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.”


Inwood HOTW ArcadyDallas architect Robert Johnson Perry loved the imagery of Asia, the mystique of it’s architecture, and the Asian lifestyle that creates a tranquil domestic environment. After all, isn’t that what our homes are – a refuge from the world, a place where we can rest and refresh with elements around us that make us happy?

This is a Robert Johnson Perry-design with warm interior colors, windows everywhere, and long corridors that draw the eye to the beautiful interior and exterior spaces he carved. A master of space utilization, made a 4,000-square-foot home seem like it is much larger, more airy. He was designing high ceilings before they were de rigeur. Thriving on his Asian influences, Perry created dozens of Dallas homes in the 1950’s and 1960’s, many of which have spawned a quest for wide overhanging eaves to block sun, wooden sunscreens and grids, and beautiful Mexican bricks inside and out. Designer extraordinaire Emily Summers lives in one of Perry’s most well known creations, Touchstone House at 3911 Shenandoah Street in Highland Park.

Now there is an opportunity to own a Robert Johnson Perry home suitable for as much distinction as Touchstone House. Or, perhaps, more!

Arcady Outside

It is 4316 Arcady, one of Highland Park’s most elegant streets, and listed for $2,999,999 — under three million dollars in the heart of Highland Park. This 1965-era Modernist has been sensitively updated, retaining Perry’s original design and not touching his structure. It is surrounded by mature Live Oaks and Japanese Maples framing a traditional ‘H’ home design.

You could say Tom Ford meets Donald Draper.

4316 Arcady Kitchen

4316 Arcady LR 4316 Arcady stairs B&W 4316 Arcady foyerThe home is 4,707 square feet with formals, family room, full bar, two fireplaces, study, a modern light-filled kitchen with breakfast bar, butler’s pantry, and desk. Counters are whiter than white Caesarstone with Sub Zero and high-end appliances. The kitchen, says the current owner, was updated, not remodeled: the lean center island and open shelving is 100% Perry. There is a slate roof, new gutters, new flooring, and paint. The home has abundant built-ins — Perry must have known my adage of you can never be too thin, too rich or have too many closets —  and there is even an elevator. The lot is a  76 x 169 prime interior piece of dirt that affords plenty of space around the structure.

This home breathes quite comfortably on the lot!

Arcady Staircase Closeup

Walk in through double doors made chic in the ’60’s, to a foyer and free-standing staircase that serves as a work of art. Your view is immediately drawn to the exterior courtyard garden, unless you are as sidetracked as I was by the exquisite gold wallpaper, original to the house (and in perfect condition).4316 Arcady doors

Or the brass hardware — BTW brass is back, designer Barry Williams tells me, and bigtime. The flooring is solid brick. To one side is the living area, a study in white with more built-ins than I have seen in many a McMansion, some with hidden doors. There is what I call a “closet bar” — my mother had one, and I christened it such when she shut it off for visiting teetotalers. There is also an elevator to the second floor which was installed by the original owner, a prominent Dallas lawyer and arts supporter. I immediately noticed that every site-view from the home was perfection, no matter where I was standing.

Arcady Brass Hardware

The opposite wing is for dining, the laundry, family room and a powder bath with Sherle Wagner fixtures. There is a rear carport with space for quarters above. There is also a thoughtful port-cochere entrance to the kitchen so groceries may be dropped off.

Upstairs are four bedrooms, including a master with a bath that has undergone significant renovation with a huge shower. The white Caesarstone is everywhere. With two bedrooms on each wing, it would not take much to pull two bedrooms into one huge master unit — you would still have two guest rooms across the landing, with a large Jack and Jill bath in-between.

4316 Arcady Dining

Up here, too, is storage galore — cedar closets, linen closets, and easy access to mechanics. To quote one of my favorite Dallas agents, this home is “built like a fortress!” — metal galvanized box ductwork, not flex.

Here’s the best news of all: Current owners, Clay and Brenda Cockerell, who live in the neighborhood, bought the home from the original owners to preserve it. They even have the original plans. Experts estimate that it would cost upwards of $300 to $350 per square foot to replace the home, given the solidness of the materials and structure.

“Actually, the structure is probably wood frame with brick veneer,” says architect, structural engineer and preservationist Frank Reedy.  “The extensive glazing framing is probably not structural.  Also, the brick is probably not load bearing, but it could be, given the amount on the interior.”

Softly neutral Mexican brick is artfully woven into the home, from interior foyer walls to fireplace brick. The size is perfect for empty nesters, a couple or a family of two who don’t need two stairways, don’t mind a shared bathroom.

“I grew up in a one bathroom house,” says Brenda Cockerell, who owns a winery in Calistoga, CoquerelDan Berger, nationally syndicated wine writer and publisher of Dan Berger’s Vintage Experience, says of their wines: “I love them all!”.

“This house is wonderful in its own way,” says Brenda. “I think it’s a work of art coming into its own, much like our Coquerel.”

Here is what else Frank Reedy says about 4316 Arcady:

 “The photos do not show how the exterior brick runs into the interior; and how the interior embraces the exterior, within the H plan front and back I believe this is the central theme of the house. In all of the communicating spaces, one is in the landscape. The landscape is not outside or surrounding the house, rather the house, while evoking enclosure, protection and warmth, is within the trees like a treehouse. The warmth and security are felt by the interior masonry, and this is technically well done in that the interior and exterior materials have not particularly weathered dramatically differently.

Robert Perry’s judicious detailing and specifications have endured quite well.

This is modernism without being stark and sharp; there are no acrobatics here and the architecture is subtle and understated, but profound.

Also, and rarely, this is a modern house that does not pronounce itself arms outstretched, grandiose to its neighborhood. Neither humble nor meek, it is a good neighbor and citizen. And it is a Texan, proudly independent and at the same time accepting of the eclectic.

It deserves to have been an hotel.”

It deserves a mortgage, too, and I’m sure the fine folks at Inwood Mortgage will be able to help… a bottle of  2012 Verdelho and 2012 “Terroir” Chardonnay might be nice at closing.


4316 Arcady Backyard