When First Presbyterian Church purchased 508 Park in 2011, it had been vacant and vandalized for 20 years, with its history and potential boarded up. A 508 Project Committee was formed to envision possibilities for the building. We recognized that several constituents existed: downtown Dallas residents who were our neighbors, The Stewpot with its important and innovative programs, music lovers who visit 508 Park to see where Robert Johnson and other musicians recorded, musicians who wish to record at 508, people interested in film history, preservationists.
We structured the renovation into phases. Phase 1 would include restoring the exterior of the building and tearing out the office spaces created during a renovation around 1960. It would also include developing our “backyard,” The Community Garden, and our “front yard,” The 508 Amphitheater. We also invited Brad Oldham International to create a site-specific sculpture wall.
Meanwhile, the project added another property to its vision, a Dallas Power & Light Building, across the street from 508 and next door to The Stewpot, currently owned by Oncor. The project was renamed to encompass our new vision, Encore Park.
In October 2014, we dedicated the 508 Amphitheater, unveiled the Sculpture Wall and were able to share the results of our research into the history of 508 and our care in restoring this beloved building.
Some of us get goose bumps every time we enter 508 Park, and one day, Pat Bywaters, a member of the ProComm, brought to the third floor of 508 Park, a record player that played 78s, and played a record that had been recorded in that space more than seventy years earlier.
At that moment, we all felt goosebumps. We look forward to the day when we can share this experience with you.