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Reefmonkey

Willowbrook Area Before the Mall

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I drove up to visit my parents in Champion Forest this weekend, and I guess all my visits to this website had me in the frame of mind to think about what the Willowbrook area was like before the mall was built.

I don't know exactly when Willowbrook Mall was built, but I seem to remember going out to that area as a little kid in the early 1980s before the mall was built.

As I remember it, most of that part of FM 1960 was just dense, undeveloped pine forest. I remember going to Champions Village 1, as there was a children's shoe store there where my mom liked to buy us shoes. I also remember there being a small two or three screen movie theater there, where I saw a Disney movie or two.

I also remember further east, at Champion Forest Drive and 1960 (Champions Village 3), there was the shopping center with the Randalls in it, but not too much else, and it felt like it was in the forest there. That Randall's used to have a great little cafe upstairs on a balcony overlooking the store. Later that Randall's became one of the first Flagship stores on the north side of town. The shopping center the Randall's was in used to have a Wilson's or a Best, something like that. These were two store chains that were very similar, and one of them later became Service Merchandise. They sold electronics, other housewares, records and tapes, watches and jewelry, and even some toys. Of course in the mid 1980s for a while there was a little Sakowitz store where the Sun and Ski Sports is now.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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I drove up to visit my parents in Champion Forest this weekend, and I guess all my visits to this website had me in the frame of mind to think about what the Willowbrook area was like before the mall was built.

I don't know exactly when Willowbrook Mall was built, but I seem to remember going out to that area as a little kid in the early 1980s before the mall was built.

As I remember it, most of that part of FM 1960 was just dense, undeveloped pine forest. I remember going to Champions Village, as there was a children's shoe store there where my mom liked to buy us shoes. I also remember there being a small two or three screen movie theater there, where I saw a Disney movie or two.

I also remember further east, at Champion Forest Drive and 1960, there was the shopping center with the Randalls in it, but not too much else, and it felt like it was in the forest there. That Randall's used to have a great little cafe upstairs on a balcony overlooking the store. Later that Randall's became one of the first Flagship stores on the north side of town. The shopping center the Randall's was in used to have a Wilson's or a Best, something like that. These were two store chains that were very similar, and one of them later became Service Merchandise. They sold electronics, other housewares, records and tapes, watches and jewelry, and even some toys.

I'm pretty confident Willowbrook opened in 1982, although I don't know the exact month. A 1981 aerial photo from historicaerials.com shows the mall, but it looks like it's under construction.

As for the shoe store, I believe you are talking about The Shoe Box. I got dragged there and to their other location many a time as a kid. I grew up at I-45 and W. Mt Houston, and that's about a 10-mile trip, but as the area wasn't nearly as developed, it wasn't that hard a drive. About a 15-20 minute ride up the then-FM 149 and Cutten Road. There were no lights... unlike today!

I also saw Jaws at the Champions movie theatre, second R-rated movie I ever saw, behind Rollerball just a few weeks before.

You are right about most of FM 1960 being nothing but woods. Our next-door neighbor moved in the early 1970s to Welcome Lane. Totally out in the country back then. It didn't take long for that to change.

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I'm pretty confident Willowbrook opened in 1982, although I don't know the exact month. A 1981 aerial photo from historicaerials.com shows the mall, but it looks like it's under construction.

Yes, that sounds about right. I would have been 6 when Willowbrook opened, so would have been getting my little kid's shoes at Shoebox (thanks for reminding me of the name) at 4 and 5, and would still have been old enough to remember

I grew up at I-45 and W. Mt Houston, and that's about a 10-mile trip, but as the area wasn't nearly as developed, it wasn't that hard a drive. About a 15-20 minute ride up the then-FM 149 and Cutten Road. There were no lights... unlike today!

During the time I would have been going to the Shoebox, we lived in Cypresswood subdivision, at Kuykendahl and Cypresswood Drive, so we were a little closer than you, but not too much.

Since you lived in that area, do you remember the old Randall's in the Cypress Station area - on 1960 almost to I-45? Used to be on the south side of I-45 and then moved, their location became a furniture store. That, and the Eagle's on 1960 near Red Oak were the grocery stores my mom went to when I was really little. Speaking of Red Oak, I went to preschool at Apple Tree, right next to the Red Oak post office. I wonder if Apple Tree is still there?

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I remeber as kid around 1968 driving down 1960 with my folks going to Spring Creek park by Tomball. I think the corner of 1960 and 249 was called wolf corner and I remember seeing dead wolf's hanging from the fence.

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I remeber as kid around 1968 driving down 1960 with my folks going to Spring Creek park by Tomball. I think the corner of 1960 and 249 was called wolf corner and I remember seeing dead wolf's hanging from the fence.

My parents moved to Cypresswood (Kuykendahl and Cypreswood Drive) in 1971, and they talked about the same thing you do - dead coyotes hanging from fences along certain stretches of FM 1960, which they said at that time was called Jackrabbit road.

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We moved out of the Houston area in Dec. of 1980 and I remember going to Willowbrook just a couple of times be moved. So, it was open in 1980.

I remember watching Smokey and the Bandit at the Champions Theater and going to Games People Play. 1960 was blacktop 4 lanes with a turn lane divider most of the way at that time. 149 (now 249) turned into a 2 lane road when you crossed north of the railroad tracks at the power station which now about where BW8 crosses 249.

Spring Creek Park was a haul. It seemed like it took forever and a day to get out there when I was a kid.

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I think the corner of 1960 and 249 was called wolf corner and I remember seeing dead wolf's hanging from the fence.

I thought "Wolf Corner" was Hwy 6 at FM 529. Hence the Langham Creek Lobos.

I remember the 84 Lumber where the Bust Buy is now at the railroad tracks and 1960. We went on a field trip there as Cub Scouts.

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I thought "Wolf Corner" was Hwy 6 at FM 529. Hence the Langham Creek Lobos.

I remember the 84 Lumber where the Bust Buy is now at the railroad tracks and 1960. We went on a field trip there as Cub Scouts.

That could be also true but I do know at 1960 and Hwy 149 it was also called "Wolf Corner" and I remember seeing them hanging there as a kid.

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I remeber as kid around 1968 driving down 1960 with my folks going to Spring Creek park by Tomball.

Wasn't Spring Creek Park called Tomball State Park back then? I seem to remember swimming in that creek years ago, now all off limits. That creek was quite popular back then.

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Willowbrook opened in '82, I remember they took a while to finish it, I remember seeing it under construction and seeing the big arch at the Sears entrance for the first time.

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