Monday, October 30, 2006

Southland Mall Bank

Portage, Michigan - 1975

hotograph of the Kalamazoo Savings and Loan Bank (Portage Branch), inside the Southland Mall Shopping Plaza in Portage, Michigan. This space is now a J.C. Penny Home Store in the converted strip mall that Southland Mall became in 2004.

Mall history: 1960s (?) - 2004
Current website: n/a
Current aerial view
Previous entries: none


Anonymous Bobby said...

The center was simply called "Southland" from what I gather, no "Mall" suffix. It was built in 1961 as a strip mall, and was later enclosed in the 1970s. (Source: ) is a blog page with some info on this center. Original anchors included Kroger, Kresge, Cunningham's Drugstore, WT Grant, and local Gilmore Brothers. Gilmore's closed in 1999.

If I have more info I'll add it.

Mon Oct 30, 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

The name, Southland Mall, was provided by the Portage District Library. I was going by their own description of the photo (from their archives). They referred to it as both "Southland Mall" and "Southland Mall Shopping Plaza".

Er, Bobby, even on the page you linked to there, they call it Southland Mall:

"Today, Meyer's son Joshua has taken the reins of the company, and led it into the 21st century, leading the charge of power center management as well as downtown revitalization. Portage, Michigan's Southland Mall is a classic example."

So whatever. It's all good man. :)

Thanks for the link and the other details, btw. I'll update this post with some of that later.

Tue Oct 31, 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

Well, the sign only said Southland, no mall suffix. My bad.

Tue Oct 31, 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was the Gilmore Brothers? Any relation to TVs Gilmore Girls? [Insert nerdy looks and laughs at corny joke here.]

Wed Nov 01, 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

Gilmore Brothers was a local chain in Kalamazoo. They also anchored Maple Hill Mall (now gone) and Lakeview Square in Battle Creek (mall still functional, no clue where Gilmore's was). They also had a store on the ill fated pedestrian mall in downtown Kalamazoo.

Lakeview's store closed in 1994 and Southland and Maple Hill both closed in 1995.

Thu Nov 02, 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other original stores included Harding's Market, Bresson's Bakery and Federal's Department Store. For the 1 year anniversary, Foy Bresson (Bresson's Bakery) baked the worlds largest cake. I foget how many layers but it took a large step ladder to access the top. Foy was to appear on the television show "What's My Line" for baking the world's largest cake, but unfortunately passed away from a heart attack.

Tue Feb 13, 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gilmore Department store was owned by the family of James S. "Jim" Gilmore Jr., who was the owner of the Gilmore racing team. His most famous drivers included A.J. Foyt and Gordon Johncock of Indy fame.

Tue Feb 13, 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in Kalamazoo from 1993-97 while attending WMU. I remember going for a visit in 1992 to check out the campus and going to Southland but then when I came back to live there it was gone. I don't remember much about it but thinking it was an odd little mall.

From what I do remember: Most of the smaller stores were in the enclosed mall part which was on the right of Gilmore's. And then you could cut through Gilmore's to get to a few other stores and the strip mall on the other side.

Anyway, I think the enclosed part was removed and converted in to a handful of bigger stores sometime around 1993-94. There was a Barnes and Noble, TJ Maxx, Kohl's and Hardings next to the Gilmores. Then a few years later they added on a few more stores including an Old Navy.

Sun Feb 18, 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm way too old ... lol ... I remember the fountain in the south wall of Kresge's. This was in the mid 60's. I bought a 45 rpm by The Stones, Satisfaction, I believe. My cashier looked at the title and made a comment to the other cashier about ' today' & '...never heard of them!' Too funny ... "them" are still touring!!! LMAO

Sat Jun 09, 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous M said...

I used to work at Gilmore's, in the cafe. They offered older preppie clothing, styles more suited to those 50+, had a candy store, gifts, etc.

I believe it was around the 1960s when a lot more of the building was utilized and filled with boutiques. When I worked there, we used to hang up our coats in a closet which was really just at the base of a dark, cold, creepy stairwell. Stairwell walls in the building were gaudily painted with illustrations of women shopping - this always interested me since the modern areas seemed a bit stuffy. We got a security guard to take us on a little field trip upstairs to the rumored old time bowling alley. It was all wood and metal, manual everything. I had never seen anything like it.

They had a large space filled with gigantic props that seemed to not be used.

FYI: several years ago, a tornado knocked out part of the building, killing a woman.

I miss it and wish they would have been more liberal, creative with its use so it could have lasted longer.

Tue Jun 19, 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger bogiehead said...

Re ; above comment: the tornado occurred in downtown Kalamazoo, not at Southland. Southland was originally called Southland Shopping Plaza; my sister worked at Kresge's at one time in the 60's. I know Southland (past and present) very well; I have lived in the Portage area my entire life. Yes, it is now a strip mall, with a Barnes and Noble, Kohl's, Old Navy, Circuit City, Office Max, and MC Sports. It also has 2 annex buildings, and A Pizza Hut, Krispy Kreme, Taco Bell, and several other small outlets in the front of the parking lot. The JC Penney home store recently closed and was moved into the larger Penney's store at Crossroads Mall, a much larger mall located just south of Southland.

Sun Oct 21, 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I grew up in Portage and spent much time in Southland Mall. I remember G.L. Perry, Beverly's, and there was a place that used to make homemade potato chips. In the center of the mall they used to do Ski Swaps.

Fri Jan 23, 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was an arcade the pot heads hung out. Also, Wrangler Wranch, Perry's, Thom Mckanns(?), Hagen Daz,Zondervan, Go Blue, Big Boys, MC Sporting Goods, Book store, True Value, Mr. B's, Highland Appliances, Bacchus Wines, hockey store, Bain's Deli, and a music store.

Good Old Days!

Fri Dec 18, 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I know this is a super-old thread, but I was looking up info on some of the original stores in Crossroads Mall. I was trying to remember the name of a gift shop; it may have been called "Bear Essentials" and sold jewelry, teddy bears and Village brand sliding metal lip-gloss containers. That's how I ran across this site. Anyway, I remember Beverly's (mom used to shop there) and all of the other stores mentioned here except for Kresge's and Bresson's. I DO remember the fountain; to a kid my age, (I'm 40 now) that was the coolest thing! I also remember a store that no one else has mentioned- it was a menswear store called Rohrings (sp?). My dad always bought his suits there, and the owner was the nicest guy. Always gave my brother and me lollipops. Ah, nostalgia!

Sat Aug 14, 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger fkl said...

I grew up in Kalamazoo. When I was in 5th grade we moved to Portage, where my father, Bernard Willage opened a Men's Clothing Store, 'David Blairs' (slogan: Those who care shop David Blair'. It was near Trim's Hardware and the Drugstore. When he opened his store, the mall was in the process of being built. This must have been around the early 50's. He kept his store until around 1969, moving to Florida.

Tue Aug 16, 02:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in Portage. My dad, uncles and grandfather built many of the addtions to Southland (hung the steel) Roberts Steel Erection...they also hung the steel at Crossroads and Lakeview Square. I do remember many of the stores at Southland...there used to be Chip and Dip little store on a corner also Jean Nicole or Mariannes clothing store

Wed Nov 20, 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Tiffany said...

I think I remember that gift shop. Not sure if the name was Bear Essentials or not, though. I remember I bought a Native American CD out of there when I was a kid (yes I was a different child lol)

Mon Mar 28, 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger anon jack said...

I worked at Southland Mall in the mid to late 80s. There was both a G.L. Perry and a Perry Drug store for a while in the mall. Caused much confusion among shoppers

Mon Feb 19, 11:26:00 PM  

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