Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Let's go to the Kress Five & Dime


Remember how it smelled? Popcorn and ladies' makeup. Old wooden display cases piled with scarves and wallets. Unmistakable sales ladies who spoke just so. It was an indescribable mix of sights, sounds and activity that could only be a five and dime store. Everyone shopped there. The S. H. Kress and Co. building on North Franklin Street in Tampa's downtown opened in 1929. It was part of the S. H. Kress chain of five and dime stores. It's a great old building that has stood empty and almost forgotten for many years. The four story building is certainly ornate in all its crumbling decay. It's terribly sad to get up to close to the entrance and see the coat-of-arms hanging centered on the sidewalk overhang. The facade is said to be Renaissance Revival and its obvious to me that in its day, the architect's plan was intended to set this design apart from every other store on Franklin Street. The first Kress in Tampa opened in 1900 and at this location in 1908. The street was one of Tampa's premier shopping destinations then and by 1929 Kress tore the second building down. Business must have been really good...before the Crash of 1929. But Kress survived the Depression. And wars. This Kress has stood tall. Against every change. In shopping. In prodiucts. In "consumer behavior." And it still stands 80 years later. Franklin Street and Florida Avenue were Tampa shopper's heaven, and the sidewalks were filled with moms, families and shopkeepers. Kress would eventually own 400 stores in the country. S.H. Kress's business went away and the entire company was liquidated in 1980. But, that was long after Tampa's downtown was the place where people shopped. Replaced by shopping centers such as Britton Plaza and then Westshore Mall, these stores became irrelevant and empty. Maas Brothers and others were abandoned and torn down. The Kress building still stands. Begging to be discovered and recognized as the beauty it once and still is. This photo concentrates on the features still proudly intact up high. The handpainted KRESS sign is still visible on both sides. The building stands alone. But for how long. Its windows and entrances are boarded up and the sidewalks are vacant and quiet of life. It was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1983 but that has not caused it to awaken from its long restless sleep. It's time!

8 comments:

  1. I worked there when I was in high school... behind the candy counter. WOW that brings back memories...

    ReplyDelete
  2. This reminds me of Petrea's picture of the Hotel Carver building. http://pasadenadailyphoto.blogspot.com/2009/07/then-and-now-hotel-carver.html

    Gorgeous arches and detail surrounding those windows.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So much has been lost besides the business. Progress and change both come at a price.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That is so sad! She's a beautiful building with wonderful ornamentation. I hope someone decides to fix her up soon.

    I've only heard about five and dimes through books, but I don't think I'd like the smell of popcorn and makeup together!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's a beauty, all right. Wow. Buildings like this have been a huge draw to Pasadena's downtown. They've even preserved the painted signs on the sides. People love the antique look. You might want to take a look at oldtown.org and oldtown.com. The stores that occupy our antique buildings include Apple, Crate & Barrel, Forever 21, Barnes & Noble, etc. There are also independent boutiques and restaurants. All I can tell you is it's hard to find parking in Old Town Pasadena, even during these economically tough times.

    If the owner of this building were to ask me, I'd say hang on to it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @PETREA - I hope in my lifetime to see it fully restored. I's still sound and could contain offices, stores, a coffee shop, etc., etc. It is so cool.

    I will visit oldtown and drool.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love it, Frank. And the nice thing it's about the same age as you! ;-)

    I remember Kresge...I wonder if that was the same company...

    Hopefully, "they" will restore this fine old specimen to it's initial glory!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jacob pegged it. I actually took this photo on the grand opening day and I've been waiting all these years for technology to catch up so I could blog about it. (Jacob, you WERE the older gentleman who tipped his hat that day and welcomed us into the store, right?)

    ReplyDelete