Historical Kress Building transformed into 110,000 sq foot property with office space, retail, and residential units to revitalize downtown
Montgomery, AL - On March 21st, the formerly disrepaired Kress Building on Dexter Avenue was given the ABC Excellence in Construction Award for Best Historical Restoration under $25 million. Led by community developer, Montgomery BUILDS, and through collaboration with local architects Seay, Seay & Litchfield and contractor Brasfield & Gorrie, they transformed the three story building into a five-story 110,000 square foot mixed use property with office space, retail, and 26 residential units.
The Kress building was originally built in 1898 by owner Samuel L. Kress and rebuilt in 1929 after a fire. However, due to years of water damage, 60% of the original ornamental plasterwork was destroyed. To replicate as close to the original design as possible, 1929 ornamental plaster was cast and local craftspeople worked for months restoring the deco elements. They abated & demolished and rebuilt the buildings on either side of Kress to fuse the original building with the new construction for elevator & mechanicals. To support the additional floors, 164 tons of new structural steel was added to the existing 411 tons of steel in the building.
In addition to architectural feats, Montgomery BUILDS worked alongside the community to ensure that Kress on Dexter encapsulated the deep history of Montgomery. The new tongue and groove wood flooring on the second level of the building were milled from beams salvaged from demolition of the oldest theatre in the state of Alabama - the 1860 Montgomery Theatre (later called the Webber Theatre). The Webber Theatre is where John Wilkes Booth performed regularly, and performed just weeks before assassinating Abraham Lincoln.
During renovation, construction crews also uncovered two oversized slabs of marble engraved with the words “white” and “colored.” These slabs backed Kress’s segregated water fountains. Displayed inside Kress’s Monroe Street entrance, the relics serve as a way of bearing witness to a complex and painful history; they will be unveiled in a special ceremony on April 12th.
Over 110 years later, the newly renovated Kress building stands as a symbol of architectural innovation, community transformation, and hope for a stronger future.
Contact: Susan Varghese
ABOUT MONTGOMERY BUILDS
Founded by Mark Buller and Sarah Beatty Buller, Montgomery Builds, real estate developers, aims to revitalize Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery, AL. Several years ago Dexter was a semi-deserted neighborhood. Bad zoning laws had caused decay. From the outset, the Bullers were struck by how much transformative American history occurred on Dexter Avenue—a history too important to let crumble. It was this “possibility” that sparked them to start Montgomery Builds™ and invest in the artery of Lower Dexter Avenue by purchasing and redeveloping several decaying boarded-up buildings on the block. Kress on Dexter is the symbolic “first” structure that Montgomery Builds™ is restoring. Going forward, Montgomery Builds plans to continue the revitalization of historic buildings along the block. “Our vision is not to demolish old historic buildings, but embrace them, have new structures grow up from them that will serve as platforms for creativity, community, innovation and healing. It’s about people—our stories and how we are connected”, said Sarah Beatty Buller.