The Drexel Building

by Lee Roy Chapman


Located at 319 S. Main, the Drexel Building once housed the local clothiers Renberg’s.

This location has been etched in our collective memory as the place in which a young Dick Rowland assaulted a white elevator operator, Sarah Page. The following day, May 31, 1921 an editorial from the evening paper, the Tulsa Tribune prompted a white mob to descend on the courthouse to lynch Mr. Rowland. Seventy or more armed World War I veterans appeared from Greenwood to prevent the lynching, as they had done before in the area on more than one occasion. The event that followed has become known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

There is evidence that Rowland and Page knew each other and may have been romantically involved.

Historians have yet to figure out what the two were doing at the location on May 30, 1921. The day the “assault” occurred was Memorial Day, and the Drexel Building was closed.