History of the Bishop Arts Building dates back to 1928. It was August 4, 1928 that E.B. Burll pulled a permit to build a 9,000 square foot building for “stores and apartments” at 408 W. Eighth Street in Oak Cliff, on the Tyler-Polk streetcar line. With construction completed the next year Joseph Tiner, who lived two blocks away, opened Tiner’s Café on the first floor and served as the building manager. He collected $35 each month in rent from the tenants, which at that time were a beauty salon and an appliance store. The second floor was divided into apartments.
With the rise of the automobile after World War II, the Bishop Street trolley use declined and, retail business in the district fell into decline. During the 1960s a prominent Oak Cliff minister, Albert Ott of Bethel Temple, owned the building, and continued to rent space for retail storefronts and apartments. After he sold it, the spacious first floor was rented to businesses for storage purposes only.
In the early 1980s Spanish sculptor Javier Corbero, who had settled in Dallas, purchased the building, recognizing the big, open first floor as good studio space. While working out of 408 W. Eighth Street he sold some of his massive metal works to Dallas developer and art collector Ray Nasher for his private collection. Corbero eventually returned to Spain and leased the building to pseudo-artists, who used maintenance money sent by the owner for drugs and wild parties. Local code enforcement forced the closure of the building in 1993 because of unsafe conditions, and it
remained vacant and unsecured.
In September 1998 Corbero sold 408 W. Eighth to developer and historic building restorer David Spence, who put the building through a thorough restoration and gave the building its current name (taken from the Bishop Arts District, where it stands). Fortunately, the building had never been remodeled, and the rugged original finishes had not deteriorated.
The building was reopened in January 2000 as primarily office space, but with two apartments retained with all original fixtures. Among the current tenants is Dallas County Pioneer Assocation member Suellen Thompson, (Thompson Landscape Architects) and several other design-related professionals, including David Spence (2002).
The whole neighborhood around Bishop and Eighth is undergoing revival.
By Dave Spence for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage volume III.