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Dallas, Texas
National Historical Landmark

FAIR PARK

by Clint Skinner

20. Leonhardt Lagoon

Named after local philanthropist Dorothea Leonhardt, a man-made lagoon lies east of the African American Museum and south of the Midway. It was constructed with funds from the WPA to serve as a peaceful, beautiful place to take a break from the bustle of the exposition exhibits. As part of the overall design, George Dahl placed it at the center of the civic section. Leonhardt Lagoon was surrounded by a science museum, an art museum, an aquarium, and a band shell.

Over the years, the lagoon slowly died from environmental neglect. The surrounding lawn was often given fertilizers, which always flowed into the water whenever it rained. This, in turn, resulted in an overgrowth of algae and the appearance of green slime over the water. To make matters worse, the shoreline erosion brought dirt, mud, and grass into the equation. The fish died, the animals stayed away, and the plants refused to flourish. Furthermore, the eroding edge proved to be unsafe.

In 1981, Pat Johanson was asked to redesign the lagoon because the sculptor from New York City had previously shown her skills at garden design while working for Cyrus Field and House & Garden Magazine. Unfortunately, a lack of funding delayed the project until 1985. The first step involved completely draining the lagoon. All the excessive vegetation was removed.
Dallas TX - Fair Park - Leonhardt Lagoon
Leonhardt Lagoon
Photo courtesy Clint Skinner, February 2016
Dallas TX - Fair Park - Leonhardt Lagoon sculpture
Sculpture
Photo courtesy Clint Skinner, February 2016
While this was going on, Johanson built two sculptures. She based the first sculpture on a Texas plant called the delta duck-potato, known for its tangled roots. The second one referenced a native fern called pteris multifida. Both structures were dedicated to the memory of Dorothea Leonhardt after she completed them.

Once the artist finished her work, the lagoon was refilled with water, followed by the introduction of plants native to the region. Afterward, aquatic plants capable of living in shallow water were added while bulrushes and wild rice were placed on the shoreline. The final step involved the introduction of fish into the area. The lagoon has prospered since its restoration and remains a wonderful place to relax in a peaceful, natural setting. During special events, visitors can enjoy riding paddleboats modeled to look like white swans.


November 19, 2016
© Clint Skinner

FAIR PARK:
Fair Park - Attractions:
1. Fair Park Station
2. Main Entrance
3. Founders Statue
4. Women's Museum
5. DAR House
6. The Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial
7. Sydney Smith Memorial Fountain
8. Music Hall
9. Fair Park Esplanade
10. Centennial Building
11. Automobile Building
12. Hall of State
13. Tower Building
14. Big Tex Circle
15. Grand Place
16. Old Mill Inn
17. Magnolia Lounge
18. Hall of Religion
19. African American Museum
20. Leonhardt Lagoon
21. Dallas Museum of Natural History
22. Science Place I
23. Children's Aquarium
24. Fair Park Bandshell
25. Texas Discovery Gardens
26. WRR Headquarters
27. Science Place II
28. The Texas Star
29. Cotton Bowl Stadium
30. The Texas Skyway
31. The Embarcadero
32. The Creative Arts Building
33. Food and Fiber Building
34. Pan American Arena
35. The Woofus
36. The Swine Building
37. Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center
38. Livestock Pavilion and Arena
39. The Horse Barn
40. Fair Park Coliseum
41. Top of Texas Tower


References:
1.Bigtex.com
2.Dallashistory.org
3.Dallas Morning News Archives
4.Fairpark.org
5.Slate, John H. Historic Dallas Parks. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.
6.Tshaonline.org
7.Watermelon-kid.com
8.Wikipedia.org
8.Winters, Willis Cecil. Fair Park. Arcadia Publishing, 2010.

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