All photos ©Alison Zarrow 2005-2007. Please see fine print.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Camelot Hotel - I-44 & Peoria

IMG_0249, originally uploaded by Abandoned Tulsa.

This hotel was built in 1965 and has been vacant for years. Currently owned by Maharishi Global Development.



Blogger CK420 said...

I attended the last couple of OKON science fiction conventions that were held here quite a while back. I also remember that this building appeared briefly in the 1982 movie Tex starring Matt Dillon.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to go inside this place to take photos...

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me too, empty run down buildings alwans get my attention.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some crazy shit goes on in there im sure.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I find some pictures of the Camelot from when it was still opened? I have searched Google and Lycos without much luck. I don't know why, but I am drawn to this building and would love to know more about it and see some floor plans. Its demise is a shame.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Originally called "The Camelot Inn". I worked reservations, rented Hertz cars, worked switchboard and front desk from the summer of '68 (after my first year of college), off and on through the early '70s, while attending TU. My late mother was reservations manager for years. Shifts were 7 am - 3 pm, 3 - 11 and 11 - 7. I worked all of them at one time or another. Getting off work at 11 pm, and going back the next morning at 6:45 am, I left a "wake-up" call with the overnight PBX operator - in addition to her hotel guest "wake-up" calls - so I could get from my apartment near TU back to work on time! Bellmen wore "pass-keys" on a ring large enough to slip over their necks. The head bellman drove a Caddy. His purview was booze and women. (I could always get booze after-hours from him - at a price, of course.) The head of housekeeping was a delightful woman and very helpful in locating lost belongings. The "custodian" carried $1000+ in hundreds in his wallet, and showed it every chance he got. We all told him that was foolish. Late one night, the TPD vice squad busted some "working women", handcuffed them over the front desk - independents, I'm told - because they were soliciting conventioners on their own, without the blessings (or paybacks to the hotel "pimp"). One time had the biggest damned Bowie knife I've ever seen pulled on me and another woman working overnight on front desk. We shook for hours. The "tower suites" rented for $100 a night in the late '60s; at two storys, the view of south Tulsa was great. One of our security men was killed on duty in the parking lot going after a guy breaking into a car for its belongings. Another time I drove home after my 11 pm shift was up, - left a 6:45 wake-up call to return at 7 am. My phone rang about 3 am, only this time it was the manager telling me the hotel was "on fire", and I was needed immediately. As I sped across town, all I could think of was that I'd gotten two friends from Phillips U. a "comped" room for the previous night. When I went in the east side, there were dozens of people in various states of undress, in robes, covered in blankets, bedspreads in the sunken conversation area in the large lobby. And there in the middle were my two friends, covered in soot; the fire had started on their floor, which I later got to inspect. The Camelot always kept a "block" of rooms for American Airlines pilots and, what were then called - not a flight atttendents, but stewardesses. A Camelot big shot stuffed wads of hundreds into my hands and told me to take some "stewardesses" to St. Francis Hospital to be checked out. Several people had thrown chairs through windows and actually tied sheets and bedspreads together to escape. The three stewardesses I drove in my '64 1/2 Mustang were very shaken-up, and one got a bottle of Vodka out of her train case and we all shared it on the way to St. Francis. While working there I met and talked with the following: Gary Player top-ranked South African golfer, Karen and Richard Carpenter - they carried their own luggage, Bob Hope - (I now own the cigaret lighter Hope gave my Mom, with his ski-nose likeness on it; it's so cool),the manager of the Harlem Globetrotters - Marcus Haynes (bought us gifts each Christmas) - and Nixon's "nattering nabobs of negativism" alliterative VP Spiro Agnew - before he pleaded "nolo contendre" and was booted from office. Was working PBX one night when I plugged into a call from the actor George Peppard, who was trying to reach his attorney who was staying at the Camelot, but whose line was busy forever. I offered to send a bellman to the man's room to tell him Peppard wanted to talk with him. Peppard thanked me and we engaged in small talk for about 15 minutes until his attorney got off the line. (I remembered he was involved in a paternity suit at the time, so I didn't mention how sperm looked like tadpoles to me;)) In the PBX room was a tall, rotating, alphabetized name & room number list. If someone DID NOT want it known they were a guest, to anyone, their card was at the bottom of the run, with x's through the name. (I later learned that most of these were not trysts, but, in fact, women "on benders". Probably the safest place for a woman alcoholic to stay and drink.) I found the decor of the hotel and of the "Red Lion Club" tacky and a bit over the top. I, too, am a long-time photographer, and loved to go into buildings as Alison has, and by photographing them, let them tell me their stories. I worked with some wonderful Tulsans there, and lost a good chunk of my naivete, grew-up by eons and learned more of the real world than I ever did in college. The place is now a blight, a health hazard and a goddamned eyesore. Good times should be remembered; but the building needs to be razed. I'd like to take the first wrecking ball to it myself; it's like seeing a memorable, special part of my past, festering with pollutants, excretory scum and godawful Katrina-like crud. Memories should be allowed to gracefully fade, not rot into oblivion.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Joshua Blevins Peck said...

i first witnessed a little thing called mtv in the first months of its existence while staying the night at the camelot. i'll cherish the place forever just because of that.

just happy it is fighting off being destroyed--which will happen someday i'm sure.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I cried as I watched the news story telling that we would forever lose the Camelot Inn in a few months. When I was 6, my family started a tradition of going there every summer for a week. I didn't miss a summer until I was in my 2nd year of college. I vividly remember driving over the draw bridge and parking in the entry way, then walking in & seeing all the dark wood, scarlet & gold colors, chains, suits of armour, and running to sit in the king & queen chairs. About 8 years ago, my sister & I pulled into the back parking lot to look in & see the pool. Although it was terribly grown over, and there was only a little bit of green rain water in the pool, it smelled the same as I remembered! We both stood there with our eyes closed, breathing in all we could. I went back about a year ago-there was no familiar smell anymore. I have had an understanding with my husband over the last 10 years that when he won the lottory, I was buying the Camelot. I am an elementary principal and see too many pitiful situations with children and families. I have been talked to about taking my students in after a drug bust or whatever criminal act the parents are caught doing. I know it is a scary & sad time for the kids, but I believed I can make it more pleasant for these kids on this kind of night if they could stay in a castle!

9:30 PM  

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