Armstrong’s Sons-in-Law To Thank For Landmarks

Edgar Flippen (left) and Hugh Prather went against the experts’ advice when they created Highland Park Village. (Village photos: Highland Park Village; Portraits: Alan Prather)

When the man who named Highland Park, John S. Armstrong, died of a heart attack in 1908, his two sons-in-law, Edgar Flippen and Hugh Prather, were left to develop his vision of an exclusive community. They formed the Flippen-Prather Realty Co. and finished out Highland Park’s development.

Once they took over their father-in-law’s project, they wanted to attract classy folks. How would they do that?

In 1912, they offered the owners of Dallas Golf and Country Club 50 acres out of Highland Park’s original 1,350 to move the club from its Oak Lawn home.

The success of the deal apparently caused quite a stir, and made buyers gobble up nearby property before all the cotton was cleared or the golf course was finished.

“Basically, it was the first development built around a golf course,” said Highland Park resident Alan Prather, grandson of Hugh Prather.

When Flippen and Prather decided that Highland Park needed a shopping center that could function as a town square, most bankers and merchants offered them discouraging words. Business was expected to stay downtown.

But with exceptional foresight, the developers traveled to Spain, Mexico, and California to study the architecture in order to plan a retail center for Highland Park. Prominent architects Marion Fooshee and James Cheek created the Mediterranean Spanish masterpiece, which today has become “the heart of the town.”

“There were some stories told about [my grandfather] when Hunt Grocery went into the Village,” Alan Prather said. “He wanted all the alcohol sold to go out the side door and not the front door.”

After the death of Hugh Prather in 1959, management of the Village was taken over by his sons, John and Hugh Jr., until Howard Corp. acquired it in 1966.

Each of the brothers-in-law is commemorated via a namesake park.

Flippen Park was designated in 1930, at the corner of Lomo Alto Drive and Versailles Avenue. Neighbors often call it “Echo Park” because of the echoes heard under the gazebo.

Prather Park is across Euclid Avenue from Town Hall, between Lexington Avenue and Drexel Drive.  A tennis court is located along the creek among the towering trees.

Flippen and Prather even played a role in Highland Park’s beloved pecan tree. Joseph Larkin Cole, the Civil War veteran who planted the tree, stipulated in a sale that the tree wasn’t to be disturbed. The developers laid out Armstrong Parkway in order to preserve its lot.

“Edgar was more the finance guy and my grandfather was more the idea guy,” Alan Prather said. “And, together, they figured out how to do it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *