Day Trips: Thanks-Giving Square, Dallas

Find serenity amid chaos at a place for all seasons

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Thanks-Giving Square is a peaceful place in downtown Dallas surrounded by the chaos of the city. The park and nondenominational chapel offer a respite from the world around them.

Looking kind of like a soft-serve ice cream cone, the spiral building is the creation of noted architect Philip Johnson. An openly gay man, Johnson, who died in 2005, has been accused of antisemitic and white supremacist views. He is credited with designing many iconic skyscrapers, churches, and synagogues.

Other Johnson projects in Texas include the Fort Worth Water Gardens and, in Houston, Pennzoil Place, the TC Energy Center, and the Chapel of St. Basil.

Thanks-Giving Square is owned and operated by the interfaith Thanks-Giving Foundation with the hope of inspiring peace and acceptance between differing cultures and religions. Dedicated in 1976, the park with fountains, art, and a chapel has been recognized as a national shrine.

As an island of green surrounded by glass and steel towers, the Square set 15 feet below ground level has many parts. One of the most striking pieces of art is a colorful mosaic of Norman Rockwell's 1961 painting of diversity, Golden Rule. The original mosaic was made for the United Nations headquarters in New York, and a second, slightly larger version was installed in the Square in 1996.

At the center of the Square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving. Its spiral rises 90 feet above the busy streets. Multicolored stained glass creates its roof. The small chapel and the surrounding garden are meant to be a place of peace, togetherness, thanksgiving, and contemplation. Lord knows we need more places like this.

Thanks-Giving Square is at 1627 Pacific Ave. in Dallas. The chapel and grounds are open daily. For operating hours and an art guide, go to

1,678th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

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