Ebby’s Thanksgiving Wish

Ebby’s Thanks

Texas didn’t make Thanksgiving an official holiday until 1848. But in 1961, the Lone Star State became a special place in the holiday’s history, as home to the world’s only Thanksgiving shrine, known as Thanks-Giving Square.

Today, Thanks-Giving Square is a unique, interfaith, multicultural site and research center on a 3.5-acre site in the heart of downtown Dallas. It’s designed as a serene and uplifting meeting place, focusing on tolerance and mutual understanding–ideas which Ebby believed in deeply. It seeks to promote gratitude among all people.

Promotional pamphlet for the Center of World Thanksgiving

Designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson and opened to the public in 1977, the site includes a chapel with a stained-glass ceiling, an exhibit hall, a ring of thanks, a bell tower, fountains and green space.

A portion of an advertisement used by TU Electric to commemorate Thanksgiving, depicting a rendering of Thanks-Giving Square, 1996

Ebby Halliday was involved with Thanks-Giving Square Foundation between 1995 to 2000 and guided several major initiatives, such as the expansion of the square from 1 acre to 3 acres and the installation of three monoliths honoring the history of Thanksgiving in the World, Nation, and Texas. In 1997, former President George W. Bush, who was governor at the time, came to dedicate the Texas Monolith. During her tenure as Thanksgiving Square Foundation’s first female Board President, she supported the installation of a 14-foot diameter, vertical ring, covered in gold-leaf, also designed by Philip Johnson. The Ring of Thanks was opened in a public ceremony in May 1996 as an “emblem of gratitude in the place of praise”.

Promotional flier for the World Thanksgiving Celebration in 1996 shows Ebby standing in the Ring of Thanks

Project archivist Krishna Shenoy will be working on processing the Ebby Halliday papers thanks to a generous gift of the Ebby Halliday foundation, to preserve and make accessible the work of the first lady of real estate.

Contact Samantha Doddcurator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.