Pearl District visionary Teresa Knox has another project in the works.
She is developing a restaurant and live music venue called the Swamp House at 1529 E. Third St., across the street from the Church Studio, a former Leon Russell haunt that she bought a few years ago and is working to restore.
Set to be operated by a veteran local restaurateur, the 2,300-square-foot facility is expected to open in March or April.
“We’re super excited,” Knox said by phone. “It will be a place and another option for musicians and engineers and the community that visits the Church, in addition to the restaurants that have opened and are opening.”
Swamp House is a sister development to the 1915 Church Studio, which she and her husband, Ivan Acosta, purchased through their firm, Hickory House Properties LLC, in 2016. Russell transformed the building into a collaborative haven for musicians, singers, songwriters and engineers in the early 1970s, helping create the “Tulsa Sound.”
“When I purchased it, the neighborhood was just really dilapidated,” Knox said. “With my strategic plan and vision for the Church, we kind of old-schooled it. We went door-to-door telling people what we were doing, asking them to clean up their yards.”
The Swamp House will feature indoor dining and a small stage, as well as a Third Street-facing porch, said architect Whit Todd, principal at Fritz Bailey, which is designing the facility. A parking lot will hold 14 spaces.
Building materials will appear as if they have been salvaged from an abandoned building somewhere along the Louisiana bayou, Todd said. Used tires that will adorn the metal roof panels will be a nod to the bayou swamp house look, and memorabilia from the local music scene will be displayed on the walls, he said.
“Teresa has such a creative vision for the entire district,” Todd wrote in an email. “She is building on the footprints Leon left behind along with the many other Tulsa music icons to create an asset for Tulsa that will last for generations.”
A former resident of the Pearl District, Knox owns many properties in the area — and elsewhere. Hickory House purchased the Harwelden mansion in 2018, and she is co-owner of a firm that recently rehabbed a large property in the Kendall Whittier District.
The Swamp House, she said, was inspired by the Church Studio and a desire to create a safe and engaging area around it.
“It really to me is going to be the anchor tenant in the area,” Knox said. “It doesn’t have elaborate history of the Arts District or the Art Deco buildings. It’s always been a working-class neighborhood since the teens (1910s).
“But it’s a neat neighborhood. Leon believed in it. If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. I just want to honor his legacy. “