Tulsa's Cave House filmed for HGTV's 'Home Strange Home'
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Sunday, August 05, 2012
8/05/12 at 4:57 AM
Calling another person's home "strange" doesn't typically elicit a friendly response.
Linda Collier, however, takes it as a compliment. In fact, she even put out the welcome mat for a television show.
Collier is the owner of the fabled Cave House at 1623 W. Charles Page Blvd., which was a recent stop for a production crew filming the premiere season of HGTV's "Home Strange Home."
"It fits the profile very well," said Sara Ivey, a producer and director with AMS Pictures based out of Dallas. She and several cameramen had already been filming when we arrived, with Collier leading the way.
"The Cave House pops up very quickly on Google searches," Ivey said between takes in the front room of the house, a cave-like den with a huge rock fireplace. Decor accents ranged from swags of branches and touches of animal print to owl figurines and two car seats used as chairs by an old TV set.
One of the area's most unconventional structural icons, the Cave House is known for its craggy exterior, made in the 1920s to look like a cave leading into the side of a rocky hill.
The architect was Daniel Eichenfeld, and it was built by Joseph Koberling Sr. - father of art deco architect Joe Koberling Jr. - and an oil-field geologist named James Purzer, Collier told us.
"Originally, it was built as the Cave Garden Restaurant, and I've been told it was actually a speakeasy during Prohibition," she said.
To her, it represents the city's past, present and future, "a puzzle of history."
Having passed the place for years, always wondering what was inside, Collier purchased the landmark about 15 years ago.
"The Realtor seemed to have a hard time grasping that I was serious," she said. It had long been abandoned, but she would hear from people who considered buying it - they just thought it needed too much work.
"I didn't really see all the work that needed done," she said. "I just saw it for what it was: an intriguing piece of Tulsa history, somewhat magical in the way it inspires such fascination and draws the attention of so many."
Almost every time she was at the house, people would stop by and tell her they had always wanted to see inside - much like she did before buying it.
"Often, they would share a story - some true, some rumors - and, of course, had many questions," she said. Not really knowing what to do with the place, she started giving "I've Always Wanted to See Inside" tours about five years ago.
Through those, she's found out much about the previous owners, like the Rag Lady and the Key Lady. Some have even speculated that the house is haunted.
Enter AMS Pictures, who found out about the house and contacted Collier. The production company had already filmed eight strange homes across the country for a pilot episode that aired last fall on HGTV.
Collier was tickled they called her.
"HGTV is my thing," she said. "I wake up with HGTV and go to bed watching HGTV."
Local photographer Evan Taylor, known for his popular "Death of a Witch" series, sent his shots of the house for the show's screening process, Collier said. The company submitted the information to the network for selection, then a shooting date was set.
When they found out about the upcoming filming, people started volunteering their time to help Collier get ready.
"Suddenly, I got offers from people I had never even met, some I had just met briefly," she said. "The common thread: They cared about my little cave house."
Painting had to be done, plaster cracks and mortar repaired, and windows replaced, thanks to vandalism, Collier said. Various businesses donated some materials.
"I really was touched by the way people were willing to rally for Tulsa's quirkiest little landmark," she said. "That fact, of course, becomes just more of its history."
The decor is often inspired by stories others share with her. She also loves to recycle and re-purpose, as evidenced by the cool key tree in her front room - an homage to the Key Lady, we assumed.
"Things like paper bag rocks on the wall, plastic bags on the wall of the stairway and other quirky things are just part of the place, like it or not," she said.
Hence the house's perfect fit for "Home Strange Home," which will also feature a variety of interesting residences, from treehouses and storybook-themed homes to eccentric modern ones, even a converted airplane.
The day before, Ivey and her team had filmed Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne's house in Oklahoma City, she said. The day after the Cave House, they drove to Eureka Springs, Ark., to film another off-the-wall residence.
"Home Strange Home" will air in November, but no date for the episode featuring the Cave House has been announced yet. In the meantime, Collier will resume tours of the house ($5 per person), preferably to groups of five or more and only by appointment.
"I have met amazing people over here," Collier said - "not just from Tulsa, but from all over the state and the country, even from other countries, that I would not have met if I were not blessed enough to be the owner of the Cave House."
For more, call Collier, 918-378-1952, or visit tulsaworld.com/cavehouse
Original Print Headline: HGTV to highlight Cave House
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
Linda Collier: "I didn't really see all the work that needed done. I just saw it for what it was: an intriguing piece of Tulsa history."
Jason Davenport (right) and production assistant David Avery film a hidden compartment at the Cave House for HGTV's "Home Strange Home." MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
One of the area's most unconventional structural icons, the Cave House is known for its craggy exterior, made in the 1920s to look like a cave leading into the side of a rocky hill. The local landmark will be featured on the HGTV show "Home Strange Home." MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
A slide leads into a lush sunroom, left, filled with greenery. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Tree branches form a canopy over a bedroom. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Quirky decor fills a bathroom at the Cave House. "Things like paper bag rocks on the wall, plastic bags on the wall of the stairway and other quirky things are just part of the place, like it or not," says owner Linda Collier. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World