Philips commissioned a Kansas City architect, Edward Buehler Delk (1885–1956), as well as designing Villa Philmonte for their ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, and the Philtower office building in downtown Tulsa. For Villa Philbrook, Delk interpreted the most fashionable styles of the day in his plans for the 72-room Italian Renaissance villa. It is situated high on the property, overlooking the gardens and to get the breezes in warmer months. The façade of the house is unpretentious with spare use of classical ornament. The house and grounds are linked by the addition of arches and windows, which frame views of the garden, as well as a loggia and terrace that overlooks the most formal of the gardens.
After only eleven years living at Philbrook, the Philips family donated the estate to the community to become Tulsa's first art museum. The house underwent major renovations, and the landscape architecture firm, Hare and Hare, were brought back in to work on the conversion of the gardens from private to public. In 1939 the Philbrook Art Museum (later Philbrook Museum of Art) opened to the public. The gardens were briefly used as a botanical garden concerned with the development, preservation and exhibition of native species to Oklahoma and the Southwest. From 2002-2004, Howell & Vancuren designed another major garden renovation with the support of the Philips family. The Philips also gave Villa Philmonte and the Philmont Ranch to the Boy Scouts of America, and today both institutions continue to serve their communities.
Contributions to the construction of Villa Philbrook were made by multiple craftspeople and artists including George Gibbs, Oscar Bach, Bertram Segar, Cooper & Gentiluomo, Edward F. Caldwell & Co., and Jørgen Dreyer.
Persons associated include: Waite and Genevieve Phillips (former owner), Edward Buehler Delk (architect), S. Herbert Hare of Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects & City Planners (landscape architect), Howell & Vancuren (landscape architects), and Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc. (owner).
Postcard circa 1930-1950.
Also known as Philbrook Art Museum and Philbrook Museum of Art.
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