The WaterWorks Building
Nestled next to the Sand Springs railway by
the Arkansas river, the area now known as
Newblock Park first saw development in 1904 with the building of a water pump station. WaterWorks' industrial brick building was built in 1911 and was originally used as a water treatment plant, treating the water that was pumped from the Arkansas River. The plant removed silt from the water which was then piped to users in the city of Tulsa. However, in 1918, the plant was abandoned. The city's water source was no longer the Arkansas River as it began instead to use water from Lake Spavinaw.
Arts for Everyone
During the mid 70's, the City of Tulsa operated a variety of arts programming throughout its community centers and parks. As the city began to acquire more specialized equipment, such as pottery wheels and looms, the decision was made to create a more centralized center specifically dedicated to the arts. Johnson Atelier Art Center was established in 1977 to meet this need. Located in Johnson Park on the east side of Tulsa the small brown building became a place for artists to both learn and create. A greenhouse was converted into a paper-making studio, the kitchen became a darkroom, and kilns and throwing wheels were brought in for ceramicists . Community art classes thrived there until 1999. As the building aged and needed major renovations, the city decided to move the art center's programming to its current building in New Block Park. Renamed WaterWorks to honor the building's history, the building was renovated, and later expanded. The facility now offers a broad range of courses in watercolor, drawing, painting, fiber arts, jewelry and metalsmithing, fused glass, ceramics, and more.
The city saw potential in the facility and land though, and converted the area just north of the building into the city's first municipal pool. Children were brought by the bus load to enjoy a dip in the pool during Oklahoma's hot summer days. As the city continued to develop newer parks and pools, the pool at Newblock Park became less and less utilized. After 39 years the pool finally closed it's doors in the 70's. The pool would have been located in the lower parking area in front of the building.
Officially opened in 1927, the park was named for Herman F. Newblock, former Chief of Police, Tulsa County Sheriff and Mayor of Tulsa(1922-28, 1932-34). Joining the Riverside Trail to the Katy Trail, the Newblock Park Trail is an excellent connector for those interested in travelling to Sand Springs. The park has several amenities, including picnic benches, playground equipment, a practice field for softball, and a manicured softball field (Forche Field) as well.
In 2008 the Newblock Sculpture Park was created. Enjoy outdoor contemporary sculptures as you make your way through the park. Artists include Tom Pershall, Delmar Layman, David Phellps, Dan McDermott, John-Paul Phillippe and Xavier Zamarripa.