Blair Mansion Demolished Making Room for 'Gathering Place'

Demolition wrapped up Saturday morning on Tulsa's Blair Mansion along Riverside Drive. The historic home was removed to make way for a major parks development to be completed in 2016.

Since the early 1950's, Blair Mansion has looked out over its sprawling front lawn onto the Arkansas River and Riverside Drive. Saturday, the home became nothing more than a pile of debris.

"I didn't realize, when they said it was coming down today that they, literally, meant down to the ground today. I mean, it's gone," a bicyclist riding along Riverside said.

The mansion was built by Tulsa oilman B.B. Blair in 1952 and is being demolished to make way for the new waterfront parks and recreation development, 'A Gathering Place for Tulsa.'

"We're truly disappointed that the Kaiser Foundation couldn't use it as part of 'The Gathering Place,'" said Kimberly Pettit, for whom the project is personal. Her husband's family formerly owned the home. "It's just such an iconic place in Tulsa. We're just sad to see it being torn down."

The demolition shocked many out on the Riverside trails, bringing out mixed emotions. "I mean, I think it's sad. I think it's kind of monumental, especially, running along here and getting to see it every day," said one runner. "I mean, we've had it here to look at and kind of distract our attention when we run down here and walk, and it's gone now and it's sad," said another.

But, as many reminisce on what once was, some are also looking ahead to what will be. "I don't know that it's worth getting rid of, but I think that we have great things to look forward to with the gathering place, so... good things to come."

Original plans called for the home to be moved and reconstructed in a different location, but that proved to be impossible.

Construction on 'The Gathering Place' is expected to begin sometime later this year.