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Setting a standard for Salisbury – New owner of Kress Building hopes to make structure an 'icon'

By Kathy Chaffin

Salisbury Post

Joel Goodman is attempting to turn back time as he restores the Kress Building to its original glory.

The S.H. Kress 5-10 & 25 Cent Store opened in 1910 at 300 S. Main St. For 64 years, many Rowan Countians shopped and worked at the store.

“Everybody has a Kress story,” said Goodman, who is restoring the building for use as a plaza. “Many grandmothers or aunts or wives have worked in the Kress store.”

The general contractor for the project, Goodman plans to convert the second floor of the 21,000-square-foot building into five luxury condominiums while using the main floor for retail shops and possibly a restaurant.

“I made a commitment to the city of Salisbury that the Kress Plaza would be an icon of beauty,” Goodman said. “Not only is it going to be an icon of beauty for the citizens of Salisbury and the people that visit, it’s going to set a standard for renovation buildings.”

Having grown up and spent most of his life in western Rowan, Goodman said he has many memories of going with his mother to the Kress store as a kid. “I never thought I’d own it,” he said.

On Thursday, a pre-cast concrete chimney cap custom made by A&D Precast in Denver, N.C., to look like the original was placed on the building. The original cap was removed from the chimney at some point, Goodman said, but it is visible in old photos of the building.

Burton Mechanical of Salisbury, which did all of the heating and air conditioning work, provided the boom truck for Masonry Restoration of Mount Ulla to install the 400-pound, 41-inch-square cap on top of four chimney mounts.

The cap was secured to each mount, made out of brick matching the building, with two stainless steel rods so it would withstand catastrophic winds without being blown off.

Goodman, owner of Goodman Construction, said he and his crew will start working on the condominiums after Christmas with the intent of having them ready for people to move in by mid- to late summer. “We have had a lot of interest in those condos,” he said.

The crew will also be working on the main level. There’s not a firm plan as to the layout of the first floor at this time, Goodman said, adding that the commercial uses will be dictated by the market.

“We would like to be done with the entire project within a year,” he said.

Goodman, his crew and other contractors have done a lot of work on the building since he bought it in September 2005. They built a free-standing, wooden stairwell in the center of the building like the one in the original.

Masonry Restoration, doing business as Nawkaw of the Carolinas, has cleaned and restored the brick building, including the limestone decorative ledges and accents. “I’m very pleased with the outcome of the work they’ve done so far,” he said.

Goodman said his crew is getting ready to put the Kress letters on the building’s two arches. One faces Main Street while the other faces Bank.

After tracking down the original tin letters from the person who had bought them, Goodman had them digitized and new ones made out of aluminum. “They will be backlit every night,” he said.

He has also refurbished the original, 12-foot Kress sign and plans to mount it at the corner of Main and Bank streets facing Main. The Kress store was one of 260 five-and-dime stores built by S.H. Kress in the United States, most in the Southeast.

This is the first restoration project for Goodman, who now lives on Lake Norman, though he’s been interested in historic structures for a long time.

“I looked at them in a couple of different cities,” he said, “though I really wanted to find something in Salisbury, because it’s like my home city.

“The Kress building is a significant structure in Rowan County. It’s well constructed, and it’s a great building as far as architectural design.”

Goodman said he’s received several e-mails from people wanting him to restore other buildings in downtown Salisbury. “Right now, I’m just not sure what the future holds as far as renovating those type buildings,” he said.

Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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