Mockingbird Lane and Preston Road
Highland Park, Texas

Hugh E. Prather, developer of Houston's up and coming River Oaks community, envisaged and built the Lonestar State's first suburban 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.

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 to open for business in January 1931. This 1-level structure, occupying the southwest corner of the site, housed two supermarkets; A & P and the Hunt Grocery Company.

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

June 1932 brought the completion of Unit A, occupying the southeast corner of the plot. This single-level structure included a third supermarket (rebranded as a Safeway in 1939) and a 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. Officially known as the Village Theater, it featured a 3-story tower that projected a light beam into the nighttime sky. The single-screen venue was built at the northwest corner of the complex and opened for business November 15, 1935.

By 1939, the basic plan of the shopping center 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 2.

Dallas-based Sanger Brothers opened their first branch location at the center on December 21, 1949. It was built in an expansion of the 2-level store block at the northwest corner of the site and encompassed 16,000 square feet. The store was enlarged into a 30,000 square foot operation, 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 design aesthetic of the center was forgotten, with a 3-level building of ultramodern design constructed where the filling stations had stood.

HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE now encompassed 246,000 leasable square feet and approximately sixty 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.

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

Dallas-based Henry S. Miller acquired the HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE property in 1976 and embarked upon an upscale repositioning, recruiting toney tenants such as Ralph Lauren and Chanel.

The Safeway supermarket came under the Dallas-based Tom Thumb trademark in April 1987. Sanger-Harris was rebranded by Houston-based Foley's in July of the same year. Houston-based Sakowitz operated a 1,000 square foot boutique at HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE, which had been shuttered August 6, 1985. They returned to the shopping venue, taking the vacated Foley's space, in January 1989. This operation lasted until August 1990.

The auditorium of the Village Theater had been reconfigured in the mid-1980s. A lower floor of retail was created, with a 4-screen multiplex installed in the remaining, upper level, area. A grand opening was held, for the Highland Park Village IV, March 11, 1985.

Regent Entertainment acquired the cinema and opened it under their name January 12, 2001. This incarnation was in operation until August 2009, when the theater was closed for another remodeling. It re-opened, as the all-digital Highland Village Theater, in December 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, for a third time, in May 2009; the buyers being a joint venture of Dallas' Ray and Heather Washburne and Stephen and Elise Summers.


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