Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com

S.H. Kress and Co. Building

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Photo: A street scene at the Kress and Woolworth buildings.

S. H. Kress & Co. was a chain of “five and dime” department stores in various parts of the United States, which began operations in 1896. Five and dime stores were the original dollar stores, selling goods for a nickel or a dime. Samuel H. Kress opened the first Tampa store on Franklin Street in 1900. In 1929, just before the Great Depression, he demolished the structure and built the amazing structure that stands today between a former Woolworth and a former J.J. Newsberry.

Kress envisioned his stores as works of public art that would contribute to the cityscape. Kress’ team of architects designed each store to stand out but to fit in with the surrounding architecture. Each store had unique fine architecture and the building in Tampa was no different, with its bronze marquees, coats of arms and Renaissance Revival terra-cotta facades, including glazed multi-colored trim. A number of former Kress stores are recognized as architectural landmarks and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including this building as well as three more in the state of Florida.

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com
Photo Credit: Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com

In 1964 Genesco, Inc. bought Kress and abandoned its center-city stores and moved to shopping malls. The liquidation of Kress began in 1980, with the store in Tampa closing in 1981.

Though, the Kress building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 7, 1983, the building has slowly deteriorated. Plans to renovate the building along with the J.J. Newberry next door have been talked about since it’s closing. The most disastrous, to this author’s opinion, was that of Richard Wellhouse Stein, whose idea was to redo the exterior of the J.J. Newberry to complement the Kress building and to add nine-stories and an atrium to the top of them.

In 2006, at the recommendation of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the city council landmarked the S.H. Kress building and the facades of the adjacent Woolworth and J.J. Newberry buildings. The Kress building is currently undergoing renovation.

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com
Photo Credit: Nomeus, 2007 – Flurbex.com

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2007
Website: FLURBEX

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Abandoned Florida

9 thoughts on “S.H. Kress and Co. Building”

  1. I worked at this Kress from 1979 to 1980, i worked in the basement at christmas putting together toys, i also worked at the lunch counter, i was then transfered to Miami Kress in 1980, then hired by McCrorys. Good and bad memories.

  2. I work across the street in the US District Courthouse. There has been a lot of action going on in the magnificent building. While walking today, I stopped and asked two gentlement if there were plans to fix up the building and they said yes. I was so pleased to hear the good news. I can’t wait to see what becomes of this magnificent piece of architecture. Gorgeous building.

  3. I work directly across the street from the beautiful facade of this once popular Kress. I fear it is dwarfed by the building I work in (High end, high rise apts). But I would hate to see this place go, it is one of the many old buildings I think makes our downtown so wonderful. I hope they restore! Along with the Floridian hotel.

  4. I am about 20 minutes away, I hope to go take a look in a few weeks, it looks stunning. I have only entered a structure like this one time before, any words from the wise?

  5. I have finished a 500 page manuscript on the Kress family and their architectural and cultural philanthropy, in the form of over 400 stores from New York to Hawaii, and whose Samuel H. Kress Foundation donated over 3,000 works to communities-many where Kress stores were located. Three brothers, Samuel H. Kress-President and Chairman,, Claude W. Kress-Vice-president, then President from 1924 to 1940 and Rush H. Kress-Vice-president and Treasurer, then president and Vice-chairman led a stellar organization that vanquished F. W. Woolworth’s, S. S. Kresge’s, J. C. McCrory’s, W. T. Grant’s and J. J. Newberry’s as most-profit-per-store champions! The magnificent Tampa S. H. Kress store, designed by Kress staff architect George E. MacKay in 1929, was a four-story Class A Superstore, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Kress stores have jump-started many a downtown economic development revitalization, and I hope this building’s renovation and re-opening will do the same for Tampa. I hope my book, titled, “Heads of Bronze, Hearts of Gold: The Kress Family Legacy” comes out soon. Good luck Tampa!

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