Saturday, November 25, 2006

Old Mill Shopping Center


Mountain View, California - January, 26, 1977

The impressive sixteen foot high water wheel that made up part of the miniature indoor "mill" that sat over a lush tree lined, landscaped creek, winding its way through the courtyard of the Old Mill Shopping Center. The setup reminds me of a similar one I blogged about before that once existed at the Golf Mill Shopping Center--only this one at Old Mill was inside the mall! Pretty cool, huh?

Here's a little history from the Mountain View Preservation Alliance:
The Old Mill opened in 1976 as a boutique shopping center, the "Ghiradelli Square of Mountain View" as it was known. Stores and restaurants surrounded a two story atrium that contained a creek, old wooden mill, and large living trees and luxurious landscaping. Fargo's was a popular teen hang out, La Posada a popular Mexican-American restaurant. The mall fell on hard times in the 1980s, and after a failed conversion into a "public market" (without the creek and trees), it closed in 1989. The site is now home to the landmark New Urbanist "Crossings" neighborhood.
Mall history: 1976 - 1989
Current website: n/a
Previous entries: none

(Study image courtesy and © the Palo Alto Historical Association)



56 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Meadowbrook Mall in Rochester, Mich (RIP). It was built at about the same time and had a big mill in its courtyard. I wonder if anyone has photos of the inside of Meadowbrook's courtyard?

Sat Nov 25, 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous didi said...

Sad that it is no longer around.

Sat Nov 25, 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger tomd75 said...

you really have to look twice to see that this is actually a mall...

Sun Nov 26, 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger BIGMallrat said...

The Old Mill really looked like an office building, with an atrium, that converted to retail use. Even the outside looked like an office building. It had lush landscaping inside, complete with river. The stores were mostly novelty, ones that you might see at a popular tourist area. However, Mountain View isn't a tourist attraction. Once they ripped out the landscaping and river, it lost its intrigue. The mall eventually failed. Funny thing, most people didn't even know it was there.
Mountain View was originally home to three malls: The Old Mill, Mayfield Mall, and San Antonio Shopping Center. Only San Antonio remains, but it was de-malled years ago.
Scott

Sun Nov 26, 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger matt said...

The Old Mill was odd, as beautiful as it was, the shops were not so memorable. Besides the cinema, the candy shop and a few restaurants (I was too young for the clubs) the Old Mill was kinda boring. No major retail store(s). The High School kids use to circle around it cruising on Saturday Nights. But the La Posada served great Mexican food and had seating both indoors and "outdoors," in the lush creekside setting. That was the Old Mill at it's best.

Thu Nov 30, 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I remember seeing another photo with lots and lots of lush tree's. Almost made it look like there's a forest in the atrium complete with a river. Always wanted to know more about this mall.

Thu Nov 30, 11:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old Mill Memory 1: Showing up to see the movie "Breakin" in a full Nike windbreaker sweatsuit and having a pop off in the bathroom against two dudes.

Old Mill Memory 2: Going to see the Osmond movie, "Going Coconuts" with a birthday party and leaving the theater thinking I had just witnessed the best movie ever made.

Other Mill thoughts: Dad having a meltdown at "Star Wars" when my sister kept crying. Getting loaded to go see Eddie Murphy "Raw". Or was it "Delirious"?

Thu Feb 21, 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing. Terrifying. Wonderful. Shocking. Soothing. Weakening.


Cranius Maximus' description is vivid and accurate. How weaked-out we must've made that cop... If I remember correctly Karla had to attend a class over that deal- what a good sport.


My favorite "Old Mill Memory" is of a double date- Scott Schuller and myself escorted the lovely Susan Sciaroni and, I believe, the much sought after Kelly Martin to a showing of who-knows-what (it may have been "The Jerk"- is the timing right??) A huge step up from the normal Red Lion Pizza (BRING IT BACK!!) PV date, but they still didn't put out.


Runner-up "Old Mill Memory" would have to be the Mountain View premiere of "Wizards". The event was so eagerly anticipated by Chris Pieper that he obtained a "Wizards" t-shirt in advance of the showing which in those pre-worldwide interweb days was quite something. As we were gathering in the buttercup-carpeted Pieper living room (HBO before anyone else- "Postman Always Rings Twice" nightly) preparing to board the Lincoln (Mark VII?? Frimm, help me on this) Jan Pieper got to thinking that maybe this cartoon wasn't appropriate for 11-year olds. Well, Chris began hyperventilating and Oz kicked his charm into gear (the undisputed king until the arrival of Michael Peterson a very short time later) and soon we were out the door- Jan's puzzled expression no more than a memory as we turned left onto Cervantes...

Thu Feb 21, 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW - wicked flash back. Summer of 82, Standing on the side of old
Arastradero road following the sherrifs orders to pour out the
remaining 12
pack of a case of Special Export that my sister had procured so that
Fogarty, Peterson, and I could challenge ourselves to guzzling 8 beers
each
between Ladera liquors and the Mill.

Things were already going poorly when the friendly sherrif noticed that
my T
shirt had a huge purple bud on it with a caption of - "This bud's for
you."
he expressed his displeasure and all but drew his side arm to get me to
take
it off..... underneath I was wearing a chopped up sleaveless T with a
picture of a guy passed out over a spilt beer, it read "LUSH".

Despite the now enraged disposition of the sherrif, - who was insisting
that
I remove both shirts and wear one inside out, - and the somewhat grave
situation we were in for 15 year olds, I remember looking over at TJ
and MP
unsuccessfully trying to subdue their amusement and thinking to myself

"Man, I know we are in huge trouble, but hanging out at the Mill on
only a 4
beer buzz just isn't going to be the same, maybe I should get Karla to
take
us back to the liqour store first, and we can just catch a later
showing"

Ahhh Youth

Thu Feb 21, 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have my mind running away from me with "Old Mill" memories. Getting below average candy at the "Sweet Tooth" covered wagon kiosk, stealing old (and valuable) baseball cards from the "Dugout" topped off with a Pizza and bottomless root beer at "Fargo's," maybe a quick run to "Tower" or the surplus store and then off to see "Smokey and the Bandit II"

Revisited that place sometime in the early Nineties and it was nothing but wind, weeds, warped wood and oversized cracks in the parking lot pavement. Ghost town. Likely as not headquarters for some super cyber whiz kids with no idea whatever about what kind of tricks that place could conjure out of me.

Thu Feb 21, 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my dad made a river boat and had it in one of the resterants . dont know what one , but it had lights and everything worked, also remember a tallent show at the pizza joint for crittenden school

Fri Feb 22, 02:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember the great t-shirt store upstairs? You could choose from all kinds of iron on photos - Star Wars, Shaun Cassidy, etc. Loved that place!

Tue Feb 10, 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

I grew up in the bay area. interesting thing was that the mall was poorly planned. There was NO ANCHOR tenent, poorly located, and in 1988 the center was foreclosed and then torn down for a housing development.

Mon Mar 09, 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Althouse said...

I work at the AMC Old Mill Six during my junior and senior years in high school. I was there when the Empire Strikes Back opened - the lines circled the center two times. I was good times for a while.

I remember watching, with my oldest son, the wrecking ball smash it down. He didn't understand, of course, but a piece of me left every time the ball hit the center...

Thu Apr 09, 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw The Empire Strikes Back when it came out in 1980 at the Old Mill. Also saw 9 to 5 one Friday night when my mother took us to the movies. Also in 1980. The audience loved 9 to 5.

I always liked the Old Mill AMC theater and mall. It was peaceful. Loved the bookstore, the candy store and and this cool restaurant called Bourbon Street. It seemed so mysterious like New Orleans would.

It was a great mall. It even was home to a radio station for a time.

But nothing lasts.

Mon Apr 27, 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Most of my memories of the Old Mill are movie memories. It was a typical late-70's mall 6-plex, but I sure did see a lot of movies there. At least until the Century 10 opened up. Best movie was Return of the Jedi on opening day (my 9th birthday).

Wed Sep 09, 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fargo's got me laid more than any bar I ever patronized. Great memories!

Sat Nov 07, 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the radio station there to. Ahh, the opening of Star Wars and the great little French place that had the greatest chocolate mousse. Did anyone go to the "Zimezone" across the street to play video games?

Fri Mar 05, 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup....VERY PRETTY. WE WERE THERE JUST BEFORE IT OPENED, AS MY HUSBANDS' COUSIN MARIO OWNED THE TWO STORY MEXICAN RESTAURANT BEING BUILT THERE. IF ANYONE LOVED THE FOOD THERE, CHECK OUT HIS RESTAURANT 'EL BURRO', IN CAMPBELL(NEXT TO SAN JOSE). HE'S PASSED AND HIS CHILDREN OWN IT...AT THE PRUNYARD SHOPPING CENTER.

Sun Apr 11, 09:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will always have fond memories of this mall, mainly because of the Dugout baseball card shop !

Thu Jul 29, 04:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi John W. yes King Norman was at Eastridge in that pic. I used to go to to the Vallco one that turned into a McDonalds which is next to Sears.

Thu Jul 29, 05:00:00 AM  
Anonymous burnswest said...

does anybody remember those strange stuffed purple satin characters with sand filled feet,they had pointy faces some were blue red black,they looked like the spy vs spy guys minus the hat.i would really like to know what they were called or who made them,they were very unique and sold at a stationary type store that was right behind the water wheel.i was a kid at the time but i have remembered those things my whole life and any info.would be great ,thank you abrulez1 at yahoodot com.strange days indeed...

Fri Aug 20, 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger maestrodog said...

I remember this place being fun; there was a store where you could actually rent video game time by the hour playing Atari 2600 systems.

After the retail part closed, it was still a second-run movie theater for about 5 or 6 more years. I still remember seeing the film advertisements on the San Antonio Road billboard; the last film the theater showed was "Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco" and even after the theater closed the billboard changed and said "That's All Folks" for several months before the board was removed.

Mon Nov 01, 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely remember Fargos Pizza, I bagged groceries next door at continental markets. Fargo's and the night club at the other end would bring their large bills in and get change for the night. And there was that guy from the grateful dead, Jerry Garcia that liked Fargos Pizza, He kept a guitar in the back and after he ate he would get up on stage and sing a few tunes. I shoulda asked for an autograph, duh. The audience loved the free show though. so casual like. and so lucky, right time right place. Never knew when he would pop in.

Wed Jan 12, 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My best memory of the old mill was of Fargos.. I never had the pizza, but Fargos wasn`t about Pizza.. Fargos was a large two story place where after paying your $5 dollar cover charge you got a stamp on your hand.. Black for under 21, red for over.. On the weekends they had live bands, cold beer, and a whole lot of pretty woman to meet and dance with !

Sun Jan 16, 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing I remember most about the Old Mill was Fargo's. It was a great place to dance and meet people. But my fondest memory of Fargo's was meeting one certain guy there. It's just sad that Fargo's is gone, but the memories will always remain.

VMay

Mon Jan 17, 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great memories of the Old Mill Mall! My buds and I would travel over from Livermore on Saturday nights just for the great crowds and bands at Fargos.

Wed Aug 24, 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh...I had just moved to California in '81 and got invited to a friend's company party. I actually met two women that night and dated both of them.

I couldn't believe my "luck". California was going to be great!

Alas, one day I called the company asking to talk with one of them and the other happened to be answering the phone that day. So...I was caught and neither wanted to talk with me again!

Mon Oct 31, 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh_joyous_me

My husband proposed to me at Upstart Crow & Co. in the Old Mill Shopping Center...WOW! I didn't realize the area had become a housing development. It is sad that it's no longer around. I used to love to go shopping there when I lived in bay area.

Sun Jan 01, 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Klein Elementary said...

I saw Star Wars (IV) at Old Mill Six. It remained on one of the six screens for an entire year. I sat in the middle of the third row and somehow my entire peripheral vision was taken up, quite an experience at twelve years old. I've sat in the same position in every theater I've gone to since. Sadly, Mountain View doesn't seen to have the same distinctive feel it used to. Kinda mad that Klein Elementary fell to Prop. 13. It was a unique and very good school. So much of MV has fallen into a standardized, generic, commercial kind of Californication. Hard to tell MV from a lot of SoCal. MV's unique character seems to have been lost. But I see that loose shopping carts still plaque Latham St. At least THAT hasn't changed. And downtown looks better. Traffic seems twice as bad now.

Tue May 22, 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fond memories of watching movies after a long day of studying in college. Eating Mexican food and dancing at Bourbon Street until 2:00. The flavor of the area will never be the same.

Thu Jul 26, 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Fargo's there. They used to have some really good bands there on the weekends and you could even get if you were 18 and then drink if you were over 21. We used go down there, have a pizza and then wait for the club to open. It was two stories and with a stage. Very cool place in the day.

Sat Dec 22, 05:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a young Intern when I moved to Mountain View. I loved this mall!The ambiance was beautiful. I remember the lush green leaves, the large wheel and the wonderful perogies ( a new food for me) that was served up at one of the shops in the food court. I've never found such perogies again. Wish I could remember the name of the vendor that made those perogies.

Sun Jan 06, 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved that place!! Besides the mill, do you remember the big wooden boat, and the puppet shows?

Sun Jan 13, 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met the love of my life at Fargo's in 1981. And although our life took different roads...we have finally found our way back to eachother....and I must say I have always loved him and I love him more today...

Mon Jan 21, 12:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason Reeves said...

Used to go to Fargos all the time and the AMC there. Remember the line for ET and TRON was all the way around the building, at least once. That was '82. I liked the little arcade by Fargos, I used to play the Star Wars sit down game there religiously. Don't actually remember too many of the stores...the candy store and a shirt store.

Wed Nov 13, 03:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

So funny... that's just the picture I was looking for. In 1987 I carved "Phil & Emily" into the railing cap next to the waterfall. Hey, in jr. high I thought that was the cool thing to do with my girlfriend!

Sun Dec 01, 05:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fargo's had good pizza as I remember and was basically a disco in the later evening hours after 8:00. The ladies there were usually attractive,though tended to stay in their cliques for the most part.

The center itself was attractive with the indoor stream and landscaping.

After Fargo's and a a few other places closed, I remember hanging out at the less yuppie, more down to earth St. James Infirmary a few miles away. People seemed a little friendlier there. It would have been nice if the Old Mill could have lasted longer, though.

Fri Mar 14, 04:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fargo's had good pizza as I remember and was basically a disco in the later evening hours after 8:00. The ladies there were usually attractive,though tended to stay in their cliques for the most part.

The center itself was attractive with the indoor stream and landscaping.

After Fargo's and a a few other places closed, I remember hanging out at the less yuppie, more down to earth St. James Infirmary a few miles away. People seemed a little friendlier there. It would have been nice if the Old Mill could have lasted longer, though.

Fri Mar 14, 04:49:00 AM  
Anonymous LRB said...

In September 1981 went there for the 1st time...this one guy asked me to dance...he told me he was dancing with a girl on the dance floor looked up towards the 2nd floor and saw me standing there,,, he came to find me to ask me to dance because he thought I was "girlfriend" material. We dated for 2 months..broke up....didn't see each other again except by chance. Didn't see each other or talk until Facebook happened, got reaquainted in 2010....we were both involved in other relationships... those ended. We just got back together in February of 2013....and we were married on Christmas Eve of 2013. So for us Fargo's is a very special place and very special in our hearts forever.

Sun Mar 23, 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First date 1981 Cannonball Run
15 years old

Fri Apr 25, 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember La Posada was an amazing Mexican Restaurant! I worked at HP from 78 - 83. Sorry to hear the Mall closed.

Thu May 22, 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the restaurant Bourbon Street. I think that was the name. Also they had a great little book store, can't remember the name.

Tue Jul 08, 12:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No comments on the Jumping Frog Saloon?

Sun Aug 17, 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came from Czechoslovakia in 1978 and The Old Mill was my first Mall ever. I was 4. It was Christmastime and my eyes were wide open. What a memory.

Thu Dec 18, 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Spagetti Pocket Productions said...

Old mill was THE mall in the early 80s. I remember the Dug Out, the younger guys name was Henry and he would throw warm up pitches to sf Giants hitters at candlestick. The big boss' name eludes me now but I think it was Larry...he was a gem. He would let us kids (10-15 year olds) flip endlessly through very expensive binders of old cards.! I remember the baseball card conventions held throughout the mall itself and how Willie Mays and Rickey Henderson graced the place. Henderson signed me his autograph even though I didn't pay. That gesture was a one off as I saw him turn down several others including my brother! Thank for being kind Mr Henderson! I also loved reading the Garfield books at the Upstart Crow. They were forerunners of the gourmet coffee boom of the 1990s.

Wed Jan 14, 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember a night club there, eating at a restaurant; A great place. Was in the Air Force,near Moffet Field. Nothing like Phila

Sat May 02, 11:30:00 AM  
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Tue Sep 29, 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Henning said...

Thanks! I'll check that out.

Sat Oct 03, 03:23:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Henning said...

Yeah. That was such a small space for that arcade but he Sophie pulled it off. I think his name was Harold. He might have been the owner of "Ballys Aladdan's Castle" across the street as well.

Sat Oct 03, 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Henning said...

Thanks! I'll check that out.

Sat Oct 03, 03:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was stationed at Moffett Field in 1979 and lived on California Street. My roommates and I would dress up and go to Bourbon Street and dance the night away! I met my wife at there. We've been married for 31 years! I miss the Old Mill and the fun times of Mountain View, CA in the late 70's and early 80's!

Mon Nov 16, 05:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My two older sisters worked at the candy store in the mall in the mid to late 80's when they were in high school. I was a tween back then and remember how clean and nice it was inside! I also remember watching "The Karate Kid" at the movie theatre. My oldest sister took me. Good times. RIP.

Fri Feb 05, 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Ann said...

Remember the midnight shows? We used to ride our bikes from our home near Cuesta to see Rocky Horror, Tommy, The Kids Are Alright and Quadrophenia. I saw all three Star Wars movies there as well as Airplane, Silverstreak, Heroes, Turning Point, The Spy Who Loved Me and Saturday Night Fever (we probably snuck in to that one).
Teens used to hang out on the lawn outside of Fargos and cruise the loop in their cars.
Our junior prom in 1982 was at Giggles nightclub in the Old Mill. It was the one year Awalt HS didn't hold the prom in SF & we were disappointed.
I recall when they added the French Quarter. Our friend's family ran the crepe shop.
La Posada was a treat. My husband (also my prom date) and I still frequent El Burro in Campbell and it feels, looks and tastes very much like La Posada.
What was the name of the ice cream place? It was like Swenson's or Shaw's I think...
Fun memories!

Sun Feb 14, 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Rusty Scupper said...

OK, My memories of Old Mill. I remember the site was a Gravel/ready-mix plant called Freeman Sondgroth Construction. The concrete poured over the majority of the Mnt View/Los Altos came from there. Freeman Sondgroth was bought by Raiche (sp) construction and the land was sold. Old Mill was built in the mid seventies.
I saw the first Star Wars there in '77. line went twice around the place for weeks.
Fargos was a 18/21 club. you got stamped at the entrance (black for under 21 -- red for over 21. After graduating from Los Altos High in 78, friends and I would go there to meet girls and have a dance and maybe get lucky (never happened).
By the mid 80's the place fell on hard times and was largely vacated.
Sad day when it was torn down.

Thu Mar 31, 06:20:00 PM  
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