Milk Bottle Grocery
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Milk Bottle Grocery is located at 2426 North Classen Blvd in
northwestern Oklahoma City, OK. Today the building is
occupied by the Saigon Baguette, which can be reached at
Grocery in Oklahoma City is the type of historic Route 66
establishment that you can miss only if your eyes are closed.
Constructed in 1930, the tiny, 350-square foot triangular
commercial building of red brick is located on a speck of real
estate smack in the right-of-way of a busy urban thoroughfare.
It sits at an old streetcar stop along a line that ran
diagonally across Classen Boulevard, which served as a segment
of Route 66’s original Oklahoma City alignment. Subsequent
realignments of the highway, first along Western Avenue and then
on 23rd Street, remained only a stone’s throw from the site.
If conducting business in a tiny brick store in the middle
of a city street is not remarkable enough, the towering milk
bottle perched on the store’s flat roof confirms that the Milk
Bottle Grocery is a Mother Road must see. Built of sheet metal
around 1948, the eye catching milk bottle was, and still is, a
funky advertising gimmick for the dairy industry. The building’s
tight spatial restrictions--hemmed in on all sides by
roadway--no doubt determined the milk bottle’s rooftop locale.
With only inches to spare beyond its walls, the only place left
to go was up.
The supersized milk bottle is
representative of the mimetic tradition in commercial
architecture, which seeks to mimic a commonplace object--often
to grotesque proportions--to draw attention to a business or
product. Yet, the milk bottle never directly connected to the
business of its place. It has always been rented separately.
Over the years, lettering and logos on this classic icon have
been painted and repainted to accommodate a long line of milk
related promotions. For those too young to remember what a real
milk bottle actually looks like, this rendition is remarkably
true to form, from its long, tapered neck up to its rimmed mouth
and its clever, metal crenellated version of the traditional,
folded paper bottle cap.
Aside from the big bottle, what
is most memorable about the Milk Bottle Grocery is the primacy
of its location for doing business in the automobile age. Over
the decades, this modest but well-situated building has
continued to draw a wide range of commercial ventures, including
a cleaners, a realty office, the Classen Fruit Market, a
barbecue “shak,” and the Triangle Grocery. Today, the building
houses a Vietnamese sandwich shop. The Milk Bottle Grocery was
listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.