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Arlington Hall's 75th Anniversary Celebration Gary Scott, Philip Kingston, Gay Donnell and Mayor Mike Rawlings celebrate the 75th anniversary of Arlington Hall. Photo by Randy Grothe

Last week,  Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy (“the Conservancy”) celebrated the 75th anniversary of one of the city’s most cherished and widely recognized landmarks, Arlington Hall, with events for families and citizens of all ages.

“We’re grateful to everyone who helped us celebrate this milestone and special moment in Dallas’ history,” said Conservancy President and CEO Gay Donnell. “Arlington Hall isn’t just a beautiful landmark - it’s a place of celebration, community and family that has provided memories for thousands over the course of its 75 years. The Conservancy is dedicated to preserving each and every facet of the Hall, and we are glad the community is not only excited about enjoying it, but preserving it for future generations too.”

The  celebration began on Tuesday, Oct. 21 with a movie night in Lee Park featuring “Gone with the Wind,” which was originally released in 1939 - the same year Arlington Hall was dedicated. The following evening, the anniversary activities continued with the screening of another iconic film from 1939, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”  Through a collaboration with the Dallas Film Society, these classic films were free to the public and were shown on Lee Park’s rolling green lawn in front of Arlington Hall. More than 325 citizens of all ages gathered together both nights on the green lawn with blankets and picnic baskets to enjoy these Academy Award-winning films.

Friday, Oct. 24, marked the official 75th anniversary of Arlington Hall and the festivities continued with a program and luncheon that began with remarks from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston. At noon, Frank Reedy, Executive Advisor to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors, played the “Call to Colors” at the exact time of the dedication of Arlington Hall 75 years ago. More than 75 people attended the luncheon which featured a thoughtful speech from the former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, Washington DC District, Gary Scott.  Scott shared the national and historical significance of Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee memorial in Arlington, Va., which was the inspiration for the Hall’s designer, Dallas architect Mark Lemmon. 

“What started out as a field house has grown to become something much more. This beautiful building has become a place where many citizens, including our own quarterback Tony Romo, have chosen to get married,” explained Mayor Rawlings. “This Hall with these beautiful trees and beautiful creek that runs through Dallas is what our city hopes to be 75 years from now.”

The week-long celebration concluded on Sunday, Oct. 26 with an open house at Arlington Hall complete with a birthday cake in the exact replica of Arlington Hall by Tart Bakery. Docents from the Dallas Southern Memorial Association (DSMA) toured more than 100 attendees through the Hall and shared the history, stories and little-known facts of Arlington Hall as well as the unique role it has played in the city’s development over the past 75 years. In addition to the Conservancy, the DSMA plays a lead role in caring for the Hall, donating and raising funds for improvements and new additions as well as taking time to keep the history alive of Lee Park and Arlington Hall, helping preserve the memories of this iconic venue.

DSMA president, Nikki Beneke, shared the following, “The ladies of DSMA alongside the city of Dallas were true visionaries in giving the city a beautiful and enduring piece of architecture –  a two-thirds scale replica of the Arlington House (formerly Custis-Lee Mansion), in Arlington, Virginia which is now our beautiful Arlington Hall. Our organization continues to assist the Conservancy today with maintenance of the statue and other enhancements.”

“I know, in addition to the wonderful architecture, a significant piece of Arlington Hall is the memories made there and the many new memories made each day, ” Beneke said.

The Conservancy Chairman of the Board Steve Sutcliffe stated, “The legacy we’re celebrating is not only that of Arlington Hall but of the community members, families and generous donors who have helped us maintain this magnificent property, ensuring  it remains one of the most  incredible and deeply cherished places in our city. The Conservancy is honored and grateful to have a large showing of support from all who participated in this week of fantastic, celebratory events that commemorated 75 years of unforgettable history and personal memories of the Hall.”

The Conservancy is a nonprofit organization charged with the renovation, thoughtful development and conservation of the historic site of Lee Park and Arlington Hall. Since its founding in 1995, it has dedicated countless hours and funds to the safeguarding and enhancement of the property. Through efforts such as the complete rehabilitation and expansion of the Hall, which was completed in 2003, and fundraising campaigns resulting in millions of dollars for new gardens and park amenities, the Conservancy continues to develop and enrich the property while providing an outstanding example of public/private partnership.

 “This week has been very special for all involved and highlighted the importance of preservation efforts and conservation in our beautiful city,” added Donnell. “As we continue to share the incredible history and heritage of the Hall, we also look forward to an exciting and remarkable future.”

Additional details of the 75th anniversary events can be found on the Conservancy website at www.leeparkconservancy.org. Photos and memories from this year’s event can be found by searching #ArlingtonHall75 or by visiting the Conservancy Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LeeParkDallas, and Instagram @LeeParkandArlingtonHall.

 

About Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy

Formed in 1995 by constituents of the Dallas Southern Memorial Association, Oak Lawn Forum, The Turtle Creek Association, The Oak Lawn Committee and Dallas Tavern Guild, Lee Park & Arlington Hall Conservancy (“LPAHC”) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization charged with renovation, thoughtful development and conservation of the historic site of Lee Park and Arlington Hall in Dallas.

Through a public-private effort between the City of Dallas and LPAHC, Arlington Hall underwent a complete rehabilitation and expansion, which was completed in December 2002. Through its Board of Directors, the Conservancy has enlisted the volunteer help and oversight expertise of engineers, architects, attorneys, bankers, designers and project managers who actively participate in fulfilling LPAHC’s mission of the continued preservation and enhancement of Arlington Hall and the park grounds on both sides of Turtle Creek Boulevard. For more information visit www.leeparkconservancy.org

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