Sunday, June 26, 2005

Edgewater Plaza Shopping City

Biloxi, Mississippi. 1959

Welcome to the Jet Age! I really like the bright, "modern", open-air feeling of this shot. The creamy earth tones, mixed with those wonderful colored hanging light fixtures and the complimenting birch trees (or whatever they are), really give this mall court an elegant look. Note the cool gold chalice-style fountain anchored there in the middle behind the trees, too. Nice.

Here's a closer look from another angle, of the garden and neat-o light fixtures. This photo via.


Blogger Cora said...

I lived in Biloxi in 1978 and frequently went shopping at Edgewater Plaza with my Mom. It still looked very much like those photos when I was there. In fact, I think there are photos of me standing next to that fountain.

I also recall that Edgewater Plaza had Easter Island type head ornaments in the court area, though that might have been a later addition.

Mon Jun 27, 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Hi Cora! Thanks for the comments. If you ever come across those photos, please e-mail 'em over to me if you'd like to see them posted here. Great history.

And those head ornament thingies sound awesome. I love that.

Mon Jun 27, 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

My parents should have those photos, but I'll see what I can dig up.

Thu Jun 30, 07:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I used to live in Gulfport in the 70s and 80s and went shopping there with my mom a lot. Heck if I remember right she worked in the mall at one point also. I know the pic is from long before I was born or my parents even lived there, but it was neat to see a picture of it.

Mon Jul 18, 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hi, Keith! Great site you have here.. Edgewater Mall opened in 1963, a development of the Holcomb Company of Biloxi. It was sold many years later to what was then ANREM (American National Real Estate Management), a division of an insurance company.

When the mall opened, Gayfer's (opening their third suburban location from their headquarters in Mobile, Alabama) and Godchaux's (a very rich apparel store from New Orleans) were among the merchants, along with a Walgreens that had a terrific lunch counter/restaurant.

The complex was originally called "Edgewater Plaza Shopping City" named for its location both on the beach and in close proximity to the famous Edgewater Park Hotel. Newberry's opened in the North end of the mall in the late 1960s.

The mall was expanded in 1972-1973 with the demolition of the Edgewater Park Hotel. Sears moved from downtown Gulfport to anchor this addition, along with a Jackson store called Waldoff's, which wasn't open for that long. So, at it's peak, Edgewater boasted five anchors: Gayfer's, Newberry's, Godchaux's, Waldoff's, and Sears.

The mall has been renovated a few times over the years, but Gayfer's was the lone holdout, never changing the outward appearance of the store from its 1963 opening. Even the annex of the former William Tally House restaurant-Sherwin Williams store in 1987 was finished with the exact same old exterior.

Gayfer's, as it has been noted before, was purchased by Dillard's in 1998, right along the same time that McRae's came to the mall. Godchaux's went under during the early 1990s, and the space was taken over by a food court. Waldoff's simply went away. JCPenney took the Newberry's space in 1978 (I remember the closing day there), and annexed the grocery store space next to them a few years ago. Sears finally added a second floor to their store.

When speaking with Dillard executives, I asked them what would become of the original Gayfer's store. "The damage is unreal," I was told. I'm hoping that Dillard's will bulldoze the original structure and build a new store. Both Biloxi and the mall could use it.

Sat Sep 02, 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Waldoff store at Edgewater was a Hattiesburg based store. It was owned and operated by Waldoff's, Inc. founded in Hattiesburg in 1924. At one time they operated 4 stores. Three in Hattiesburg and the one at Edgewater. One of the stores in Hattiesburg was named Milton's, Ltd. It was the first traditional in Mississippi, opened in 1963, the same year that Waldoff's was selected the Brand Name Retailer of the year by the Brand Names Foundation.

Sun Sep 24, 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I did not live in Biloxi during the 60's I do visit this mall quite often. It sure was pretty then. Unfourtunetely I do not believe the remodeling that took place later did much good. Thank you for supplying these pictures. They look nice!

Tue Mar 13, 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waldoff's was one of the best operated stores in America. In the 1980's their store in Hattiesburg, MS was doing in excess of $700sf in 20,000sf. We loved the store. Not only was it beautiful and well stocked the customer service was awesome. When I would get to Hattiesburg I could not believe the people who I would see in the store, friends I knew in college, celebrities who were visiting the area or driving through. They did my wedding and really took care of everything. My in-laws were from Texas and compared every store they entered to Neiman Marcus, only Waldoff's was considered in the same league, and for my mother in law to say that was really somewhat shocking! However, we all agreed with her, even my husbands two sisters who live in Dallas. I was so disapointed when Mr. Waldoff elected to close the store. At one time they also had a store in Biloxi, MS. And, when I was a freshman at Ole Miss I went home with my room mate who was from Hattiesburg and discovered both Waldoff's and Milton's, Ltd. and fell in love with both stores.

Wed Apr 16, 10:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got my first suit at Godchaux's. Does anybody remember Newberry's and Jitney Jungle. A friend's father was the general manager of the mall in the 70's.

Wed Sep 14, 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mall was not sold to American National it was repossessed by American National. They held the mortgage on the hotel and the mall.

Sat Nov 29, 12:56:00 PM  

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