Today I have a little something different for you. I recently had occasion to be in Sarasota, Florida for a few days. While exploring Main Street in downtown Sarasota, I came upon the Kress Building. I thought, “Why don’t I look that building up?”. When I travel, I compare places to Buffalo. I can’t help it. After reading about Sarasota, and about the building itself, I decided to bring it to you.
Now, if you’re familiar with my blog, you probably know that my husband is a runner. On Super Bowl Sunday, he ran the Sarasota Half Marathon. During our visit, we ended up with a day to explore when we weren’t doing marathon things and watching the Super Bowl with friends. Like we usually do, we rented bikes and took off exploring.
During the marathon Tim had run out onto Lido Key and he wanted to go back and take a closer look. I was game, of course. After picking up the bikes, we rode down Main Street in Sarasota on our way to the two bridges that lead to Lido Key. We commented that we had to come back later on to explore Main Street. We rode straight through St. Armand’s Circle (knowing we’d be back) and out to the gulf coast. We wanted to be on the water for a bit.
We walked out on the beach to take a look around. Just beautiful! Spectacular white sand beaches with gorgeous views of the gulf. It was a perfect morning, even if it was a little cool. We sat down in the sand, I put my backpack behind my head and reclined. Tim did too. There we stayed, soaking up the warmth of the sun. I know how dangerous the sun is supposed to be, but I can’t help feeling like there is something very healing about lying on a beach in the sun. Long as you don’t overdo it. After relaxing, we walked the length of Lido Key, and it is of course, stunning.
St. Armand’s Circle
St. Armand’s Circle is on Lido Key and we stopped there for a late lunch. As we sat outside on a second floor patio eating, we decided that life is good. We were both very relaxed. We decided to walk the circle and see the shops that surround it. That shows how relaxed we were because neither of us likes shopping very much.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon wandering in and out of shops. The restaurants and stores along here are beautiful. And they have everything from ice cream, to eye cream, to incredibly well framed sports prints and more.
We could have spent several days getting to all the restaurants that looked interesting. St. Armand’s Circle would be a great place to explore for a week or so.
Back to Main Street – and the Kress Building
The bikes had to be back by five, so we headed back over the bridges to downtown Sarasota. It was then that we noticed the Kress Building for the first time. We returned the bikes and walked back over to Main Street to take some photos.
The building attracted me with its copper covered wrought iron canopy, curved glass display windows and the “5-10-25 CENT STORE” carved into the facade. It made me think of Seymour Knox and his five-and-dime stores. And then Vidler’s in East Aurora. I wanted to know more.
The building itself is not an elaborate design by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a stately and classic example of art deco design. Built in 1932, it’s concrete with a steel frame structure, and a facade of buff tile and terra cotta. In Sarasota, they have the sun to deal with, but not the harsh freeze/thaw cycle we contend with in Buffalo so the tiles and terra cotta are in remarkable shape.
S. H. Kress & Co.
Samuel Henry Kress established S. H. Kress & Co., a five-and-dime chain of department stores in 1896 that quickly grew to be a nationwide establishment. The fact that the Sarasota store was built in 1932 during the height of the depression speaks volumes to the success of the company. It was the 232nd store in the Kress chain! Wow. Who knew there were chains of five-and-dimes that incredibly large in 1932? Certainly not me. The Kress Company operated until 1981.
A quick google search uncovered these photos of other Kress Stores. They certainly had a specific style didn’t they? From what I read, these stores were put in on Main Streets all over the country. I for one am certainly glad they put one in Sarasota. I love the opportunity to find a gem like this in another city. And with a bit of a story behind it too, makes it even sweeter.
I also came across this photo, which shows a nearly exact match to the floor outside the main entrance of the Sarasota Store. Only this one’s in Berkeley, California.
More to See In Sarasota
There are a few other sights I wanted to share with you from Sarasota. Mostly of their Main Street and it’s charm. They have a great mix of new and old architecture here. Their Main Street was very walkable. And we found the people, as well as the place, were very friendly. Although the Floridians were wearing winter coats and boots all weekend! Temps were in the mid to high 50’s. They should come to Buffalo! Wink, wink.
My Impressions of the Kress Building
I know this isn’t the usual Hello Buffalo blog post. But I do travel, and finding the Kress Building made me feel like I was in Buffalo coming upon the, let’s say, the Calumet Building for the first time. I liked it immediately. It elicited that feeling of finding something worth finding.
Even when I travel, or perhaps even more so when I do, I get that urge to see things close up, to learn more, to see more. In Sarasota, I found it on their Main Street, in a building called the Kress, and I wanted to share it with you.
Next week I’ll be back home in Buffalo with a post about a local small business owner who was helped along the way by Tom McDonnell of Dog Ears Bookstore. Stay tuned.