Frank Phillips home in Bartlesville set to change ownership due to state budget crisis

Posted at 7:16 PM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 20:18:57-04

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- The state's budget crisis almost put the future of an historic attraction in jeopardy.

The Oklahoma Historical Society can no longer afford to maintain and operate the home built by Frank Phillips, located at 1107 S. Cherokee Avenue, in Bartlesville. He founded the Phillips Petroleum company and finished the stately home in 1909, which has since become a popular stop for tourists.

"Being a resident here for 52 years, I know that it is important to our community, this home," Bill Griffin, president of the Friends of the Frank Phillips Home, said, "because it represents Bartlesville, Oklahoma."

Because of budget cuts, the state historical society plans to hand over the home to the city of Bartlesville. City leaders, however, said they cannot afford to keep it up either, which created a dire circumstance based on the home's deed.

"(The deed) said that the state should pass it onto the city of Bartlesville," Bob Fraser said. "If the city of Bartlesville could not operate it as an historical home, the home was to be demolished."

Fraser, the CEO of the Frank Phillips Foundation, is stepping in to help. The Bartlesville city council will likely approve a plan Monday to become the home's new owners, but it will then begin a process of transferring ownership permanently to the foundation, which also runs another famed Phillips property, the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve.

"Yeah, I can dispel that rumor," Fraser said, laughing. "The bulldozers will not be showing up here."

With that crisis averted, visitors can expect the home to stay exactly where it is.

Once city councilors approve the plan, court proceedings will be held to make the foundation the official owner, a process that is expected to take 60 to 90 days.