Filed Under Great Falls

S.H. Kress and Company

Great Falls Central Business Historic District

S. H. Kress and Company prospered by selling quality merchandise at high volume and low prices. During the Depression, people found affordable luxury at its five-and-dime stores. Business boomed, and Kress took advantage of the era’s inexpensive labor and materials to build new stores. This generated additional customer loyalty by providing jobs during hard times. The company, which had its own architectural division, brought modernism to Main Street. Its light-colored brick and terra-cotta storefronts featured large display windows, including curved “quarter round” windows that directed shoppers to the recessed entryways. The original curved windows from this storefront are now used internally. According to Kress’s chief architect Edward Sibbert, the company wanted its stores “to stand out, but not too much.” Sibbert obliged with the Art Deco design for this 1931 store, which features the style’s characteristically smooth surfaces, geometric shapes, and linear patterns. For earthquake safety, Sibbert specified “ball-and-socket” steel construction and a five-inch-thick concrete roof. These engineering details later allowed the county to designate the building as a bomb shelter during the Cold War.

Images

S.H. Kress and Company
S.H. Kress and Company S.H. Kress and Company (PAc 91-51 Great Falls R20 F20). Front view of the building, facing north on Central Avenue. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office from the Photograph Archives at the Montana Historical Society Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: 1983

Location

409-411 Central Avenue, Great Falls, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “S.H. Kress and Company,” Historic Montana, accessed July 12, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/183.