City Council OKs Frank Phillips Home ownership change

A long-time Bartlesville monument will be undergoing ownership changes following a decision of the Bartlesville City Council on Monday.

The council voted 5-0 to accept the transfer of ownership of the Frank Phillips Home, located at 1107 S. Cherokee Ave., from the Oklahoma Historical Society — with the understanding that the Frank Phillips Foundation will take ownership of the property as soon as possible.

The museum was once the home of Phillips Petroleum founder Frank Phillips.

City Attorney Jerry Maddux told the council that budget cuts have prohibited OHS from maintaining and operating the Home into the next fiscal year, and that wording on the property deed specifies that the site is to become property of the City of Bartlesville in the event that OHS becomes unable to maintain it.

Maddux said the City, however, lacks the funds to properly maintain the facility, nor does City staff have the expertise required to operate it.

“If the City of Bartlesville is unable to maintain the property, under the literal reading of the deed, the property is to be torn down,” Maddux said, adding that at no point were any of the interested parties in favor of this option.

In an effort to resolve the issue, City staff began working with the Frank Phillips Foundation, which owns and operates Woolaroc — another area tourist attraction and Frank Phillips-based museum — which agreed to take ownership of the Home.

“The Foundation determined there was sufficient financial support to perform the deferred maintenance on the Home and to operate it and keep it open to the public as in the past,” Maddux said.

He said OHS has agreed to transfer ownership of the property to the City with the understanding it will in turn be deeded to the Frank Phillips Foundation “with restrictions that they will continue to operate the home as an historic site.”

Maddux said the property will be leased to the Foundation until actual ownership can be transferred and approved by the court.

“The court proceedings will take approximately two months and, accordingly, no deed will be given to the Foundation until the Court proceedings are completed and approved by the Court,” he said. Maddux said the lease is needed so the Foundation can operate the Home in the interim.

Maddux said notices will be given to the heirs of the people who donated the Frank Phillips Home to the OHS.

“We do not anticipate objections,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Bartlesville Convention & Visitor’s Bureau