Anyone who had driven down I-635 or shopped at Valley View Mall within the last 44 years knew they would always be greeted by the iconic Sanger-Harris mosaic. However, this past winter, after over a decade of vacancy, the first section of the Valley View Mall was demolished to make way for a new 70-acre mixed-use development called Dallas Midtown. Lucky for me, I was able to photograph and admire this beauty before it vanished from view.
Designed by Harold A. Berry & Associates and built in 1973, the Valley View Mall was once a bustling shopping center for the North Dallas corridor. The mosaic, created by Brenda J. Stubel, one of Dallas’s first female architects, was once the largest of the Sanger-Harris department store mosaics remaining. Currently, only two of the original murals of the Sanger-Harris department stores remain in Texas.
Not many people know about Brenda Stubel and her work on the mosaic; yet, Michael Friebele, a writer from D Magazine was able to interview her this past December before her work was gone. Stubel stated that the store was built with a similar Greek colonnade style as seen on the first Sanger-Harris location in Downtown Dallas. However, the Italian tiling used for the first stores mural was too costly, “so, to cut costs, they imported mosaic tile from Mexico and asked the youngest kid in the office to design the pattern” aka Stubel. Stubel took inspiration from Mexican and Native American cultures to design the mural, by using broad strokes of bright colors. The bright colors were also used to catch the eye of nearby vehicular traffic. In addition, she also let her musical background influence the mural.
There was much controversy about the demolition of the mosaic at Valley View Mall, yet the cost of saving the mural proved to be too much. Even though the mosaic is gone, it will forever be engrained in the minds of those, such as myself, who passed it everyday. I am hopeful that the remaining murals of the Sanger-Harris department stores can be saved, before they too are destroyed. Dallas’s history is precious and we should continue to cherish the little bit of fabric that remains of it.