Bartlesville’s History of Innovation and Entrepreneurism Built Our City and Stays With Us Today

Friday, April 12, 2019

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Bartlesville Oklahoma is known for being a smaller community with big city amenities. Here, the charming downtown streets are not only home to vibrant restaurants, boutiques and locally owned stores but also to high-rise buildings and a ballet company. This incredible and rare combination is because of Bartlesville's history and the desire of local residents to make this the best community to start and grow a business, in addition to raising a family.

Bartlesville has a history of success

Some of Bartlesville's early success can be traced to one of Oklahoma's greatest natural resources – oil. In 1897, the first commercial oil well in the state of Oklahoma, the Nellie Johnston No. 1 – blew in as a gusher, tapping into an oil supply underneath the Caney Basin. Two Iowa Brothers, Frank and L. E. Phillips, heard of the oil boom and came to Bartlesville in 1904. After hitting a gusher north of Bartlesville, they went on to have 80 producing oil wells and to found the Phillips Petroleum Company in 1917. Phillips became the Bartlesville's largest employers. Adding to their growth was the arrival of Armais Arutunoff who pioneered the submersible electric pump that makes it easier to pump oil from deep within the ground. His invention led to the creation of the REDA Pump Company.

Oil may have put Bartlesville on the map, but it’s what happened next that forever changed the city. Entrepreneurs and innovators arrived in Bartlesville and through the creation of their own companies, the community grew to become an All American City. This began as early as 1903 when the Vitrified Brick Plant opened, producing 50,000 bricks per day. In addition, the Crystal Ice and Storage Company, Great Western Glass Company, Bartlesville Zinc Company and National Zinc Company were built. H.C. Price Company (now Price Gregory) also got its start in Bartlesville.

Success led to investments in the arts, education and quality of life for Bartlesville residentsThe oil boom and subsequent innovation taking place in Bartlesville gained the city notariety, within Oklahoma and the rest of the U.S.. Proud of the community's success, the Phillips Petroleum Company, local businesses and community leaders invested heavily in the city's infrastructure, growth and in the arts. In 1902, the Oklah Theater was built and the community’s love affair with the arts began. Today, Bartlesville is home to the Woolaroc Museum that showcases the story of man's cultural development in the New World with historical artifacts and creations by those who called the region home. Additionally, Bartlesville is home to a ballet company, symphony orchestra, choral society and a community center that hosts performances throughout the year, including traveling Broadway productions. Bartlesville is also home to music festivals and cultural events that benefit from beautiful weather and the communities many public outdoor spaces.

In Bartlesville, families also benefit from a high quality of education in a safe and nurturing environment. The current education system can also trace its roots to historic Bartlesville where the first school was formed in 1905. Later, in 1916, Bartlesville became the first town in the state of Oklahoma to establish a junior high school. The community continues to invest in education and to pioneer programs designed to foster academic success.

We’re still innovating.

Bartlesville's history has been defined by innovation, entrepreneurism and community pride. Combined, these factors have led to many nationally and globally recognized companies getting their start in Bartlesville. These companies in turn, along with their employees, invested in the community to create a hometown with big city amenities. This same spirit that led to the growth of Bartlesville is contributing to our success today with the creation of local startups and restaurants. Entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking for a collaborative and energized environment to launch their next great idea should consider making Bartlesville home.

Success is contagious. What could you achieve in Bartlesville?

To learn more about our community, contact Jared Patton at (918) 337-8086 or jpatton@bdaok.org.

References:

http://www.bartlesvillehistory.com/pages/bartlesville_timeline

http://www.bdaok.org/play

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