Shopping is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word “mall.” If not shopping, then dining or watching a film, or at least some kind of entertainment. Whatever it may be, religion is probably the last thing someone associates with a place like that. However, one Texas businessman sought to change that back in 2017 when he bought an entire mall and planned to install an enormous statue containing the biblical Ten Commandments.
John Bushman, a businessman from Odessa, had acquired the Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville, West Texas, for $17.3 million. He renamed it “Music City Mall”. He had then planned to invest a further $3 million to $4 million to improve the mall and make it more attractive to customers. His improvement plans included turning the mall into a “community space.” He believed placing the Ten Commandments would help make such a space as it would guide people towards finding a bit of “love and peace.”
The Uncommon Mall Installation Was A Sight For Sure
This installation was not something new for Bushman. In fact, every other business that Bushman owns, including hotels in New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas, an Odessa Chickn4U restaurant, and other shopping malls, all have a similar display. The display in question was an 800-pound tablet of stone engraved with the Ten Commandments.
Bushman had said in an interview on the topic that they had no intention of overwhelming people or making any statement. Bushman says: “We just believe in Lord’s love. That’s the sole reason. We hope when someone sees it, it will touch their heart and give them new hope that day.” However, there were questions over whether the mall’s second level could support the weight of the Ten Commandments monument.
In his words: “We’re putting the two greatest commandments about loving the Lord and your neighbor on the second level because they weigh about a third of the 800-pound Ten Commandments.” The engraved monument was 5 feet wide and 8 feet tall. It was visible and standing on the mall’s first floor. Bushman explains, “In times of turbulence in the world, we’re sharing peace and the Lord’s love. We all need more of that.”
It is not uncommon for American businesses to market based on faith. Quite a few major companies proclaim Christianity as part of their corporate values and culture. Three of them include Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, and Interstate Batteries Corp. Regardless, even Bushman states that religious messages in malls are unusual. However, he was hopeful that it would work.
A Mixed Reception To The Installation
Even if there was some positive reception, there was plenty of skepticism regarding the matter as well. For example, people who did not believe in religion found it to be quite an affront. One internet comment read: “They should put up a ‘phee phi pho phum’ plaque as well. Or any other piece from another fictional made up story.”
Another comment thought it was a sign of a bigger problem: “That’s not spreading hope and love, they could go out to the homeless and do that, being confronted by something like this is akin to,… ‘this is how we expect you to behave,’ If America became largely religious again, this would be like going back in time as opposed to evolving.”
The Fate Of The Mall Since The Investment
Bushman’s original plans for the acquired Music City Mall have since seen a lot of change. In accordance with his intention to keep music a central focus, the location was a major supporter of the local arts and music scene. It even continued hosting live performances, helping musicians, during the height of the Covid Pandemic. However, several of the major outlets in the location closed down and ceased operations over the next three years. Finally, in September 2022, Bushman’s ICA Properties sold Music City Mall to 1000 South Vermont LLC.
The sale meant the end of the live events and performances. The notable Ten Commandments monument was also removed. In October, any sign that featured the previous name of “Music City Mall” was removed. In November, the authorities renamed the mall one more, this time to just “The Vista.” In March 2023, the city council discussed their intention to redevelop the mall. However, this will involve most of the place being demolished to make way for the envisioned “mixed-use space”. Some features like the Cinemark, Zion Market, Dillards, and the central atrium/food court will remain. However, as of now, the authorities are yet to find a suitable developer and have thus not finalized the Mall’s closing date.
What would your reaction be to such an installation? Let us know in the comments!
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- “Owners hope 8-foot-tall Ten Commandments inside Lewisville’s Vista Ridge mall inspires shoppers.” Dallas News. Maria Halkias. November 15, 2017.
- “8-foot Ten Commandments statue to be built in Texas mall.” Express Digest
- “Music City Mall” Wikipedia