Dallas, TX, [February 8, 2022] – The Board of Directors of Encore Park Dallas is pleased to announce that it has met its fundraising goal to renovate the historic 508 Park Avenue building in downtown Dallas. “We have been working on plans to renovate this historically and architecturally significant building since 2016,” said Amy Desler, president of Encore Park Dallas. “We are thrilled to complete our capital campaign and start renovations.”
Located in a part of downtown Dallas once known as “film row,” the 508 Park Avenue building was built in 1929 by Warner Brothers to serve as its local film exchange. When 508 Park opened in 1930, the three-story, 24,000 sq. ft., historic Zigzag Moderne building featured film vaults on the first floor, second-floor offices, and a small screening room on the rooftop that remains intact today. Through Warner Brothers’ purchase of the Brunswick and Vocalion labels in 1930, the third floor became the branch office for Brunswick and Vocalion records. Producer Don Law built a makeshift recording studio for field recording sessions in this space.
During the 1930s, 508 Park became a mecca for recording artists. 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. Perhaps the most famous artist to record in 508 Park was the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson who made his last recordings there. As a result, the building became a place of pilgrimage for music lovers worldwide. In the 1960s, Glazer’s Distributors purchased the building and used it as their corporate headquarters until the early 1980s.
In 2011, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, located across Young Street from the building, 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. In 2015, Encore Park built an amphitheater on the 504 Park Avenue property and a community garden at 514 Park Avenue. But raising the funds necessary to renovate the 508 building proved challenging, particularly during the pandemic.
“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,” said Amos Disasa, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and board chair of Encore Park Dallas. “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.”
Since 2016, the following donors made major gifts: Constantin Foundation, the Peggy Dear Fund at Fidelity Charitable, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas Foundation, Hillcrest Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation, W.P. and Bulah Luse Foundation, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, The Moody Foundation, Roy & Christine Sturgis Charitable Trust, and The Summerlee Foundation.
“We are incredibly grateful to The Moody Foundation, who provided the initial $2.1 challenge grant to jump-start this project in 2016. Their gift was catalytic to our success, particularly given the pressure on philanthropic organizations to fund basic needs during the pandemic,” said Desler. “We cannot wait to open the building and bring our community together through the sharing of live music, food, art and service to others.”
About Encore Park Dallas
Encore Park Dallas was founded in 2013 by First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and The Stewpot as a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to develop, operate and program the properties on Park Avenue that the Church owns. Encore Park’s purpose is to redevelop historic buildings and properties to become community assets by creating space where everyone is welcome, providing employment opportunities for homeless and at-risk individuals, and celebrating art, food and the musical legacy of the 20th Century musicians who recorded at 508 Park Avenue. For more information on Encore Park, current programming or how you can become involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interim Executive Director, Encore Park Dallas