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FAIR PARK

National Historical Landmark

by Clint Skinner

3. Founders Statue

Beyond the tall, black gate is an area that combines elements of a plaza and a small boulevard. After having no name for many decades, the section was called the Grand Plaza in preparation for the Centennial Exposition. Two years later in 1938, it was renamed Frank P. Holland Court as a tribute to the man who first envisioned a state fair for the city. He also served as the mayor for Dallas in 1893.

On the left side of this shaded area, a bike station allows visitors to rent a bike by the half hour. The price is five dollars for the first thirty minutes, $2.50 for each additional thirty minutes, and fifty dollars for the entire day. Allowing riders to return the bicycles by eleven at night, the self-service station requires the use of a credit card. However. the service cannot be used during the state fair.

The centerpiece of Frank P. Holland Court is the Founders Statue. Made of concrete, the sculpture depicts a female figure. Beneath it, tribute is made to those who signed the charter to make the state fair a reality, the fair presidents from 1886 to 1938, and the Press of Texas. While the founders and presidents are listed on the sides of a column, the recognition of the newspapers for their role in publicizing the fair is put on the base.

Dallas TX FairPark - Founders Statue
Fair Park - Founders Statue by Raoul Josset
Photo courtesy Clint Skinner, February 2016

The statue's dedication took place on October 8, 1938 on the opening day of the fair's fiftieth anniversary. The golden birthday would have taken place two years earlier, but the Texas Centennial and Pan Am Exposition forced a postponement of the celebration. The unveiling of the statue, performed by former fair president J. J. Eckford, was witnessed by descendants of the founding members. During the ceremony, the front headlines of three hundred newspapers were placed inside an iron crypt located at the base of the statue. An official from the Texas Press Association then received the key to the crypt so it could be reopened fifty years later. Unfortunately, the compartment was poorly sealed, causing the papers to turn to dust when touched.

Raoul Josset designed the Founders Statue and Joseph Martin made it. The two Frenchmen were two of the main artists who helped theme the exposition. Born in the village of Miery, Martin left school at the age of eleven and trained to be a wood carver under the guidance of his father. However, Martin changed his mind when he discovered that he enjoyed sculpting stone more than wood. He enrolled at an art school in Paris, but his education was interrupted by World War I. Martin never returned to school, but instead worked as a sculptor for designers Louis Sue and André Mare. In 1920, he became close friends with Raoul Josset.

Josset was born in the city of Tours. Although his father was doctor, he decided to pursue a career as a sculptor. Josset was successful in his academic endeavor and had his own studio. His work was interrupted when he volunteered as an interpreter to communicate with the American forces stationed in France. From 1920 to 1926, he made war memorials throughout the country. All went well until France entered an economic depression in 1926, which resulted in Josset deciding to escape to America for a better opportunity.

Martin left for America two years later. He arrived in Chicago but moved to Cleveland in 1931, where he worked for a company alongside his friend Josset. The Great Depression forced the duo to move back to Chicago where they were hired to make sculptures for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition. This resulted in the pair's employment to help with the Texas Centennial.


September 4, 2016

© Clint Skinne


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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