The Garland Landmark Society was established to coordinate local history efforts sparked by the city's acquisition of Garland's Santa Fe depot, built in 1901. The building had to be demolished or relocated, since it sat in right-of-way the Santa Fe relinquished to join offset portions of Fifth Street.
Acting in December of 1972 on a proposal of City Manager Charles E. Duckworth, the Garland City Council established the Society and named its initial directors. These included Joann Bardin, Wayde Cloud, Cecil Cooper, Curtis Crossman, Jr., Michael R. Hayslip, Duane C. Holford, J. Elmer Newman, W. E. Peavy, Jr. and Dorothy O. Range. The group was given oversight for Heritage Park, the parcel of land directly east of City Hall.
William E. 'Bill' Dollar, who would eventually become city manager himself, was then assigned to the city's Engineering Department. Moving and restoring the depot became his first project to supervise.
Mr. Cooper, elected by the Landmark board as the Society's first president, died soon afterward, and Mr. Hayslip succeeded him. Jerry M. Flook was named to fill the board vacancy, and the group moved ahead with the relocation and renovation of the depot building. Mr. Holford's contracting firm won the construction bid, with project funding supported for the most part by federal revenue sharing funds. The restoration was completed within budget, and the building received an official Texas State Historical Marker. A formal opening for the depot and the Landmark Museum was held on September 29, 1974, and the first membership meeting followed on October 10th.
To jump-start the society's endowment, Charter members were offered a $100 per couple opportunity to secure Lifetime Membership status without dues. Listed as Charter and Lifetime (*) Landmark Society members were:
(Please note that by prevailing style of the time couples were recorded under the husband's name, but for clarity some wives names have been added parenthetically)
Garland Landmark Society's ByLaws initially specified that the organization was to "...stimulate the knowledge and appreciation of the history of the Garland community, to encourage the recording, preservation and presentation of significant evidence of that history and to develop the Garland Landmark Museum." A volunteer team including Julie Bond, Mimi Davis, Billie Nicholson and Dorothy Range tackled the museum assignment through weekly sessions that established collection procedures.
But soon other resources appeared. In 1977, the Society accepted plans for the donation of a wooden-bodied Santa Fee railroad car, which was placed on a track section west of the depot in 1978. And in 1979, the Lyles House was relocated to Heritage Park under the auspices of the Environmental Council's "Keep Garland Beautiful" campaign.
By 1985, the Landmark board had been removed by the "sunset" process as an official, council-appointed city board, and the Society became a private, non-profit corporation of the State of Texas. But Landmark's program of work still emanates from the Landmark Museum inside the depot, which is maintained by the City of Garland. Society volunteers manage its collection of artifacts and documents, all donated to and owned by the non-profit group, which enjoys 501c3 status under the Internal Revenue Code.
Subsequent events in Landmark Society history include:
- 2000- First Historic (Fundraising) Calendar published
Central Park Marker dedicated
- 2001- Map of Historic Garland, Texas published
Religious Life in Garland by Dr. Carr Suter published
- 2003- Texas State Historical Marker applied for and dedicated at 9th St & Ave. B
- 2006- Cemetery Trees marker dedicated
First Garland Landmark Society website built and posted by Randall Howald
- 2007- First On Track newsletter initiated by Mary Dingle
- 2008- Original Library Site marker dedicated
- 2010- Sketches of Kate James, Michael R. Hayslip, ed., published