By Michelle Quigley
The Palm Beach Mall opened on October 26, 1967, as one of the largest malls in the southeastern United States. Gov. Claude Kirk and Miss USA — Cheryl Ann Patton of Miami — performed the ribbon cutting and 40,000 people visited the mall on that day. You can see the Palm Beach Post story about the opening here (pdf).
The demise of the mall continued as all but three stores in and around the mall were set to close by January 30, 2010. The Firestone automotive center in front of the mall would remain open, and the two remaining mall stores — JCPenney and George’s Music — would not be connected to the inside of the mall. JCPenney closed its mall entrance in 2009. You can read more about the mall on The Palm Beach Post Malled! blog and on Wikipedia, but let’s take a trip down memory lane here at Historic Palm Beach and see what the mall looked like over the years.
Shoppers relax amid tropical landscaping near Jordan Marsh in the Palm Beach Mall in the late ’60s.
Mall interior in August 1968. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Undated file photo of the parking lot outside Jordan Marsh; but that is an AMC Gremlin just to the right of center in the photo, so it must be after 1970. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Another undated file photo showing the exterior of Jordan Marsh and Pantry Pride. The grocery store opened in 1967 as Food Fair. That space became the mall food court in 1988. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
View from the parking lot outside Woolworth’s and the Harvest House Cafeteria, from 1978 or 1979. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Christmas shoppers waiting for Burdines to open in 1982. The store left downtown West Palm Beach to move into the mall in 1979. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Nov. 25, 1983: Christmas shoppers at the Palm Beach Mall. (Palm Beach Post staff photo)
Nov. 28, 1981: Hoards of shoppers jam the Palm Beach Mall on the first day of the Christmas shopping season. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
We invite you to share your memories of the Palm Beach Mall in the comments below, and upload your pictures to our photo gallery. (See photos that other readers have shared here.)
Graham Brunk (who keeps the Palm Beach Mall article in Wikipedia up to date) contributed to this article.
Opening dates of malls in Palm Beach County:
Palm Beach Mall: Oct. 26, 1967
Town Center mall: Aug. 13, 1980
Boynton Beach Mall: Oct. 9, 1985
The Gardens Mall: Oct. 5, 1988
Wellington Green mall: Oct. 5, 2001 (grand opening; Burdines had a “soft opening” Sept. 27)
Tags: Palm Beach Mall, photos, store
Readers: Do you remember Woolworth’s?
Frank W. Woolworth founded America’s original five-and-dime in 1879.
Think wooden floors, penny toys, bobby pins, pet goldfish. An endless aisle of loose candy behind glass that a clerk scooped and poured onto a scale.
The latest 45s (ask your parents) from Bill Haley, Elvis and Fats Domino, for a whopping 88 cents.
Many especially remember the lunch counters.
The chrome finish, grilled hot dogs, cold silver ice-cream cups. Pop the balloon and the price inside is what you pay.
A menu believed to be from the 1950s provided by Mary Smith of the Lantana Historical Society shows apple pie for 15 cents a slice, a milkshake for a quarter, and a triple-decker bacon and tomato sandwich for all of a half dollar.
In 2006, now-retired columnist Ron Wiggins talked to Harriette Herbert Ross of Lake Clarke Shores, whose father, Harry Herbert, ran the Clematis store for four decades.
She recalled walking from nearby Rosarian Academy to lunch with him at the counter.
“He kept that store spotless,” Harriette said. “He wouldn’t tolerate a box cluttering the aisle while customers were there.”
He retired in 1989 and died in 1994, a year after the Clematis store closed.
In March 2006, we wrote about Harvest House, a restaurant inside many Woolworth’s stores, and next door at Palm Beach Mall.
Woolworth’s could not keep up with changing times. In 1997 it closed its 400 remaining five-and-dime stores. It later morphed into Foot Locker.
We know of Woolworth’s stores on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, on U.S. 1 in Riviera Beach and in Lake Worth.
Stores later operated at the Palm Beach Mall and the Palm Coast Plaza, north of the West Palm Beach-Lake Worth line on South Dixie Highway, as well as where Lantana Road now meets Interstate 95.
Stores probably stood as well in southern Palm Beach County, the Treasure Coast and perhaps the Glades.
Readers: Let us know. And send your memories!
Palm Beach Post file photo: Old F. W. Woolworth menu from Lantana Shopping Center at what is today Lantana Road and I-95.
Readers: The Harvest House saga won’t quit!
The March 29 column on the restaurant that operated inside the Woolworth’s at the Palm Beach Mall has prompted yet another note from a reader, this time a former employee.
Mark Botsford of Royal Palm Beach was an assistant manager on and off for a dozen years while in high school and college. At the time, he said, the West Palm Beach location was the biggest grossing unit in the chain.
“It was a very fun and also learning experience in my life at which many friends were made,” Botsford wrote. He even was able to name several of his co-workers after all these years.
“The food at the cafeteria was excellent (and) prepared from scratch, not commissary food sold by our competitors,” Botsford continued. “I can also still see the waiters with their talented tray-balancing act, literally running the guests’ food to the table and putting on quite a show.”
Botsford said he’s worked as a chef in some two dozen restaurants in places as diverse as Maine and South Carolina, “but Harvest House Cafeteria was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. Thanks for reminding me of those great years.”
Sometimes it’s the little stories that draw the most feedback. Perhaps it was because the March 29 column on Harvest House, inside Woolworth’s in the Palm Beach Mall, sparked so many personal memories.
While representatives of Foot Locker, successor to Woolworth’s, never called back in advance of this column, Donald Ockander of Palm Springs, Calif., did call after seeing the segment on Palmbeachpost.com. Ockander, who worked for Woolworth’s for 35 years, about 22 of those in a regional office that managed about 400 West Coast stores, clarified some points. He says Harvest House wasn’t under contract to Woolworth’s, but rather was part of the chain and in many locations was an actual department inside the store. He said he enjoyed many a meal in Harvest Houses, but not the West Palm Beach
Meanwhile, Terry Davis of Palm Beach Gardens called to say the reader who made the initial inquiry and recalled a restaurant at the mall that featured clowns during Sunday brunch, might have been thinking of a different place. Davis said there was a Junior’s at the other end of the mall, between Sears and the main entrance, where a clown entertained children on Sundays. She says it later became a Houlihan’s restaurant and is now a shoe store.
Terry Zyto-Jenkins of Wellington also said the place in question was Junior’s, and that it closed in the spring of 1981. The third-generation county resident said she recalled in-store restaurants in Walgreens, JCPenney and Jordan Marsh stores.
Mall spokeswoman Rachelle Crain said she doesn’t recall Junior’s or what preceded Houlihan’s. But she said it was the Harvest House location that later became the DSW shoe store.
Readers: Can you help?
Q: Back in the early to mid-’70s, I remember a restaurant in the Palm Beach Mall. It was a nice place that served brunch on Sundays and had a clown do magic for us kids. What was the name of that place?
- Rich W., Jupiter
A: This question brought some nostalgic smiles from some of our Baby Boomer staffers, not to mention Rachelle Crain, marketing director for the Palm Beach Mall. She remembers Harvest House, as the restaurant was called, and the clowns who did magic and made balloon animals for the kids. Crain grew up in
West Palm Beach and recalls going to the place as a teen in the 1970s with her
The restaurant chain had a contract to operate inside Woolworth’s. The Woolworth’s at the Palm Beach Mall stood where the Designer Shoe Warehouse, Musician’s Superstore and Borders are now, and the Harvest House inside had a separate entrance into the mall, Crain said. She said the restaurant moved out
around 1994. The Woolworth’s shut down in 1997 when the chain closed all its 400 remaining five-and-dime stores.
Woolworth’s later morphed into Foot Locker. We tried to get more historical information about Harvest House, but its press people didn’t return several calls.