All too often we profile the underdogs here. Malls that couldn’t make it get all the attention and some of the interesting, successful centers get lost in the fray. Sure, empty, dated corridors are great, but we aren’t being fair here and we never intended to punish those who are currently winning the game of capitalism. Besides, they’ll all eventually be history anyway, right?
Today’s entry comes to us from the Tri-Cities region of Tennessee and Virginia. With a population of nearly 500,000, the region is anchored by three cities: Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City. All three cities are in the northeast corner of Tennessee; however, Bristol is interestingly in both Tennessee and Virginia. Fort Henry Mall is located in Kingsport, which has a population of about 45,000. It is a successful two-level mall located on a prosperous strip and is nearly at capacity with stores. It’s currently anchored by JCPenney, Belk (2 locations) and Sears. One of the Belk locations was originally a Miller’s, a Hess’s, and most recently a Proffitt’s, which changed to Belk due to a buyout in March 2006.
Both the outside and inside of the mall are currently a hybrid of both very dated and modern decor, which unfortunately seem to be fighting and that’s not good. Outside, the anchors and most of the mall facade look ancient, which I think is cool but I’m sure puts off a few shoppers here and there. You know the type, they don’t walk into a place unless it’s glassy, shiny and sterile looking as a hospital. It appears, though, that Sears did update their logo with their very new logo. Going inside, the floors were dominated by pink tiles with purple borders, carpeting with a kaleidoscope of colors (none of which really matched), and peach colored railings. The ceiling was this mesh-looking latticework design, and sodium lamps hung down from it to light the mall (aided, thankfully, with some natural lighting and lighting from the stores). All in all, the design scheme inside the mall seemed somewhat schizophrenic and didn’t work at all for me. Maybe it works for you. For another strange color scheme, see my earlier Pekin Mall entry.
As for the mall this one destroyed, it was called Kingsport Mall, and was recently anchored by Montgomery Ward, Heilig Meyers, and Hills (later Ames). Talk about a sad destiny. All of those anchors went completely bankrupt and closed all stores in either 2001 or 2002. Needless to say, the Kingsport Mall, which never seemed to be on par with Fort Henry Mall in the first place, went down the tubes. In 2003 it was demolished and redeveloped into East Stone Commons, a very successful strip mall anchored by big box like Office Depot, PetsMart, Ross, Hobby Lobby, and Goody’s Family Clothing. It also has Cold Stone Creamery, which means it’s busy night and day. A tongue in cheek take on Kingsport featuring some of former Kingsport Mall’s pictures is featured here. Otherwise, check out my pictures of Fort Henry Mall featured below. They were taken August 2005.