Mockingbird Lane and Preston Road
Highland Park, Texas

Hugh E. Prather, developer of Houston's River Oaks community, envisaged and built the Lonestar State's first suburban-style shopping complex, RIVER OAKS COMMUNITY CENTER, in 1927.

At the same time, Prather and business partner Edgar L. Flippen were busy developing another affluent community in the northern environs of Dallas. Like Houston's River Oaks, the planned city of Highland Park was to have a suburban shopping center as its commercial core.

Prather announced plans for a Highland Park shopping center in February 1926, although there was little more than a basic concept at this time. The Dallas-based firm of Fooshee & Cheek was hired to fully execute the idea.

Trips were made to the Spanish missions of Southern California and South Texas for inspiration. Further travels took Prather and Fooshee & Cheek to Seville and Barcelona, Spain, and to Kansas City, Missouri. There, they commiserated with J.C. Nichols, developer of COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA (1923).

A final design for their prospective north Dallas shopping hub was released to the press in April 1930. Like COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA, the shopping center would be built using a Spanish Colonial Revival motif. Construction was soon underway at a 9.9 acre site, situated 2.9 miles north of downtown Dallas.

Stores in Unit B, the first segment of HIGHLAND PARK SHOPPING VILLAGE, began opening in January 1931. This 1-level structure, occupying the southwest corner of the site, housed 2 supermarkets; A & P and the Hunt Grocery Company.

A service station was built at the east end of the shopping center, followed by a 1-level block of stores at the center of the site. A carnival, commemorating the official grand opening of the complex, was held on May 16, 1931.

June 1932 brought the completion of Unit A, which occupied the southeast corner of the site. This single-level structure included a third supermarket and Skillern's Drug store. A second structure, known as the North Filling Station, was built directly north of the first, which -then- became known as the South Filling Station.

A grand movie palace was the next addition to HIGHLAND PARK SHOPPING VILLAGE. The Interstate Theatre Circuit Village Theater included a 3-story tower that projected a light beam into the nighttime sky. This single-screen venue was built at the northwest corner of the complex and opened for business on November 15, 1935.

By 1939, the basic shopping center plan had been fulfilled. There were now retail structures at all corners of the site. A second center block of stores had also been added. Further progress was delayed by World War II.

Dallas-based Sanger Brothers opened their first branch at HIGHLAND PARK SHOPPING VILLAGE on December 21, 1949. The (16,000 square foot) store was built as an expansion of a 2-level northwest store block. Said store was enlarged into a 30,000 square foot operation, which was re-dedicated October 15, 1955. 

Ownership of the complex, now known as simply HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE, changed in 1966. The Dallas-based Howard Corporation took the helm and proceeded to expand the center's retail area...the first addition in 13 years. The original Spanish Colonial Revival design aesthetic was abandoned, with a 3-level ultra-modern building constructed where the filling stations had stood.

HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE now encompassed 246,000 leasable square feet and contained approximately 60 stores and services. Among these were Sanger-Harris (a February 1961 merger of Sanger Brothers and the A. Harris Company), Highland Park State Bank, Volk's Village Shop and the S & S Tearoom.

Shopping malls in the vicinity included NORTHPARK CENTER (1965) {2.7 miles northeast, in Dallas} and VALLEY VIEW CENTER (1973) {6.2 miles north, also in Dallas}.

Dallas' Henry S. Miller acquired the HIGHLAND PARK property in 1976. He embarked on a repositioning of the facility, with upscale tenants such as Ralph Lauren and Chanel being signed.

Houston-based Sakowitz operated a (1,000 square foot) boutique at HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE, which was shuttered August 6, 1985. The Safeway supermarket was rebranded by the Dallas-based Tom Thumb chain in April 1987. Sanger-Harris morphed into a Houston-based Foley's in July of the same year. Sakowitz returned to the shopping venue (assuming a vacant Foley's space) in January 1989. This store closed in August 1990.

Meanwhile, the Village Theater had been acquired by the Beirsdorf & Brooks Circuit in 1976.  They opened a second auditorium. The venue closed in the mid-1980s and was purchased by the American Multi-Cinema chain. They gutted the theater. The lower level was sectioned into inline stores, with the Highland Park Village IV multiplex being installed on the building's upper level. 

Regent Entertainment acquired the cinema and opened it under their nameplate on January 12, 2001. This incarnation was in operation until August 2009, when the theater was closed for another remodeling. It was reconfigured as a state-of-the-art, 4-screen venue. The Twomey Concepts Highland Park Village Theater showed its first features December 18, 2010.

HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 1997 and was commemorated as a National Historic Landmark in February 2000. The center was sold to a joint venture of Dallas' Ray and Heather Washburne and Stephen and Elisa Summers in May 2009.


National Historic Landmark Nomination / Highland Park Shopping Village
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc