The Spanish Revival Style Casa Linda Plaza opened in 1945 built on land owned by the Brown family since 1937. The family purchased over 600 acres which they went on to develop as Casa Linda Estates for housing and Casa Linda Plaza for a commercial center to serve the growing residential area. Howard D. Brown was so enamored with the architecture of San Antonio after visiting the city that he wanted the shopping center to reflect that Spanish Revival feel and hired architects Sidney Milan and Jon Roper to make that happen. They created a unique shopping experience with the architecture featuring bell towers, brick detailing, balconies, clay tile roofs, decorative iron work, and carved wood brackets and eave supports. Spanish names were also used for the meandering streets surrounding the Plaza and all named a “Drive” to impart a sense of tranquility for the area Brown was developing.
The early tenants of the shopping center included Tom Thumb, Skillern’s Drugs, C & S Hardware, Zenith Televisions, Parisian-Peyton’s and plenty of restaurants including El Fenix, Wyatt’s Cafeteria, Southern Maid Donuts, and more. The center also included the Casa Linda Theatre with a brightly colored neon tower over the marque. The building is still there although instead of movies being shown inside it is now a grocery store. Generations of Dallasites have grown up in and around the Casa Linda area since it was built. It also has been featured in books, films, and even the animated show King of the Hill.
The Plaza was privately held for more than 30 years by the Brown family until Howard Brown’s worsening health necessitated its sale. Since then the property has changed hands numerous times and has suffered from alterations and partial demolition for new retail space. The current owners purchased the property in 2015 and have been continuing to make changes including the removal of numerous 70 plus year-old trees. The nearby community was dismayed by the tree removal and is scared that more changes are yet to come to the Plaza in an effort to “modernize” the center. The owners of Casa Linda Plaza have a gem with the historic design and should work to preserve that character which makes it a unique place to shop and dine among the numerous generic shopping centers in Dallas.