A nearly century-old building in downtown Dallas where legendary musicians Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton and Bob Mills recorded music is entering Phase 2 of a campaign to restore that property and others nearby, according to a state filing.
Known as “508 Park,” the property is one of three along Park Avenue purchased by First Presbyterian Church of Dallas in 2013 in an effort with The Stewpot to revitalize the area.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filing indicates the second phase of renovations will bear a construction cost of approximately $7 million. The start date for this next phase of work is scheduled to kick off in March.
“In 2011, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas … purchased the abandoned properties at 504, 508 and 514 Park Avenue and began imagining an integrated social impact campus that could bring to life the combined power of music, art and social services on Park Avenue,” according to the church’s website.
Four years later, Encore Park — the non-profit organization formed by the church and The Stewpot — built an amphitheater at 504 Park Avenue and a community garden at 514 Park Avenue. But raising money for renovations at 508 Park Avenue was difficult, especially during the pandemic.
However, in February 2022, Encore Park announced it had reached its fundraising goal for 508 Park Avenue, where a music studio and event space is planned.
“Since joining the church in 2019, completing the renovation of 508 Park and bringing the campus to life has been one of my highest priorities,” Amos Disasa, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church and board chair of Encore Park, said on the church’s website. “We are deeply grateful to the many generous donors who stepped up to help us reach our goal, including the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Foundation who made the largest single gift to demonstrate our commitment to transforming our properties on Park Avenue into community assets.”
The 508 Park building, in an area of downtown Dallas once known as “Film Row,” was built by Warner Brothers in 1929 as its local film exchange, according to the church’s website.
When it opened the following year, the three-story, 24,000-square-foot building had film vaults on the first floor, offices on the second floor and a screening room on the rooftop that remains.
After Warner Brothers bought the Brunswick and Vocalion labels in 1930, the third floor of 508 Park Avenue became the branch office for them. And producer Don Law “built a makeshift recording studio for field recording sessions in this space,” according to the church’s website.
“More than 843 songs were recorded by Bob Wills, The Light Crust Doughboys, Lolo Cavazos, and many other blues Western swing, Mexican, country, and gospel performers,” it said.
First Presbyterian Church is across from 508 Park Avenue, located on Young Street.