The Art Deco exterior of the 508 Park building.

The Art Deco exterior of the 508 Park building before restoration. Its architecture is considered an excellent example of a Zig Zag Moderne building. Photo: Encore Park

You probably never noticed the boarded-up tan brick building near Park and Young streets in downtown Dallas. It sat abandoned for two decades, its sidewalks littered with trash and walls vandalized with graffiti.

But behind the grime and neglect, there was a story of intersecting histories waiting to be told.

This Art Deco structure, called 508 Park, was once the hub of the local music scene. Mississippi Delta blues legend Robert Johnson recorded nearly half his songs, as well as his final work, in 1937. In fact, over 800 blues, jazz, western swing, and Mexican recordings occurred at 508 Park by Johnson and other legends such as Gene Autry, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Light Crust Doughboys, and Lolo Cavasos.

Blues legend Robert Johnson whose final recordings were at Encore Parrk's 508 Park. Photo: Encore Park

Blues legend Robert Johnson, whose final recordings were at Encore Parrk’s 508 Park. Photo: Encore Park

The Stewpot of First Presbyterian Church across the street purchased 508 Park in 2011. Thanks to their efforts, as well as dedicated preservationists, historians, architects, and volunteers, this architecturally significant building is singing again.

The campus, known as Encore Park, is a multi-phased, multi-venue campus that aims to bring all cultures together to experience and appreciate history, art, music, and community gardening.

Pat Bywaters is executive director of Encore Park Dallas and grandson of influential Texas artist and “Dallas Nine” member Jerry Bywaters. He’s been spearheading the research into 508’s history, visiting archives in California, Louisiana, and New York.

“I love doing research, and I’ve always loved history. As soon as we looked into 508, the music history came flooding,” Bywaters said. “The Encore Park project preserves not only the architectural relic, but a special place and time in Dallas’ history.”

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Evan Beattie

Beattie’s most notable current project is the M-Line Tower mixed-use development at 3230 McKinney Avenue. Construction is slated to begin this summer on a design that includes two restaurant tenants of 12,000 square feet facing McKinney, and a residential entry lobby, McKinney Avenue Transit Authority trolley storage, a museum, and office space on Bowen. All photos: Good Fulton + Farrell

Today, we bring you the inaugural column in a new ongoing series, Interview with an Architect. The goal is to speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals.

Evan Beattie

Evan Beattie

Evan BeattieAIA, LEED AP, is a Principal with Good Fulton & Farrell, Inc., an award-winning multi-disciplinary design firm based in Dallas. He’s been with them for 10 years, and was named one of Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2013, as well as one of the “Top 20 Under 40 in Architecture, Engineering and Construction” by ENR Texas & Louisiana in 2011.

He earned his Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin and moved to Dallas in 2003. He currently lives in the Henderson Avenue area, where he organized fellow residents into the Henderson Neighborhood Association in 2009 to help them have a voice in the development of that fast-growing area. Beattie and his wife will move this summer to a new house he designed in the Urban Reserve neighborhood of sustainable modern homes just a few exits north on Central Expressway.

His work with Good Fulton & Farrell has included the Alta Henderson Apartments in Dallas; master planning for The Canyon in Oak Cliff in Dallas; and Fiori on Vitruvian Park in Addison. He is currently working on three projects adjacent to the Henderson Avenue area, two of which will be mixed-use developments in that neighborhood.

“It has been amazing to watch the pace of change in the urban core of our city these last 12 years, and the momentum just keeps growing for additional investment in urban revitalization and the creation of great public spaces and parks that make our city more livable,” Beattie said. Jump to read our interview!

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Photo courtesy Wood Partners

Another residential development is underway near West Dallas’ super hot Trinity Groves neighborhood with the construction of Alta Yorktown by Wood Partners LLC.

The development will include 226 luxury apartments in three, four-story buildings on six acres. The property, located at 660 Yorktown St., is just one mile west of downtown Dallas, and sits near the Trinity Groves restaurant, retail, and entertainment area.

Rents at Alta Yorktown will average just over $1,300 a month for apartment homes that average 827 square feet (available as studio, one, two, and three bedrooms). Leasing will begin toward the end of 2015, and construction is slated for completion toward the middle of 2016.

Interior finishes in the apartments will include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, tile backsplashes, Shaker wood cabinets, upgraded fixtures, and wireless technology packages. Community amenities will include an outdoor swimming pool and courtyard, grilling stations, and fire pits. The property will also have a small amount of retail space.

Alta Yorktown is just one of multiple new developments in and around Trinity Groves, where Wood Partners has a big stake in the neighborhood. It sits next to the Sylvan Thirty mixed-use project, in where Wood Partners built the 200 apartments, and the Alta West Commerce apartments, which will have 252 units. Jump to read more!

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Photo by Jerry McClure/Dallas Morning News

Photo by Jerry McClure/Dallas Morning News

The Lakewood Theater has stood as a colorful and beloved East Dallas landmark in Lakewood Shopping Center since its 1938 opening. So recent news reported by Nancy Nichols at D Magazine that the theater, located at 1825 Abrams Parkway, will be getting new tenants and a new look next year has preservationists and neighbors concerned. This is because the theater has historic designation (in other words, protection from demolition) on neither a national nor local level.

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