In 1921, Raymond D. Nasher was born in Boston to a garment maker. In 2007, he died in Dallas as a wealthy businessman and ambassador to the arts. After graduating from Duke, Nasher and his new wife moved to Dallas, where he would take part in a number of projects bettering the DFW metroplex.
This year, North Park Center is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. Nasher took control of a piece of land on the outskirts of Dallas to construct the mall, which would become the largest climate-controlled retail center in the world. When the shopping center opened in 1965, it was anchored by Neiman Marcus, Woolworths, Titche-Goettinger and the largest JCPenney store in the Southwest. Today, North Park Center consistently ranks in the nation’s top 5 shopping destinations and is considered the number one attraction in the metroplex, receiving over 26 million visitors a year. To see photographs and learn more about the history of North Park Center, visit their webpage here.
Nasher also took on the challenge of designing entirely new communities within the North Texas region. Flower Mound New Town, though eventually abandoned, was an impressive project that was part of the Federal Model Cities Program. To read more about Flower Mound New Town, click here to read an earlier post about the endeavor. The Model Cities Program Records Collection contains grey literature about Flower Mound New Town, as well as many other projects related to the program, which was initiated under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Though not a part of the Model Cities program, Spring Park was another community Nasher designed. Like Flower Mound New Town, designs for Spring Park featured common recreation areas, including a lake and tennis courts, scenic views, and lots of green space. Nasher abandoned the project after only about one third of it was completed. It was later finished by other contractors and is located near Garland.
Nasher and his wife were also well-known sculpture collectors. Their collection was extremely desireable by world-renowned museums, such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the National Gallery of Art, and they each made considerable efforts to acquire Nasher’s collection. Eventually, he decided that he would rather share his collection on his own, rather than finagle with a museum and board of directors. So, he dedicated 70 million dollars of his fortune to creating a museum and sculpture garden in downtown Dallas, where he would house his life’s acquisitions. The Nasher Sculpture Center was opened in 2003, and continues to be an artistic delight to those who live in and visit the Southwest Metroplex.
Whether you live in the heart of Dallas, in the suburbs, or if you’re just visiting for the weekend, Nasher’s contributions to DFW are undeniable. His work has provided residents with a nationally-recognized shopping mall, comfortable and safe residential communities, and an opportunity to experience some of history’s finest pieces of art.
-by Alexandra Traxinger Schütz