When staying at Omni Dallas Hotel, it’s hard to miss the neon red Pegasus illuminating the night’s sky. This particular Pegasus has a storied history that dates back over 60 years. Once a legend flying high above the Dallas skyline, then forgotten by time, the winged icon now flies at its namesake, Pegasus Lawn, for all the world to see.
The original Pegasus was built atop the Renaissance Revival Magnolia Building (later the Magnolia Hotel), by Texlite for the Magnolia Oil Company in 1934.
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 40-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.” The original Pegasus was used as templates to create brand new winged horses for the city’s 2000 Millennium Celebration, lighting the sky once again high above the Magnolia.
Since 2000, no one knew what had become of the original Pegasus.
Omni Dallas Hotel developer Matthews Southwest went in search of the lost horses and finally discovered them in a city-owned shed near White Rock Lake.
For months, a team including the City of Dallas, Matthews Southwest and Tony Collins Art, worked on the restoration and design of the new rotating Pegasus, which places the original horses atop a 22-foot oil derrick.
As a tribute to the memory of Matthews Southwest’s vice president, Jeff West, and at a cost of $200,000, the fully restored Pegasus now rests in front of the city-owned Omni Dallas Hotel. The hotel represents a fitting landing place for Pegasus as it also showcases over 7,000 pieces of original, iconic Dallas art by 150 local artists throughout the guest rooms, culinary venues and the hotel’s common areas.
With its new home, the original Pegasus is now a landmark attraction for those visiting Dallas. Drop by for yourself and snap a picture in front of this timeless piece of art.