2011 Fall Home Tour Preview II
W. 8th St. - Bishop Arts District
When Reddick W. Shaw commenced building a five-room cottage at 416 W. Eighth St. in April of 1908, Thomas Marsalis’ dream of developing an upscale town called Oak Cliff was 20 years in the past. Marsalis had died in poverty, Oak Cliff had voted for annexation into the City of Dallas, and a private company had laid streetcar tracks across the Trinity River to within one block of Shaw’s construction site. The Dallas Land & Loan Addition II would become a working-class neighborhood instead of a rich enclave.
The modern but humble house cost Shaw just $1.15 per square foot to erect. It sat on a foundation of logs, its internal walls were wooden shiplap covered in wallpaper, and nothing bigger than a 2" by 4" was used above floor level. Reverend George West bought the home from Shaw and lived there ten years, adding a sleeping porch, servants quarters, fruit trees, and a garden. The houses on Eighth St. coexisted with commercial uses surrounding the Seventh St. stop on the North Loop streetcar line. Records indicate 416 8th became a rental property during the 1930s, with houses leasing on the block for just $30 monthly.
The streetcar ceased to run in 1956; by the 1970s most of the area’s commercial activity had disappeared as well. In 1983, developer Jim Lake Sr. invented the Bishop Arts District, now famous for its commercial success. The status of the surrounding residential neighborhood is less settled. The houses are owner-occupied, yet modest construction and long-term neglect make restoration difficult for much of the housing stock.
Good Space purchased 416 8th (then the worst rental property on the block) as an experiment. Renovation was wholesale, but it celebrated the simple materials and design of the original cottage, while accommodating either residential or commercial use. Pat Remington, an attorney with an established clientele, has found the cottage to be the perfect antidote to the large-firm environment he left. Good Space is extending its experiment to similar properties at 305 and 312 W. 8th