Like all of Tulsa, Gitwit is built on land that was originally part of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation. Our building’s lot was originally purchased from the tribe by business partners and grocers Henry C. Calhoun and William R. Wallace in 1904.
By 1921, the building was occupied by H.A. Guess, a graduate of Howard Law School and one of the Southwest’s most respected black lawyers in the early 1900s. In the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the local government began creating new zoning restrictions, an undisguised effort to force the Black population of Greenwood out of their neighborhood. These new zoning laws prohibited the building of structures with flammable materials to, as they claimed, prevent the kind of widespread fires that ravaged Greenwood on June 1st. This made it illegal and therefore impossible for former Greenwood residents to rebuild their homes and businesses using the materials available to them.
There have been many other businesses and residents of 301 and 305 E Archer St in the past 100 years, including Black-owned barbershops and cleaners, the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, New Media, Strings West (which is still open at a different location), and more.
As the current occupants, we hope to honor our geographic ancestors by creating a beautiful space designed for Nitwits to collaborate, move quickly, and break things (...not literally). Our thanks to the many people who contributed their crafts to this project; especially Justin Baney for his vision and tireless efforts that made it a reality.
Samuel Rader (occupied 301): Grocer
Attorney H.A. Guess (occupied 303): Lawyer
Friedman Brothers (occupied 301): Grocer
J.J. Bird (occupied 303): Laborer
Louis Newman (occupied 301): Grocer
Tobe Murphy (occupied 303): Cleaner
Jack Lyle (occupied 303): Barber
Herbert Allsdale (occupied 303): Cleaner
Q.T. Stark (occupied 303): Barber
Federal Storage & Van Co. (occupied 301): Storage
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. (occupied 303 and 301): Manufacture
Holcker Manufacturing Co. (occupied 301): Manufacturer
Strings West (occupied 301): Guitar Retail
Folks Urban Market And Pantry (occupied 305): Grocer
New Medio (occupied 301): Software Development Firm
H.A. Guess was one of the Southwest’s most respected black lawyers in the early 1900s, making it into the 1915 edition of “Who’s Who of the Colored Race.” Born in 1869, Guess was a graduate of Howard Law School and began practicing law in Tulsa in 1912.
On the night before the June 1st Race Massacre, Guess was one of the men from Greenwood, many of them WWI veterans, who drove down to the courthouse to confront the White mob that was demanding an African American man be lynched for an alleged transgression. During this confrontation shots were fired, and twelve men died.
Guess returned to his home on Elgin Avenue, to his wife, Minnie, and his two daughters, one street east of Gitwit’s location. They went to sleep, only to be awoken by fire. Their home was being burned to the ground by white men. Guess, his wife, and his two daughters hid from the men. Shortly after, Guess was somehow separated from his family and captured by the mob. He was one of many Black men, women, and children paraded like prisoners down the streets of downtown Tulsa at gunpoint with their hands in the air.
How do we know this? His wife and children saw it happen. Guess, upon seeing his wife and daughters safe in the crowd, gave them a wink and a smile. His wife and daughters returned to their house on Elgin Avenue in an attempt to fire-proof it, but it burned down despite their best efforts.
The family was later reunited at the Red Cross Camp. Guess hung his law badge on his family’s tent and promised them that he would build an even better house than the one they had before.
Before moving into 301 E Archer, Gitwit officed out of 11 Reconciliation Way, a few blocks away. At about 15 employees, that space was getting a teensy cramped, so we bought this building in 2016. We remodeled the kitchen, added beer taps in the open space, and, most importantly, completely redesigned the interior to give everyone a closed-door office. Crucial to our ability to deep work is to give each Nitwit a space of their own, so we gave everyone free reign to personalize their offices. Our only regret? Leaving the original carpet.
In 2021, Gitwit bought the empty buildings east and north of HQ1 — a former market and restaurant, respectively. We leased out the building north of us and expanded our headquarters to the east, essentially doubling our square footage.
Gitwit grew crazy fast and doubled the number of Nitwits in 2021, so we needed much more space for collaboration and for everyone to have closed-door offices. We also needed a large gathering space to hold all 50+ Nitwits for All-Team meetings.
So we purchased the building next to us, knocked a hole in the wall, and doubled the size of our office overnight (well, more like 18 months). We added three bathrooms, four full-length wall murals, three conference rooms, and 20+ more offices with closed doors.