Highland Park Village Turns 75

The Great Depression itself could not quell the spirit of entrepreneurship, optimism or fashion. In 1931, Louis Vuitton introduced crocodile and elephant skin handbags to Paris. In Hollywood, Samuel Goldwyn paid Coco Chanel one million to dress Katherine Hepburn and Grace Kelly for the screen. That same year, North Texas became a part of social history as well. Highland Park Village opened as the first American shopping center. The Urban Land Institute recognizes Highland Park Village as the first single-owner development with a cohesive architectural style on a plot of land un-bisected by public streets.

Hugh Prather, Sr. and Edgar Flippen were instrumental in the genesis and growth of the town of Highland Park. With their father-in-law, entrepreneur John S. Armstrong, they conceived a refined community rife with public parks. The beautifully realized town opened in 1907. The developers began work on the shopping center by 1928, traveling to California, Mexico and Spain for inspiration. Architects Martin F. Foshee and James B. Cheek were hired to design a town center as aesthetic and sophisticated as the surrounding neighborhood. The Spanish Colonial Revival style remains a lovely haven at the corner of Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane. Brick paths, red tile roofs, verdant flora, and a central fountain complement the Barcelona-inspired buildings. Ornate tile work and cast stone treasures are laced throughout the property.

The Village is a landmark not only in architecture and retailing, but also in community. United shops created a town square for socializing, which is a key component in the success of modern malls.

The original property was service oriented. The S&S Tearoom, Skillern’s drugstore, Hunt’s groceries, and a dirt floor nursery were at the heart of “downtown” Highland Park. A luxury movie theater was added in 1935. Safeway, now Tom Thumb, and The Women’s Exchange, now St. Michael’s Women’s Exchange, opened in 1939. Cooter’s Village Camera, which opened in 1941, remains in the Village for shoppers today.

Each new era brought more fun and fashion. Seventy-five years after its grand opening, the Village is home to some of the world’s most esteemed retailers, including Chanel, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Hermes, Escada, and Beretta Gallery. Fabulous fashions, remarkable restaurants, and landmark architecture make for a convivial city center. Though hemlines and cocktails continue to change, Highland Park Village will always be a classic.

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