The S.H. Kress & Co was a “five and dime” department store chain that operated from 1896 to 1981. This sign adorns the back of the former Kress department store in Ballard, now known, rather originally, as the Kress Building. There was also a Kress department store in downtown Seattle at 3rd and Pine. According to the National Building Museum:
Kress achieved retail branding success not merely through standardized signage and graphics, but through distinctive architecture and efficient design … Kress stores were designed to be integral parts of their business districts and helped define Main Street America.
The Ballard Kress store employed the standardized signage and graphics in this ghost sign at the back of the building, as well as the signage on the front (see below). And this picture shows the front of the building in 1946; the Kress signage overshadowed by the Bagdad Theatre.
This building is less distinctive from an architectural standpoint and much smaller than some of the Kress buildings in other cities, including the one in downtown Seattle, which now houses a Kress IGA Supermarket, among other things.
Wikipedia lists some of the adaptive reuses of former Kress buildings. Other uses of Kress buildings include “exclusive” residential lofts in Long Beach, Ashville, and Fort Worth, among others. The art deco Kress building on Hollywood Blvd, formerly home to Frederick’s and a lot of lingerie, is now a “multi-level restuarant and nightclub.” Whatever. Current tenants in the Ballard Kress building include Dollar Plus, the recently relocated Bop Street Records, the Seattle Metaphysical Library, the modestly named Heavy Genius Recording studio, and more.