Location: 100 W 5th St
Date: 1923; 1995
Architect: Thomas Franklin Power, Interstices
Adjacent: Walker Dept Store (that’s Doma!)
Art collector Samuel H. Kress revolutionized shopping as we know it when he introduced the idea of selling goods at inexpensive prices. The Kress Building on Pine Ave in Long Beach was the 152nd store in the Memphis-based Kress & Company empire. Not only did Kress believe at selling goods for less money, but he was committed to good store design and realized his vision in the architecture and interiors of buildings. In another move that was unprecedented at the time, Kress employed an in-house architecture division to facilitate all the design details, from the lighting fixtures to the exteriors. The company kept in mind the layout of the surrounding buildings and designed accordingly, making sure the building fit in within the context of those surrounding it.
The architect for the Long Beach Kress store, Thomas Franklin Power, was the same person who designed Loyola Marymount University in L.A. The building is made out of cement stucco scored to resemble terra cotta and was originally seven stories high, with only two stories being used for retail and the rest for commercial. Notable photographer Lawrence Inman and architecture firm Hugh Gibbs were tenants in the space. In 1928 three more stories were added to the Pine Ave side for more retail and food services.
Kress closed its doors in 1960 and fell into neglect in the years after, until a developer bought the property in 1980 and the exterior and interior were both stripped, leaving behind only the original structure. But it wasn’t until architecture firm Interstices acquired the property (saving it from being demolished to make way for a parking lot) that it was transformed into 49 loft units with communal outdoor spaces and two large steel and glass penthouses on the top of the building. Although the steel staircase is a new addition, there are original features such as the frieze ornamentation and the large ground floor display windows.
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