Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jefferson Mall

In this entry we take a nice long nostalgic look at Jefferson Mall, in Louisville, Kentucky. I was going to break this up into two posts, but what the heck, let's live dangerously!

The great snapshots and commentary that follow below, were sent in by, J (who also shared some great Louisville mall memories with the blog recently), and I thank him once again for yet another fantastic submission! I'm starting this off by adding a current directory map from the mall's website, to help put the layout in a little more perspective as you read the article, then it's on to J's memories!

Jefferson Mall opened in August 1978, and was, from what I understand, the largest mall in Kentucky at that time. It was a Jacobs mall, but Jacobs sold it a few years ago. It was later eclipsed by its sister mall, Fayette Mall (also Jacobs, also sold) in Lexington, when it expanded in the mid-1990s (which also eliminated its incredibly well-preserved early 70s décor).

I’m providing some pictures of Jefferson that I took as a kid during the mall’s opening week, along with some from around the holidays in 1992.

In ’78, I wanted to see this new mall very badly, since I had just experienced the disappointment of discovering that the mall of my childhood, Mall St. Matthews, was being remodeled. I was hoping for something more like the funky jungle look that Mall St. Matthews was losing, so I remember being very disappointed at the time in the cool, clean sleekness I found at Jefferson.

But, I figured that my mom had carted me all that way, and I’d taken my camera, so I thought I might as well snap some photos. Almost 30 years later, I can’t begin to express how precious the pictures I took that day are to me. I hope these photos give you a good sense of what the mall used to look like, as its appearance changed little until the renovation a few years ago.

In ’92, I decided to capture Jefferson on film during the holidays, because of the mall’s tradition of, among other things, changing many of the fountain light lenses to red and green from the usual amber and white. Almost right up until the renovation the mall staff kept the facility in excellent condition, and that always helped make me feel that I was stepping back in time when I visited. And, believe me, I went and enjoyed it often, realizing for several years that it was more than likely only a matter of time. The mall’s still doing pretty well, but since the remodel, I hardly ever go back.

Center Court

August, 1978

These pictures are of center court. The picture above is from the mall’s opening week in 1978. Water flowed up metal tubes in the upper pool and ran down the edges. The metal rods in the left side of the picture were attached to cables running from the lower pool to the ceiling.

Christmas, 1992

The above picture is of the center court facing Hess’ (originally Stewart’s, now Dillard’s). Lazarus (originally Shillito’s, now Macy’s) is across the court. Amid the Christmas display, you can see those metal rods more clearly. They were offset by a semicircle of hanging steel rods suspended from the ceiling.

Christmas, 1992

The picture above shows the other side of the fountain, with another set of stainless steel tube fountains. From this pool, a channel of water runs off the left portion of this picture to spill into the lower pool. You may be able to make out the red and green fountain lights beneath the water-tubes. The tubes in the upper pool had red, white, and green lights, but it’s hard to tell in the picture. The cables to the ceiling are visible from a side angle as a white object angling up to the right in front of the tree in the background.

JCPenney Wing

August, 1978

These pictures are of the JCPenney wing. The first one (above) was taken during the mall’s opening week in August 1978. The name of the store on the left in that picture was “Rings ‘n Things.” The sign in the sitting area listed mall events. The carpet in that area was burnt orange, and the seats were chocolate brown. Terrazzo was everywhere.

The other two pictures below were taken during the holidays in 1992. Each year many of the fountain light lenses were changed to red and green for Christmas.

Christmas, 1992

Christmas, 1992
Sears Wing

August, 1978

The photo above was taken during the mall’s opening week in August 1978. In that picture, you can barely make out the burnt orange cylindrical trash can to the left of the sculpture, and the equally burnt orange couch and carpet in the background behind the couple walking toward the camera.

The last two photos below are from Christmas 1992, with fun red and green fountain lights specially for the holidays. The cool white sculpture in the upper pool had vanished from the fountain by the late ‘80s. I don’t know what happened to it, but it couldn’t have been pretty.

Christmas, 1992

Christmas, 1992

Mall history: 1978 - present
Current website: here
Info from Wikipedia
Current aerial view
Previous entries: none


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This mall reminds me so much of Euclid Square Mall in Euclid, Ohio in terms of the decor and all. I think Euclid was opened a year or two before this mall.

Wed Dec 20, 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

Wow, a mall that wasn't in pastel colors in the early 90's! I'm ... shocked. ;)

Thu Dec 21, 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kangoon said...

WOW a great post! I am so glad those 1978 photos were saved! I loved the Hickory Farm sign in the 78 photo!
Thanks for posting them.. they should have left well enough alonr!

Thu Dec 21, 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didi, I've noticed the same thing about Euclid Square. I have a list of Richard E. Jacobs Group malls as of 1999, and Euclid isn't on it, but Euclid is too similar to some of the others not to have had some connection. Maybe someone out there knows what that connection is...

Anita, this mall was in much of its '70s splendor until just a few years ago. I'm glad I had the sense to enjoy it before the changes. However, I must say that the orange carpet and furnishings bit the dust long ago.

Kangoon, I had forgotten until I revisited that photo that Hickory Farms used to have anything more than a kiosk for the Holidays. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

And, Keith, it's good to see the old J-Mall represented here. Please know that I've been e-mailing other stuff, in case you haven't been receiving anything.

Happy Holidays!

Sat Dec 23, 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious, what took the place of that Walgreens?

Sun Dec 24, 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobby, the Walgreens and LeRoy's were removed to make way for the food court.

Sun Dec 24, 06:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't suppose you have any shots of the Hess's, maybe the sign?

Thu Jan 18, 12:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not on purpose. However, I may have inadvertently gotten a shot of a Hess' sign in an exterior shot, maybe of another mall. As I go through my collection, I'll try to keep an eye out for one.

Sun Jan 21, 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger marketing director said...

Great website - so glad I found it.

I grew up shopping at Jefferson Mall. I am currently the Marketing Director at the Jefferson Mall (for the past 9 year).

Love the photos!

Come see our new renovation, Old Navy and coming in 2008 - Linens N Things!

Jefferson Mall is currently owned by CBL & Associate Properties, Inc.

Thank you for sharing.

Fri Sep 07, 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marketing Director, I admit that the "new" Jefferson Mall is certainly creative and engaging in its own way. But there's no way it could ever compare to what it was originally, with the terrazzo, the fountains, the cool hanging metal sculptures...

I really miss the old Jefferson Mall. I know I'm kind of out of step with our society's seemingly constant desire for "new, fresh and trendy" in that regard, but I guess that's just me.

I'm really glad you appreciated these photos.

Mon Sep 10, 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss the old Jefferson Mall too. I miss Morrisson's Cafeteria and the green jello. I miss Thornberry's Toy Store where my Pappaw would take me on Friday nights after dinner. My Mammaw would go shopping and he would take me around the mall. I miss Aladin's Castle where I would play video games.
I miss those brown seats and the orange carpet. I miss the pet store too. The only other mall I miss in Louisville from when I was growing up in the 80's is Bashford Manor.
Thanks for this article.

Fri Jan 25, 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss the old Jefferson Mall too. The shops were unique and upscale. It was pretty and relaxing. Now I cannot shop there as it is no longer safe to do so. The mall execs do not seem to care that customers are making an exodus to other malls in the area.

Sun Jan 27, 08:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked at Jefferson Mall on and off for 7 years, at Bonanza, Walgreen's, Cards 'n Such, and Wag's (Walgreen's Restaurant). I miss the old days and thank you for posting these pictures. Brought back so many memories.

Fri Dec 04, 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Thompson said...

I just found this site and saw those pics of the early years for Jefferson Mall. My Grandad's last job before retirement was painting the Mall before it opened. My family lived not too far away and Jefferson Mall was our "Mall". It was truly something special. As a kid, it was an endless adventure everytime we went there. I truly miss those days. Thank you for sharing those photos.

Sun Jun 20, 10:40:00 AM  
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Wed Nov 10, 12:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the opening photos of J-Mall. I lived at 4915 Ronwood Dr.I could look out my bedroom window and see the cool white neon lit up when Shillitoes was there.I went to Hartstern Elementry also.Our neighbors fought the building of that place for years,but eventually it was built. It took many hundreds of truckloads of slate and fill to fill that area 4 feet deep. The whole West end (Penney's) is sitting on a swamp,,it is "still" under there too.I still have the Yellow Lava lamp i bought from Spencers back in '78.J-Mall had so much class back then,,the picture of Hickory Farms and Rings and Things is still like yesterday.My mother managed Bank of Louisville there,across from Burger King and Orange Julius on the Penney's end.We used to play Atari at Sear's,,get run off,,go to Alladins Castle around the corner,,cruise through Walgreens and absorb the wonderfull smell of the candy dept.I learned how to drive at J-mall in a 1970 Mustang Mach-1,,dad took me to the back lot,,let me drive after they were closed of course,reached his foot over the console and floored the car! Made me have respect to this day for high horsepower and torque,,and i still have Classic Mustangs to this day. Thanks again for these great pictures !!!

Sun Dec 12, 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up visiting J-mall as well. I hated to see the demise of the fountains and "sunken" areas. If the water & plumbing cost a lot of $ for maintenance, I had hoped that maybe they could've just turned them into rock gardens (or something that required little care).

I do miss stopping at Hickory Farms for a free sample!

Fri Mar 16, 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Amy B said...

Thank you so much for these pictures! I was just reminiscing yesterday over all the stores I used to go to there. I was born in 1975, and every time I go to JM now I get these pangs of nostalgia. Specifically, my favorite memories are of Hot Sam's, the custom t-shirt place (T Shirts Plus?), and Wag's...though I also had some great times at Corn Dog on a Stick and Wicks and Sticks. I had forgotten about Hickory Farms - loved that place!!! And Rings and Things... and their Christmas displays. I used to be so enchanted with those. Ah, walk down memory lane. I'd love to see more pics of all the stores, and the decor!

I know I'm starting to sound old. LOL.

Sun Sep 07, 07:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too remember how special their Christmas displays were. Do you have any pictures of those????

Mon Oct 13, 05:13:00 PM  
Anonymous C.Hall said...

I used to take the very long trip from Valley Station to Jefferson Mall via Bus 18 as a kid in the mid 80s,and then drive there around the time of the early 90s pics you have. Reason? Aladdins Castle to play all the latest games. Following that I'd go to Burger King and possibly Orange Julius (the original store) and also drop by the video game store that is now currently Gamestop. I don't have much of a reason to go there anymore. Thanks for the pics.

Sat Jul 04, 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Blain said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Mon Feb 22, 06:24:00 AM  
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Mon Jul 17, 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I remmember Thornberry's and use to go there when I was a kid also. Dang I miss the good ole days.

Tue Jan 23, 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger Lirpylayne said...

Love love reading all is the comments. Such memories. Does anyone remember the days when there was the old chick fil a and baskin Robbins? Early 80s I think. Also, there was a pizza place that amazing pizza. Seems like it was by the corn dog place.

Thu Jun 28, 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Good you have these pics,LeRoy's was just relocated. I helped open J Mall. Building of the J Mall started in 1977. I lived in this area since 1961 when Outerloop was a one lane dirt road. Worked at J Mall from opening to 1982. Saw it all change.can tell you about any store that was there and left what the cost a store was being charged for space at the mall. Help Open Brooks fashions Store then went to Topps & Trousers Men's fashion Store Mgr. then Flagg Bros Shoes Mgr. Assited many of the stores in opening and display.
Set up GU fashions account with Genesco company that owned Flagg Bros & Jarman Shoes.

Wed Mar 27, 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm unknown, my name is Kevin Cecil I helped open J Mall you can read my post if you wish. The company that that opened the mall I'm sure you know was Jacobs Viscone & Jacobs I helped open the mall in 1978 after its building in 1977. I lived right across the street. I have lived in area since 1961. There use to be nothing here but a dirt road on Preston hwy. A hardware store and a paint store. No big grocery store, Little Giant Grocery store on Old Shepersville Rd. That's it. J Mall was a field as far as you could see. I was 5 years old then. Things have changed for the worst that they got rid of the fountains, But they probably did it because water cost. Could have replaced with a more enegry efficient and cost effective lighting saving the look of what was.

Wed Mar 27, 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is Kevin, No Baskin Robbins but yes there was a Chick fil a went there almost twice a week for lunch. Pizza yes was very good.

Wed Mar 27, 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for a great story and photos and a trip down memory lane. I remember spending many good times there shopping with my mom when I was a kid, then be treated to an Orange Julias. Saturday nights brought dinner at The Cow Palace, maybe a stop off at O.G. Wilsons then to JM, where my dad and I would browse the tools and automotive while my mom shopped for "mom" stuff.
During my high school years (1983-1987), many Friday and Saturday nights were spent "cruising" the mall with friends for no particular reason other than to be seen and look cool. The stores we visited were the record stores, Spencer Gifts, and Willis Music (?) where musical instruments were sold although we had zero music abilities beyond the stereo in an old Camaro.
Occasionally, on a Saturday night, when I feel nostalgic, I will take a trip to JM to reminisce. Sometimes I will sit for a while and go back there those many years ago in my mind and see the big hair, parachute pants and Chess King clothes worn by many of the patrons at the time.
Then I have to go because seeing the mall in its current state truly brings a sense of sadness from watching a piece of Americana that played a large part in my life gradually disappear into oblivion.

Sun Jan 31, 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Al Bundy said...

Any chance you have pictures of father and son shoes, it was across from Walgreens, Endicott Johnson, and Wilson’s leather and next door to Claire’s I believe. I worked there in the early 80’s. Loved that mall back then.

Tue Jun 08, 09:21:00 AM  

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