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America's 5 & 10 Cent Stores: The Kress Legacy 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471181958
ISBN-10: 0471181951
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Main Street is more than a place; it is a mythic symbol that represents a way of life that exists today as much a nostalgic memory as a reality. This celebratory portrait of the Kress five-and-dime store chain will certainly help evoke such memories. Thomas is an architectural historian who received a grant from the Kress Foundation to research and photograph former Kress stores. In the process, she unearthed archives relating to the chain's many stores in the basement of the Nashville headquarters of Genesco, Inc., the conglomerate that had taken over Kress. Thomas traveled to 27 states, visiting 260 buildings that had been Kress stores. Included here are approximately 200 photographs that not only show a variety of architectural styles but also document Kress' high design standards. Thomas has indexed the photographs by location, architect, and building name; and she shows what uses are now being made of these buildings. These features make this book more than a fascinating piece of Americana; it is a valuable resource for historians and urban planners. David Rouse

From the Publisher

The first major history of 5-&-10 cent stores, this architectural history takes the reader on a tour of local stores nationwide, from their beginnings in 1920s right up through the present day. The book looks at the changing streetscape of downtown America. The Kress company's landmark stores are the centerpiece of this pictorial tour of 5-&-10 cent stores, and over 200 Kress Stores in 27 states are featured. 178 black and white photo and 20 color plates--many from the National Building Museum's collection enhance the text.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471181951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471181958
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ms. Thomas' book is architecturally precise, but more than that, it is a generous and fascinating story of the Kress variety chain. What is surprising is that Kress had its own architectural division--and a spirit of community involvement. This is what "Main Street" once meant. Wonderful pictures--highly recommended, and Thomas is to be commended for her research and her excellent book.
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Format: Paperback
This title is rather misleading. It makes you think Kress was something to rival Woolworth. But things don’t add up.

1. I was in my 30s before I found this book in my public library, and it was through this book that I learned of the Kress Company.

2. This book does not mention any Kress building in the city where I live.

3. But, a local architect’s guidebook to local historic buildings claims that the Kress building that was built in my downtown around 1910 or so was both the largest store in the Kress Company’s chain (2 floor building on a 12,000 square foot lot) and the 3rd largest five and dime type store in the world.

4. This particular Kress building was renovated and turned into office space in 1980- the year Kress’ corporate raiding parent company began liquidating the Kress Company. I don’t know when this location (or the one other local location that I know about) went out of business.

5. I was 12 years old in 1980 and had lived here continuously since 1975 (after moving back after living out-of-state for 3 years), but I never knew that such a store as Kress existed here. I was never ever in a Kress store, and I have no memories of my parents or grandparents, aunts or uncles talking about any Kress Store.

So Kress hardly deserves the title America’s 5 & 10 Cent Store. And beware that this book is about Kress architecture more than it is about the Kress Company. I’ve looked, but I do not know of any book that will give you the company’s history as a retail store. But, maybe that history is overshadowed by the architectural quality of the Kress buildings. Kress was never a big company when compared to something like Woolworth.
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