City Directories and History: KRESS BUILDING – Constructed 1931
“Despite the distinction of enclosed hyphens or piazzas and adaptations of the single house, King Street has elements that are common to most Main Streets in the United States. One of these elements is the dime store. Samuel H. Kress was a school-teacher and entrepreneur who began his company in 1887 by purchasing a stationery shop in Pennsylvania. By 1896 Kress had developed his first chain, with a second store in Pennsylvania and a third in Memphis, Tennessee. A national headquarters was established in New York City in 1900 to oversee his twelve stores. S. H. Kress set his chain apart by building his stores with unusual designs and never leasing. He was so interested in architectural design that he developed his own architectural division in his New York office. Kress’s personal touch to every store was the incorporation of his German family coat of arms on the interiors and, by the 1930s, on all storefronts. 281 King Street is typical of Kress’s Art Deco buildings with its yellow brick facade, its polychrome terra cotta detailing, vertical orientation, and abstract and geometric designs.”
Information from: The Buildings of Charleston – J.H. Poston for the Historic Charleston Foundation, 1997
This house was the home to the Prioleau family by at least 1872 (perhaps earlier). Following their ownership, a cotton broker and bank president, William M. Connor, occupied the house from at least 1879-1891. From at least 1901 through 1933, it was the home of the Wynnes. Edwin Wynne was a partner in a fruit importing business, and his widow remained in the house until her death.
Apparently, the Depression to a hit on the house, and it was acquired by the Kress Co. (the owners of a large department store on King St.) and converted into apartments. In late 1941, the house was demolished to make space for a $90,000 addition to the Kress & Co. department store (that otherwise faces on King Street). Also see #78 Wentworth Street.
Information written and submitted to R&R by Kevin R. Eberle – 2015
Other resources: Charleston Tax Payers of Charleston, SC in 1860-61, Dwelling Houses of Charleston by Alice R.H. Smith – 1917, Charleston 1861 Census Schedule, 1844 Map of Charleston, and a 1872 Bird’s Eye View of Charleston, S.C. The Hist. Charleston Foundation may also have additional data at: Past Perfect
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