Thursday, June 15, 2006

Golf Mill Shopping Center

Niles, Illinois - circa 1967

Quite a sprawling aerial view of the Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles, Illinois. Note the huge cylindrical Golf Mill office tower in the middle, that was originally designed to look like the surface of a giant golf ball!

There's a closer view of it from ground-level at the left, along with some of the Woolworth store facade, too (this photo dates from around the same period I believe--late '60s).

Mall history: 1961 - present
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Previous entries: 1


Blogger Livemalls said...

Looks to be a Penney's at on end and a Sears at the other.

Thu Jun 15, 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Penney and Sears, although remodeled and looking nothing like they probably did in this image, still exist today

What caught my eye was the strip connected at the other end of Sears. I did not know that existed long before being enclosed. Speaking of which, I believe the entire mall was enclosed, and the food court built on sometime in the late 1970s-early 1980s.

Today, that section is anchorsed by a Targer and a two-story Kohls (ex-Mainstreet).

Fri Jun 16, 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this mall. Haven't updated anything on the inside since the 70s. Classic place with ultra vintage decor. On the inside if you to the section where the tower is you will see sky windows looking up into that giant golf ball. The food court here is also terrific.

Fri Jun 16, 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also love to see more postcards of inside the mall after it was enclosed.

Fri Jun 16, 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

It's a funky-ass layout. I wonder if that was the original "grand" plan. Seems like they left a place in the center for another anchor, but then they went ahead and added on towards Kohl's and Target. Of course, cutting right through Sears. VERY interesting.

Fri Jun 16, 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is space in the center for another anchor; the lease plan said a Kerasotes theatre was proposed there most recently, but it doesn't seem to have ever been built.

Sat Jun 17, 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There used to be a movie theatre in an outparcel closer to Milwaukee avenue (in front of and to the right of the JC Penney). It closed down a few years ago and is now a gym.

Sat Jun 17, 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger pJ said...

I used to bike up to this mall all the way from Cicero and Peterson. Across the street was the best Toys R Us on the north side of Chicago and we would go there to find the lastest SMS Video Games. I often went to the movies there, although I seem to recall the last film I saw was Jurassic Park, so it's been a while. I was aware that the theater is now a gym.

Does anyone remember down the street was one of the first diet fast food, I can't remember the name, but they had a list of all the calories on their soda cups. Delights? Something like that? Also, a Showbiz Pizza, turned Chuck E. Cheese, turned Chimpys Pizza Safari right across the street as well.

Another really, REALLy groovy mall was just down the street at Oakton and Milwaukee, aptly named The Oak Mill Mall. It had cobblestone streets inside. It's still there, but alas Tom's Sci-Fi shop, the only place for decent Doctor Who merch, has been long gone.

Good memories. Or is it that I just live in the past way too much?


Tue Jun 20, 02:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the deal between carole and margie

Wed Jun 21, 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Pay no attention, Lisa. It's the same person. Just an idiot spamming the blog with nonsensical comments. I just remove the posts, no biggie to me. He/she needs a life, that's all.

Wed Jun 21, 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the layout. Are there two seperate Sears stores?, or do you walk directly through Sears to get to Target ?

Thu Jun 22, 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You walk through Sears to get to Target. It's like a Siamese Twin mall.

Sun Jun 25, 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea except the other side where the Traget is has always been dead and the size is way smaller than the other side. Even when it was just a Kohl's and a bunch of regular stores it seemed like they would come and go. I vividly remember a Lerner that was on that side right next to the Sears. It was a black layout with red lettering and it had stairs and I think hanging racks. (I was at H&M in downtown on State street the other day and they also had hanging racks which i haven't seen in years.) Now most of that part is gone since they made way for the Target several years back and the Value City Furniture just last year. And still seems like it is dead.

Mon Jun 26, 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a California-style open-air mall, there were individual store entrances on all sides of the mall facing the parking lots and the center walkways. The walkways were covered, allowing people to walk all around the mall, out of the rain or sun. Only the landscaped medians were open to the sky. To go to the mall's strip north (left) of Sears (no longer Sears Roebuck), you could go through Sears or around the outside of Sears along the covered walkway.

Notice the National food store just west (lower left) of Penneys (not yet J.C. Penneys), just one of several regional grocery chains (with A&P, Kroger) that disappeared from the Chicago area with the rise of the (then) local Jewel and Dominicks supermarket chains.

To the south (right) of Penneys is a Penneys Auto Service Center and to the east (above along right edge) is a bowling alley. Further east and off picture was the Golf Mill Theater, originally a large single screen movie theater and later adding two more medium screens and a third small screen.

Unseen in the picture, in the "corner" on the north (left) side of Sears and east (above) of the north strip, was an outdoor sitting area and fish pond/moat, complete with large gazebo, foot bridges, a water fountain with color lights, and a working 10ft wooden water wheel (aka "The Mill"). The pond/moat had large koi, goldfish and, if I recall, a few carp/catfish (same at the pond at Old Orchard which is now filled-in with landscaping). This was a favorite place for kids visiting the mall with their parents.

Also unseen in the picture, just east (above) of the north strip and just off the left side, was the Millionaires Club restaurant and Mill Run Theatre, a revolving "in the round" performance playhouse with two or three balconies, which showcased popular performers and shows of the era. The theater was torn down when it proved unprofitable to retrofit the theater with additional safety exits to meet new building codes as part of a planned remodeling.

Of special interest at the very top left of the picture, in a patch of green with a concrete "x" pattern surrounded by dark green tree tops, is the Glenview Naval Air Station (NASG) which was used during WWII to train Navy pilots to land on aircraft carriers, during the Cold War as a Training Command HQ for air support operations, and later as a base for Coast Guard rescue. It was closed in the mid-90's, purchased by Glenview and redeveloped as a Stepford-like "planned urban community", i.e., a psuedo-city with central commercial public area ("mall") and mixed housing.

Thu Aug 17, 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do recall the mill & goldfish pond area with the large working waterwheel. In fact, the reason I can remember this so well is that when I was about 6 or 7 my parents took the family x-mass shopping and left us in that area to run around. Well, I dropped my Chapstick from the little foot bridge onto the frozen pond. I foolishly proceeded onto the ice to retrieve it. (moist lips where a big priority in the early seventies) anyway, I broke though the thin ice and before I could even sink to the bottom of this probably shallow pond, a startled shopper reached in and pulled me out by my soaking wet jacket. Needless to say, my folks where pretty upset. I can remember the ride home in our Dodge Cornet wearing wet corduroys, I was freezing.

I also remember the Mill Run Theatre featuring the “theatre in the round” experience. I saw Beatlemania! there in 1977 or 78. (Not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation) this circular venue was unique in every way. You saw the show from every angle including when the performers back was facing you! My parents saw Sammy Davis Jr. there as well.

The marquee for the movie theaters featured a large flashy red neon arrow directing movie-goers where to go to see the latest Hollywood hit or flop.

I also can recall somewhere in that area (set back from the theaters) was an Art Deco style dinner/bowling alley named Dine & Bowl or Bowl & Dine I’m not sure, but it was really cool the exterior had orange, black and silver details This place was truly vintage.

We motored from Des Plaines to Golf Mill Mall and on the way there on Golf Road was a great mechanical sign for the Fisherman’s Dude Ranch witch depicted a sportsman struggling to catch a huge rainbow trout. It was a landmark for me it signified that we where just a few more minutes of travel time left before we arrived at the classic indoor/outdoor Golf Mill Mall.

Fri Sep 29, 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omgg! the place where my house is today is just all green field in this picture wow...i kind of remember when there were all these little houses with big yards near there are about 20 town house buildings where 1 little house used to be. crazy

Sun Feb 25, 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still live in the area and I grew up in uninc. Maine Twp area. I went to Gemini Jr. High and Maine East HS.

Anyways, I remember them enclosing the mall around 1985 or so because we moved in 1984 from a townhouse in Niles (Prospect Ave near Milwaukee and Ballard) to one of duplexes near Dee Park.

My brother worked at the Golf Mill movie theatre in the 1990s. Yes they tore it down and turned it into an XSport gym. Of course it was rivaled by the nearby Golf Glen on Golf Rd. and Dee Rd. That theatre is gone now too-the building is still there but the theatre closed around 2000 I think. And don't forget the Morton Grove theatre with the $1.75 movies which they turned into a Shoe Carnival-not a part of Golf Mill but well known by all of the locals.

I also remember the bowling alley-I think they tore that down in the early 1990s. I had been to birthday parties there.

Sears and Pennys are still there and that tall tower where my orthodontist was-I think just about everyone at Gemini with braces saw Dr. Robbins! I remember getting my braces on in 7th grade then having to walk from GM to Gemini with my new braces so tight I couldn't feel my teeth. I walked into Mrs. Plotkin's Spanish class and couldn't talk without sounding like I had a mouthful of marbles.

The Kohls(used to be called Main Street-remember that?) was built when the mall was enclosed in the 1980s. And the Butera is now a Shop-N-Save but the grocery store is still in the same spot near Pennys.

There is a new movie theatre there now connected to the mall on the opposite side of the food court. I've never been there but seen it from the outside. And of course I remember the Woolworth, which my grandma called the dime store until it closed even though they haven't had anything for a dime for at least 60 years.

Don't forget about all the little stores-Spencers, Claires(still there) Waldenbooks (still there), Structure, and the one teen/jr. size store I can't remember its name but was very popular and hip, and my grandma bought me an IOU sweatshirt from there!

Thu Nov 15, 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

hurm. I worked for a while in the strip mall across Milwaukee, which looks to be farmland in this picture. One of the buildings in the parking lot on the right, since torn down, was a bowling alley.
This is now a Clearchannel owned shopping mall. Not much foot traffic, outside of the food court.
Part of the problem, I always thought, was being forced to go through Sears to get to the other half of the mall after it was enclosed. If people can SEE how big a mall is, they won't walk through it, but will drive from anchor store to anchor store.
Or I'm just jaded from spending my life in retail...

Sat Nov 15, 02:25:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That Woolworth's picture is before the enclosure which I remember as happening in the early 80's. That entire area where the family is sitting is the walkway in between the smaller stores. The Woolworth's also had a entrance on it's opposite side that faced the parking lot.

Sat Nov 15, 02:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved to the area in 1983 and the mall was still 'open-air'. I remeber going there in the dead of winter and FREEZING as we moved from store to store pushing the baby. I also went to the dentists in the tower. One huge thing was the BOWL & DINE located in the south end out lot. Jimmy (the original owner's son) ran the place. He was a great guy! When his dad ran the place, they had an elegant dining room with a live organist. I think Jimmy's dad played. The bar was absolutely beautiful and featured a sweeping bar lined in leather. A beautiful fireplace complimented the room. Later, the dining area was eliminated to add some 3-4 pool tables. The place was literally dead (except for the bowling leagues)when I approached Jimmy and asked him if I could build a small stage and book some bands. Since Jimmy had a 4 AM license and was shutting down when the bowlers were done, he agreed.

We built a nice 3 sided stage in the corner and I installed a great PA and lighting. We booked bands in there for almost two years but the vibe never really caught on. I have some great recordings from that place. Famous musicians (from my contacts) played there. The Kingsnakes, JP & the Ramblers, Jim Kahr and Solar Habits were just a few of the regulars. Jimmy sadly closed the place down and it was then demolished. A real loss but great memories!!

Sun Feb 15, 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous d leavitt said...

im looking for a photo of mill run playhouse niles, il. if you have e mail don at thank you

Mon May 04, 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous jet screamer said...

There was a deli there,is that still there?

Thu Jul 08, 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger jet screamer said...

There was a Jewish deli by the dolphin motel,does anyone remember the name of it.

Thu Jul 08, 01:25:00 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog while trying to find out when Bette Davis played at the Mill Run Theater. I'm guessing 1966 or 1967. She stayed at the Dolphin Motel where I was working at the time (I left there about July 1967.) I remember Tony Dow played there too and also stayed at the Dolphin. I was hoping to find some references and/or pics but no luck so far. I don't have any pics myself. I don't think I even had a camera at the time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have photos of the outside of the long-gone MILL RUN THEATRE (demolished in 1984), which was located on the site of this mall?

Sun Oct 02, 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glenview Girl....
I remember buying my prom dress
(1978)at Golf Mill Shopping Center.
It was great to see an photo of the
old version of the mall.
I found this blob site while researching the Mill Run Theater.
Diana Ross played there in the mid
seventy's. My girlfriend and I wanted
in the back parking lot to see her.
She looked fabulous in her Bob Mache
sequined dress. Does anyone have
photos of the old theater?

Sun Nov 06, 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi. Is anyone still looking for photos of mill run?

Mon Jun 29, 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Anyone have pictures of Golf Mill Studio. Also called Thomas Organ. I taught guitar there as the organ was becoming a dead home unit. Guitar and Rock n Roll after that. Studio was directly across from the theater in the round. Got to meet the visiting talent.

Tue Oct 23, 12:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So cool to see these photos. I grew up in DesPlaines, just down the street and spent a lot of time there. The dark round building at the base of the office building was a Magnavox electronics store. I saw Hank Aaron tthere after he broke the home run record. Also in the small strip on that side, a book and card shop called wit & wisdom. The bowling alley was cool - had a restaurant called east coast pizza in there. Yummmm. Definitely remember the old mill and pond in the back. Very good memories.

Sat Jul 13, 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Sebastian Hawks said...

Malls sure have vanished. I remember around 78-79 they took our school class to this round theater there to see some "Clarabel Clowns" show and then to the 1st McDonalds in Des Plains where we got only ONE hamburger. Even as a kid I could eat 3 or 4 in a sitting. I saw Return of the Jedi at the Golf Mill Cinema and the lines were huge. Used to be a Sears there where we had to get navy blue "Roughhouser" or "Toughskin" brand pants for our School Uniform. (These days the little fatherless bastards inheriting our once great country have the "right" to dress like anti-social hooligans in school. Little chance these dregs will be able to defend the prime real estate of the North American Continent from the Chinese and Russians in the future.) There was also a Pizza Hut next the the Cinema where they had all you can eat buffets on Sunday were we frequently went. It had those glass, multicolor lampshades above every table and a fireplace in the center. They don't make restaurants like that anymore, all bright pastels, etc in these restaurant rescue shows. Some know it all always comes in and tears out the wonderful comforting 70s decor and turns the place into an ugly spartan hosptital looking room. Toys R Us was just across the street, where I got a Star Wars action figures on the rare occasion my parents weren't super cheap as usual. Randhurst was another nearby mall we went to as kids.

Sat Aug 28, 02:18:00 PM  

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