Kress Building - Houston, Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member JimmyEv
N 29° 45.545 W 095° 21.792
15R E 271493 N 3294430
Quick Description: This outpost of the S.H. Kress & Co. five-and-dime, sitting at what was once the head of Houston’s primary retail district, was designed by Kress staff architect Seymour Burrell in 1913. The building was renovated in 1983 as the St. Germain Lofts.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 6/3/2007 2:48:15 PM
Waymark Code: WM1MTN
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 56

Long Description:

Most retail in Houston prior to the Depression was concentrated in the areas around Market Square and lower Main Street. S.H. Kress, one of the nation’s first chain stores, located their Houston outlet outside of this retail district, but was soon followed as new department stores - Foley’s, Sakowitz Brothers and Battlestein’s - were built further south along Main Street.

As one of the nation’s first chain stores, it was important for Kress to present an identifiable image to the public. This was achieved through the exterior designs of their stores, popping up on Main Streets throughout America in the early 20th century. All the stores featured symmetrical facades, a buff-colored exterior, and the word ‘Kress’ in distinctive, arched lettering near the top of the buildings. The first Kress store opened in Memphis in 1896. By 1900, Kress operated twelve stores in five states, including Houston’s first Kress store.

Although Houston’s second Kress store followed the general pattern of the chain at the time, it was still unusual. The typical Kress store contained room enough for retail space and offices on the upper floors. The Houston location was eight stories – enough room for retail on the first 3½ floors, Kress’s offices above, and four floors of office space for lease. The store had two facades, one facing Main, the other facing Capitol.

Like most early high-rises, this building emphasized its verticality, with a two-story base, a five-story shaft, and a single story crown. The reinforced concrete frame is sheathed in terra cotta, scored to simulate stone. Kress stores always had colorful ornamentation, and this store was no exception. The building was renovated in 1983 to the St. Germain Lofts. Most of the colorful ornamentation was restored, but the word ‘Kress’ spelled out across the stepped parapet was removed.

Main Street/Market Square Historic District
Next: Gulf Building | Previous: McCrory's

Texas Historical Commission, "Kress Building," available at Texas Historical Atlas

Street address:
701 Main Street
Houston, TX USA

County / Borough / Parish: Harris County

Year listed: 2002

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event

Periods of significance: 1900-1974

Historic function: Retail

Current function: Loft Apartments

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 1: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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