ABOUT THE CASINO CLUB BUILDING
The Casino Club was formed in 1854 and tended to attract wealthy tycoons, while the San Antonio Club was formed in 1882 to give the intellectuals a place to read about and discuss lofty issues. By 1925, these two local social groups agreed to merge forces into what became the San Antonio Casino Club. The building was completed in 1927. The Saltgrass Steak House restaurant now occupies the building on the Riverwalk level. The upper floors are private. In 1942 the multi-millionaire Thomas Gilcrease purchased the building. Thomas Gilcrease grew up on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma and claimed his portion of the reservation as a child. When oil was discovered on his land, he was wealthy by the time he was in his 20s. He was married and divorced twice, including to Norma Smallwood, Miss America 1926, the first Native American to win the title.
Gilcrease was consistent in his love for Western art and artifacts. His collection of hundreds of thousands of pieces of art became the largest Western art collection in the US. He built what is now called the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK which now stores and displays his huge art collection.
* The Original Art Collection, in the Art Gallery (former Ballroom) of the Casino Club Building, 1942, is visible in these early photos:
It is well worth the trip to Tulsa to view the collection which is the finest in the world, in this author's opinion. Russell's and Remington's abound (some claim it is the largest collection of each of these artist's works), plus an incredible Moran. Gilcrease supported Willard Stone and Gilcrease had first-claim on all his sculpture.
His home in Tulsa, on the grounds of the Museum, is rumored to be haunted. Gilcrease makes all too frequent appearances on the stair landing. For many years, before moving to a palatial home on Peoria, the Tulsa Historical Society was housed in the tiny kitchen and brave volunteers gave tours of the home.