Old Art Deco Department Store in Florida prior to conversion to office space

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida
Date added: November 01, 2023 Categories: Florida Retail Department Store
Beach St. (east) and Myrtle Ln (north) facades (1982)

The S.H. Kress & Co. Building is an outstanding example of commercial Art Deco architecture in Daytona Beach and as one of the finest high-style buildings of any description in the city.

At the time of its opening in October 1932, the Daytona Beach store of S.H. Kress and Co. was described in the local newspaper as "one of the finest of its kind in all the south." Designed by the Kress Company's in-house architect, Edward F. Sibbert, the store was constructed by G.A. Miller, Inc., a Tampa contractor. As one of more than 200 stores that the Kress chain operated nationwide by 1935, the Daytona Beach store illustrates the company's belief in presenting an up-to-date public image as well as modern, efficient service to its customers.

As the Buildings Vice President of S.H. Kress and Co. from 1929-1954, Sibbert participated in the design and construction of approximately fifty of the company's retail stores throughout the country during that period. In addition to the Daytona Beach store, Sibbert is known to have been the principal architect for the Kress stores on Third Avenue in Birmingham, Alabama (1936-37) and Fifth Avenue in New York City (1935). Marking the apex of his career, Sibbert's Fifth Avenue store won a Gold Medal Award at the 1940 Pan American Exposition and, when completed, was described in The Architectural Forum as "perhaps the most interesting building of its kind ever erected."

Influenced by designs for the Chrysler Building, the Irving Trust Company Building, Rockefeller Center and others in New York City, Sibbert departed from other chain stores of the period by designing his stores in the modern style of the 1930s. Growing less out of local or statewide architectural trends than from national forces, therefore, Sibbert's designs for the Daytona Beach store and others throughout the chain were apparently part of a carefully considered corporate image that the company found useful in its merchandising approach.

The Kress Company's most rapid growth occurred during the first three decades of the century when an average of 6.7 stores per year were opened. Growth slowed dramatically during the Depression and war years, but the company still managed to open an average of 2.4 stores per year from 1930 through 1949. The addition of the Daytona Beach store to the chain in 1932 was part of the company's modest but steady growth nationwide during this economically troubled period, growth which may be attributed to Kress' successful implementation of a high-volume, low-price retailing philosophy.

A four-block-long stretch of Beach Street in which the Kress building is located on Daytona Beach's major commercial thoroughfare. It is a one-sided street from a development standpoint in that all of the buildings on its west side face a city park and the Halifax River on the opposite side. Thus, wide vistas of the buildings up and down the west side of the street exist for several blocks from the eastern perspective. In terms of its height, massing and ornamental expression, the Kress Building is the most visually striking and architecturally significant building on the entire strip.

An entrance constructed at the north end of the storefront (probably in 1979) has been the only substantive exterior alteration made to the building over the years. Thus, its architectural integrity and ability to convey high-style Art Deco design has been remarkably well-maintained.

It was subdivided into 21,000 sq ft of office space in the early 1980s.

Building Description

The S.H. Kress & Co. Building is an Art Deco-style, three-story commercial structure fronting on Beach Street in Daytona Beach. Rectangular in plan, the building was built using steel frame construction with brick curtain walls, concrete slab floors and a flat built-up roof behind parapet walls with terra-cotta coping. Six bays wide on the main facade and fourteen bays long, the building is sheathed in buff-colored brick and polychromed terra-cotta ornamentation on the Beach Street and Myrtle Lane facades. An ornamented bronze canopy overhangs a ground-floor storefront on the Beach Street facade.

The building is attached to a two-story structure on the south side and faces Myrtle Lane on the north. The rear elevation faces an alley and a small parking lot. The brick and terra-cotta ornamentation wraps around one bay on each of the south and rear elevations.

The storefront consists of large plate glass windows in steel frames with black and green marble kick panels. There are two recessed entrances in the second and fifth bays, each of which is flanked by two sheets of curved glass. At the north end of the storefront, a section of the original storefront was removed and a new recessed entrance was added. (This feature probably dates from the 1979 conversion of the building to restaurant use.) Both this door and its surround were constructed in rough-sawn wood. The upper floor windows are steel sash in various configurations, ranging from 2/2 and 4/4 double-hung to 2/2 double inverted hoppers.

The ornamentation on the Beach Street and Myrtle Lane facades is dominated by vertical terra-cotta piers placed between each window bay and by slightly projecting corner pavilions framed with terra-cotta quoins and capped with terra-cotta curvilinear Art Deco patterns and stylized urns in relief. Both facade parapet walls are comprised of ornamental brickwork in a diagonal fret pattern flanked by vertical extensions of the corner pavilions ornamented with stylized, attenuated terra-cotta acanthus leaves. Capping the central portions of the facade parapet walls are two bands of polychromed terra-cotta ornamented cresting in stylized seashell patterns.

At the ground floor level of the north facade, a raised basement effect has been achieved by the placement of an intermediate terra-cotta cornice which carries the horizontal line of the storefront canopy along Myrtle Lane. The horizontality of the raised basement is further accentuated by several indented horizontal bands in the brickwork below the intermediate cornice. The first-story windows on the north facade are secured on the exterior by ornamented wrought iron grilles.

The interior two-story ground floor sales area has been stripped of its original stained birch, marble, and bronze sales counters. The sole remaining significant original features in the sales area are six sets of steel columns and plaster pilasters with plaster stylized acanthus leaf capitals running the length of the building, and an ornamented plaster ceiling. Sometime before 1980, all interior walls at the ground floor level were stripped of their plaster, with the red brick left exposed. There are a variety of non-original rough-sawn wood partition walls, raised platforms, and mezzanine-level seating areas on the ground floor which comprised part of the 1979 conversion of the building to a restaurant.

The second and third floors of the building originally were used for the storage of back stock. Currently at the second floor level are a combination of non-original partitioned spaces and unornamented, open-plan storage space. The third floor remains an entirely unornamented open space. The ceiling and roof structures at the second and third floors are carried by steel columns cased in unornamented plaster.

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida Beach St. (east) and Myrtle Ln (north) facades (1982)
Beach St. (east) and Myrtle Ln (north) facades (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida Bronze canopy, Beach St. (east) facade (1982)
Bronze canopy, Beach St. (east) facade (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida Myrtle Ln (north) facade and rear (west) elevation (1982)
Myrtle Ln (north) facade and rear (west) elevation (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida Rear (west) elevation (1982)
Rear (west) elevation (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida South elevation (1982)
South elevation (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida View toward north on Beach St (1982)
View toward north on Beach St (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida Ground floor sales area (1982)
Ground floor sales area (1982)

S.H. Kress and Co. Building, Daytona Beach Florida Column capital and ceiling, ground floor sales area (1982)
Column capital and ceiling, ground floor sales area (1982)