History of the Kress Theatre

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History of the Kress Theatre

The building was constructed in 1938 to house the S.H. Kress five and dime store.  It is one of more than 50 Art Deco buildings that are considered to be the most distinctive and best remembered Kress stores designed by the company’s chief architect.

People across Central Louisiana fondly remember their wonderful shopping experiences inside this building. The Kress Store conjures up images of a time when life was simpler, and downtown was the “Hub” of community activities.

In the mid-1970s the store closed. Rapides Bank then used the building for storage and its printing operations, then in the late ‘90s the Alexandria Museum of Art occupied office space on the first floor during construction of its new building.  Most sections of the old Kress building were shuttered during this 30-year period.  In January 2000 it was purchased by The Rapides Foundation and the structure was completely renovated.

The building began its new life in April 2003, and is now home to The Rapides Foundation, many nonprofit organizations and a black box theater.  The second floor is named the Frye Nonprofit Development Center in honor of Ray and Minnie Frye, who supported organizations throughout our community.

The Rapides Foundation building supports and nurtures both existing nonprofit organizations and helps incubate new ones.  It also houses a vibrant and unique performing space for the arts.  The downtown area is now experiencing a “rebirth,” and the former Kress building is taking its place in this redevelopment – ready to create new memories for those who grew up visiting this store, and also for generations to come.


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