And later, I realized I wouldn't be able to tell it for a few years.
With the destruction last week of the UA Cinema 150, a new interest in historical places around Little Rock has been kicked up. The Remember in Little Rock Facebook group is buzzing (and if you're interested in sharing tales of the city, that's definitely the place to do it) and people are sharing their stories of different places they recall.
|JC Penney's, viewed from the south. The old Doctor's|
Hospital was behind me.
|South entrance. Osco Drug was inside to the left.|
|South entrance with sign.|
As I grew older, changes came. Everything's A Dollar moved in, introducing the idea of the dollar store to my generation. I bought my very first CD at Capital Records, where I'd been going for years for cassette tapes. There was a pink zircon ring in the window at Zales that I coveted for a couple of years.
|Southeast corner. That would have been the east entrance|
for Montgomery Ward to the left, and of course the old
MM Cohn to the right.
|There was a fence around portions of the parking lot by this|
time, but only on the east side. The entrance to the mall's
parking lot was still open. You can see the Baker Building,
now gone and replaced with Chipotle, in the background to
I worked there two summers, right after I graduated high school and the one summer I came home, running the carousel in the food
|Looking south from the east entrance. The building in sight is|
the former Montgomery Ward auto department, which was
used by the city for some time as an auto shop.
I think after Wards died off, the mall never really recovered. Osco Drug
|This exterior stairwell was emergency access for the|
underground floor of Montgomery Ward - which consisted of
a beauty parlor, catalog pick-up desk and warehouse.
By the time it finally closed in October 2007, there were hardly any tenants left to evict. But I wanted one more visit. So one December day, I went over to the site to see if I could shoot some photos. I sought a security guard to let me in, but didn't find one right away.
|A view through the east entrance doors. The hallway took you to the main|
concourse of the building, while the elevator to the right went to management
offices downstairs. The double doors were access to MM Cohn's.
|Another view down the hall. I apologize, but these images|
were taken on a 2002 model Fuji digital camera with
limited resolution. Also, I was a crap photographer at the time.
|The east entrance.|
|The dual level parking deck still stands today and is all that is left of|
|As you can see, it remains relatively unchanged.|
|The north entrance to JC Penney's.|
|The north entrance to the mall. The overhead walkway|
connected to the parking deck.
|I had parked over by the south JC Penney's entrance and had walked halfway|
around by this point. All doors were locked. I was hoping someone would be at
this security desk, but no such luck. I kept walking around and taking photos.
|The view into the first floor from the north entrance. I could hear a high-|
pitched whine. Eventually, I'd find what was causing it.
|JC Penney's was the last of the anchors to close. This is the view from the|
north entrance to the store.
|This was a view into JC Penney's from the west. I was still looking for a security|
guard. I figured there had to be one, since every light in the mall was still on.
But I hadn't seen one, and every door of the mall had been locked.
|Every one, except this one. I figured I'd go in, find that guard and see if that|
person would escort me around to get some final photos. I repeatedly called
"hello?" as I went through.
|The high pitched whine I'd been hearing turned out to be the fire alarm, which|
emanated from the dressing rooms on the south side of the upper floor at
JC Penney's. There wasn't much left inside, except some storage materials
|I could remember being inside this store as a very small girl, when there had|
been some sort of water leak overhead and big vinyl bags hung through the
latticework of the suspended ceiling. I thought I saw someone towards the
center of the store...
|It turned out to be an army of mannequin bodies, in the shadows. It creeped me|
out, and I didn't venture closer. This photo has been lightened to show those
|The big metal grate that separated the store from the mall was open - as were|
most of the gates along the interior. I hollered again, and heard nothing. I
noticed the neon from the Food Court sign was still on.
|At one point in time, the end of the upper level went straight into MM Cohn's.|
It was covered long ago.
|The spaces along the concourse were still open and equipped, apparently ready|
for someone else to move in.
|This was to the north of the JC Penney's entrance.|
|In its final days, government offices had temporarily located into the mall.|
|When the mall came down, this elevator shaft continued to|
stand. I don't know if it was incorporated elsewhere, but
you can see what that looked like at Wikipedia.
|The food court. In the summers of 1991 and 1992, I worked here at the|
carousel. It was moved to McCain Mall in 1993, where it stood outside the
entrance to that mall's JC Penney's. I believe that's the entrance to the
movie theater there today.
|I thought it odd to see all these living plants still in their boxes. Or maybe they|
were really good fakes.
|The glass elevator.|
|Second floor view east from the center.|
|Looking north to the food court. To the right of the entrance at the back, there|
was an arcade in which I had once spent many, many hours. To its right
was where a restaurant, maybe Chick-Fil-A, sat, and then McDonald's to
the right of that.
|Looking west towards the entrance of JC Penney's.|
|The first human-like thing I spotted was a dummy left on a bench on the first|
floor, outside the former entrance to Montgomery Ward.
|The entrance to MM Cohn.|
|Another dummy, this one apparently a Christmas elf,|
hung on the railing outside what used to be Everything's
|The former Everything's A Dollar location space.|
|A doorway open on the second level lead into MM Cohn's. This upper story had|
been closed for years.
|It was in really good shape. Sad another tenant never came in. Weird thing was,|
I could hear something mechanical here.
|From this vestibule on the north side of the building, you could see Park Plaza|
a block away, and Summit House beyond it.
|The noise I was hearing came from the boxed-in enclosure seen here on the left.|
|One of the plywood sheets to the enclosure had fallen down. Inside, I was|
surprised to see the lights on...
|I decided I was about done at that point, so I went back into the mall to make one|
more attempt to find the security guard.
|After the scare in the MM Cohn's stairwell, I decided walking down the escalator|
in the mall was a better choice. It wasn't in motion.
|I took a few more shots before descending.|
|The Sbarro had been on the left.|
|A look up at the "circus tent" supports.|
|Walking down the escalator.|
|A view to the east.|
|A view to the south. The Nut Hut had hugged the wall on the left, and to the|
far left you see the former Montgomery Ward entrance.