In 1964, four businessmen — Joe Neuhoff, Julius Schepps, John Stemmons, and Peter Stewart — wanted the City of Dallas to be known not only for its worldly aspirations and economic accomplishments, but also for the enduring heart of its citizens.
Researchers and spiritual leaders discovered a long history of “giving and living thanks” in Dallas. Thanksgiving — gratitude in action — was recognized as a human universal, present in cultures and faith traditions around the world. The Thanks-Giving Foundation was chartered to create a public space in the heart of the city dedicated in gratitude to God and to the “most ancient and enduring of American traditions.”
Forming the first public-private venture in the city’s history, the Thanks-Giving Foundation worked with the City of Dallas to acquire land in 1968. Construction began in 1973. Designated as one of the region’s American Revolution Bicentennial Projects, the Chapel of Thanksgiving and the Bell Tower were dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. President Gerald Ford recognized Thanks-Giving Square as a “major national shrine.” The remainder of the grounds opened in 1977, two hundred years after General George Washington proclaimed the first national Day of Thanksgiving on request of the Continental Congress.
Today, Thanks-Giving Square continues to serve as common ground where people of all cultures and religions are welcome. What began as a simple park has become a refuge and space to celebrate values, thoughts, and spirituality.