Thanks-Giving Square is an iconic gathering place, a place of historical importance in our city, and a unique treasure for our community.

Its birth was the result of out-of-the-box, leading edge thinking. It sprang from the highest concepts of what our city stands for. It was a place for all citizens to come, attracted by all the good that gratitude can do for the individual, the community, and the world.

Four decades ago business, community, and government leaders conceived and built downtown’s first park to serve an inspired purpose. We take that legacy to heart in plans to reposition Thanks-Giving Square for the next fifty years as the gathering place that is an oasis where one may find inspiration and peace, a refuge of beauty and accessibility in the midst of a lively, vibrant downtown environment.

The initial renovation plan for Thanks-Giving Square focuses squarely on the exterior areas of the park, which provide the greatest opportunity for impacting the surrounding neighborhood. The renovation plans have evolved over a ten year period while the surrounding area has transformed itself into a new neighborhood of residential units, hotels, apartment conversions, technology incubator space, and new corporate headquarters.

Architectural firms Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects and Selzer Associates Inc. will assist with the renovation plans, which will provide better accessibility and restore the simplistic grandeur of the garden and fountains.

Present Challenges:

Forty years of continuous use and an evolution of the neighborhood (from primarily office use to include thousands of residents) has presented several challenges that are evident to any visitor. These include:

  • Landscape Damage:
    Extensive use and shade from the live oaks have destroyed the existing turf and groundcover in some places. Branches and limbs of trees need pruning and soil erosion has damaged roots.
  • Soil Erosion:
    The soil contains a high amount of sand, causing issues with erosion and damaging fountain equipment. Soil erosion due to the site’s slopes further complicates the issue.
  • Inoperative Fountains:
    Many of the fountains have been turned off due to damaged equipment caused by soil erosion or vandalism.
  • Damage from Dogs:
    Approximately 800 dogs a day walk by this site and many pet owners allow their pets to answer the call of nature on the grass or exposed soil. The resulting odor is particularly strong in the western corner of the park where a temporary dog relief area was installed to prevent damage in other areas.
  • Wear and Vandalism:
    The park’s overall appearance can appear neglected due to past vandalism. Light fixtures are broken. Signage plaques have been stolen. Drain grates are missing and have been replaced with strips of wood.

Restoration Plans:

The Thanks-Giving Foundation is currently developing a full schedule and funding plan for this renovation project. To learn how you can help, please contact us. Plans include:

  • Garden Restoration:
    The Garden will be restored to a healthy landscape with original landscaping concepts, water efficient grasses, and new plants where sun conditions have been altered.
  • Repaired Fountains:
    The fountains, which are an essential component to the design of Thanks-Giving Square, will be repaired and restored.
  • Improved Accessibility:
    Missing handrails will be replaced, new access points will be added to the perimeter, and other improvements will update paths.
  • Increased Security:
    Wall height will be adjusted to provide better views into the garden. Lighting will be restored and security systems will be put into place.
  • Better Neighborhood Integration:
    Plaza areas and new flexible public spaces will be created to host community programming and welcome visitors from surrounding streets.
  • Dog Run:
    A dog run will be added in the public right-of-way outside of the garden’s perimeter walls.

I like the thought that what we are to do on this earth is embellish it for its greater beauty, so that oncoming generations can look back to the shapes we leave here and get the same thrill that I get in looking back at theirs – at the Parthenon, at Chartres Cathedral.

Philip Johnson, Architect