Famous Sapulpa fire escape headed for Outsiders House

A bit of Sapulpa history is making its way to Tulsa.

The fire escape located in the alley adjacent to the Iowa building on Dewey Avenue has been the victim of numerous trash and delivery trucks and big rigs making their way down the alley, and last week, it seemed to have breathed its last. A delivery truck pulled into the alley and tore into the fire escape, partially dismantling it and leaving it bent and twisted, its warped staircase hanging precariously from a mangled mess of metal attached to brick. See the video below of footage that was shot across the street of the scene:

Harlan Yocham, the owner of the building, was growing increasingly wary of the danger the staircase could pose to pedestrians. When the opportunity came to make it a part of the Outsiders House Museum in Tulsa, he didn’t hesitate. “Let him have it,” he said.

Danny Boy O’Connor, the former frontman of the musical group House of Pain, has devoted the last several years to creating the Outsiders House Museum, an on-location tribute to the residence made famous by the 1983 movie The Outsiders, starring Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and C. Thomas Howell, among a smorgasbord of then-unknown actors such as Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Nicolas Cage and many more.

The follow-up movie, titled Rumble Fish, was filmed back-to-back with The Outsiders, and starred Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke. Several major scenes from the movie were filmed in Sapulpa, including the fire escape scene, apartment scenes, and a scene involving a Rexall Drug Store, which is now the location of boutique shop Isabella’s Collection.

Metalworker Chris Wollard created the rocket being held by Buck Atoms on 11th street in Tulsa. Photo from buckatomson66.com

The initial plan was to use a small crane in the alley next to the fire escape, in order to safely bring the staircase down without disrupting traffic. Unfortunately, concerns regarding power lines and maneuverability necessitated a larger crane, which left the westbound lanes of Dewey Ave blocked for about an hour. Danny O’Connor and Brian Maddera helped direct traffic around the crane while Gary Coulson and Chris Wollard oversaw the removal of the fire escape. Wollard is a seasoned metalworker who has worked on numerous public sculptures, including the rocketship being held by the famous Buck Atoms statue at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66 on 11th street in Tulsa.

O’Connor says the fire escape will be repaired and eventually put on display as part of the growing collection of S.E. Hinton (the Tulsa-born author of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish) memorabilia. “For the time being, the fire escape will be here in Tulsa in storage until it can be repaired, and then displayed at a future location with the rest of my ever-growing S. E. Hinton collection,” he said.  “We plan to return to Sapulpa this summer and put a historical location marker plaque in this alley honoring Oklahoma’s movie history and the legacy of all those involved in the making of this great film.”

According to O’Connor, there’s a mobile app currently under development that will let fans of Hinton’s books and movies take an in-depth tour to see numerous locations where scenes were shot in various towns, including Tulsa, Sperry and Owasso. Sapulpa may have as many as five of these location markers, drawing a new breed of tourism into downtown.

See more photos of the fire escape removal below.

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Micah Choquette

Micah Choquette

Micah is the Owner and Publisher of Sapulpa Times.