“Discovery is seeing what everyone else has seen, but thinking what no one else has thought.”
During our renovation project of the historic Kress building we had the opportunity to uncover a gem that had been hidden for years. It’s a microcosm of a story that is transforming a new American Landscape and that is an appreciation for authentic places and spaces.
The story begins with a man named Samuel Kress back in the 1920’s. He started a five and dime store that competed with others like Woolworth. He was a civic minded man and believed that his buildings should be exemplary and artistic pieces of the community they served. One of these gems was the Daytona Beach store, designed by Seymour Burrell. This store served the community for many years. Like many other buildings in our downtowns, this Kress building fell into a period I call the Dark Ages, where civic space and community design were not a priority. Fortunately for this building it was only covered up and not demolished.
One of the great features of the building is the terrazzo floors. Terrazzo was a flooring type mainly used after WWII as a standard flooring finish. Many homes built in the late 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s have this flooring. This particular floor is unique in that it was installed in the early 30’s and has very unique hues of dark green and gold with inlaid brass. What an exciting discovery it was for us when Mac Smith first mentioned that the building had terrazzo underneath the carpet. The moment when we pulled the carpet up and found the beautiful 85 year old terrazzo was unforgettable. As the process continued and the floors were stripped of the glue, the true luster came out. There are blemishes that are part of any old structure…that’s what we call character. After all we are proud of this story, not just for the good elements, but the “battle scared” testament that is indicative of the building’s perseverant stance on quality and pride.
The new look and polish not only represents an earlier time, but also a new future. Rediscoveries aren’t a return to the past; instead they are an appreciation for where we have been and a new vision for where we can go. Discovering terrazzo is in a small way how we are discovering our historic downtowns. As we continue to polish our historic areas we uncover the old stories and discover new and exciting elements to our city. Don’t be afraid to pull up the carpet to your community…sometimes you will be amazed at what’s underneath.