Adrian Mall to lose its last original anchor store

This newspaper ad from 1970 lists the Adrian Mall's original tenants.

This newspaper ad from 1970 lists the Adrian Mall's original tenants.

When the Adrian JCPenney store shuts down in April, it will mark the closing of the mall’s last original anchor store.

The Daily Telegram reported Thursday that the Adrian store’s last day will be April 10. It’s one of 39 stores that J.C. Penney Co. will close this year, according to the Associated Press, but the only one in Michigan. (Click here for the full list.)

Sears, which had been one of the mall’s anchors since the beginning, closed in 2012. (Part of the space is now a Hobby Lobby, and the mall’s new owners have told city officials they have a likely tenant for another portion.) And Elder-Beerman, currently in one of the mall’s anchor spots, didn’t open in Adrian until the 1980s, making JCPenney the last of the mall’s original anchors.

I thought it would be interesting to go into the Adrian library’s microfilm collection and look at what stores were in the mall when it first opened. The day before the mall’s grand opening on Sept. 3, 1970, an ad in the Telegram listed 20 stores as set to open that weekend. They were:

  • Adrian State Bank
  • Allen’s Shoes
  • American Card Shop
  • Anderson Gift Shop
  • Bancroft Cleaners
  • Bernard Wigs
  • Bresler Ice Cream
  • Carousel Foods
  • Father & Son Shoes
  • Gladstone Shoes
  • Jo Ann Fabrics
  • Micheal Roberts
  • Mode-O-Day
  • Motherhood Maternity
  • Royce Shoes
  • Sears Roebuck
  • Singer Sewing Machine
  • Super-X Drug Store
  • Walden Book Store
  • Woolworth

The ad also listed 12 “stores to open soon”:

  • Docktor’s Pet Center
  • Fanny Farmer Candy
  • A food supermarket
  • General Nutrition
  • Hobby Shop
  • JCPenney
  • Kunian Beauty Salon
  • Marianne Dress Shop
  • Modular Theater
  • Osterman Jewelers
  • Park Lane Hosiery
  • Sally’s Clothes

It’s hard to know which stores might have been purchased and had a name change, but as fare as brand names go, it looks like after April 10, the last original store in the mall will be GNC.

A few other interesting things about the mall’s opening 45 years ago: The opening ceremonies included a parachute jump by sky divers and a concert by a group called the Harmonica Interludes. The mall also had a statue, which some readers may remember, by Detroit artist Paul Gonzalez of the Aztec god Tlaloc.

Super-X Drug Store marked the opening with a big sale that included two bars of Ivory soap for 9 cents and a 24-inch portable grill for $4.39. Sears was advertising men’s dress shirts for $3.47. Citizens Gas Fuel Co. took out a full-page ad calling the mall “Greater Adrian’s newest addition to the progress of Lenawee County.”

But just in case anyone’s tempted by the rose-tinted lure of nostalgia, the newspaper pages from that week contain ample reminders that 1970 wasn’t exactly a golden age. That same week, the Senate defeated the Hatfield-McGovern Amendment, an attempt to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which killed over 6,000 Americans that year alone. And southern segregationists had just founded a “Legal Offense Fund” to pay for their fight against integrated schools.

Longtime Adrian residents: Which of the mall’s original stores do you remember? Comment below …

  • Circle Sky

    Whatever happened to the sculpture/ fountain Tlaloc by Paul Gonzalez? When the mall was sold he was not even called to make arrangements to pick up the sculpture