Leonhardt Lagoon – Fair Park – Dallas TX

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The Leonhardt Lagoon was constructed with Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds in 1936. The lagoon named after philanthropist Dorothea Leonhardt and was built at the site of the Texas Centennial Exposition.

“The man-made lagoon lies 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.
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.
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.”

Source notes

Lagoon Nature Walk, (http://museu.ms/exhibition/details/760/lagoon-nature-walk), accessed November 21, 2019.

Texas Escapes, (http://www.texasescapes.com/DallasTexas/Dallas-Texas-Fair-Park-20-Leonhardt-Lagoon.htm), accessed November 21, 2019.

Project originally submitted by Eveline Evans on November 21, 2019.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1121 1st Ave
Dallas, TX 75210

Location notes: 32.777800, -96.761737

Coordinates: 32.777800, -96.761737

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