May 26, 2011

R.I.P. The Camelot Hotel - Tulsa, OK

Ever since I was a kid, I can remember the once beautiful Camelot Hotel. Built in the 1960's, it was an elegant eight-story, 330-room pink castle, complete with turret, massive iron gates, moat, drawbridge and a swimming pool shaped like the top of a medieval spear. In the late 1960's, the Camelot was the hot place to be in Tulsa. It was a popular place for local events, including proms, reunions, and wedding receptions.

Of course, it was not so elegant in my memory. My whole life the Camelot was in decay, abandoned and broken down. But it was still a castle. I always thought there must be some kind of magic kingdom behind those broken windows. Perhaps a sleeping princess who would restore her castle to glory once she had awoken. But she didn't wake up in time because the Camelot Hotel was torn down and replaced by a Best Western. It was a surprise on my visit to Tulsa when I didn't see the turret rising over the buildings. I immediately felt an ache for that old castle, even if no one had stayed in it for years. Well, stayed in it as a hotel. Over the years, it had become home to many a vandal and plenty of vermin. But you could still see remnants of the old elegance and majesty.

In 1996, the Camelot was condemned for public habitation. But despite the condemnation, the people of Tulsa still loved that decaying old building. One survey found that up to 80% of Tulsans were opposed to demolishing the Camelot. Most probably for sentimental reasons. After all, many people had attended proms, weddings, and other major events at the hotel. It was once a site where prominent celebrities stayed on their visits to the Sooner State (including Elvis and Richard Nixon).

But despite the love of the city, the Camelot could not be saved. Demolition began in August 2007. In September, the ballroom had been torn down and the building had caught fire. The Camelot was finally gone in April 2008. It is truly sad to see such a beautiful landmark go, even if it had past its prime.

Total Time Traveled: 9 hours
Total Distance Traveled: 522 miles
Soundtrack: "Cue the Theme Music" Playlist


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6 comments:

  1. Oh what a great sign ... I hope that someone saved it!

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  2. I spent my honeymoon at the Camelot Inn in 1967. Ah, memories live on even though the honeymoon suite is gone.

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  3. Just to make a quick correction, the site where the Camelot used to be is not home of the Best Western, it was a vacant lot for a long time and is recently, with the expansion of I-44 been turned into a QT.. or soon to be open QT.

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  4. My uncle talked a lot about Camelot Inn, so I had read about the hotel as well. This article reminds me of the praises of my uncle. Even though the hotel may not be replaceable, still the city boasts of some of the most popular and affordable Tulsa hotels downtown.

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  5. I worked here as a bellman/hotel limo driver from 1986-1988 along with a buddy while I was a student at Tulsa University. It seemed ancient then, but the decor was very cool. I saw Jesse Jackson there and my friend took Sam Kinison from the hotel to the airport. My boss, the bell captain, said Jay Leno chatted with him while staying at the hotel before he got famous.

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