113 North Court Street
As early as 1894, there was a drug store located on this site. In the early 1900’s the store expanded to sell groceries and dry goods. From 1913 through the early 1920’s, it housed restaurants such as Rice and Vaughan, Bidwell’s Café, and the Crystal Café. Pastime Billiards was located here in 1926. By the mid-1930’s and into the 1940’s, different clothing stores operated out of the original building, including Sears & Roebuck. By 1945, the building was vacant.
Florence survived the Great Depression with help from the Federal government and its creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA brought jobs, electricity, and economic stability to the Shoals region. By the close of World War II, many Florence businesses were prospering because of the impact of TVA. Abroms Department Store was one of these companies, and they began construction of the current building in 1946 after a fire destroyed the original structure on this lot. The store took longer than expected to build because of material shortages that plagued the nation after World War II, but opened in late 1947. Constructed of steel and concrete, the new Abroms Department store boasted air conditioning throughout, oil heat, a sprinkler system, pink terrazzo floor tiles in the lobby, and display windows with special light reflectors. Shoes, general merchandise, and family wear departments were located in the basement, while ladies apparel was located on the first floor. The store had an alterations room and the mezzanine was reserved for piece goods and infants and children’s clothing, while the third floor accommodated household goods and electric appliances. In the late 1940’s, Abroms was a premier retail store in downtown Florence.
Abroms Department store moved out of this building in 1950, when J.C. Penney moved in. Penney’s was a large national chain founded in 1902 that had 1,600 stores throughout the nation by 1941. The company operated a store in downtown Florence from 1950 until the early 1980’s, outlasting a trend that saw large retail centers begin to move away from downtown centers in the mid-1960s.
In 1980, Printers & Stationers, Inc. moved into this building. PSI was founded in 1965 when Jessie Cox purchased the interests of Toof Printing and Stationary Company. Toof’s, and later PSI, stood at 216 North Court Street until the store moved into the current building.
The original Abroms building was influenced by the International style, with a long, horizontal ribbon of windows across the second floor façade. The building was clad in granite panels and the first floor display window stretched across the entire façade. The building’s appearance suggested modernity and progress.