Showing posts with label texas avenue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label texas avenue. Show all posts

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pooh's Park, Tinsley's, and Others Replaced by a Shopping Center

View of the center today


Once again, we come back to one of our blog, this time to roll a few smaller posts into a bigger one. As the picture above shows, the area at Holleman and Texas Avenue is now a large (kind of low end) shopping center. In addition to covering all the changes that went on there (which I have yet to do), I can combine a few older posts into this one. So, first, we have Pooh's Park at 1907 Texas Avenue South.


There's far more to Pooh's Park (no, not related to the "Winnie" one) I can get into today, because it's a popular topic on local nostalgia threads: if you want to learn more, you can head over to Facebook to talk or browse through old photos (and they include newspaper articles!)

I never got to experience Pooh's Park myself, but from what I've seen and read, it was like Chuck E. Cheese, Putt-Putt, and a skating rink (roller, not ice) all wrapped into one. It opened in 1972 and was where the shopping center where Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, and Ross are now. I would like to say that Pooh's Park remained open until it became too valuable to remain (and was getting run-down anyway) and closed in the early 2000s, but no, that's not the case (it is very similar to a certain defunct theme park that closed about a decade ago, though). It closed in by 1989 (at that point, the phone book no longer lists it) and only the sign remained up (with the logo of the yellow dog they had, and not the one pictured above, and the name gone) until around the time they built the shopping center in the early 2000s, and then remained up until a little while afterward.

A 1984 phone book has a different ad that does mention things like a water slide (408 feet) and a different address (at some point, they changed to 105 Holleman, though based on what you can see from Google Earth, and backed up by a picture of Texas Avenue from a local history book I don't have a copy of with me) is that Pooh's Park was accessed through Texas Avenue, not Holleman.

Google Earth 1995, with modern streets overlaid


Some older maps (circa 2001-ish, long after Pooh's Park bit the dust) put a "Pooh's Lane" roughly where the Bahama Buck's is now, but unless that first part of Holleman Drive East was actually called that (after all, there's a few things that do support that, including the odd alignment of Holleman Drive and Holleman Drive East suggests that the East part was first, and then Holleman Drive extended that way later by way of a particularly awkward curve, or the fact that the subdivision nearby (behind the strip center and the other businesses on the east side) is named Pooh's Park Subdivision.

Sharing the address with Pooh's Park (at least the original address) was one "Furniture Liquidation Mart" which closed in October 1985 (The Eagle), and I would guess that this is what Bahama Buck's replaced (it used to be the foundations of another building). It should be noted, though, my 1984 phone book doesn't list it.

Near Pooh's Park was Tinsley's Chicken 'n Rolls.

Chicken done well, chicken well done!

Opening in late 1979, Tinsley's was located on 1905 Texas Avenue but was closed by 1989 after the Tinsley family sold out to Church's, which would eventually close or convert the restaurants (I don't think this restaurant was ever converted). Later, it was Kokopelli's (by 1998), and soon after, the Clay Oven (by 1999), a quick-serve (cheap!) Indian restaurant. This location, unfortunately, was razed for the shopping center, but Clay Oven was already closed by then. I have no actual pictures of what the building looked like in reality, nor do I remember Clay Oven being there at all. Sad, isn't it?

The plane was a real thing, though, David Tinsley used an actual 1930s plane to promote his restaurants, not unlike how Flying Tomato used hot air balloons.

While the "Boss Bird" made a brief appearance in Huntsville (after a long period of total absence), it is now closed (now a Hartz Chicken Buffet). It wasn't particularly to die for (although I think the "dried out chicken" complaints were an over-exaggeration, at least from what I saw in my visit).

There were a few other places on Holleman that later disappeared beyond Jot 59 (see picture), though one of them was a quick-lube auto place (name escapes me).

So anyway, all that was torn down for the shopping center (University Shopping Center, the name of which wasn't promoted), which opened around 2003 (after the H-E-B, I remember), with many of the stores it has today (Hobby Lobby, Shoe Carnival, Ross Dress for Less, Petco). Hobby Lobby moved from their old location at Post Oak Square, with the others being new. There was a branch of Loupot's, CiCi's (which came a few years later, as the old Culpepper Plaza was partially demolished), and a Goody's Family Clothing.

Goody's would close in early 2009 as the chain went under, but it was replaced with a few new stores, Big Lots (returning back to the market, as by that time, their old location at the former Kmart had been closed for several years) and a Twin Liquors (which, despite slightly nicer décor, seemed like a smaller, inferior competitor to Spec's).

Another shopping strip was built around the same time as the rest (but named The Shops at Wolf Pen Plaza) with Starbucks Coffee, a Sprint store (which initially had the older logo), and Champion Firearms (moved from the Kroger shopping center).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jimmy Jackson's Exxon

The landmark Exxon sign has stood here for over three decades.


This is the first new post in many months, but it's not a truly new post, it's just an old post "edited for syndication", and was originally part of The Far South Point of Texas Avenue (which is no longer, as the post has been rewritten), one of the last posts, which itself was originally supposed to be a part of "Texas Avenue: The Main Street of the City". Anyway, "Jimmy Jackson's Exxon" opened in 1983 at Miller's Lane (FM 2818 before it finished expanding to the highway) and Texas Avenue, this Exxon has a massive sign that was clearly grandfathered in as College Station would not allow such a majestic structure anymore like that, this Exxon was a full service stop built catty-corner to the Kmart on the edge of town (well, it was the edge back then) with a self-service car wash, garage, and convenience store.

Selling out to "Franky's" in 2001 (aka Frankie's), I actually managed to make contact with Jimmy Jackson's daughter (Mr. Jackson sadly passed away in 2013), but could not locate any photos of the gas station in its heyday. There was a second Jimmy Jackson gas station, which was sold and torn down well before his death, it was the Eckerd (now CVS) at the corner of Villa Maria and Texas Avenue.

In reality, the sign isn't quite so massive as it appears from further 2818 (mostly due to the hills), but something tells me that it was designed to be seen from the bypass when it was built (at least going northbound). As of this writing, I don't seem to have a picture of the actual "Franky's" convenience store, but it seems to have been altered from its original form anyway. I also get the feeling Franky's is kind of sleazy anyway (it was one of the ones pointed out by KBTX as having synthetic cannabis before a variety of laws cracked down on that).

2801 Texas Avenue South

Saturday, October 25, 2014

4300 Texas Avenue

The building in its original form. Courtesy John Ellisor.


Just across from the Luby's, we had the first local location of Piggly Wiggly (owned by Six Star Foods locally, at least in the latter days). First opened in 1963, I can't nail down when it exactly it closed.

After Piggly Wiggly left, part of the store (suite B) was reopened as a discount grocery store, Jewel T. Owned by the same company running the Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area (and a play on the name "Jewel Tea", their original name), Jewel-T was a discount store reportedly similar to Aldi and took residence in older-generation grocery stores. Unfortunately, details are sparse on this elusive store, and it didn't last long. In 1984, The Jewel Companies were bought by American Stores, and Jewel T was sold off to Save-a-Lot, but the Texas division was bought by Grand Prairie-based Shop-N-Sav and renamed Texas-T.

In 1994, Texas-T was bought from them by Save-a-Lot's parent company, SuperValu, and converted to Save-a-Lot (the rest of the Texas T stores were) before closing for good a few years later. It's not surprising if Save-a-Lot closed soon after, a failed stand in College Station is pretty much forgotten (and hey, that was an old Piggly Wiggly, too!)

After Save-a-Lot closed, it became Jacque's Toys & Games. Now, Jacque's would claim it's been around since 1986, but not in that space. It was originally called "The Toy Box" at located at 3806 Texas Avenue South in Bryan, later home to Brazos Blind & Draperies.

If I have my chronology right, while the space on the right (suite B) became Jacque's Toys & Games in 1986, while the left location (suite A) later became Brazos Valley Christian Books (coincidentally, located at 3808 Texas Avenue in the early 1990s) and later Pack & Mail, which closed in the latter part of the 2000s. It's now been subdivided once more, as you can see in my pictures. Because I don't have actual address-based directories, I haven't been able to ascertain what was in suite A after Piggly Wiggly's departure.

It's important to note that although Piggly Wiggly was at 4300 Texas Avenue, but while the shopping center is still that, none of the stores have that address. One more story to tell: the Brazos Natural Foods store was here since 1988, and has long been a purveyor of organic and gluten free items long before the mainstream supermarkets had them.

As you may know, Jewel-Osco did operate in College Station as well at a time. While that's been discussed here before, I'd like to introduce you to Safeway/Albertsons Texas Blog, which actually will showcase some of the stores Safeway, Albertsons, and Randalls have had over the years. Check it out!

Updates underway as of November 2015.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Burger King at the End (or the Beginning) of Texas Avenue

The store in question.

This post is just on a Burger King (3129 Texas Avenue S). Before I get into that, let me tell you this. I would be lying to you if I said that nostalgia was not one of the driving forces behind this site. After all, I grew up here, and in these posts, published in the last few years and updated since then (such as this post, which received a rewrite nearly a year after its creation) detail most everything I remembered or should've remembered. I've already told about the shops and restaurants here, many of which I grew up, and in versions past of this site, even included things like my old schools, or Adamson Lagoon, and probably if I had more time and research, the doctors and dentists as well (the old pediatric dentist office is gone, with the old Scott & White building at 1600 University Drive East to come soon after).

This part of Texas Avenue, originally explored in a full post with all the descriptions of the stores nearby, including the pool store and the curiously unnoticed empty spot was really special to me in years past. You see, back in those days, the only reason why we would go this way is to go somewhere cool, like my uncle's house in Baton Rouge or perhaps Houston. Even in the early 2000s, there just wasn't a lot out there. Rock Prairie Road had stuff on it, of course, like the hospital, junior high school (whoops, middle school), or even the nice new Kroger that opened in 2000, but that was just about it. There wasn't even another interchange until Greens Prairie Road, and that just had the water tower and an Exxon/McDonald's combo.

Since the Highway 6 bypass was built in the 1970s, prior to around 2006, there was an intersection here with the southbound one-way traffic from the bypass intersecting with Deacon. To the south was Texas Avenue turning into an entrance for Highway 6 south with the northbound lane going from Highway 6. To the south at Deacon was a two-way frontage road that paralleled Texas Avenue up to Wal-Mart and became the southbound Highway 6 frontage road for the section south of Texas Avenue. Yes, for a time, you could drive straight from Nantucket Drive to the Wal-Mart parking lot and back without making a single turn or getting on the highway.

Around 2006, that all changed, and the set-up was altered. The road that paralleled Texas Avenue was cut off at an apartment complex, and the two lanes from Texas Avenue went to the frontage road south (now all one-way) or the highway. Another thing that did change was the demolition of a small Diamond Shamrock gas station (catty-corner from a new Texaco with a Subway inside).

Opening in 2007 (early 2007, I believe), this Burger King opened to replace the one at Culpepper Plaza, which was torn down and replaced with a Chick-fil-A. I always found it a bit strange that there just wasn't very many Burger Kings in town, as in some places they compete head to head with McDonald's...but it still wasn't too far away, and it was never very crowded. As long as it stays open and I don't get some sort of food poisoning, that's a plus!

Updated in August 2015 with new focus. There used to be other photos and a bit of other info, but sorry, that has gone into "storage"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Rare Gas Station Revival


Figures that I'd have to update this blog every once in a while. This is a small update to one of the Texas Avenue parts with new photos and info. Located next to a Century 21 office (which we didn't photograph), this was a Mobil for years (at least back to 1980, which is when I have phone books) but closed in 2004 (to the best of my memory) and was converted to Stratta Auto Repair for a number of years a few years later. I never released these pictures because the direct sunlight tended to mess them up, but here they are.
Looking at the garage, September 2013. Sorry my thumb partially obscures the shot. It was bright!
Another view, September 2013. I think that chimney is from another building which I believe may be part of the same complex. I remember the name of the business was written on the side wall facing Lincoln, but I'll have to do more research into it.
The pumps are still intact, September 2013. What a time warp!
Mobil signs, September 2013. A lone shadow looks in.
September 2013.
September 2013.

In September I returned to take a few more pictures. Sadly, inquiring within about the Mobil signs had no positive response--the signs were gone, likely disposed. Bummer. FabricCare has made their home in the garage while a tobacco store is opening next to it. Here's some more pictures from Sept. 2014.

Wow, this thing still lights up!.
Another pump that lights up.
More lights.


Behind it was an old garage, originally known as "Murphy's garage" or something like that (informally) but later it became Mechanics Unlimited, all the way into the early 2000s. Eventually, it closed. The building was recently repainted on my visit. The maroon board in the lower right was used to board up the garage doors, while you can see the maroon paint that was once on the bricks

It's 102 Lincoln, but there appears to be something going in there, though the fact that it was issued nearly two years ago makes that dubious. By the way, the chimney seen in the old Mobil shots are from this building, not the Mobil, which is 901 Texas Avenue S.

UPDATE 8/30/15: Shortly after making this post, the renovations were completed at this location. A sign replaced the long-empty Mobil that read, "The College Station" with "Discount Tobacco" written under it.

I still lived in the neighborhood at the time, and was aware of this. "Cute," I thought. "I like the fact that they made efforts to make this look very similar to the Mobil that was once here." After all, no gas station had been here for about a decade, the vacant "Texashell" was never re-occupied, probably owing to a difficult location, and I found it implausible that anyone would open a gas station without an electronic display. Everyone did, and every year more gas stations (especially the Shell stations) would upgrade. I should've noticed that the prices were indeed changing with the market, and what ended up happening is that during late summer, a Valero banner was placed over the sign. It shocked me, because not only was Valero buying essentially a dated gas station (the pumps were updated, they were not mock-ups, but the station hadn't seen a lot of updates over the years), but it was real the whole time! I felt a bit foolish for having thought so (plus "The College Station", the name, was a decent enough pun, though the "Discount Tobacco" threw me off) but come on...at the rate it was going, it was likely to be razed entirely for a new building, with the pumps taken out in the process, or at least, have the canopy destroyed and paved over. You would agree, right?

UPDATE: 10/21/15: Sadly, Valero has upgraded the prices to digital numbers. Alas...

Note: The title photo appears on Wikimapia with permission. I also plan to "outsource" the post, as part of this post was written as the big Texas Avenue post. That's why the name of the post as of 2015 went from "Mobil & Mechanics" to "A Rare Gas Station Revival". Please stand by while further edits continue.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alas, Luby's

For several years prior to closure, the sign had read "Luby's Drive-Thru"


Today's post isn't filler, it's something I actually have content and information for, the late Luby's Cafeteria in Bryan, Texas. Opening in February 1977, it opened at a time when cafeterias were more plentiful, but much like the clientele they tend to service, they've been dying off. No more Piccadilly Cafeteria stores exist in Texas, and even Luby's has been closing far more cafeterias than they've been opening (one opened in Cypress c. 2005, so it may not be a lost cause). Unfortunately, I have no photos of Luby's when they were opening and operating, because it was a Luby's, and the Luby's closing took many by surprise. It closed in April 2014 after a few decades of opening by a mystery owner, which turned out to be Café Eccell, after the drama surrounding it at Church and Wellborn Road, which opened in August 2014 after renovating it.

But Luby's is the one with the history behind it. A full page ad had been taken out for its opening, describing the restaurant that didn't have waiters or waitresses.

"You'll feel good about Luby's... selection... Everyone likes what they get, because everyone chooses their favorites. Snappy fresh fruits and crisp garden salads. Hot and hearty entrees. Piping hot vegetables. Home baked rolls and breads. And the taste-temptingest selection of homemade desserts you've ever seen."

Enjoy the pictures I took in and around the restaurant shortly after closing, taken May 2014.


4401 South Texas Avenue

Editor's Note: Hey! If you didn't already see it, check out the updated "McDonald's at Northgate" page.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Barbecue, Catering, and Tires at 2319 Texas Avenue

Picture from Yelp Review

Built in 1984 as "Pop's Barbecue" ([Maybe. See comment.]), this building is now a shiny modern tire store.

Around 1997-1998 it became Epicures Catering, which existed in the 1980s but somewhere else (unfortunately, the phone books don't list the address of where it is).

Over time, Epicures lost popularity and fell into disrepair until closing (actually, Epicures didn't close, they just ended up moving). The original green overhang was replaced with a gold one in the mid-2000s after the old one was too tattered. The 2011 conversion to Tiremax cleaned up the building and parking lot quite a bit, but the franchise went bust a year later and it had to change its name to "BCS Tires & Lifts", so the sign didn't look quite as good after that. You could actually see in Google Earth where Tiremax even added a bit to the building. I don't have any pictures of BCS Tires & Lifts (that you can see anytime), but there is a Pop's Barbecue ad which you can see here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fuego and Other Buildings South of University Drive

Fuego after a recent repaint. Picture taken by me in July 2014.


This post concerns a few businesses that are featured from the current On the Border to University Drive.

Just past the former Saber Inn is a few restaurants and other businesses.

The next side street is Live Oak, which has a number of other restaurants and services. Behind Taco Cabana was La Barronena Ranch Steakhouse in the 1990s (at 103 Live Oak, no ad, so I don't know if it had a tilde over the n or not), then became College Station Seafood, which closed in January 2011, then became Oceans Bar & Grill, and finally a Vietnamese restaurant called Vy's Kitchen Asian Cuisine in July 2012. This restaurant was the same ownership (and menu) of Vietnamese Taste.

At 607 Texas Avenue, La Quinta Inn and a restaurant share a space. Opening sometime in the early 1980s, the original restaurant was called Julie's Place, and apparently not the only one around since it was Julie's Place No. 139. There's some Houston restaurants that I suspect were JPs at some point. Boasting a menu of hamburgers and onion soup, Julie's Place closed in January 1987 after a murder (there was a story on MyBCS, though I'm sure I had heard it elsewhere about how the manager actually swallowed the key to the safe and the stabbings were to retrieve the key, but I'm not sure on that since that's just a comment on the forum and the official court summary makes no mention of the key-swallowing incident). By 1989, it had reopened as Bombay Bicycle Club (not the 1990s, phone book lists BBC in that era). Around 1996 it became a Denny's.

The La Quinta Inn was previously home to a "super slide" of some sort, but we can't find much information on that.


Next to Denny's was Adult Video at 603 Texas Avenue. Adult Video was a small brick building that faced Texas Avenue on a lot that (apparently) once held three very small houses. Legally operating as "Dolar Video Inc." (as that what's it was officially) and operating out of Irving, apparently, Adult Video had its name in large, red block letters shining out to the Texas Avenue side (the building was where Fuego's dirt parking lot is now). It was a huge NIMBY for years from its opening in the early 1980s, and in 1994, a clerk was shot in the head in a robbery. According to the company profile listed above, it eventually shuttered due to tax reasons (this is backed up by other sources) but I seem to remember that in the final days, the "ADULT" part was removed, with only "VIDEO" showing, possibly (though I can't say for sure) an attempt to go legitimate. It shuttered in 2004. Around 2009, the now-vacant building was finally removed, and along with another house razed around the same time, a restaurant initially filing under the name "Al Carbon Street Taco Grill" appeared. An article that describes the extremely janky operations can be found here, though the date is wrong, it was originally published two years earlier. When ACSTG finally opened later that year in 2010, now Fuego Tortilla Grill, it quickly zoomed to be extremely popular. Despite a poor location and bad parking, Fuego Tortilla Grill became wildly successful, even in light of new competitors on the horizon and a salmonella outbreak in 2014.

Between University and Fuego is Poplar Street (the road Fuego is on) and a U-Haul that served as a Diamond Shamrock from 1989 to around 1998 when it closed due to the road construction (widening) at 601 Texas Avenue.

I am aware of the changes here from the 1960s (more gas stations and different businesses), but the recent past is also interesting. More accurately, I don't any information on those buildings.

Go here for more information on the other side of University Drive! And leave a comment, too.

For even MORE great stuff, we've got new stuff like the Piggly Wiggly next to Kmart and Fish Richards Bakery. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Park Place Plaza

The most activity here in a long time.

2501 Texas Avenue South

This post originally appeared as part as the Texas Avenue page (yes, I tried to cram a lot of things, including a second index, into Texas Avenue--imagine that) and when I was going through as of May 2017 I found this still somewhat error prone. I'll fix this all at some point similar to the Parkway Square post. This is going to be a work in progress since the suite numbers aren't as well publicized as Parkway Square was. The center was built at some point in the 1980s (about 1986) catty-corner to Parkway Square, and was basically its equal at one time.

While Parkway Square had its Kroger, Park Place Plaza had its Winn-Dixie Marketplace. While Parkway Square had McDonald's, Park Place had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Check back to this post when I keep adding new things quietly, because when I started re-writing this in 2017, I don't ALL the information to make this a good post. I don't even have a good tenant list. Imagine that!

The center is divided into four sections. Section A is the side that faces toward Southwest Parkway. Section B is the former grocery store anchor. C begins east of the former grocery store anchor and toward the back. D is the section of the stores in a separate building not attached to the grocery store anchor that face toward the parking lot (direction towards campus).

B101 - This was originally a 45,500 square foot space housing a Winn-Dixie Marketplace. WDM was the company's attempt to build bigger, more modern stores for the 1980s, but unfortunately, the company had expanded too far and built too few Marketplace (or larger) stores, contributing to the chain's Texas pull-out in 2002 and bankruptcy in 2005 (and their future demise?). The College Station store closed before that, sometime around 1997 or 1998. After the Winn-Dixie closed, it was filled with Victoria, Texas-based Lack's Furniture. There's a glowing review by notorious Yelp reviewer Greg D. but the sentiment on TexAgs was that it wasn't missed at all, and it's been proven that Greg makes fake reviews just to get the coveted "First to Review" badge. It closed in late 2010 along with the rest of the locations. The sign hung around (literally) for a little while longer but in 2014 the space was finally filled with two new tenants. The left side, keeping the address, became College Depot (which moved from Parkway Square) and the right side became Planet Fitness. As of May 2017, College Depot is going out of business. As Lacks Furniture did not really help the shopping center even during the best of times, the filling of the anchor space did revive the strip center somewhat. Here's a picture of the co-branded former anchor from May 2014.

C108 - Most recently this was Gun Corps, a consignment store that specialized in guns. It closed after year end 2016 but there was a catch: their inventory was still locked up, and those guns were all collateral for loans and the bank seized everything during the bankruptcy and as of this writing, customers' guns (at the store for repair or installation) are still tied up in legal limbo. Previously it was a short-lived restaurant called Aloha BBQ Hut.

Over on the west side, the biggest thing there was a Little Caesar's Pizza, which held fond memories for me through all of its renovations and continued to be the "go-to" pizza spot for my family until the Rock Prairie Road location opened. Originally, the pizza place had blonde, 80s looking, wood paneling on the walls, this was removed in a 2000s renovation and replaced with black and white tiles. There was also a gumball machine, and for many years had a promotion where if you got a black (grape) gumball, you'd get a free small pizza. I know I won at least once. It was great fun, but probably a bit of a money-loser and it was eventually discontinued (another discontinued item--I last saw the Baby Pan!Pan! around 2005, and even then, the packaging was dated). Prices went up and down for the Hot N Ready, sometimes $5, sometimes $6. Next door to that was a martial arts studio that closed in the early 2000s, became a sketchy video/DVD store for a few years, and then became a martial arts studio again.



Lupa's Coffee can be seen, this filled the old Big Johnson Deli/Quizno's. I read that this used to be a Schlotzsky's Deli back in the 1990s before they moved to near Wal-Mart.
Prospector's Grill & Saloon with its new custom facade.
A Planet Fitness and College Depot now fill the former Lacks/Winn-Dixie.

The Kentucky Fried Chicken in the parking lot moved in the mid-1980s as well from Dominik Drive and renovated in the mid-2000s (exterior and interior). Other than all that, there's not much more to say about the moribund shopping center besides some forgettable shops and services.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Manor House Motor Inn

Yes, those were the days, and as I write this, I remember the wet floors (no running), the nets and the water feature near the lilypads, the dripping waterslide, the soft foam steps leading up to the smaller slide. Climbing up the chilly metal steps to the slides, looking at baseball games, or the yellow/blue flags (although they were originally more colors) that lined the perimeter of the pool, or the towering Manor House Inn sign that overlooked the pool. Of course, there were some negative things too: the Frog was extremely difficult to get on: it was slippery and there were little grips to pull yourself up, that is, if there weren't bigger kids to shove you off.


Alluded to in the now-removed Adamson Lagoon post, this post is about the Manor House Inn, which renamed to the Manor Inn maybe circa 2010 or so, but removed the towering sign because it exceeded the sign ordinances (to which a similar fate befell McDonald's just a ways down the road). It also has renovated completely around the time of its name change (probably much needed, the Days Inn next door remains in a time warp.


You might be curious about the "Motor Inns" part at the bottom. Did that imply that it was a chain? Yes it did. Updated here on this site on July 2nd, we get this:

Back when we first posted this, I hypothesized it was a chain. I was right. Seeing as it doesn't give any addresses for Austin or Houston, the Houston location is now likely the Motel 6 at the southwest corner, and there are still also motels around 290 and Interstate 35 in Austin. Sure, the building may still be there, but without addresses, it's useless.

It at least has a picture of the front facade pre-remodel. This is from a 1988-1989 Aggie Football program.


2504 Texas Avenue

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Manor East Mall

725 (East) Villa Maria Road

I never did get any Manor East Mall pictures before year end, so went ahead and override what I had planned and released what we have today. I regret that I gave a lot of what I discovered--including the discovery of Britts as the first anchor--to Mall Hall of Fame, as well as an early name of the complex (pre-building): the "Manor Village Shopping Center", but here it is at last.

Manor East Mall has long has been a favorite subject of mine, dating back to this little summary I wrote for DeadMalls.com a few year back with an outdated Internet moniker, which was clever but ultimately stupid. (If you know me in real life--the answer should be pretty clear in a few seconds).

I first went to Manor East Mall over twelve years ago, my first and last time, and discovered (by then) it was a mostly empty corridor with a pet store and boarded up storefronts. I seem to remember it was blue, and it had benches. Although originally a "cross", you only went in, and turned right.

With that said, here are some bits about it, including some where you will find nowhere else. Remember, on some of these, you heard it here first!

A lot of false and misleading information is floating around about Manor East Mall, specifically two objects: its initial line-up including a J.C. Penney (which is partially true) and opening in 1972 (which may or may not be true). These facts were derived from a Brazos Valley history book, and I don't know where they sourced that from. This is the REAL scoop. Its initial anchors did include a 68,000 square foot Montgomery Ward (built before the mall, in 1966) and Britts as majors, but not much else about the mall line-up beyond the initial line-up. It included "The Fair", a Houston-based junior department store for a while, a Karmelkorn, a radio station, and some of the initial tenants shown on this 1972 ad from The Eagle (appearing on the Internet for the first time, exclusive to this blog). Some other tenants are listed on MyBCS.com. Kroger also was a charter tenant, though disconnected from the mall. Here's an early, easily-available picture of the Montgomery Ward and Kroger, before the mall was built.


Given that the original anchor, Britts, had its arches on the inside, I'm guessing the Britt's building was built a bit before the mall, which must have opened in 1971 (not 1970). Check out these Britts opening ads and other advertisements from The Eagle. These are exclusive to this blog, folks--never before seen on the Internet.






The Manor East III Theaters opened in November 1974. It was the first multiplex in town.

Kroger moved out in 1977, and the space had been taken by Hastings by the early 1990s (although it's quite possible that Hastings was around in the late 1970s--there was a Hastings at Culpepper Plaza).

When Britt's left in the late 1970s or early 1980s, it was briefly filled with a JCPenney (from downtown) before moving to Post Oak Mall. A unique feature of this JCPenney during this time was a rare but not unheard of coffeeshop inside the store, which was almost certainly originally the coffeeshop at Britts.

Hey, it's Pelican's Wharf!


By the late 1980s, it was occupied by a "Food 4 Less" grocery store. During that time, in 1982, Manor East Mall got a third anchor: the world's first mall-based Wal-Mart (which is yet to be disproved). It had two entrances (one exterior, one interior) and was a "brown" Wal-Mart as was standard in those days.

Post Oak Mall was a vacuum that ended up killing the last of the major downtown stores and Bryan retail (including the downtown Bealls, Woolworth, the Townshire Sears, and the Manor East JCP). It even added Dillard's and Foley's.

Wal-Mart was ultimately short-lived, and moved out circa 1994 for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter on the bypass. The mall had a fast exodus of tenants during that time, losing most of its national tenants.

In 1991, Food 4 Less closed (within weeks of the H-E-B Pantry's opening to the north) and it was split between Jo-Ann Fabrics and the 50 Off Store.

In mid-1997 the 'Magination Station, a local playhouse group, moved into the old movie theater and started renovations. But Montgomery Ward closed its only and last store in the area in early 1999, as part of the last round of store closures before bankruptcy.

While the 'Magnination Station (known as The Theatre Company within the next few years) and Bealls still active, the mall soldiered on until circa 2003, when the last of the in-line tenants closed and it was razed by the son of the developer that originally built it. A few of the corridors were converted to in-line space, but it was largely lost.

A few of the stores by the late 1990s had exterior exits. Family Dollar did (though that was a result of being added in the 1990s as a last-chance addition), and Bealls did too. I think these were behind the barriers of the north wall, though. Eckerd, which moved out circa '99 for a stand-alone store, also had one (if you visit Mall Hall of Fame, the map is wrong in its placement of Eckerd...wrong side of the mall, it faced Villa Maria--but correct in other places).

Also during this time, Shivers set up a snow-cone shack near Wayside and Villa Maria Road. This didn't last long, but Shivers survived, jumping to Culpepper Plaza II, and eventually Woodstone--I think it closed circa 2008).

The strip mall next to Hastings largely survived the transition. There was a Payless ShoeSource (moved) and a store called "Lease Town Rent to Own", which later became "Rent City" after the transition much to my bemusement. It later closed.

Gold's Gym was also in the old mall, I seem to remember it was behind the Hastings area. (Actually incorrect in an email. There wasn't enough space back there anyway!)

Here's an overview from 2003, showing where things were.
The "A" is where Family Dollar and Bealls had exterior access (Family Dollar opened circa 1997, it seems). There's also the Theatre Company visible. To put it in the present day context, the interior hallway north toward the old Britts has been demolished and replaced with an alley, the east-west corridor is now in-line space (Project: Yogurt, the ink store, etc.), and everything south of it is gone for H-E-B.

Note that in the present day, Hastings has expanded slightly, too. The building to the south had Carter's Burger if I recall correctly but I don't know what else.

Further information on its next incarnation, the Tejas Center, another time.

Thanks to The Mall Hall of Fame (though I supplied a lot of information to it to begin with), The HAIF, MyBCS, and The Eagle.

You'll notice there's a curious lack of interior photos...I couldn't find any, and emailing Stalworth Development (the company that both built it and redeveloped it) was at first promising but ultimately turned up nothing. There's an exterior photo floating around (see Mall Hall of Fame) that is the same view of Kroger and Montgomery Ward taken years later.


A rare interior picture, courtesy John Ellisor


Here's more stuff added as of June 2013 (I haven't actually gotten the pictures yet, except for one):

An ad from 1973. I find this hilarious since they seem to indicate everyone's father looked like that goofy guy from up there. Also, note that "Bell Bros." and "Beall Bros." are pronounced exactly the same.


Although I was sloppy in getting this from the microfilms (cutting off some), this 1973 ad has Animal World featured, which was one of the last in-line stores to leave, and one of the oldest. It was where we got some stuff immediately after getting our cat in 2000 from the animal shelter. Sadly, she's no longer with us.


Crafts Etc. ad from 1994. The theater had closed by this time.


If I got anything wrong, or you'd like to add something, leave a comment! Or send an email!

In later years (1990s), the mall still held a variety of local tenants even though the best days had long left it. Here are a few gathered from local publications. A beer and liquor memorabilia store? That's cool, I guess.


Here's a list of the mall stores about the time Post Oak Mall opened:
Animal World
Bealls
Bell Bros. Shoes
B&F Shoes
Cloth World
Courts
Eckerd
El Chico [may have been located outside the mall]
Eve's
Fifth Avenue Bookstore
Gallenkamps
Graves
Great Western Credit [ATM machine?]
House of Jeans
Karmelkorn
Keyboard Center
Margos' La Mode
Mean Machine
Milady
Montgomery Ward
Mor Rea's
Musicland
J.C. Penney
Orange Julius
Powder Room
Lindsey's
Singer Sewing Center
Starship Hallmark
The Fair [out of Houston, not the Chicago Houston]
Turquoise Shop
Village Casuals
Wicks N Sticks
Your Optical Shoppe
Zales


One can't forget the McDonald's there, either. The first McDonald's in Bryan and the second McDonald's in the area opened in the Manor East Mall parking lot, this McDonald's opened in 1977. Here's a great picture from the 1970s not too long after it opened (from the Facebook Pooh's Park picture collection). In the early 2000s it was torn down and rebuilt, the first McDonald's in town to undergo the process (this was not connected with the Tejas Center re-do). At least it still has that classic mansard roof, though the original McDonald's looks like it had some sort of Tudor-theme going on (are those red SHINGLES?), and was actually designed to have white stucco to match the mall.

The rebuild featured a much thinner red part under the Golden Arches.


Despite the McDonald's in the background, those are Whataburger cups there.

Last updated 9/21/14 with a new picture by John Ellisor and another small change. Did you notice it?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Eastgate

Here's a look at another major neighborhood in town: Eastgate. Unlike Northgate, Eastgate hasn't quite gotten the "student saturated" appearance. Part of this is preservation of an actual neighborhood. The definition of Eastgate is the official, city-supported version, so we'll roll with that.

Here's a few things about Eastgate you should know. I covered Dominik Road a while back, so we'll go ahead and skip that. We're also going to skip the College Station City Hall and the first fire station, mostly on the basis that it's fairly well documented elsewhere (and we mentioned it here, which is where these things tend to wash up). The "Eastgate" businesses are mostly limited to a large area at Walton and Texas Avenue (though a few exist tucked in the back).

This was a proposal we got in the early 1990s, where Walton comes into Texas Avenue (originally, you couldn't turn left in or out of Walton--those parking lots were long yield lanes).



Unfortunately, this never happened, and all we got was some abstract art and a new stoplight.

But look at those businesses...a convenience store, only two familiar faces (Alfred T. Hornback's and Acme Glass), and no Layne's. Based on the placement of Eastgate Food Store, I'd put that at early 1990s or late 1980s.

Starting down the list, we have 101 Walton-103 Walton. 103 Walton was Robinson Pet Clinic in 1989 (but 103A, the space seems small enough so that there's no B...103 must be on the right). 101 was presumably Texcomm. Both are vacant these days.
The empty green roofed building, May 2014

105 Walton, which was a UtoteM since at least the early 1970s (and probably since Day One), became a Circle K in 1984 (if briefly) before becoming Eastgate Food Store in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After decades of being a convenience store, it became Military Depot, a retailer of military-related goods around '92-'93. A few pictures of the Military Depot facade...
You can barely make out the EAS here, I don't know if the shadow was from the military badge or not (probably)
Another view.

Valley Cycling (a 1990s business) was what I remember being in the "main" section of Eastgate at 107 Eastgate. This I do have a picture but it's only postage-stamp sized, and it's on my computer but I'm not going to dig it out right now. , as you may know, was where Textbook Solutions is now. Later, it became a vintage clothing/nostalgia-type store ("Left-Handed Monkey", which lasted...not very long. Blissful Wishes Bridal was here for a while, but eventually by the late 2000s, it was Textbook Solutions, which it remains today.

109 Walton wasn't always food related ("Wing Zone" being here in the early part of the 2000s, records indicate), and it's also where the "Guitar Shop" was in the diagram. Regardless, this is where Leaning Tower Pizza was here at 109 Walton for several years (Partners Food Delivery was here for several years prior apparently, back in the 1990s--but the tenant space for this one is largely drawing a blank). Primo Pizza & Rolls took over when Leaning Tower fell down in spring of 2013. Leaning Tower was an interesting place--it made a particularly greasy pie with a unique cheese mixture. It was also pretty grimy (that's why the pizza is piping hot). It had some garden furniture for an "eat-in" area and had "free delivery" that had a significant discount if you picked it up in store, which means it wasn't actually free at all.

Primo Pizza, a Charles Stover concept, initially planned to reopen the restaurant with a new name and theme and a similar recipe (the recipes were bought along with the store), but instead revamped the recipes and made a more upscale carryout pizza that had pesto on every slice (this opened in late summer 2013). For whatever reason, Primo shut down in February 2014 due to underperformance, but the way it was worded indicated that the closure could be temporary. After all, the sign remained up!

The pictures I took in May 2014 revealed the restaurant was gutted.

Primo Pizza in better days, September 2013
Gutted PP, May 2014
Gutted PP, May 2014. This is where the counter and menu were. The kitchen was behind that wall. This configuration was intact for both LTP and PP&R.

So why did Primo close? Now, I don't know the reason why, but like with Sully's I can make a few guesses.

There's always a chance that Primo Pizza will reopen since Charles Stover still has the recipes and name, but it definitely won't be Eastgate. Here's Primo Pizza's webpage, archived in PNG form.

Further down the line we have Eastgate Hair Shop for Men, I'm pretty sure this hasn't been updated in years (111 Walton) and Oasis Pipes & Tobacco, which moved here from a spot on University evicted for the Plaza Hotel redevelopment and was reduced to rubble soon before the Plaza Hotel came down. The business (and the sign) transplanted to here, 113 Walton, but didn't last long either. There appeared to be some baking equipment scattered in the building. This may have been a holdover from Partners Food Delivery.

Looking inside Oasis, May 2014
Eastgate Barbershop and Oasis, May 2014
Oasis, a body piercing shop, and an apartment finder service, May 2014

119 Walton is called "To The Point" now and the older spot of Textbook Solutions.
123 Walton (no 121 Walton, apparently) is now "Aggieland Apartment Finders", and way in the back behind the strip mall area tucked away is Lost Souls Fixies (it seems pretty sketchy in the areas behind the center).

Over on the other side, we see Alfred T. Hornback's, May 2014. This popular bar (120 Walton Drive) was here for many years, and although not built as it, had a large floor with pool tables and country music. Eastgate was not a huge draw like Northgate was and it closed permanently in summer 2011 though remained open for special events. After DC (Dixie Chicken, not DC Comics) moved out of the building that later contained Blackwater Draw Brewing Company. There's also a small professional office next to it, but I didn't read it too closely (nor is it particularly important to this narrative).

More businesses, May 2014. Behind these is Crossfit 979. Acme Glass is a viable company that's been here for years, but The Event Company has been closed for a few years (wedding planners). The business at 118 Walton hasn't updated its website since July 2013. Acme Glass at 116 Walton does a good business, this one is pretty stable, the building next to it appears to be the old Greyhound station (114 Walton), but it seems vacant and used for storage (a visit in 2011 revealed a filthy but late 1990s era washing machine). I don't know when it went out of service, but it was a while ago. 108 Walton was Wilson Plumbing, but now is the home of Layne's.

Layne's, May 2014. The former Sully's is in the background (check that out here). For what it's worth, Layne's opened before the first Raising Cane's (in 1994 vs. Cane's 1996).

Behind these businesses is Eastgate Park, a place in four segments: it's the medians between the parking lot and Walton, and about four or so vacant lots on Foster. However, city records show that this has been parkland since the late 1930s. Abstract art was installed in 2000.

Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg, I could also go into the story of Munson Drive, which you could find and read about on MyBCS but since I read a scrapbook of articles, when Munson expanded to Lincoln in the late 1990s, the residents of Munson got the city to put up gates to prevent people from cutting through their neighborhood, which upset everyone else but it took nearly a year of fighting and countless letters to the editor before the city voted to remove the gates (and because at the time, Munson was where all the well-off and politically powerful people were, giving them enormous influence in the city). Or Thomas Park, which had always been owned by the city (all 16 acres) since 1938, but it wasn't until the 1970s when it began to become an actual park. The flagship of this was Thomas Park, which wasn't developed until the late 1970s. According to the great but dated College Station 1938-1988, it mentioned one of its accessories being a "plastic bubble dome which allowed indoor swimming during the winter months."

Either this plastic bubble was impractical and/or fear of lawsuits from people asphyxiating in chlorine gas meant that it would be never be seen again, because I know that Thomas Pool is definitely never open in the winter months to my memory. But such a thing did happen, and you can see some B&W pictures here and here which I originally scanned for Project HOLD.

That's all for now...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

College Station's Kmart / College Station Shopping Plaza


The former store as it stood c. late 2010


2700 South Texas Avenue

Today, a shopping center anchored by Goodwill, Tractor Supply Co., and an Asian Market, the center at the northwest corner of Harvey Mitchell Parkway and Texas Avenue was originally a Kmart. Since Kmart was once America's largest discounter, so it was no surprise that College Station (but not Bryan, interestingly) got one at some time.

Celebrating a grand opening in May 18, 1974, not too long after FM 2818, the "West Loop" opened, Kmart opened a rather large store (#7013, actually the smallest of the early stores without the 9000-series) in the south end of College Station. It also opened an adjacent grocery store as well, a smaller attached grocery store, which was developed as the "Kmart Foods" branch. Kmart Foods wasn't like the modern Super Kmart Center (or even the misleading "Big Kmart" name): it was often operated by a local chain, in this case Houston-based Lewis & Coker, which also operated Kmart Foods as far south as Galveston.

The stores did have an interior connection, but not for very long, as Kmart Foods was on its way out at the time of the store opening (it's doubtful if it was actually ever branded officially as Kmart Foods in this case), so it remained as Lewis & Coker. The Kmart was typical of stores of that era: a white slanted roof and ridged concrete. Lewis & Coker would close this store in the late 1970s with Piggly Wiggly taking over in 1977. The changeover was similar to the gutting of AppleTree years later, quickly go through and change prices in around 48 hours. The store was only about 19,000 square feet (of selling space) and was the only Piggly Wiggly to have a bakery. At some point in the late 1980s, Piggly Wiggly closed, and in 1988 Wal-Mart opened across the street. Rather than remodel, Kmart merely changed their logo (supposedly they did expand into the Piggly Wiggly space, but I can't confirm that).


Kmart advertising in a 1976 Texas A&M-Texas Tech basketball program


In February 1995, facing a (relatively new) Wal-Mart preparing to remodel, a nice new Target, and the closure of Piggly Wiggly (that is, if the "expansion into Piggly Wiggly" didn't actually took place), the now-badly dated Kmart was shuttered in a round of closings announced in September 1994 (it never even got automatic doors). And so, Kmart was left alone and forgotten. The Target was popular, and the Wal-Mart got a new shade of blue that Wal-Mart loved so much in the 1990s. The renovated Wal-Mart had a McDonald's inside as well.

A few years later, the first hope came back when Tractor Supply Co. moved in the far left part of the store (or the southern part, for those thinking geographically) and remodeled the interior and exterior (the exterior being the metal siding TSC is known for) but only for that part of the store. The TSC took over the garden center part of the store and was rebadged as 2704 Texas Avenue.

Later additions in the late 1990s included Big Lots (in the center, taking that 70s facade) and Dollar General (cutting into the ridged '70s concrete Kmart was known for). Big Lots took the 2700 address and I believe Dollar General did too (though I'd have to look at my phone books to confirm that). Taste of China opened at about this time, though it's not really part of the center.

Finally, around 2000 or 2001, a discount grocery/discount store type place called "YES! Less" featuring an annoying anthropomorphic exclamation mark filled in the vacant Kmart Foods/Lewis & Coker/Piggly Wiggly (and ironically, this was operated by Fleming Cos., which was Kmart's main food provider at the time). The former Kmart and its adjoining stores were finally full.

Unfortunately, around that time, Dollar General closed. In 2003, YES! Less went out of business (along with the rest of Fleming, really) but quickly reopened under California-based Grocery Outlet (branded as "Grocery Outlet Bargains Only". Save-a-Lot bought Grocery Outlet and reopened it AGAIN if ever so briefly, and I'm sure it was gone by spring 2005. It only lasted a matter of months, and I don't remember it much at all.

Goodwill managed to fill in for Dollar General after its closure, but Big Lots closed around 2005. With Big Lots being the most prominent tenant, and the added vacancy of the failed discount grocery store space, the shopping center ended up looking like just a vacant Kmart again, like many across the country.

But in 2006, things turned around. The entire shopping center was given a major exterior facelift, a rename to College Station Shopping Plaza, and three new tenants: BCS Asian Market (vacant Grocery Outlet), U-Rent-It (a new addition to the side), and AutoZone (in the parking lot, next to Taste of China). The new stucco facades look a little goofy (with weathervanes, too) but the kept the concrete ridges. You can still see them, they just repainted them (except for U-Rent-It, which was a new addition and used cinderblocks instead). The parking lot lights are also original.

U-Rent-It closed in 2008, and was eventually replaced (2010) by "The Everything Backyard Store", which renamed to Champion Pools & Patios (same business, though I'm afraid the Facebook proof from that is gone) and relocated out a few years afterwards (by 2012, it looks like) to the College Station Business Center just west of the center. Ultimately, it remained vacant until a 2015 renovation to Impact Church, and is now CSL Plasma as of 2016.

Big Lots remained vacant, but returned to College Station in 2009 when it occupied an old Goody's further north. In spring 2014, it was finally filled with Vista College (training in things like HVAC, so no Blinn competition here), though by that time, the eastern (newest) store is still vacant. It would be cool if BCS Asian Market expanded to the east some by taking out that wall and sealing off an entrance, but wishful thinking. As of late 2015, the vacant space will be slightly expanded through the rear and become some sort of medical clinic. Vista College also replaced the rusting roadside sign that used to be where the Kmart sign was.

BCS Asian Market I won't go into too much; it's a hit-and-miss Asian supermarket that's unfortunately the best you can do until Houston. I wouldn't recommend the eatery inside or the fresh meats section, but I've bought snacks there from time to time.

One thing more to note, the addresses. Sometime after Ferreri's, probably the arrival of Burton Creek Pub (see above link), that address became 2702 Texas Avenue. As a result, Big Lots would take the 2700 address, TSC would take 2704, but the others that occupied the space all took 2700. This would presumably go for Dollar General, and initially the grocery store site, which as of 2004 was still 2700 Texas Avenue (same with the Piggly Wiggly back in 1980). At some point, however, probably the 2006 re-do, ALL of the stores in the block (including the Asian supermarket) were all numbered 2704 with suite numbers, deleting the 2700 address from existence.




Kmart, shortly after closing. Ferreri's Italian is in the upper right.


Originally posted June 1, 2010 with subsequent edits made. Rewritten in June 2014 to try to smooth out the myriads of edits since along with more additions. A week or so later a revision was made confirming the demise of Lewis & Coker. A 2015 update mentioned the clinic and the addresses. A 2016 update streamlined it to update for grammatical errors.