Arts & Entertainment

Restoration of Historic 508 Park Building Takes Big Step Forward

A sizable grant and a big name museum designer will contribute to the ambitious project downtown.

There are two good pieces of news to share about the ongoing restoration of the Warner Bros. building at 508 Park, the historic site of some of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson’s most famous recordings and the future site of a street culture museum.

A $2.1 million grant from the Moody Foundation puts Encore Park, as the development is being called, at $10 million of its $18 million goal. Meanwhile, the announcement that renowned museum designer Adrien Gardere—who has consulted on the project from the start—will be officially joining Encore Park’s design team bodes well as development gets closer to the finish line.

Per a press release, Gardere’s resume includes:

work at the Louvre-Lens Museum in Lens (France), the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (Canada) and is currently working on the Royal Academy of Arts in London (UK), the Roman Antiquities Museum in Narbonne (France), and the French-American Museum in Blérancourt (France).

Encore Park itself is already coming along, and the outdoor 508 Amphitheater has hosted several events. As an extension of programs at The Stewpot and the First Presbyterian Church across the street, Encore Park will provide significant outreach for at-need populations, including homeless services. The museum itself will highlight art made by the homeless, while other exhibitions focus on the significant history of 508 Park as a Warner Bros. film vault and a recording studio that once hosted Robert Johnson.

For more information on the project, go here. A press release on today’s news is copied below:

DALLAS, TX (February 15, 2017) – The Moody Foundation has signed on as an early adopter, awarding $2.1 million to Encore Park. The grant marks a major next step toward restoring the historic Warner Brothers building at 508 Park where music and film history were made in Dallas in the 1930s-50s. Encore Park will include a groundbreaking street culture museum, a 1930s-era-style recording studio, and other programming that supports arts, culture, social justice and human services.

In addition to the foundation’s gift, international museographer Adrien Gardère has joined Encore Park’s expert design team to help bring the vision and mission of the multi-million dollar restoration and community development project to life. Gardère joins Graham Greene, principal of Ogelsby Greene; Encore Park’s executive director Pat Bywaters; Encore Park’s founding Museum of Street Culture director Alan Govenar; The Stewpot executive director Bruce Buchanan; and Encore Park executive board chair Buddy Jordan.

Gardère specializes in making art and culture accessible and engaging to all. His comprehensive and integrated approach has been met with international success in projects ranging from permanent museum and temporary exhibition design to product and interior design. Drawing on his personal and work experience, Gardère identifies the best programming space for maximizing conversation between all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. He is known for his work at the Louvre-Lens Museum in Lens (France), the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (Canada) and is currently working on the Royal Academy of Arts in London (UK), the Roman Antiquities Museum in Narbonne (France), and the French-American Museum in Blérancourt (France).

Award-winning Dallas architect and successful urban entrepreneur Graham Greene is heavily involved with civic, arts-culture restoration, preservation, and urban renewal projects. He is known for his work renovating the historic Titche’s/Joske’s property for University of North Texas-Dallas and his work for UNDERmain Theater. With his background and being involved with the Encore Park project since the start, he serves as coordinator between programming and accessibility.

The team also includes Pat Bywaters, executive director of Encore Park and expert in managing complex organizations; Alan Govenar, acclaimed author, filmmaker, curator, and founding director of Encore Park’s Museum of Street Culture, which he conceived to engage all areas of Encore Park through exhibitions and outreach programs focused on public expressions of art, ideas, and community; Buddy Jordan, co-founder of Encore Park with 40+ years of The Stewpot involvement and a lifetime dedication to development of Dallas as a forward-thinking, creative, and innovative city; and Bruce Buchanan, executive director of The Stewpot and the original visionary and backbone to the project.

The foundation’s grant brings the Encore Park capital campaign to $10 million toward a final goal of $18 million.

“The Moody Foundation is thrilled to financially support such an innovative project that will serve our diverse community, support arts and education, and preserve part of Dallas’ unique history,” said Frances Moody-Dahlberg, chairman and executive director of the Moody Foundation. “This is an extraordinary project that will create a collaborative environment to bring together disparate worlds and people of all faiths and cultures.”

The Museum of Street Culture is the first of its kind in the world. It will aim to nurture creativity among rich and poor, draw parallels to today’s world, and catalyze public dialogue. It will include the Stewpot’s Open Art program gallery for Stewpot’s homeless clients to feature their work and receive 90% of sales (with 10% of sales funding the art supplies operating budget).

The Moody Foundation was established in 1942 by William L. Moody Jr. and his wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody. The Foundation has awarded grants throughout the state, often focusing on capital projects for private colleges such as SMU, Klyde Warren Park, and support for children’s health projects, museums, gardens, libraries and historic preservation. The Foundation is now led by the next generation of the Moody family, who are continuing the legacy of supporting projects that benefit present and future Texans.

The Moody Foundation joins an impressive roster of other early campaign adopters that includes Communities Foundation of Texas, Eugene McDermott Foundation, Eugene Straus Foundation, Frances Gould Foundation, Fred Hegi Family, Hillcrest Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, Howard Hallam Family, Jim and Jill Cochran, Jim Sowell, John McStay Family, Lupton Foundation, The Martin Family Estate, Peggy Simmons Dear, The Rees-Jones Foundation, Roy and Christine Sturgis Foundation, Stephanie and Hunter Hunt Philanthropic Fund, The Stewpot Alliance, Stewpot capital reserves, Summerlee Foundation, TREC Young Guns, and other anonymous foundations and individuals.

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