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 closed around 1988 (for reasons unclear, probably economic) 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 Drive East, 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 South as the chain's only College Station location (there were locations from Waco to Houston, and two in Bryan--one of which has an article on the blog). In 1985, the Tinsley family sold out to Church's Fried Chicken.Church's closed sometime around 1989 (it would resurface years later). In the mid-1990s it was Santa Fe Pizza (aka Santa Fe Market Cafe). In 1997, it was Kokopelli's (Southwestern food, I have a menu but never scanned it) and Clay Oven from 1998 to 2000 (Indian food).

It should be noted the plane was a real thing, though, as David Tinsley used an actual 1930s plane to promote his restaurants, not unlike how Flying Tomato used hot air balloons.

Despite a brief re-appearance in Huntsville with much fanfare (in a former KFC and now Hartz Chicken Buffet), Tinsley's is current a dead chain once more.

Anyway, by the early 2000s, the space was almost entirely vacant (I believe Clay Oven had been demolished) with little else on the property except the old Pooh's Park sign, which had remained up. While the new shopping center (opened in 2002) had rather downscale tenants, most of them were new. There was Hobby Lobby, which moved from Post Oak Square, locating at 1903 Texas Avenue South. Others included a branch of Loupot's (1907 Texas Ave. S.), Shoe Carnival (1909 Texas Ave. S.), Ross Dress for Less (1911 Texas Ave. S.), and Goody's Family Clothing (1913 Texas Avenue South). Petco and a few smaller stores shared the 1901 address, and in 2006, CiCi's Pizza moved in from Culpepper Plaza, taking the 1905 Texas Avenue address. 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). Loupot's also closed in spring 2012 and reopened as a Salata in less than two years.

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, then eventually was rebranded to T-Mobile following the merger), and Champion Firearms (moved from the Kroger shopping center). The Starbucks can be seen in its early days here from Starbucks Everywhere. It shows the ratty little building next door, the trees along Texas Avenue that got wrecked when it was widened, Goody's, and the patio of Starbucks before it was expanded.

UPDATE 07-08-2022: QoL updates including the life of the center, better closing date of Pooh's, new tags