December 2019 (Vol. 33, No. 12)

Page 38

GIVE IT YOUR WALL Ziegler’s dedication to the Kendall Whittier District isn’t just apparent in its love for the neighborhood. Their devotion to customers shines through in a simple practice that’s kept them in business for half a century. By Gina Conroy Photos by Sarah Eliza Roberts

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Not far from downtown’s growing art district at the corner of Kendall Whittier Square sits a historic red brick building overflowing with treasures waiting to be discovered. One of Tulsa’s best-kept secrets, Ziegler Art and Frame, a unique, family-run store, has been serving the Tulsa community for almost 50 years. And they plan on being around for at least 50 more. “There’s nothing like us,” says Trent Morrow, grandson to Dan Ziegler, the master craftsman who built the place by piecing together buildings as they acquired new property. “A lot of our regulars come here not knowing what they want, but they always leave with some new treasure.”

Tourists who stay downtown enjoy Ziegler’s unique charm and the area named one of the seven certified art districts in Oklahoma. With Circle Cinema, bookshop, restaurants, coffee shop, STEMcell Science Shop, and breweries close by, you can easily spend a day of entertainment in Kendall Whittier District. “I’m a big advocate for the neighborhood,” says Trent, president of Kendall Whittier Main Street a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the area. “When [Whittier Main Street] started in 2010, we had a 35% occupancy rate on the square, but at this moment, we’re just about at 100%.”

The nonprofit has done a lot for the economic development of the area after decades of decline. When Ziegler first opened its doors in 1973, they didn’t know the district was starting a downhill spiral after thriving for decades as Tulsa’s first suburban shopping district. The construction of the eight-lane highway built in 1967 would soon change the neighborhood, but not Ziegler. They started as a wholesale business in a little space selling to companies like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. “We did manufacturing, canvasing, and little frames,” says Trent. “My dad focused on retail and business, and my grandfather kept his eye on properties.” As Dan bought up buildings and expanded, his son-in-law, Trent’s father, filled the rooms with merchandise. Over the years, the wholesale side started dwindling as retail flourished. After the decline of the area in the 1980s, Ziegler stood strong and kept its doors open to serve its