Friday, May 26, 2006

Seminary South Shopping Center


Fort Worth, Texas - circa early '60s

This mall began its retail life as an open-air shopping facility, originally dubbed the Seminary South Shopping Center. Later it became the Fort Worth Town Center, and is now being completely revamped and remolded into a whole new "lifestyle center" type beast, called, La Gran Plaza (they liken it to a Mexican-themed "town square"), consisting of supermarkets, cinemas, and a Rodeo/Concert venue arena. Yes, I said a Rodeo/Concert venue arena. Well, it is Texas after all.

Mall history: 1959 - present
Developer: Thos. S. Byrne, Ltd.
Current aerial view
Current website: here



47 Comments:

Anonymous didi said...

I really like this one. The flowers set the goregous mood and the architecture is definately cool modern.

Fri May 26, 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

I think I went to school there.

Fri May 26, 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger todd said...

You know, it DOES look like an upscale 60's high school like you'd see on the Brady Bunch. Maybe Mike Brady designed it!

Sat May 27, 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

It looks incedibly pleasant, even for a mall of that vintage. That walkway makes me swoon.

Sun May 28, 02:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cora said...

This mall looks very pretty. Too bad they are changing it into one of those silly faux Mexican lifestyle things.

What's the deal with these lifestyle centers anyway? They're building one of those things near where I live, modelled on a Mediterranean village or what the planers think a Mediteranean village ought to look like. The name: "Mediterraneo" Ugh!

Mon May 29, 05:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to go here as a kid. I miss those days.

Tue May 30, 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I stopped by this mall around 1992 or so, when I was 13 years old. We lived in Dallas, but were visiting Fort Worth and needed to pick up some sandals for my younger sister.

By that time this old place had dropped the Seminary South name and had become Fort Worth Town Center. The "rebirth" included a complete enclosure of the mall and a heavy-duty interior remodel. It was a pretty modern-looking place, but the stores all seemed to be somewhat down-market. I heard it died a very slow death in the late 1990s before being resurrected as a Latino shopping center.

Wed May 31, 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the info, jamie!

I agree with everyone else here, too--this is a very pretty shot. I'd love to think you're right about that Mike Brady thing, Todd! lol

Cora: You're right, these banal "lifestyle center" makeovers just aren't going away. We're seeing a real retail shift here I'm afraid. The mall owners nowadays are trying to make their properties all things to all people, plain and simple. Sometimes at the cost of individuality and character, though. Boooriiing.

Thu Jun 01, 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

Lifestyle center is just another term for "mall without a conventional anchor."
It's more marketing jargon and will probably fade away. Can you see it? "Mom, I'm going to the lifestyle center."
If you research the keywords that people type when looking for a shopping center, they still favor the term "mall" more than anything.

Fri Jun 02, 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

It's a shame that so many US malls are being converted into those lifestyle center things.

Besides, enclosed and air-conditioned malls are the ideal shopping model for the climate extremes found in many parts of the US. Who wants to walk around an outdoor lifestyle center in a cold Wisconsin winter or hot and humid Florida summer?

Sun Jun 04, 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i realy like this picture mostly because of the flowers & margie im not an old geezer well ta ta
love,
raina

Sat Jun 10, 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

omg i agree with you all it looks like my high school before they remodled it cora i agree i live in TX and i would hate to have 2 walk around in our hot summer daze stay cool you guys

Sat Jun 10, 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger malcolmdbc said...

I have been visiting that mall since its beginning as Seminary South. It had a really cool G C Murphey in its beginning, My wife was a manager ofthe Worth's store. I go there now and just hate what it turned into. It is kind of a high crime area of Ft. Worth and most of the stores are like just bairly holding on. At one time it had a really nice Stripling Cox department store which is now half used by Levines and the other have is a Dollar General.

Sun Jun 11, 06:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took my family to Seminary South to shop and out to eat, also, there was a movie theater. My question is what was the name of the steakhouse just on the perimeter of the center?

Mon Sep 04, 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the big, huge, wavy slide that used to be on the west side of Seminary South. We used to go there as kids in the late 60's and slide down it and then climb all those stairs again to slide down it again and again.

Mon Sep 25, 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES!! SEMINARY SOUTH MALL
I totally remember the blue slide on the west side of the parking lot! This was THE(and only)mall in town in the late 60's and early 70's. There were lots of cute small shops, as well as a Sears,Thom McAn shoes, Kinney's shoes, Chess King and Penney's that I bought school clothes in. Never mind the fact you experienced heat exhaustion in July walking between the stores, since it was open air! The thing I remember the most was all the big oak trees that lined the walkways for shade. They got torn down when it was enclosed in the 80's. It's a sad sight these days, with lots of crime. Thanks to your sight for giving us a happy look to the past!

Wed Sep 27, 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous MIKE RAY HARTMAN said...

I HAVE ALOT OF MEMORIES OF SEMINARY
SOUTH. MANY OF MY FIRST 45'S & AL-
BUMS WERE PURCHASED AT MURPHY'S.
THE ALBUMS WERE PRICED ACCORDING TO
MONO OR STEREO. USUALLY A DOLLAR
DIFFERENCE. 45'S WERE AS LOW AS 67
CENTS. ATE MANY A TIME AT EL CHICO.
SAME GOES FOR THE BOWLING ALLEY IN
THE BASEMENT. SPEAKING OF BASEMENTS
REMEMBER KBUY COUNTRY RADIO...WHEN
BILL MACK WAS THERE? SEARS HAD A
RECORD DEPT.TOO,ON THE 2nd FLOOR.
WYATT'S CAFETERIA...GOOD FOOD. BUD-
DIES GRO.STORE,LATER BECAME WINN-
DIXIE. THE TWIN SCREEN INDOOR THEA-
TRE ON THE NORTHWEST SIDE OF THE
PARKING LOT. YORK STEAK HOUSE. ON
THE SOUTH END OF THE MALL,SEARS HAD
THE TRUE CHRISTMAS THEME,IN LIGHTS,
ON THEIR BUILDING. REMEMBER THE
HOBBY HUB,TSO,SPENCER'S,STRIPLING'S
COX,PENNEY'S,WAIT'S BICYCLE SHOP(MY
PARENTS BOUGHT ME A SCHWINN STING-
RAY THERE),DILLARD'S? AND A MUSIC
STORE I CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME OF.
IT WAS LOCATED BY STAIRS THAT LED TO KBUY. THIS STORE WAS SPECIAL TO
ME BECAUSE MY PARENTS BOUGHT MY 1st
GUITAR THERE(1967). AND WHAT ABOUT
THE BASEMENT FLOOR OF SEARS? ALL
THE TOOLS,APPLIANCES,TOYS,& THE
CATALOG DEPT. I'M 54 NOW. MY DAD
RAISED RACING PIGEONS. HE WOULD GO
TO EITHER FINCHERS OR ZUCKERS,ON
THE MANSFIELD HWY,TO BUY THE FEED.
WE WOULD DRIVE UP SEMINARY DR. TO
GET THERE. I REMEMBER HAVING TO PULL MYSELF UP TO LOOK OUT THE SIDE
WINDOWS OF HIS CAR. AND BEFORE IT
WAS SEMINARY SOUTH I REMEMBER WHEN
IT WAS KATY LAKE...THAT'S RIGHT...
A LAKE. I WAS JUST A KID. STILL AM
...IN MY MIND. I KNOW I'VE LEFT OUT ALOT...BUT THAT'S JUST WHAT I
REMEMBER OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.
SEMINARY SOUTH WAS A COOL PLACE.
IF THIS GETS POSTED I HOPE IT JARS
SOME MEMORIES OUT THERE. IT'S BEEN
A REAL BLAST TO JUST TAKE A TRIP
DOWN MEMORY LANE. GOD BLESS TEXAS!

Sun Dec 10, 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember going their every Saturday as a child.

We always parked by the upper entrance to Stripling's (back then Cox's was another chain) and made our way around. Lunch was always at Wyatt's which was diagonally opposite Stripling's. There was a T-Shirts unlimited next to Wyatt's where you could choose designs to be heat transferred onto shirts. They always started to peel after a while.

Buddies was across from Wyatt's and had really good brownies in their bakery. Shoes came from Penney's where they had one of those xray machines to measure your foot. Sears had a huge catalogue pickup dept and smelled of fertilizer from the garden center.

There was a York Steak House on an outparcel, that was a "fancy" palce to go and a General Cinema (2 screens! Big time!) at the back NW corner. That was the first movie theatre I could go to without an adult. I would go with my friends and one mom would drop off and another would pick up. The movie was 1.25 and you could get a coke and popcorn for the other .75.

Wed Dec 13, 05:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember in Murpheys there was an ice cream/sandwhch shop on the first floor and a large fish tank wth a giant fish and I think its name was Oscar.

Wed Dec 27, 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous laura said...

I have only one picture of me and my little brother in front of the mall. Does any one have any old photos of the mall?

Thu Jan 04, 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous tycobb2522 said...

Guys - many of you are trashing the "lifestyle malls", but as a native to DFW, I can tell you that this cool old place was actually a forerunner to today's lifestyle malls. I LOVED Seminary South! Also, some lifestyle malls DO have conventional anchors. In fact, the only real difference between conventional malls and lifestyle malls in many cases is a commom roof. Many people like the outdoor element.

Fri May 25, 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MalcomDBC - there was never a Stripling Cox at Seminary South or Town Center - It was a Striplings only.

Thu Jan 10, 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Kim G. said...

I just turned 52 and remember being in the Easter style show one year where one of the judges was our local celebrity-style writer/tv personality Bobbie Wygant [sic]. I didn't but should've won (I was a living doll) but my nephew, 3 years younger did. I also remember having an oil painting/caricature done by Avila outside on the mall which I still have. I don't have the memories that some others do and I appreciate the reminders. I do remember the candy counter at Sear's where my aunt always bought bridge mix. Love you Seminary South!

Fri Feb 01, 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, this reminds me of how much I loved this mall! I had forgotten. It was so pretty and relaxing, strolling outside. And the walkways by the stores were covered. More outdoor malls, I say.

Fri Apr 04, 11:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was definitely a Striplings...then changed to Stripling & Cox because I remember the dirty wall with "Striplings" still imbedded on it.

Anyone remember, which is still there, the library to the Northeast of the mall?

I definitely remember "Oscar" the big fish in the tank that was downstairs I believe.

Seminary South was the largest shopping center in the Southwest US for the longest time. I remember seein photos on the GC Murphy wall with cars parked up on Seminary Drive--Packed parking lots!

You can still see some GC Murphy photos on their website.

WOW--really miss those days of going to Seminary South!

Fri Apr 11, 01:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Otis said...

We used to go Christmas(Sears mainly) and school shopping here when I was a kid. As others have already said ..those were the days.

Thu Apr 17, 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I have some good, clean memories about Seminary South back in the '70s.

What I remember the most was the beautiful concrete fountain in the center of the outdoor mall, surrounded by Sears, G.C. Murphy's, and some other strip stores. You could sit on it's lip, relax, and maybe toss a penny into the water for good luck. And if you went there at night, the multicolored lights underwater would turn on and change color in sequence. It was truly a beautiful sight. I also remember some concrete "mini birdbath fountains" that graced the various entrances to the main outdoor mall.

One of my favorite stores there was "Hobby Hub", next to Buddies. I was beginning to discover plastic model kits then, and it was a real treat to visit that store and be surrounded by all those cool models. There was also another toy store toward the northwest of the mall. I believe it was called "Toy Chest", or something like that. And I think I remember a Barber's Book Store there, too.

Back around 1985, a club opened there, next to Sears and facing I-35W, called the "Rox-Z". I remember there was a dance stage in the middle of the club, decorated with gauzy draperies and lit with pinkish-orange lights. The music was LOUD and the babes were HOT (in a superficial '80s sort of way). The last time I went to that club (in '85), there was a bad ass fight on stage. In retrospect, I think about how lucky the patrons (and I) were that the place never caught on fire, given the draperies and hot lights, and some of the club fire tragedies in recent memory.

By the way, in the 7-storey office tower there, in the lobby where the elevators are, you can STILL see the old Seminary South logo in brass, embedded in the terrazzo floor. If I can, I'll get a pic of it before some developer decides to destroy it.

Wed May 14, 02:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This picture is not from the 1960s. There was not an Oshmans during that time period. I grew up in Fort Worth. I am 53 now. I shopped almost every Saturday at Seminary South spending my allowance as a teenager. The 45 records in Murphy's were under a dollar and I added to my collection often. I loved G. C. Murphy's. They had so many fun and novel gifty things. I remember getting packages gift wrapped there at Christmas time. The photo you have posted brings back memories but I believe it was taken in the mid or late 1970s.

Sat Jul 19, 02:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This picture is not from the 1960s. There was not an Oshmans during that time period. I grew up in Fort Worth. I am 53 now. I shopped almost every Saturday at Seminary South spending my allowance as a teenager. The 45 records in Murphy's were under a dollar and I added to my collection often. I loved G. C. Murphy's. They had so many fun and novel gifty things. I remember getting packages gift wrapped there at Christmas time. The photo you have posted brings back memories but I believe it was taken in the mid or late 1970s.

Sat Jul 19, 02:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend and I were just talking about Seminary South today @ lunch. I grew up in Ft. Worth, on McCart St. and my grandmother lived off of Hemphill. As a child I walked w/her down the railroad track to the shopping center. (She never learned how to drive!)We spent much time @Seminary South. Ate @ Wyatt Cafe., oohed at Oscar at Murpheys and if it was a good day got some candy there too. Sears was the place to go for clothes. Always liked to look at the shoes in TomMcans but didn't get many shoes from there. And every Easter my brother and I were always dressed to the 9's and entered the pageant that was held by the water fountain. Also I have pictures of me w/the bunny! What good memories!!!!!!!!! Loved going down the big wave slide. Grandma always treated us to that! Those were the days.

Sat Aug 16, 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Ft. Worth area, but never visited this mall. However, does anyone else recall their radio commercials with the jingle "Seminary South" sung to the same melody as the Beatles "Here Comes the Sun"?

Wed Oct 22, 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 46 yrs old. I use to go there as a kid. We went almost every weekend. It's to bad they ruined it by closing it in, but I guess they thought they had to because all the other malls were enclosed. I think they should open it back up the way it use to be. People might come back, the folks that use to go there in the 60s and 70s. My Grandmother and I always love Murphy's. We would go there and get candy and popcorn. She would take me to the toy department. I loved my Grandmother. I miss her. Sometimes we would eat at El Chico, that's when the restaraunt was private, before it became the big chain it is today. It's not as good as it was. I remember my family ate at Wyatt's Cafeteria one day. That night we were up puking our guts out. We all got food poisoning. Later, when I was 19 or 20, I worked at Dillards. That was about 1982 just a few years before they enclosed it. The crime was very bad there. I remember the white ladies that worked at Dillards had to be escorted to their cars after work.

Fri Jan 02, 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Pattie said...

I spent a LOT of time at Seminary South. My father owned the bowling alley that was located there. I remember Striplings and Wyatts and a lot of the other places that some of you mentioned. Wasn't there also a Mexican Restaurant...El Chico's or something like that?

Fri Jan 23, 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger jont said...

That was THE place to shop when we were kids, that and Leonard Brothers downtown & Montgomery Wards on 7th. I like how they really decked it out for XMAS, and how you would freeze your taters off because it was all outdoors. Yes, cool discount records at Murphy's, the DeeJays down in the bowels of the place, the cool music store (C&S?), coin fountain at, I believe, Striplings, being lucky enough to have enough dough to by succulent fried chicken at Buddies.

Fri Feb 13, 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family would eat at Wyatt's Cafeteria every Friday night and then we would go to Murphy's to get my nephew and I a toy. There was a Century Bookstore, Baker's Shoes, Russell Stover candy shop where I would buy a box of Rosebud Mints. There was also a Bob's Big Boy for a while, Audra's Crafts and World Imports. In the 70's there was a Foxmoor where all the teenage girls would get their jeans.

Mon Jul 27, 01:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that is Oshman's in the picture. I believe it was a clothing store called Richman.

Mon Jul 27, 01:40:00 AM  
Anonymous wooshga said...

We went as a family to Seminary South or I rode my big silver bicycle. I slid down the big slide, man it was tall. Bought vynil 45's, Lps and candy at Murpheys upstairs, then downstairs to the toy department. We always met the parents at the water fountain at night when the colored light were on. I have a picture of the water fountain before it was destroyed. I dearly miss the Christmas lights on the outside of Sears, you could see them driving by the shopping center on Seminary Drive. The absolute best years of my life back then.

Tue Feb 02, 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Wow, this is where Julie Ann Moseley, Mary Rachel Trlica, and Renee Wilson were abducted in December 1973. This shopping center has an incredibly high degree of notoriety amongst those of us who keep up with cold cases because these three girls have never been since again and it's rumored one of the security guards there (not the one interviewed by the PI the families hired) could've played a part in their abduction.

Mon Feb 08, 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Harper said...

My family owned the gift shop Happy House at Seminary South. We were just down from GC Murphys. Between Us and Murphys, there was a Merle Norman, and a Cooks Paints. The Sears drug store was across the mall from us.

The record dept at Murphys was where I first heard The Beatles. Albums were $2.98, $3.98 for stereo. I bought a Beatle wig there for 98cents. And I can still remember the smell of the roasted nuts when you first walked in.

Next to the Sears Drug store, there was a stairway going down to the shopping center offices, the Community Room, and radio station KCUL. I got Ted Williams autograph at the bottom of those stairs when he was there on a speaking tour. Another day, there were two recording artists signing autographs at a table set up at the bottom of the escalator at Striplings. One was John Gary, who had a summer replacement tv show, and the other was Jimmy Gilmer (Sugar Shack) I still have those too.

Sadly, I only have two pictures of our shop in the weeks before it opened. None of the rest of the center.

So many great memories there. Yes, there was an El Chico, and a Bob's Big Boy (next door to the TV store behind Buddies. Would love to see a map of the original layout.

Thanks for this site!!

Mon Jul 05, 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember murphy's i loved that store!!! we used to eat in the cafe in the back...i vaguely remember they would show movies on the wall of buddies in the summer, like the little rascals or the marx bros...i was born in '67, when i was like 3 i think they had mickey mouse and cinderella and other disney characters there promoting disney on ice. wyatt's cafeteria, with the big chandelier...musicland, sears, penneys, i remember the wig shop as well, think it was next to skaggs...i miss that mall!!! it used to be a lake before the city drained it to make the mall, my great uncle swam in it in the 30's....good times!!!

Thu Sep 09, 11:41:00 AM  
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Blogger SidsCardShop said...

Loved the glowing comments, especially the references to Sears, as I was a Junior Executive at Sears. Seminary South was the first shopping mall built by Homart Development Corp., a subsidiary we created fundamentally for building malls. Wikipedia has some good info on Homart, but the chart of Notable Projects fails to show Town East Mall in Mesquite TX, the mall most notable to me, as it is near my retirement residence.

Wed Sep 07, 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Liz said...

I remember all that stuff and miss it so much. In the girls' department of Stripling's, there was a mural depicting a Victorian era hot air balloon with passengers leaning over the side of the gondola (or whatever you call the basket thing). I wonder if they preserved it anywhere.

Thu Sep 22, 12:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when Seminary South opened. It was a beautiful mall and a fun place to visit.
I began hearing the mall was unsafe as early as 1971.
My car was stolen there in 1974.

Thu Mar 15, 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Bratton said...

I grew up approximately 3 blocks south of the mall. I remember eating lunch at Murphy's with my mother and crawling under the stall to use the bathroom because we didn't have a dime!

I loved the fountains inside of Stripling's as you rode the escalator.

The first movie I was allowed to see without an adult was in the theater there.

I remember shopping at Sears with my grandparents. The signage in bright orange is embedded in my memory.

I remember Penney's with it's turquoise P and buying my garanimals for the start of school.

Loved the t-shirt store. Tons of images to choose from. Took forever to decide on which one I wanted.

Shopping at Buddies was a treat - loved the smell of the bakery and the cashier ladies always made me smile.

I miss those days. Wishing I could find pictures of the mall before it changed from Seminary South to Ft. Worth Town Center.

Mon Apr 09, 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three great memories from Seminary South Shopping Center: 1. Buck Owens and the Buckaroos playing a free concert there. 2. The basement of G.C. murphy's, which always featured exotic fish for sale, including giant Oscars. 3. The large model train exhibit in the toy department of Sears every Christmas.

Tue Jun 05, 12:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember hanging out when I was 16 in 1969 at the mall on the weekends and during summer school break with my girlfriends and sister, we'd always sit at the big water fountain outside Murphy's, I remember the waterslide, there was a clothing store there John's Jeans I think was the name? we loved Spencer's! I saw many movies at the movie theater on the side of the mall. My dad worked there as a mechanic at Sears Automotive around 1967-68 and later in'69 at Penny's Automotive, the mall was THE place to go. We would also catch the bus there at the mall in front of one of the stores and we go to town to the movie theaters in downtown Fort Worth, the Worth, Hollywood and Palace, they were really beautiful old theaters with antiques in them and balconies.
I remember the country radio station there also I dated one of the DJ's, Tony Berta there back in '75 or so ...Ha Ha! what fun..

Fri Nov 22, 10:35:00 PM  

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