There are a lot of memories surfacing of H. Ross Perot, who passed away on Monday, but any recollection of the man and his impact on Dallas would be incomplete without acknowledging his role in the development of one of the city’s truly exceptional cultural treasures: the Meyerson Symphony Center. In 2000, we published an excerpt from Laurie Shulman’s book about the development of the Meyerson, The Meyerson Symphony Center: Building a Dream, and it contains an anecdote that perfectly captures Perot’s selfless, sharp-minded, and determined character.
In 1984, the dream of building a grand symphony hall for Dallas’ struggling orchestra was anything but a sure bet. The Arts District was mostly a collection of vacant lots. The symphony was in bad financial shape, and it was still playing at the Music Hall of Fair Park, a lovely building but one with the acoustical appeal of a barn. Still, boosters believed the orchestra–which had the distinction of being the first symphony in the country to declare bankruptcy–could become one of the best symphonic ensembles in the world if it only had a suitable home.
Symphony boosters tasked a young Robert Decherd–the Dealey family scion–with the job of taking over the operations of the symphony and overseeing the dream of building a new symphony hall. Decherd recruited Morton H. Meyerson, the new CEO of EDS and another young rising star in the local business community, to chair the committee raising funds for the new hall.
Meyerson knew that in order to get the symphony hall project going, he would need to find a huge initial donation that could galvanize philanthropic enthusiasm for the project. He turned to his old boss, Ross Perot:Read More