Native Tulsan Brings Church Studio Back To Life

Native Tulsan Brings Church Studio Back To Life

Some of the best musicians of all time have a Tulsa connection.

The Church Studio once hosted people like Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton. It's now owned by a native Tulsan, Teresa Knox, who just completed a years-long renovation project to bring the recording studio back to life.

"I bought it sight unseen when I first purchased it and I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with it," Knox said. “I love and admire my home state, especially Tulsa, I was born here."

Knox started digging into the history of the building, which was built in 1915 as Grace Methodist Episcopal. The church changed names in 1928, then again in 1948 and again in 1961.

“You can imagine all of the ceremonies and funerals and sermons. It was a really important church in Tulsa's history," Knox said. “You think about the community coming together to help build this church- it is really special."

Leon Russell bought the church in 1972 and converted the space into a recording studio, hosting big names like Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffett, Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson and Stevie Wonder.

"It is just amazing to me, all of the creative and artists and musicians who all came out of Tulsa," Knox said.

Remnants of the church can still be found in the studio. Teresa wants to keep it that way.

“I wanted it to be a living, breathing building, that was relevant to today's artists," Knox said.

Knox showed News On 6's Sawyer Buccy around the building. She pointed out the old baptistry as well as the original bell tower. The former sanctuary is now a space for live music.

Leon Russell's Tulsa history is also being preserved in the building. Knox pointed out a chair that belonged to Russell.

“It was in his Maple Ridge mansion,” Knox said. “I love this chair.”

Knox wants to make the building accessible to the community.

“In addition to being a recording studio, we will also be doing historic tours," Knox said. "We are a national landmark, so we followed best practices from the National Park Service.”

The hallways that saw some of the world’s greatest musicians, as well as ordinary churchgoers, will soon be open again to a new generation of artists.

It will also be available to students on field trips and curious adults who make it a point to visit the special space.

"We know music is this universal language- it is a healer, it brings everyone together," Knox said.