Fair Park is one of Dallas’ most important and beloved historic sites. From its beginnings in 1886 it has grown in size and importance becoming home to the annual Texas State Fair, the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, and the 1937 Pan American Exposition. In 1904, Fair Park became part of the Dallas Public Park system. The buildings and landscape of Fair Park were redesigned for the Texas Centennial in 1936 by a group of talented architects and designers led by Dallas architect George Dahl. It is now the nation’s largest collection of Art Deco exposition architecture and public art. The significance of Fair Park is so important that it was granted National Historic Landmark status in 1986 and is only one of two such sites in Dallas, the other being Dealey Plaza.
Deferred maintenance due to lack of resources has taken its toll on the historic buildings at Fair Park. Roofs are leaking, plumbing and electrical systems need to be updated and the HVAC improved. These items must be addressed in order to make the buildings more viable for use throughout the year. Resources must be put into Fair Park now in order to avoid more costly repairs in the future. The Fair Park Texas Foundation has identified the numerous needs of the buildings and is the organization that can take on the monumental task of saving Fair Park’s all too important historic assets. They have committed to raising $100 million for Fair Park to match bond fund money; however, the city needs to secure the needed bond money in upcoming bond elections.
A properly preserved and maintained Fair Park, with its landscape, buildings, art, and historic spaces can serve the city on many levels. Thoughtful and careful planning, with citywide engagement, will serve to reinvigorate the National Historic Landmark site. A vibrant site with preserved historic structures will help entice development in surrounding neighborhoods and improve civic pride in one of Dallas most important historic sites.
UPDATE: Fair Park was included in the 2017 City of Dallas Bond package which was approved by voters in November of 2017. Fair Park will receive $50 million in bond money to address items deferred maintenance items, accessibility to buildings, and more. Roughly $14 million will be going to the Hall of State for repairs. Three management groups vied for the contract to manage Fair Park and Fair Park First was selected and approved by the Dallas City Council in the fall of 2018. In January of 2019 they took over management of the site. Since then they have been working on an update to the Fair Park Master Plan and plans for the community park which were presented to the Park Board in June of 2020 – Fair Park Master Plan – June Park Board Meeting 6-18-2020 .