What Did That Building Used to Be - 706 Market Street (Kress)

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - by Harmon Jolley
S.H. Kress storefront in 1907. Click to enlarge.
S.H. Kress storefront in 1907. Click to enlarge.

The final address in this three-part series on the east side of the 700 block of Market Street is 706-708. For nearly fifty years at this site, the S.H. Kress & Company Five-Ten & Twenty-Five Cent Store competed against the F.W. Woolworth Company for supremacy in Chattanooga’s low-cost retail market.

Samuel Henry Kress was a native of eastern Pennsylvania. Born in 1863, he was named for an uncle who had died at Gettysburg just three weeks earlier. He became a schoolteacher, but decided to leave that profession to become a merchant. Kress followed the example of F.W. Woolworth, and went into the five-and-dime store business. He opened his first store at Memphis in 1896, and added his fifth store on November 25, 1899 when the Chattanooga location opened.

In 1904, S.H. Kress was in business at 808 Market Street. Thomas A. Snow, mentioned in last week’s article for his stove business at 710 Market Street, also occupied the 706 building and sold glassware. In 1905, Mr. Snow consolidated his breakable brands with his durable ones at the 710 store, while S.H. Kress moved into 706-08. Kress generally leased its properties on a long-term basis, as was the case with the Chattanooga store.

Kress remodeled its store in 1924 to include the company’s logo – the raised letters “KRESS” forming an arch at the top of the building. A brick façade was added which was in an art deco style. Many of the Kress buildings around the country, and even overseas in Hilo, Hawaii, are still recognized for their architectural style.

The S.H. Kress stores specialized in all of the gadgets and supplies which supported the keeping of a home – needles and thread, kitchen tools, towels, and cleaners. In my research, I was unable to find newspaper advertisements for S.H. Kress across the decades. Apparently, Kress relied on its mere downtown presence and merchandise to attract customers.

Kress left us a photographic treasure through the postcards and local pictorials which it published. Several of the famous postcards of Chattanooga were published by Kress, as were souvenir booklets sold at local reunions of Civil War veterans. After he had become successful in business, Samuel H. Kress began to collect art, and was one of the initial benefactors of the National Gallery of Art.

In 1954, S.H. Kress left its 706 Market Street address for a new, larger building in the 800 block of Market Street, extending through to Cherry Street. At a time when suburban shopping centers were being planned, this was a bold, ambitious move on the part of the company. The ladies’ clothing chain store, Mangel’s, followed Kress at the 706 Market address.

S.H. Kress had many successful years at its new Market Street store before closing in the 1980’s. I remember that in 1982, Kress sold a hit of the World’s Fair – the deely-bopper headgear which consisted of various shapes affixed to long springs. Kress was also among the discount retailers which sold deeply-discounted close-out record albums, tapes, and 45’s, which were always great as gag gifts.

Today, Miller Plaza occupies the site of the last Kress store in Chattanooga. As for the 706 Market Street building, Sav-A-Dollar moved there following a 1975 fire at its 613 Market Street address which was next door to competitor Scottie’s, a discount health and beauty products store. The Downtown Mart, which specializes in wigs, has been open in the 706 Market Street building since at least 1990. The Downtown Mart is one of few retailing survivors in the east side of the 700 block of Market Street. Today, the 700 block awaits its next Dr. Edwin C. Anderson, Dr. Louis Prosterman, Thomas A. Snow, Woolworth, Eckerd, or Kress.

If you have memories of S.H. Kress at any of its locations, or of the other retailers which were mentioned, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net.

The Downtown Mart occupies the 706-08 building on Market Street today.  Click to enlarge.
The Downtown Mart occupies the 706-08 building on Market Street today. Click to enlarge.
- photo by Harmon Jolley

Remembering The Mosmans In St. Elmo

Chester Martin Remembers A St. Elmo Family Friend - Kate Gothard

Newest State Museum Exhibit Focuses On Gubernatorial Inaugurations


To Chester Martin, Re: St. Elmo article: I so enjoy reading your column in the Chattanoogan. This day's blog is of particular interest in that my family, Mosman, started their Southern ... (click for more)

Kate Gothard was my mother's closest lifetime friend. They first met through attendance at the St. Elmo Methodist Church, going on through grades 1-6 at the North St. Elmo Grammar School (about ... (click for more)

The Tennessee State Library and Archives announced its newest exhibit, Governors of Tennessee , in conjunction with the 2019 Gubernatorial Inauguration. Governors of Tennessee , opens to the ... (click for more)


Memories

Remembering The Mosmans In St. Elmo

To Chester Martin, Re: St. Elmo article: I so enjoy reading your column in the Chattanoogan. This day's blog is of particular interest in that my family, Mosman, started their Southern heritage in St. Elmo. My great-grandfather, Judson Adoniram Mosman, had been a prisoner of the confederacy at Andersonville, Ga and on his furlough and subsequent trip home to Maine and Massachusetts, ... (click for more)

Chester Martin Remembers A St. Elmo Family Friend - Kate Gothard

Kate Gothard was my mother's closest lifetime friend. They first met through attendance at the St. Elmo Methodist Church, going on through grades 1-6 at the North St. Elmo Grammar School (about 1907), and maintained their "best friends" status all the way through High School - at Central - where they both graduated in 1913. The picture shown here is of Kate in sixth grade at the ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Federal Agents Make 126 Arrests, Seize Guns, Drugs During Operation Triple Beam

Federal officials said they made 126 arrests and seized seven guns and a large amount of illegal drugs during Operation Triple Beam in Hamilton County. David G. Jolley, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and J. Douglas Overbey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, said OTB was a systematic and sustained collaborative enforcement operation specifically ... (click for more)

Google Working With TVA To Put 1.6 Million Solar Panels In Tennessee And Alabama To Power New Data Centers

Google plans to work with TVA to deploy 1.6 million solar panels to power two new huge Google data centers in Tennessee and Alabama. Google officials said, "Hundreds of engineers, electricians and construction workers are building two new, energy-efficient Google data center campuses in the Southeastern U.S. - one in Tennessee and another in northern Alabama . And we’re not stopping ... (click for more)

Opinion

The Culture Of Policing In Chattanooga - And Response (3)

I totally agree with the sentiments expressed by Brenda Washington. Over the years, I have noticed that people tend to ignore or dismiss what she says, or attack her. This is unfortunate, because she is alerting people of the problems within the culture of policing in Chattanooga, whether it is in Hamilton County or the city of Chattanooga. There are good, honest police officers ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jalen Hurts’ Decision

Several weeks ago the “Ten Best-Mannered People of 2018” were named and of all the lists compiled in the country, this is my favorite. Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback who virtually lives his life to enhance that of others, was the hands-down winner. He and his “Brees Dream Foundation” are so steeped in goodness it will make you cry. Justin Thomas, the pro golfer ... (click for more)