— Tulsa's Historic Route 66 —
Before the washing machine became a standard feature in
nearly every home, people took their clothes to professionals
for cleaning. Four different businesses formed a "Dry Cleaner
District" along Route 66. Constructed from the late 1920s to
the 1940s, these machine-reliant businesses aligned with the
machine-age aesthetic of the period. Their buildings
exhibited elements of the popular Streamlined Moderne style,
such as glass block, curving corners, and neon signs.
Local residents and Route 66 motorists alike patronized the
cleaners, especially traveling salesmen who had to maintain
a professional appearance despite extended time on the road.
2036 E. 11th Street
Guaranty Laundry was constructed in 1928 from plans
by renowned architect Bruce Goff. The massive size of
the block-long building and the strong horizontal brick
banding conveys associations with the commercial cleaning
industry rather than the personal dry cleaning business.
Guaranty Laundry provided clean linens to all of the major
local hotels and restaurants. Along with Buhl Cleaners just
to the west, it was one of the largest cleaners in Oklahoma
before the widespread adoption of personal electric washing
machines. Guaranty constructed the Streamlined Moderne
fur storage building
next door to the main plant in 1940.
The business closed in 1966 but has been repurposed as a
moving company warehouse since 1979.
Buhl Dry Cleaners
2002 E. 11th Street
Arthur Buhl started a dry cleaning business in 1906 that he
operated from 211 S. Boston Avenue until 1926. In that year,
he constructed a one-story Mission Revival style building at
2002 E. 11th Street to house Buhl Dry Cleaners. The company
constructed several Art Deco wings to the east and west in
later years to meet the increased demand for its services,
especially during and after World War l. Arthur Buhl's son
and subsequent business owner, Paul Buhl, designed the
distinct neon sign that drew customers to the store.
The building was later converted into the 11th Street
Lofts apartment building.