Tour the Frank Phillips Home
“Over the past year, the staff and docents of the Frank Phillips Home have given guided tours to several thousand guests,” said Jim Goss, director and curator of the home. “We are always excited and appreciative of the many compliments we hear at the end of each tour. It is our goal to educate our visitors about the Phillips family, their home, and some of the important history of Bartlesville and Oklahoma.”
Upon arrival at the home, also fondly referred to as the “Grand Lady of Cherokee Avenue,” guests begin their tour in the Museum and Interpretive Center, located in the former six-car garage. Guests are welcomed as they sign the guest register and they are invited to take a self-paced tour of the center while waiting for the next available guided tour of the home.
The award-winning Interpretive Center, completed in 1995, presents, in photographs and artifacts, a brief history of the Phillips family and their contributions to society, as well as the oil industry. Also available is a 20-minute video depicting the history of oil in Oklahoma and the early history of Phillips Petroleum Company, founded in 1917 by Frank and a brother, L. E. Phillips.
The staff and docents of the Frank Phillips Home continuously research the people and history surrounding “Uncle Frank” and “Aunt Jane.” This is very apparent as guests are guided through the 26-room mansion. As one moves from room to room, stories are shared that give insight to the way of life from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s.
The early beginnings of Frank Phillips as a poor farm boy turned barber in Creston, Iowa, to banker and oil man in Bartlesville take shape. Important to the story one hears is Frank’s meeting and courtship of Jane Gibson, the daughter of one of Creston’s wealthier leading citizens, and their eventual marriage and move to the Indian Territory oil fields.
As the tour moves through the home, one sees the opulent mahogany woodwork, the silk damask wall coverings, the Waterford crystal chandeliers, and the beautiful oriental rugs. Each room gives the warm feeling of a very loving and vivacious family.
In the library, the visitor is greeted by 2,000 volumes on subjects ranging from agriculture, military history, and religion to biographies, and children’s stories.
In the dining room, one can imagine sitting at the table listening to the stories “Uncle Frank” loved to tell, or conversing with the many dinner guests that might be in attendance on any particular evening.
Upstairs one visits “Aunt Jane’s” bedroom where the walls are decorated with hand-carved wood and plaster, and her elegant private bath is lined with Italian rose marble. A summer sleeping porch that overlooks Cherokee Avenue is just through a set of French doors. Here Jane could sit and watch her peacocks strutting on the lawn or walking on the roof.
Also on the second floor is the elegant but warm and friendly girls’ room. It was here Frank and Jane’s foster daughters grew up. Girls of all ages find this to be a room in which they could “grow up.”
Connected by a private hall is “Uncle Frank’s” bedroom with walls painted in a forest scene, and animal skins on the floor and across his couch. His bath contains a barber chair where he received a shave at the hands of a local barber each morning between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m.
Between 1909 and 1917, the third floor was the private realm of John Phillips, the only natural child of Frank and Jane. When John left home for school and marriage, the third floor was used for various purposes. With the home’s remodel in 1930, a room was added that became the home of the Phillips’ butler, Henry Einaga, who secretly became a millionaire in the 1940’s, and yet continued to work for the family until his death in 1969 at the age of 81.
One can only imagine the stories that could be told if walls could talk. Guests in the home included Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Elliott Roosevelt, and architect Edward Buehler Delk. Uncle Frank held business meetings in the beautiful sunroom, and Aunt Jane held teas and bridge parties in the home. It was not uncommon to drive by the home and see the nation’s oil giants out on the lawn for a photograph session.
Director's Tour: August 4, 2010, an additional tour was added to our schedule. At 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, a special "behind the scenes" Director's Tour will be offered. The basement of the home, originally used as a laundry and extra cooking area, will be included as well as the garden cottage, where guests will be served refreshments at the end of this special tour. Admission for the Director's Tour will be $10 for adults, $7 for children 5 to 11 (4 and under are free).