STORYBOOTH + Podcast Studio

AT Kress on Dexter | PRESENTED BY Montgomery BUILDS & Dashboard U.S.

Montgomery - Alabama 

Photo credit: Pablo Gnecco

By Studio Studio, Pablo Gnecco & Eric Rabinowitz - Opened April 12, 2018 at Kress on Dexter

Celebrating individual voices, this “Living History” recording booth collects stories from the people of Montgomery, AL. Located on the ground floor of Kress on Dexter, the public is invited to enter a phone booth, pick up the phone, and tell a story. Each story is of equal importance, and is filed away into a free public archive easily accessed by anyone online. It is our hope that this platform will provide inclusive, equitable opportunity for sharing, listening, and storytelling.

Through the use of innovative data technology tools, a collective narrative picture will emerge offering a deeper understanding of our collective selves — of  memory, of “place,” and of the love, pain and hope that binds people together. Click button below to access the story recordings online.

>>  Over 300 stories recorded
Feature in the New York Times (4)-min.gif



DEXTER AVE: Spanning from the Fountain to the Alabama Statehouse, Dexter Avenue is where MLK and thousands walked the final steps of the Selma to Montgomery Freedom March. Hauntingly, people who were enslaved were paraded from the Alabama River to the Dexter "Fountain" to be sold. Just by that Fountain, Rosa Parks got on her bus. The telegraph instructing troops to fire on Fort Sumter--the message that started America’s civil war--was sent from the Winter Building at 2 Dexter Avenue. The Webber Theatre, the oldest theatre in Alabama, is where actor and assassin John Wilkes Booth performed regularly. Sit-ins with John Lewis and other non-violent activists occurred at the Montgomery bus station and Kress Department Store. Dexter Avenue is the place where so many seminal moments of American history played out, the place where people are now returning-- to create new possibilities for themselves and those around them.


THE KRESS STORY: S.H. Kress was established by Samuel Henry Kress and operated from 1896 to 1981. In the late 1920s a fire destroyed the S.H. Kress & Co. building located at 39 Dexter Avenue, downtown Montgomery.  Within six months of the fire, Samuel H. Kress & Co rebuilt the store and forever changed the façade of Lower Dexter Avenue. Montgomerians would dress in their “Sunday best” to experience the grandeur of S.H. Kress. The iconic building has stood tall, surviving years of urban neglect and urban sprawl. Today, the art deco gem has undergone a complete renovation, re-establishing her prominence. Kress on Dexter was awarded the 2017 ABC Excellence in Construction award for the best Historical Restoration under $25MM in the state of Alabama. “For us, it marks the completion of our first ambitious challenge: to honor Kress on Dexter’s architectural design and acknowledge its historical legacy while re-envisioning the space as a dynamic hub for community, innovation and collaboration,” said Sarah Beatty Buller, Co-Founder of Montgomery Builds. Kress on Dexter’s Main Floor will open 4.12.18.

About Montgomery builds

Founded by Mark Buller and Sarah Buller, Montgomery Builds aims to revitalize Dexter Avenue in downtown Montgomery, AL.  Several years ago Dexter was a semi-deserted neighborhood. Bad zoning laws had caused decay and urban blight. From the outset, the Bullers were blown away by how much transformative American history occurred on Dexter Avenue—a history too important to let crumble.  It was this ”possibility” that sparked them to start Montgomery Builds™ and invest in the artery of Lower Dexter Avenue by purchasing and redeveloping several decaying boarded-up buildings on the block. Kress on Dexter is the symbolic “first" structure that Montgomery Builds™ is restoring. “Our vision is not to demolish old historic buildings, but embrace them, have new structures grow up from them that will serve as platforms for creativity, community, innovation and healing. It’s about people—our stories and how we are connected,” said Sarah Beatty Buller.