Bavinger House | Norman, OK - Beth Dean Photography
Welcome to Beth Dean Photo! I work for corporate America as a digital and content marketer by day and am an Oklahoma-based photographer on the fringes, specializing in family photos, seniors, weddings, and architectural photography.
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Bavinger House | Norman, OK

I love living in Oklahoma and am continually fascinated by the pieces of history tucked here and there throughout our state. Recently, someone from the Facebook group “You Know You’re From Norman If…” posted about how much they missed the Bavinger House and it reminded me that I have some photos.

In December 2010, my boys and I had the pleasure of visiting the Bavinger House in Norman, OK. Designed by architect Bruce Goff and owned by OU Professor Bavinger and his family, the house was passed down to his son once the professor passed away. There’s been some controversy lately about the son, who currently owns and oversees the property, being extremely unwelcoming and gun-happy with visitors. At the time we went, though, the house was still open for tours, and I must say the son was nothing but polite and welcoming to us and answered all of my random questions as he gave us a tour. The son (forgive me; I can’t remember his name) told me that they were open 365 days each year at that point, and he had even given tours on Christmas Day. All I know about this place is what I gathered from the tour, so feel free to correct me on anything I got wrong. I’m going into a lot more detail than usual here for historical purposes since the house is closed to the public now.

On to the photos!

Photography note: I only had my 50 mm fixed lens with me at the time. Always meant to go back with a wide-angle lens and get more encompassing shots. Pity I didn’t (hence all of the tightly cropped images).

Starting from the outside, the place looks like a big spiral, held together by a series of cables. The front door is around the right, I think under that overhang thing.

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Here are the cables up close. You can see that the spiral is lined by windows.

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And here’s a closer look at where the cables meet at the top.

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Around back, I had to contain my excitement when I saw a bridge (I have a strange obsession with bridges. See some cool ones on my Pinterest board). Alas, it wasn’t for crossing. The bridge was anchored to some land nearby to serve as an additional support  for the house.

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Also in the backyard, these. You can see unique pieces of art throughout the house.

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Also throughout the house, both inside and out, these aqua pieces of glass or rock.

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I really wish I had a better photo of the front door. The hinge was more towards the middle of the door rather than the end, so it was almost as if it swung open more than opened. Bad description, I know. Here are the hinges:

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And here is the doorknob. Notice there’s both an artistic doorknob, as well as a more common functional one. I am 75% sure this was to the front door, though this could have actually been to the bathroom.

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Here’s the view from right inside the front door, through the window. Notice the logo sticker on the window. Nice touch.

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Here’s part of the view when you walk into the front door. To the left is the pod that serves as a living/rumpus room.

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The rooms are made up of a series of pods with a beige-ish carpet (carpet that looked a lot cleaner than I would have imagined after living there for so many years with kids). Here is the living room. It “floats” and is pretty comfy to sit in:

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Pods are held up by pulleys:

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The living room hangs off of the bottom of another pod for the master bedroom. You can see that the pod was wired; it has a light fixture in it:

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The master bedroom is up a flight of stairs. A view from beneath the stairs:

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Head on:

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And from above:

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Pods above the first floor were surrounded by netting for safety.

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Here is the master bedroom. Personally, that closet would be WAY too small for me. 🙂 The son told me that when anyone wanted privacy, they could close the curtains. The middle of the pod was the bed. It looked like a round carpeted insert.

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This was one of the other bedrooms:

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The bathroom was a short way up the stairs from the master bedroom. Almost everything in this house is custom-made and perfectly blends fashion with function. Just looking at the series of drawers and the marbles inset into the bathroom cabinets showcases the great care that was put into every detail.

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Further up the stairs, almost at the very top, is a fan.

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There’s a somewhat traditional office at the top that the Professor would use. I didn’t get a photo of it (very sorry), but got what I think it the outer wall.

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Jumping back down the stairs to the ground floor, here is the kitchen.

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Amd a view of the oven fron the outside window:

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A small dining table is near the kitchen:

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To the left of the living pod is the dining pod.

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The backrest appears to be rebar.

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I’m afraid the photos don’t quite capture it, but the boys and I had so much fun just walking around the first floor Everything was very organic and the floor was set up almost like a mountain trail. The Bavinger son told me that when he was a kid, a good portion of the bottom floor was filled with water as well, which added to the effect of an outdoor space, indoors, almost as if a river was flowing through the house. It must have been stunning, though as a Mom I kept thinking about the imaginary shouting fits I’d have with my boys, such as , “Quit splashing all over the house!” or, “Just because these curtains don’t have locks doesn’t mean you can bust into my room whenever you want!” I asked the Bavinger son what it was like growing up there, and he said it was an absolute blast. I can see a house like that being a real adventure for a kid.

You can sort of walk/hike around the perimeter of the inside of the house, which forms a circle. Along that circle, you come across other artistic pieces of furniture. You can also see the inside view of those windows along the roofline that I pointed out earlier.

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And to top it all off, a mystery door!

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It’s a real shame to hear that the place sustained major weather damage and is closed. The house was so beautiful; one of those places that when you see it, your eyes glow with wonder and you can’t help but at least whisper, “Wow.” I hope that the place gets its second wind sometime in the future (figurative wind; not literal!!).

Beth Dean
beth@bethdeanphoto.com

Beth Dean is a digital & content marketer by day, photographer by night and weekends, and book blogger based in Norman, Oklahoma. You can find my latest photography projects at http://bethdeanphoto.com and latest book reviews and recommendations at http://readremark.com.

1Comment
  • Catherine Banzet
    Posted at 12:22h, 28 August

    Great pictures! I can’t believe that I lived in Norman from 1995 to 2009 and NEVER saw this place! Thanks for sharing! I love architecture and this is a most interesting, incredible place! Will have to drive by the next time I come home to visit!