Sunday, October 02, 2005

Genesee Valley Center

Flint, Michigan - 1970's (I believe)

Looking at that cool photo above, I couldn't help noticing some really nifty sculptures sitting within view. I thought they deserved a closer look! Blowing 'em up, the quality isn't great, but at least you can see them better.

This one to left looks like a Salvador Dali, Picaso, or Escher type of monstrosity! In a good way, though, of course. It's really beautiful, with all those cool interlocking pieces fitting together like a modernistic, Stonehenge-like puzzle statue! And you can see by the scale in the picture that these are big pieces, so they must have been pretty impressive to see in person--if you were the kind of person who stops and appreciates things like this (like I am).

Now the giant FROG sitting there, almost menacingly, is my favorite! I mean, it's a giant frog, man, plopped right there in the middle of a shopping mall! How can you not love that? Wish I had one of these. I'd proudly plant that sucker right there in the front yard for all to see.

I'm sure right after this photo was snapped, that be-leisure suited dude standing there in front of the frog, was lassoed with the reptile's gooey 15-foot tongue and swallowed down whole! A frog that size probably sustained itself on only 2 or 3 shoppers per week, I'm guessing. Today the shopping mall, tomorrow the world!

Heh. Sorry. It's October and we're nearing Halloween. I get weird around this time of year. :)


Blogger Cora said...

Those sculptures are very cool. Both of them.

And check out the shop on the left of the photo. It sells wigs. Nothing but wigs. Now how cool is that?

Mon Oct 03, 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous finnster said...

That is totally awesome that you found this mall!

I as a child played on that FROG!

This totally brings back memories of going to Flint to the "big mall" (from a smaller town in Mid Michigan). I can still remember the cool granite feel of the Frog and all the other kids in line waiting to climb him.

Thanks for bringing back the memories!

Thu Oct 06, 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather helped build the Hudson's (now Marshall Field's -- for now) store at Genesee Valley. Originally, the other anchors were Sears and Woolworth. Later, JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, and Mervyn's were added. (Monkey Wards has been torn down for a lifestyle section, and Mervyn's is up in the air. Woolworth is now Steve & Barry's.)

This mall got a remodel in the late 80s or so, and is being remodeled again. It now has carpet floors. Woo.

Sun Oct 09, 11:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to play on that frog as well!
I remember it having brass eyes.

The other thing I remember about Genesee Valley as a kid is that the escalators in Sears emitted this very high pitched whine that my sister and I could hear, but my mother coulden't. It was really annoying!

Sun Oct 23, 09:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Lisa M. said...

I think that it is great that you found these pics. I do look at all kinds for fun scuplures and your take on the frog is so funny.. If it was a moving peice... could you imagne? Just Great!

Fri Oct 28, 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Didre said...

Genesee Valley was my mall growing up. There were numerous sculptures/pieces of art there, including a three-sided impression of a woman's body outside the Hudson's. I doubt it's still there - people were less up-tight about those things in the '70s.
Also, about the frog, as finnster pointed out, kids climbed on that frog and lines formed to play on it. However, the mall eventually roped it off - I don't remember if there were injuries from it or not - and then removed it altogether. I was delighted to find it - or an exact replica - at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI (
By the way, great job on the site.

Thu Jan 26, 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous RK said...

I remember back in the early 80s the mall had big fish aquariums and a big old bird cage in the middle. And yes, there was the frog. We all remember the frog.

From what I understand, the frog is spending its retirement years on some trailer bed in a lot outside on Dort Highway. Rather sad.

Sun Jun 18, 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Scottr said...

The frog is officially 'The Friendly Frog', by sculptor Marshall Fredericks, who also designed the Spirit of Detroit, among other famous pieces. It still spends its days in Flint, but now at the Applewood estate, the former home of CS Mott in Flint. A more detailed history can be found here. The one at Meijer gardens is a bronze replica.

Wed Dec 19, 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

The frog was at the Flint Children's Museum when I was there a couple of years ago. I was delighted that my children got to see and climb on the same frog that I have so many fond memories of from my youth!

Fri Dec 05, 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger star said...

In the mid-1980s, an eastern wing anchored by JCPenney was added to the mall, followed a few years later by a Montgomery Ward store, which was added on a short wing extending southeasternly from JCPenney. The Cunningham drugstore was demolished in 1985 for a western wing anchored by Mervyns, and two years later, a mezzanine featuring a food court was added to the mall's center court.[3] This addition brought the mall to 1.3 million square feet of gross leasable area, making it the largest mall in Michigan to be located north of Detroit
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Blogger Suzanne said...

I can barely believe this memory popping in my head, laying awake at 4:13 in the morning, deciding to Google 'Flint, Michigan Genesee Valley Mall Frog' and up pops this incredible rush back to my own childhood, half loving the frog (yep I can still imagine the cool feel of its material) and honestly a little freaked out by it, too. :) And it was also amazing to see one more time the statue of the dark bronze wall carved out (pregnant) woman when I was coming home to visit and it (she!) is, or was, at Flint Bishop airport, to greet (or freak out!) people near the top of the escalator.... Both wild and special memories! Thank youuu! (There are 70' childhood memories.... And then there are 'Growing up in Flint memories!' So bittersweet to grow up in it's last decade of GM growth. But, grow Flint, grow! Maybe bringing The "Friendly" Frog back would add some helpful joy!)

Sat May 05, 04:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The frog is at Applewood Estates. It had gone to the Children's museum when they were in North bank center but when the museum moved over by Kettering it's weight was too much for the building (it weighs 6000 pounds!) So they put it in storage. It's been at Applewood for more than 10 years now.

Fri Aug 07, 12:16:00 AM  

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