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Jax Evolved: From Kress to Farah & Farah

Farah & Farah building, once the Kress building, Jacksonville, FL

10 West Adams Street has served as the home for Farah & Farah’s downtown Jacksonville operations for nearly two decades, but like many downtown buildings it had a long life before its current tenants showed up.

The building at 10 West Adams began its life way back in 1912, when it opened its doors as S.H. Kress & Co.’s downtown Jax location.

S.H. Kress & Co. was one of the most popular “five and dime” stores. Five and dimes were kind of like upscale dollar stores, and were extremely popular back in the day.

Kress stores were known for generally being located along Main Street in various cities, and for their grand architecture. At the time it was built, Jacksonville’s Kress was supposedly the biggest one in the country – although it was quickly outdone by future locations. The two-level store featured a lunch counter and a tea room in addition to its retail space.

The Kress store thrived in Jacksonville for decades – as did several five and dimes in the heart of downtown.

However, their image would be forever tarnished during the civil rights era when conflict arose over denying African-American customers access to their lunch counters. Rival five and dime Woolworth’s was the site of a sit-in protest in Jacksonville.

While Kress was spared in Jax, the store was met with protests in other major cities, with one even resulting in a court case.

By the mid-’60s, the brand was bought out by Genesco, Inc., parent company of modern brands such as Lids and Johnston & Murphy. Under Genesco, Kress began to focus more on shopping malls, which were quickly becoming the new standard in retail.

The Kress building was sold off in 1980 to a financial company and renovated. The ground-level exterior was modified extensively to hide the building’s former use, and an additional floor was added between the first and second stories to create a three-story office building. An elevator was added as well.

The Kress brand dissolved soon after.

In 1994, prominent local attorney Eddie Farah had purchased the property through a holding company.

By the turn of the century, Farah had moved his practice into the building, making it his firm’s main office. The firm would continue to rent out extra space up until its most recent remodel.

As the firm expanded, Eddie added his brother Chuck as a partner, creating Farah & Farah. Meanwhile, the exterior continued to read “Law Offices of Eddie Farah” – and the interior was in need of a major revamp.

In 2010, the firm set into motion a major remodel of the Kress building, adding new awnings, signage, and a courtyard area. The interior was given a modern makeover as well. The sideways Farah & Farah signage on the building’s corner harkens back to a similar Kress banner seen on the building before its 1980 remodel.

Today, Farah & Farah occupies the entirety of the old Kress building, and ranks as one of Jacksonville’s most trusted – and certainly most advertised – local law firms.

The firm has no plans to move from its main office downtown, meaning this historic building will survive for the foreseeable future.

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The Coastal
The Coastal is Jacksonville's newest magazine, founded in 2015 to provide news, reviews, and things to do for young people on the First Coast.