The original Pegasus was built atop the Renaissance Revival Magnolia Building (later the Magnolia Hotel), by Texlite for the Magnolia Oil Company in 1934.
The Pegasus landmark flew high above the Dallas skyline for more than sixty years until the elements finally made it necessary to bring the winged icon back to earth. But until recently, no one knew where the original flying red horses of “Big D” had come to rest.
Contemporary art reviewer and historian June Mattingly, daughter of Texlite founder Harold Wineburgh, wrote: “The ‘Flying Red Horse,’ as it was referred to by Dallas residents, became a landmark immediately. Standing majestically 450 feet above street the Dallas icon was visible 75 miles away on a clear night. Pilots reported catching sight of it 60 miles south in Hillsboro, and some claimed to see it from as far away as Waco. Most North Texans of a certain age can remember driving into Dallas at night while the children watched to see who would be the first to spot the ‘Flying Red Horse.'”
By 1974 the landmark had experienced structural and weathering issues, and in 1999 a crane and a helicopter aided in the removal of the two original forty foot horses.
The City of Dallas, Mayor Ron Kirk, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson were among the contributors who rallied around what was referred to as the “Pegasus Project”, and the original horses were used as templates to create brand new winged horses for the city’s 2000 Millennium Celebration, lit again high above the Magnolia.
And until recently, no one knew the location of the original Pegasus.
Omni Dallas developer Matthews Southwest went in search of the lost horses and finally discovered them in a city-owned shed near White Rock Lake.
For the past several weeks a team including the City of Dallas, Matthews Southwest and Tony Collins Art have been working on the restoration and design of the new rotating Pegasus which will include the original horses set atop a 22 foot oil derrick.
As a tribute to the memory of Matthews vice president Jeff West, and at a cost of $200,000, this week begins the installation of the fully restored Pegasus in front of the city-owned Omni Dallas Hotel. The hotel represents a fitting landing place for the horses as it also showcases over 7000 pieces of original, iconic Dallas art by 150 local artists throughout the guest rooms, public spaces, culinary venues and the hotel’s common areas.
Securing a new home for the original Pegasus adds one more landmark to a long list of things to do and see in Dallas, and the Omni Dallas Hotel couldn’t be prouder to be the backdrop for this important piece of local iconic art.