Traveling over the holidays, we made a point to stop at the Cimarron Heritage Center Museum & Information Center in Boise City, Oklahoma.Why you may ask? The primary draw at the time was that it houses the largest collection of dust bowl memorabilia in the United States. With photographs and even some of the amazing dust (really, you have to touch it, it’s fantastic).
What we didn’t expect when we got there was the vast collection of mid-century collectibles and architecture. The 1949 Bruce Goff-designed home serves as a greeting area with offices, a unique gift shop, button and bottle collection and more.
Bruce Goff (1904-1982) designed the Cox House in 1949 for Julius and Opal Cox. Goff was commissioned by Julius Cox at the request of Cox’s son, Winton, who served with Goff during the war. Julius Cox was the general contractor for the home. Compared to Goff’s other works, the Cox house is considered conservative, yet distinctive.
The Cox house is a combination of brick, concrete, steel and glass. The roof is constructed of concrete Flexicore planks, 12″ wide, 6″ thick, with 4-1/2″ holes pierced through the length. This effect was intended to provide a double roof with insulation. The roof is supported by three dimensional steel trusses that lift the roof above the walls. Plate glass windows complete the walls. There are no conventional doors in the house, with the exception of the exterior doors. All interior doors are plastic accordion style doors. The windows are plate glass with vents beneath. The house does not contain any wallpaper or plaster. All walls are concrete and brick with walnut paneling. Julius Cox commissioned Goff again in 1959 to add on a bedroom, a porch and basement. By previous agreement, all architecture changes had to be designed and approved by Goff. Cox was the general contractor again for the addition.
Goff was born in the small town of Alton, Kansas. His family moved to various cities in Oklahoma. Goff began his career at the age of 12 working for an architect. By the age of 14 one of his designs was published and when he was 17 one of his designs was under construction. By the age of 21 he had designed 25 structures, of which 12 were built. Goff was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and later served as department head for the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture.
Goff designed numerous homes, churches and buildings throughout the United States from 1918 to 1981. Goff designed and built over 150 structures in his career. He designed such buildings as :
- Boston Avenue Methodist Church (Tulsa, OK)
- Philtower Building (Tulsa, OK)
- Oklahoma National Bank (Tulsa, OK)
- The Tulsa Building (Tulsa, OK)
- St. Paul’s Methodist Church (Cedar Rapids, IO)
- Page Furniture Depository & Warehouse (Tulsa, OK)
- Julius & Opal Cox Home (Boise City, OK)
There was so much to see that we’ll have a second post on the fabulous retro items housed in the museum. More photos of the architecture can be seen in the slideshow below:
The museum, along with the house occupies a huge multi-acre lot with multiple buildings that house exhibits and artifacts on dinosaurs, the Santa Fe Trail and other local historic sites. The adjoining French building includes a Dust Bowl exhibit as well as military, ranch, archaeology and paleontology displays. On the museum grounds visitors can explore a restored Santa Fe Depot, blacksmith shop, a one-room schoolhouse, homestead dugout, well house, wash house and windmill exhibit, along with antique machinery, wagons, buggies and much more.
Cimarron Heritage Center
P.O. Box 214
1300 N. Cimarron (Highway 287 North)
Boise City, Oklahoma 73933