Thursday, April 20, 2006

Valley River Center

Eugene, Oregon - Late 60's or early '70s

Rustic aerial shot of the beautiful (in those days anyway) Valley River Center and scenic environs.

History: 1968 - present
Current website: Here.

Updated: added/adjusted the years.


Blogger Cora said...

Does anybody know what the round structure in the lower left corner of the pic was? It looks a little like a circus big top or modernist church architecture. Neither of which are what I'd expect to find at a shopping mall.

Thu Apr 20, 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Yeah, I'm not sure myself, Cora! But I noticed it, too. Weird looking. At first I thought it might be a giant circus tent or carousel, but I can see by zooming way in, that it actually rises above the mall roof itself there (which is two stories on this anchor end). In addition, a quick check of Google Earth shows it's still there today, on top of what is now Macy's, so it's no tent or carousel, obviously. Appears to be just a part of the overall mall design on that, its South end. Maybe an artirum or groovy part of the entrance?

Thu Apr 20, 09:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Had to be part of that original anchor's architecture. Whatever it is, and whomever the original anchor was that eventually became part of Macys, that was what popped out for me when looking at this pic.

Never visited the Northwest region, but I do know Macy's took over the chain called "Bon Marché", which kept its nameplate strictly to the Pacific Northwest region. Maybe that's what the south anchor was originally? (Just a wild guess)

The north anchor is a Penneys (JCPenney), which is still there.

Thu Apr 20, 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Check that picture out.

The round building was the Meir And Frank, now Macys.

Thu Apr 20, 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

What a lovely store entrance! Hard to imagine something so purely decorative being built today. Great picture!

Fri Apr 21, 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Bingo! Thanks, Jeff! One of my guesses was right's just a groovy part of the entrance design. Looks especially cool from the air!

Fri Apr 21, 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

I was going to comment about the Meier & Frank, but somebody beat me to it. LOL

Fri Apr 21, 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, this mall is in a movie called How to beat the high cost of living. It came out in 1980 and the whole plot of the movie is centered around it. Theres more info here -

Mon Apr 24, 02:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that movie, they try to steal money from a giant plastic ball in the center of the mall. A must see.

Tue Apr 25, 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Yeah! Always liked that flick, too. Thanks Anonymous #1!

Thu Apr 27, 11:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey guys - I'm a native, and this was where we went every year to buy school clothes. Talk about a Planet of the Apes inspired mall... big polished rocks in the pillars, wooden beams, everything earthtoned in that weird 70s way... And they had a Montgomery Ward, which had the most awesome logo EVER. The round thing is sort of an atrium/rotunda where (I believe) the Bon Marche was at the time. There was a restaurant in there, which was very snooty. If you check out the movie "How to Beat the High Co$t of Living," Valley River is where the heist takes place, and you can get a feel for what the place looked like. Thanks for the memories! -

Sat Apr 29, 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a couple of photos of the rotunda interior of the vrc meier and frank from the 60s, they show the motorized sculpture that was placed there in 1969 and removed in 1989
i'll send them if you are interested
love your site
portland, oregon

Sun Apr 30, 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hey Keith-

Been a while since I've visited. 'Bout time you got some Oregon malls up in here. ;)


Sat May 06, 02:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May Department Stores owned Meier & Frank and they used that rotunda design on some of their other divisions around the country. Famous Barr in St Louis at West County and the Kaufmanns in Youngstown, OH at Southern Park has the rotunda also. There were probably other examples.

Sun May 07, 09:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some clairity:

It was actually Federated Department Stores which bought out The Bon Marche, and then they bought out Macy's about 12-13 years ago. So no, Macy's did not buy The Bon Marche, actually the other way around. And then yes, they bought out Meyer and Frank, aka May Company, this year. The round atrium in discussion was origonally Meyer and Frank, which Macy's just moved into, May of this year.

I worked for Federated for 4 years, in the VRC, and was there for the move from the original Macy's/Bon Marche location into the Meyer & Frank location.

Sun Jul 16, 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Macy's (Federated) is changing Meier & Frank locations to the Macy's name this summer. ('06) Meier & Frank was next door to a Bon Marche (now Macy's) at this mall. So one of them had to close. Great pic. The whole area is completely developed around the mall now, and part of the river basin has been filled in with parking lots since this picture was taken.

Fri Jul 28, 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have early photos of the fountains/sculptures that were in the VCM?

Mon Feb 26, 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

If your looking for shopping malls, store fronts, and vinatge advertising related postcards from your neck of the woods come to my eBay store: MJM Covers and Postcards.

My prices are very affordable and save. Postcards make great gifts, but why pay $6 or more dollars for some of these things off dealers or in an antique mall?

Lastly, I also send pictures/scans of postcards to websites in an effort to preserve history.

Sat Oct 06, 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The store was Meier & Frank, now Macy's. The Valley River Center can be seen in the 1980 film "How to Beat the High Co$t of Living" available through

Thumbnail history of Meier & Frank from "Meier & Frank was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1857, and acquired in 1966 by May Department Stores. May operated it as a separate division for nearly forty years, expanding the chain to Utah in 2001, as a result of a conversion of May Company's Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution or ZCMI stores purchased in 1999. In 2003 it was consolidated with North Hollywood, California-based Robinsons-May, but retaining the historic Meier & Frank name in the Oregon, Utah and Washington markets."

"May itself was acquired by Federated Department Stores on August 30, 2005. On that day the former May Company divisions were dissolved and operational control of the Meier & Frank stores was assumed by Macy's Northwest. The Meier & Frank name was eliminated in favor of the Macy's name."

Tue Apr 01, 07:48:00 PM  
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Sat Oct 02, 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry said...

I am trying to find info on that restaurant as my grandmother worked there and my mom worked in a small soda type shop downstairs

Sat Jul 25, 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger sillywhispers said...

I have nice memories of eating lunch at the Meier and Frank Rotunda Restuarant. Their bread rolls were the best I've ever had. I wish I had that recipe.

Sun Nov 29, 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger Craig Ward said...

Is called the Pavillion that was once a Meir and Frank, now Macy's. Two story are with very high ceiling, very unique from inside looking up into it. Was also a restaurant on second floor called Wine and Casket, I believe.

Fri Jan 05, 01:44:00 AM  
Blogger Craig Ward said...

Is called the Pavillion that was once a Meir and Frank, now Macy's. Two story are with very high ceiling, very unique from inside looking up into it. Was also a restaurant on second floor called Wine and Casket, I believe.

Fri Jan 05, 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been visiting the Valley River Center mall since 1970. Lived in the area since 1981. The Valley River Center mall has changed a lot over the years.

Wards building wing was demolished and the REGAL CINEMAS was built in it's place. Strange to see Montgomery Wards vanish like that.

At the opposite end of the mall from the old Meier and Frank store with the weird signature circular entrance, there sits an empty "anchor" store space which started out as the original space for Macy's. So, Meier and Frank and Macy's operated at the same time for a while. Then, I think in about 2006 Meier and Fank went out of business and Macy's took over their space and Gottschalks moved into the old Macy's space. Eventually Gottschalks closed and the last time I looked, that huge space is still empty.

I don't know how well Macy's is doing nowadays, but I have a sneaking suspicion that old style department stores like that are eventually going to go extinct. What to do with all that square footage then? I do like J.C. Penney's. Prices are reasonable and selection is pretty good. But I don't know if any department store can compete with internet sales. If they don't adapt, they'll die.

Fri May 11, 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: It was the Bon Marche not Macy's that was at the opposite end of the mall from Meier and Frank. Gottschalks took over the Bon Marche space which is now empty.

Fri May 11, 12:56:00 PM  

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