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Sears South Main


Subdude

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I've been reading a book about the retail industry, (1940's-50's)... mentions a few Houston stores, briefly. I didn't realize that the reason the display windows on older stores (before the new Foley's downtown design) were bricked up was that the industry decided that the customer no longer needed to be enticed to come inside, they were already headed that way. (Sears has some, in pics above). The window designers then focused their skills on inside displays. Also mentions lighting advancements within stores as another reason for less windows, and stores utilized the space for storage &/or air-conditioning units. I always assumed the windows were covered to discourage crime/ window breaks.

It also mentions that the new "escalators" did not catch on with the elite shoppers, at first. Escalators were really embraced only by discount or lower priced stores, at first. The new state-of-the-art Foley's bldg. downtown installed an elevator system for their customers to use, as well as the escalator (until it became popular). :o

Edited by NenaE
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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...

http://blogs.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2010/10/sears_in_houston.html

good pics & article about all Houston Sears locations.

I remember going up the escalators in Foley s when I was around 6, scared to death!. The Sears Store is also a special memory since I went in there in aug of 1970 and purchased tools for my first job after the Army. Of course I remember all the store fronts having all glass and it looked or looks just plain eerie, while I was home in 2005 I lived in Spring Branch and I was always driving past the mall on 290, it just seems strange to not see any glass. In reality the idea to replace the glass is a politically correct way of dealing with smash and grabs, I find it hard to believe they spent all that money, and it was a bunch, to make the changes. They can put that out there for the younger people to believe but we older people know better. I would much rather see some sun shine than be in a dark un natural surrounding, maybe that's why people quit shopping there!

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GREAT thread and I'm glad I found it.

I actually went by that Sears in Santa Monica, CA in January of this year. The famous pier is just a short walk away and unfortunately the LA traffic kept me from doing both attractions so I chose the pier. FYI it costs $5 to park in that Sears but the pier parking is free if you stay under an hour in the winter time.

Anyway...getting back to Sears downtown Houston.

My memories with it go back to the early 80s when my dad worked downtown and would go at times to buy tools. He took me there sometimes on the weekend and I distinctly rememeber the escalators someone else mentioned. For the most part the 1980s were a very dark time for this part of town. The sidewalk by Sears smelled like urine, there were homeless people on the sidewalk that runs along the east side of the building, and even inside it just looked dirty. The bricked in glass was very ugly.

The basement tool department is one of the best in the city but being realistic I don't think this store will ever be restored to the art deco style. The Cafeteria by the parking lot was still around in the 80s as was the key shop. Both sit vacant now.

We also used to go on the other side of the parking lot to the "FireSale" store directly on the other side of Main St. from the church. I have not set foot in that building in at least 20 years but they would have tons of laundry detergent and clothes from other stores that were liquidated. The shop was in very poor repair then but that's just the way things were.

Anyone know what used to be where the Fiesta store on Wheeler sits?

Also, what was on that parking lot between Sears and Fiesta?

When the elevated section of HWY 59 went in did it wreck the area?

My dad still goes to the barber school on the other side of the Sears parking lot. I think it's $3 haircuts but he mostly goes to chat with them about the goings on in the area since he used to be around that part of town the 80s and likes to walk down memory lane. He actually had a really bad wreck at the intersection of Richmond and Wheeler making a left turn onto Wheeler when a Cadillac going west of Richmond crossed the yellow line and totalled his Buick....that was around 1988 I think.

Edited by LarryDallas
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[

Several items I either think I remember or know ...In the shoe department they had machines that showed Xrays of your feet to determine size and width and the curvature of your foot,,,these things had more radiation that medical ones and were finally done away with. I think I remember large murals on the walls on the main floor similar to federal arts works from the depression...is my mind playing tricks on me?? Near there was a Kress store, Delman theatre, One's a Meal, Prince's, Cleburne and Welden's Cafeterias, St. Agnes School...:huh:

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Several items I either think I remember or know ...In the shoe department they had machines that showed Xrays of your feet to determine size and width and the curvature of your foot,,,these things had more radiation that medical ones and were finally done away with. I think I remember large murals on the walls on the main floor similar to federal arts works from the depression...is my mind playing tricks on me?? Near there was a Kress store, Delman theatre, One's a Meal, Prince's, Cleburne and Welden's Cafeterias, St. Agnes School...:huh:

The x-ray machines -- actually flouroscopes -- you mentioned were in most children's shoe departments and were considered the best way to see if a child's new shoes fit properly. I remember the murals at the Main Street Sears, too -- I think they were on the walls of the stairwell.

My folks were big fans of cafeterias and we enjoyed many meals at the old Cleburne Cafeteria and Weldon's. I vaguely recall going to a couple of movies at the Delman, driving past One's A Meal and having an occasional hamburger at Prince's, but don't remember seeing Kress' store in the area.

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The x-ray machines -- actually flouroscopes -- you mentioned were in most children's shoe departments and were considered the best way to see if a child's new shoes fit properly. I remember the murals at the Main Street Sears, too -- I think they were on the walls of the stairwell.

My folks were big fans of cafeterias and we enjoyed many meals at the old Cleburne Cafeteria and Weldon's. I vaguely recall going to a couple of movies at the Delman, driving past One's A Meal and having an occasional hamburger at Prince's, but don't remember seeing Kress' store in the area.

I believe there was some sort of dime store/variety store on Main at Elgin. It may not have been Kress' though. I'm talking late 60's - 70's. There was a little stand alone shoe store across the street (east) on Main, Nussbaum's I think was the name. One of my school friend's mother used to get her shoes there.

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I believe there was some sort of dime store/variety store on Main at Elgin. It may not have been Kress' though. I'm talking late 60's - 70's. There was a little stand alone shoe store across the street (east) on Main, Nussbaum's I think was the name. One of my school friend's mother used to get her shoes there.

The variety store you remember was a Woolworth's.

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  • 2 months later...

http://www.rice.edu/...sears/index.htm

Strangely enough, I ran across this link with Houston Sears store locations while reading the Brownwood story (once again).

It mentions a Sears store on Memorial Dr., I don't remember ever seeing that one. The building design looks very similar to the Pasadena, Tx store. Maybe built at the same time.Can anyone recall the Memorial Dr. Sears? Where was it located, exactly? And is the Baytown store seen in the photo still there?

Edited by NenaE
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http://www.rice.edu/...sears/index.htm

Strangely enough, I ran across this link with Houston Sears store locations while reading the Brownwood story (once again).

It mentions a Sears store on Memorial Dr., I don't remember ever seeing that one. The building design looks very similar to the Pasadena, Tx store. Maybe built at the same time.Can anyone recall the Memorial Dr. Sears? Where was it located, exactly? And is the Baytown store seen in the photo still there?

They probably mean the Memorial City Sears.

The Baytown store is still there. Annexed by Lee College. The structure on the left side is a new addition.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Baytown,+TX&aq=&sll=29.732036,-94.976678&sspn=0.022248,0.045447&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Baytown,+Harris,+Texas&ll=29.734696,-94.976678&spn=0.00139,0.00284&t=h&z=19

Edited by gnu
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After thinking about it, I came to the same conclusion about the Memorial City Sears probably being the one they speak of, when referring to Memorial Dr. (located on Gessner, Memorial Dr. nearby, but not that close). I visited the Memorial City Sears location in recent yrs. I noticed the older silver colored door handles right away, being similar to the ones I grew up with, at the Pasadena Sears location. This tells me the bldgs. would have been built about the same time, probably late 1950's.

The Baytown store doesn't have any streamlined awnings, or details left, too bad. Wouldn't have known it was a Sears location without you pointing that out.

The old Galveston Sears location is a now a Salvation Army. http://www.flickr.co...hes/3778050084/ Still looks good.

Edited by NenaE
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After thinking about it, I came to the same conclusion about the Memorial City Sears probably being the one they speak of, when referring to Memorial Dr. (located on Gessner, Memorial Dr. nearby, but not that close). I visited the Memorial City Sears location in recent yrs. I noticed the older silver colored door handles right away, being similar to the ones I grew up with, at the Pasadena Sears location. This tells me the bldgs. would have been built about the same time, probably late 1950's.

The Baytown store doesn't have any streamlined awnings, or details left, too bad. Wouldn't have known it was a Sears location without you pointing that out.

The old Galveston Sears location is a now a Salvation Army. http://www.flickr.co...hes/3778050084/ Still looks good.

The flagpole is still there and the awnings (but with the streamline detailing removed).

I think the Salvation Army is moving out of the old Galveston Sears building...so it might be up for demo if the right folks don't come along.

searsbaytown2.jpg

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Baytown,+TX&aq=&sll=29.732036,-94.976678&sspn=0.022248,0.045447&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Baytown,+Harris,+Texas&t=h&layer=c&cbll=29.73482,-94.975951&panoid=gqhV0lazWR5Rax0-jyRofw&cbp=12,205.12,,0,-6.57&ll=29.734665,-94.975774&spn=0.00139,0.00284&z=19

Edited by gnu
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I didn't think the Memorial City Sears was there in the 50's. Could be wrong but I didn't think there WAS a Memorial City back then. My dad used to go duck hunting "way out" in the rice fields of Katy in the mid to late 50's and the best way to get there was out the Old Katy Highway. I think there are remnants of it just north of I-10.

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I didn't think the Memorial City Sears was there in the 50's. Could be wrong but I didn't think there WAS a Memorial City back then. My dad used to go duck hunting "way out" in the rice fields of Katy in the mid to late 50's and the best way to get there was out the Old Katy Highway. I think there are remnants of it just north of I-10.

According to Wikipedia - Memorial City was built in 1966 and Sears was one of the original tenants.

I believe the Baytown Sears was built in 1950.

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According to Wikipedia - Memorial City was built in 1966 and Sears was one of the original tenants.

I believe the Baytown Sears was built in 1950.

It's possible that the Sears predated the actual Memorial City mall...just an idea. I know that's what happened with Foley's in Pasadena. It was there before the mall.

Maybe someone with a directory could look up the addresses for the Sears during that time period.

update: I just looked at historicaerials, looks like you are correct, little frau & gnu, no store at Gessner location in '57, looks like that Sears was built after 1964 at Memorial City.

Edited by NenaE
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It's possible that the Sears predated the actual Memorial City mall...just an idea. I know that's what happened with Foley's in Pasadena. It was there before the mall.

Maybe someone with a directory could look up the addresses for the Sears during that time period.

update: I just looked at historicaerials, looks like you are correct, little frau & gnu, no store at Gessner location in '57, looks like that Sears was built after 1964 at Memorial City.

I looked at that map again, and was wrong... there is a Memorial City Sears in the 1964 aerial map, sits north of Barryknoll St., has an extension to to south of the main bldg, looks like it could be the garden center, there is another extension to the east, huge parking lot. The store is hard to see on the map, it's a light color, have to zoom in...Figured it had to be there after I noticed the subdivisions that were built in that area between the 1957 & 1964 maps. It was not connected to a mall at that time, there was only one more bldg., sat north of the Sears, was a little smaller.

*one HAIF Memorial City thread states that the Sears there was built in 1962.

* the original Pasadena Sears store was built in 1956, Cowell & Neuhaus, architects. (AIA Houston - arch. guide)

The art deco Sears bldg. designs are still my favorites.

Edited by NenaE
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I looked at that map again, and was wrong... there is a Memorial City Sears in the 1964 aerial map, sits north of Barryknoll St., has an extension to to south of the main bldg, looks like it could be the garden center, there is another extension to the east, huge parking lot. The store is hard to see on the map, it's a light color, have to zoom in...Figured it had to be there after I noticed the subdivisions that were built in that area between the 1957 & 1964 maps. It was not connected to a mall at that time, there was only one more bldg., sat north of the Sears, was a little smaller.

*one HAIF Memorial City thread states that the Sears there was built in 1962.

* the original Pasadena Sears store was built in 1956, Cowell & Neuhaus, architects. (AIA Houston - arch. guide)

The art deco Sears bldg. designs are still my favorites.

You are right. I just looked at the 64 aerial and there is Sears sitting out there all by itself...just like the Pasadena Foley's.

Too bad Walmart couldn't have incorporated the old Pasadena Sears building.

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The Main St. Sears is a complete eyesore. It's taken on the appearance of the bums who have peed on it's exterior over the past few decades; disheveled, void of style, unwashed and holding up a sign.

I am an eternal optimist, and still hold on to a dream of mine, that someday the South Main street store will be restored to it's original design. I believe that it would only happen after it is sold. Don't think Sears would put that kind of money into it. But in this city, restoration usually doesn't happen, bulldozing does. Land value means everything, unfortunately. I read somewhere that Rice University owns the land, through inheritance from William M. Rice, Sears leases the spot. I've been meaning to visit that store, along with the Macy's downtown, with my camera, of course. All I can say about the condition, is that at least it's still there. In this city, that's something.

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Now, I'm curious as to what store that was that sat north of the MC Sears.

http://mall-hall-of-...q=memorial+city

this nice link lists some of the original stores, including a Weingarten's.They were very large stores. That would be my guess, as the article mentions that the Montgomery Wards was added in 1972.

I think, strategically, that would have been a good move for the grocery chain, during that time period. Two mainstays of modern suburbia, a huge grocery store and a Sears department store.

Edited by NenaE
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  • 2 months later...

It was South Main! Now, I am unsure where the south picked up but right about there would be right. The appellation covered Main Street all the way out to Prince's Drive In, Playland Park and the race tracks.

I remember shopping at the old Sears with my Grandmother in the mid to late 1940's. She had a particular corset she liked that was only still carried by Sears. The section of the store was called Foundation Garments and had torso mannequins dolled up in same on high shelves above the merchandise. I mostly recall the constant "dings" sounding about the store, never figured those out.

It is a shame that more preservation of original buildings did not take place. Fort Worth is a delight with its downtown of restored, beautiful art deco and before architectural gems.

My mother worked at the Sears on South Main...and yes, it was always called SOUTH Main. The art deco must have been before my time. I only remember it with the cladding. But I loved the wide staircases. So much more fun than the escalators. And the "dings"... always the "dings." I hadn't thought about them for years. What memories.

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http://mall-hall-of-...q=memorial+city

this nice link lists some of the original stores, including a Weingarten's.They were very large stores. That would be my guess, as the article mentions that the Montgomery Wards was added in 1972.

I think, strategically, that would have been a good move for the grocery chain, during that time period. Two mainstays of modern suburbia, a huge grocery store and a Sears department store.

The Mall Hall of Fame article (which I submitted a photo to, "Jonah Norason" is one of my defunct Internet handles) back-references the HAIF article on MCM. I read somewhere else on HAIF that Weingarten's was where the ice rink is now.

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