German immigrant Charles A. Kaufman opened a store on this street in 1879 and expanded the business to this larger building in 1919. The department store prospered during the Jim Crow years, when black shoppers made this street a center for commercial and social activities. Until the 1960s, it was the city’s second-most-important retail district after Canal Street. A Kaufman’s store occupied the corner of this block before 1895, but after purchasing the adjoining property, Kaufman commissioned Stone to design a three-story building faced with fashionable white terra-cotta. Four bays wide, with huge windows on each floor, the facade is decorated with a row of terra-cotta lion heads along the cornice. Suburban shopping malls dealt a death blow to shopping streets like this one, and the store closed in the late 1960s. After standing empty for several years, the building was renovated for a community nonprofit arts organization, retail use, and apartments. On the next block, another former department store, Handelman’s (1824 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard), was designed on lines similar to Kaufman’s by Weiss and Dreyfous in 1922; it closed in the late 1950s.
Nearby at 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard the former McDonogh School No. 38 (1910), a three-story Arts and Crafts design by E. A Christy, later renamed Myrtle Banks School and now Myrtle Banks Building, was adapted to house a food market and offices for arts organizations and small businesses in 2011–2013 by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple after a 2008 fire gutted the interior.