Edgewater Mall (Edgelake Plaza); Manitowoc / Two Rivers, Wisconsin

Edgelake Plaza Younkers former Prange's in Manitowoc, WI

Manitowoc, Wisconsin is a small port city in east-central Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. With a population of 34,000 and micropolitan area (with Two Rivers and the rest of the county) of just over 50,000, Manitowoc is hardly a large place. Most of its roots are in manufacturing, shipping and agriculture, and thus growth in the region has slowed in recent decades as the economy shifts from that of building things to one of building knowledge. That said, Manitowoc still maintains a retail presence, but it is important to consider that it has always been on a local scale. Being about 30 minutes from both Green Bay and Sheboygan, and less than an hour from Appleton where ample retail offerings exist, Manitowoc has never been the center of super-regional (or even regional) retail activity. Instead, the offerings in Manitowoc and Two Rivers have been just enough to sustain local shoppers, including two enclosed malls right next to each other: Edgelake Plaza, at 210,000 square feet, and Lakeview Centre.

From time to time, we feature guest bloggers here who have their own stories to share. The following entry comes to us from Matt A. (a.k.a. Matt from WI from the comments board on this site) as he tells the story of the newer of two adjacent malls between Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin:


My home state of Wisconsin, like many other Upper Midwestern states, was dotted with small community malls of this ilk during the days of the enclosed mall building boom in the late 1960s-1980s. While the cities of Manitowoc and Two Rivers already shared the Mid-Cities Mall, which opened in 1968 and boasted a Wards, Penney’s, and over 20 other shops, most of those shops were the local / regional flavor, save for a large Woolworth, A&P and Osco Drug. Edgewater took up the slack when it opened directly across the street in 1979, bringing with it another 20 stores, most of them featuring a heavy regional / national presence. It was originally anchored on the west end by a Prange’s (now Younkers) and Prange Way flanked the eastern end, with in-line space in between. The newer more modern mall even took away some of Mid-Cities’ stores.I’m not sure as to how ‘successful’ Edgewater Mall was back in its first years of life (’79-’89), but I’d imagine it did well enough when it was 100% occupied, when Wal-Mart wasn’t ‘the place’ people shopped (it was Prange Way or K-mart back then), and the local economy was still in halfway decent shape -but more on that in a moment. At least four reasons account for why this mall died: 

1 – A new interstate, I-43, opened in 1981 and finally gave Manitowoc and Two Rivers a major highway link to the major cities of Green Bay and Milwaukee, taking away consumer dollars that otherwise would have been spent locally.

2 – Location. The Mall, while located just off the lakefront on the northeast side of town, is not near the main commercial hub of Manitowoc. The southwest side of Manitowoc is the new retail strip for the area, with big box such as K-mart, ShopKo, and several strip malls that opened starting in the 1970s. While old Highway 42 (Memorial Drive) is / was the main link between Manitowoc (and points south including Milwaukee) and the Door County region, once I-43 was built (shortly after the Edgewater Mall opened), all the thru-traffic going past the mall was sucked away, and with it, the retail heart of the city swung around to the southwest at the intersection of I-43 and U.S. 151. Mid-Cities Mall, renamed Lakeview Centre in the late 1980s, already a dying mall by then, didn’t help either. That building was an eyesore already by 1979 when Edgewater opened, the bottom falling out when Wards, Woolworths and Osco all pulled out and left gaping vacancies that would never be refilled. I believe this had some crossover effect on Edgelake Plaza, especially in the past 10-15 years.

3 – Tenancy. Prange’s switching to Younkers wasn’t such an issue. Hanging onto national tenants was always a problem for small malls of under 300,000 sq ft, or so it seemed. At its peak, Edgewater had names like Id Boutique, Kinney Shoes, Kindy Optical, Regis, Deb, Brooks Fashions, an arcade, several food counters, and various other major stores, at least 20 in all. Bankruptcies and the big blow came in 1996 when Prange Way went bankrupt and shuttered their Edgewater location along with the rest of the 22-store chain of regional discount stores.

4 – Local Economy: During the World War era, Manitowoc flourished due to its shipbuilding industry. There was also the Mirro Company, and several other major manufacturers within the city providing an economic base. When all of this was outsourced starting in the late 1970s and continuing still to this day..well, you can guess what happens over time. No money to spend = retailers struggle and eventually go out of business. Such was the case here.

I’ve attatched two sets of imagery. The outdoor ones I snapped in 2004. The interior shots I took last year. You can really tell this is a 1970s mall. The outside was given a paintjob in 2002, but you can still tell when it was built by the plain boxy look of the building, and the typical vertical-slotted cinderblock details. Inside, the dark terra-cotta flooring, the low tiled ceilings, the fluorescent light fixtures instead of mecury-vapor bulbs (energy crisis in the late 1970s prompted the use of fluorescent lighting), lots of planters and wood-tone benches, and those treated-wood-style storefronts that chains like Brooks, Id, and Regis used back in 1979…very dated and a dead giveaway as to the era this mall opened. The mall only consists of one wide concourse stretching between Younkers and the vacant Prange Way, and a short hallway going to the mall’s lone rear entrance. Two entryways take up the front.

When I visited last year to take the interior pics, all that was left was a tanning studio, a NASCAR paraphernalia store, a nail salon, an eyecare/opticians office, and a Sears Authorized Dealer store that only sells Sears’ hardlines (Craftsman and Kenmore stuff).

I’m not sure how much longer this mall will last, considering there’s not much left. However it seems to still be in operational mode, because when I was there, the floors were getting buffed as you can see in the pics (they’re unusually shiny and look new), and several old storefronts were being repainted, leading me to believe maybe the new owners / management have intentions to lease space. In the end, it’s a dying, yet decently maintained little mall. Trust me, I have seen worse in the upkeep department when it comes to these smaller malls.

With most malls like this in Wisconsin having been either reconfigured into strip malls, or torn down outright, it was a nice find that Edgelake Plaza has been open long enough for me to capture an example of
what we were seeing during the mall boom in the 1970s and is today disappearing in favor of big boxes and
super-mega malls. These were not ‘regional’ malls in the sense of the term, they were community malls
(though they did serve the rural areas within the county as well), and it is quite a shame to see many of them going the way of 8-track tapes and VHS movies. They hold a certain aura and charm that the huge behemoth malls just can’t capture. It sure would be nice to see Edgelake Plaza be fully occupied again someday and thriving once again.


Edgelake Plaza (2001) in Manitowoc, WI

Thanks, Matt. We appreciate the submission. If you have any other comments, feel free to add to the discussion. The pictures featured with this article were taken by me in 2001 and by Matt A. in 2004 and 2006.

Oh, and by the way…Matt submitted an article on Wikipedia about Edgelake Plaza, and their content selectors flagged it for deletion today for not being notable enough. We here at labelscar feel it’s rather ridiculous (not to mention incredibly subjective) to try to decide which malls have notability and which do not, especially considering no precedent has been set for determining shopping center notability. Is a shopping center notable because it has a certain number of stores, or attracts an affluent customer base? What about its sheer size? Maybe it’s just notable for the people who live in the area and shop there regularly.

Whoever thinks that shopping centers, even this one, aren’t notable should thoughtfully reconsider. While Wikipedia is not the yellow pages, shopping malls are an important piece of our collective history and culture. Whether you like them or dislike them notwithstanding, they have proven themselves functionally and have a continued following. In addition, they function more than just systems of utilitarian commerce. In fact, many people do find them interesting as reflections of their own style of architecture, their varied retail presence, relative locations in our cities, and even their varying physical conditions. I would argue that in general, shopping mall articles belong in a reference encyclopedia if, for nothing else, to provide an index of these important historical agents of our collective history, our pieces of Americana. We must continue to be very careful in filtering content so that we don’t become an irrelevant collective source of information.

We don’t usually use the blog to further a specific agenda such as this, but we feel marginalized by those who essentially don’t understand the appreciation and legitimacy of retail places, and who view them as thin and not unique. To us, nearly all retail places are unique in some interesting way, and the claim of a reference encyclopedia asserting it does not wish to index every shopping center is as absurd as saying “We also no longer wish to list every city; some are just not that notable.” So, if you could go to the page and voice your concerns, that would be great. End rant for now…

July 2001

Edgelake Plaza with Lakeview Centre in the foreground in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza Younkers in Manitowoc, WI

Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza former On Cue in Manitowoc, WI


Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI

Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI


Edgelake Plaza Prange Way Labelscar in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza former Prange Way in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI

Edgelake Plaza former Prange Way in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza Sears Hardware in Manitowoc, WI

Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI

Edgelake Plaza former Sam Goody in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI

Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI Edgelake Plaza in Manitowoc, WI

124 thoughts on “Edgewater Mall (Edgelake Plaza); Manitowoc / Two Rivers, Wisconsin”

  1. Wow, looks like this mall has defintely seen better days, but I see what you mean about the floors being unusually shiny. Fascinating really, to think that it was probably bustling and vibrant when it first opened, and now it has just fallen by the wayside. That parking lot is huge! Awesome article (on here and on wikipedia, I’m about to write my own mall article there too), and thanks for the wicked pics!

  2. Seeing this article makes me remember how much I wanna write up an article about an interesting mall I went to for the first time in the Chicagoland area a few months back(which I hope to do sometime later this year).

    My only question about Edgewater is this: which now-closed anchor store in this pic did this used to be? http://www.labelscar.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/edgelake_2006_01.jpg

    Seeing pics of this mall somehow remind me of Machesney Park Mall in the Rockford area(which this blog covered a few months back). Anyways(more a question about the size of the nearby successful malls of the Appleton and Green Bay areas), how big are the successful mall(s)(I’m guessing there’s one main successful mall in the Green Bay and Appleton markets, though I wouldn’t be surprised if those areas had more than 1 mall) in each of the 2 areas? And also, more or less, which is considered the ‘dominant’ mall that most people around Appleton and/or Green Bay go to? I wonder if malls in one and/or both of these areas had any role in hurting the success of Edgewater, besides just the opening of I-43 in the early ’80s.

  3. Apologies for the rant ahead that has little to do with the mall, but you brought up a point that I should address:

    One of the main reasons I quit writing articles for Wikipedia a few months back was seeing too many people with zero knowledge of the subject matter at hand trying to decide what is and isn’t relevant. Although some truly awful, extremely parochial and 100% false articles rightfully get removed, dozens of pages of completely legitimate information get wiped off the site on a daily basis in this manner because others think people shouldn’t care.

    Sadly, I don’t even think many of the people deleting articles are even there to write an enyclopedia – they’re basically policy wonks that do little but decide how the peons of the wiki-world should go about their work. The recent removal of thousands of images that don’t fit their idea of a free license comes to mind.

    Although the only mall article I’ve ever started (Square One Mall in Saugus Mass) is still up, I’ve had many articles about other subjects that I wrote end up being deleted by people, some with an obvious agenda (and one by a troll who was harrassing me). I really think this lack of control and haphazardly applied standards will end up hurting Wikipedia in the long run.

    I honestly do not see Wikipedia existing as it does now in five years – the topic police and the people who want to impart their knowledge to the world will eventually go their separate ways. I think some of that is even starting to happen now.

    Sites like Labelscar go a long way in filling the gaps caused by Wikipedia’s shortsightedness – as the site grows, perhaps more contributors like the one spotlighted in this article will submit relevant info about their local malls that will educate readers and prove the relevancy of the shopping mall to American (and Canadian) culture.

  4. I’ll never understand why small comfortable malls like these get torn donw or converted into strip malls. You’d think that these small malls being in the Upper Midwest (which gets real cold in the Winter) would provide not only a place to shop, but a place to stay warm and congregate would stay open. I think if the mall leased some of it’s space for special use (like a convention center or maybe a college-like institute) then it would’nt be so dead. Oh well.

  5. In response to Allan above, the vacant anchor was PrangeWay.

  6. So, I take it from the 2006 pictures that Younkers is still open and alive? What is the status of this store, healthy or near death? If the mall itself doesn’t survive, would Younkers remain?

  7. Yes, the vacant anchor was a PrangeWay. They were pretty popular here in Wisconsin (their home base) until Wal-Mart beat them with lower prices.

    Also it was I who submitted this entry, and I’ll be putting together a few more in the future.

    (As an aside, I knew with time what was going to happen with Wikipedia….chopping away at articles like what I attempted to do there for this mall, plus I didn’t want my images to go to waste for only me to enjoy. For smaller malls, it’s very difficult, sometimes impossible, to get every last bit of information to satisfy the people who peruse articles and mark them for deletion. Edgewater, like many other small malls, was especially tricky for me, because most malls like this built in the late 1970s, really didn’t open with a bang….no big newspaper article, no big two-page spread advertisment….they just were there. The only stores that advertised heavily were the anchors, and with storefronts being painted over or drywalled over throughout the years, an idenfitying labelscar isn’t there for me to ID former tnenants. It’s also hard to find out who originally developed and owned these malls, since they were usually local or regional-based, not a big national player like Simon or General Growth. It’s really a shame they want to only keep record of the significant mega-malls. Thank goodness for blogs like this one and sites like Deadmalls.com)

    Hopefully moving my information and entry here will gain me more bits of info on this mall. If nothing else, at least the pics and info are now archived here, should they do anything drastic with the place.

    Those 2001 pics you took PrangeWay. I think I like that look more. By painting over the exterior like they did in my pics, just made the mall look more plain on the outside. Also the mall across the street (which you caught the former Wards in your pic), Lakeview Centre, is all empty except for a JCPenney. The rest of the building is locked off to the public, though I did get exterior images of it.

    On Cue became Sam Goody in 2002 shortly after Best Buy took over the chain and phased out the ‘On Cue’ banner, My last time there when the store was open was in October 2005, and I just felt bad for the two 20-something guys working there. I was about to chime in and say how “If only they’d fill in the large PrangeWay space, maybe you’d be getting more business.” Here’s hoping whoever owns the building now (and it’s gone through 3 of them since the turn of the new Millenium already) can get some stable businesses into the space. Filling the old PrangeWay is key.

    The tiling work on the floors does remind me of Machesney Park as well, now that I go back to that entry.

  8. Brian – Yes, Younkers is still there. It was Prange’s until 1992.

    I was thinking of something to fill the PrangeWay – Maybe JCPenney could move from the Lakeview Plaza across the street (entirely closed except for JCPenney) and take 2/3 of the former PrangeWay, with the remainder going to Big Lots or Peebles.

  9. Ah, thanks to both Bobby and Matt(of WI) for filling me in on which was the ‘mystery’ anchor I was wondering about! And my question was definately an example of what Matt(WI) was talking about(that you can’t always find an identifying labelscar for closed-up businesses).

  10. I also somewhat agree with Bobby’s suggestion that it’d help Edgewater out if JCPenney would move into the vacant PrangeWay space.

    But, I still have a bad feeling that it’d take A LOT more than just JCPenney(and/or spliting that space with another tenant) moving into this mall to revive Edgewater Mall(though I’m guessing this mall ISN’T in as bad of a shape(and I’d also guess, has a higher occupancy rate, even if not by much) as say, Machesney Park Mall, and is definately in better shape than Beaver Dam(WI) Mall). Hopefully, the owners of this mall can do so, before its too late(and before it loses more anchors).

  11. As for the Wikipedia article, I did comment and gave reasons for the article not beign deleted. The whole thing about article deletion is asinine. As long as an article is about something and hasn’t been plagiarized it should be kept. This is the internet with basically no space limitations. It almost sounded like someone was out to get the author.

  12. Yeah, well the ‘author’ of that Wiki entry was me. From now on, I’ll just be putting my submisssinos forth to sites like this one. Unfortunately whoever owns / runs the site, it’s theirs, so they can do what they wish with it. I’ll just share my information and other materials with folks (like you guys who follow this blog and other retailing history sites/blogs) who enjoy this stuff as much as I do.

    Allan, I’ve been to (and taken pics) of both Beaver Dam and this mall. I’d say as far as condition, both are about the same. Lakeview Centre across the street is the mall that’s falling apart…save for JCPenney’s building (Penneys still upkeeps their building and the lot it sits on). Dare I say Lakeview Centre reminds me a bit of Dixie Square….all closed up and starting to deteriorate.

    I agree with Bobby, I think Penneys would do themselves good moving over into the former PrangeWay space.

  13. ….haha, and I bet the JCPenney probably has some funky look(and/or lettering) still leftover from whenever it first opened in the 1970s or 1980s. By some chance, does JCPenney own the space where their store is at Lakeview Centre?? I wonder if that’s why they still keep their store open at that location(despite that the rest of the place is a dead mall), similar to what I believe I read somewhere about the Elder-Beerman store at Beloit Mall(which has a similar situation, the last standing anchor of what’s also a completely shuttered mall).

  14. The deletion axe seems to have been lifted off this article in Wikipedia.

  15. Yeah, JCPenney owns the building and the land. This is typically how most malls operate…..anchors own their own buildings and the lots around them.

    Here’s a couple pics out of my personal archive I took in my 2004 trip to Edgewater Mall. I figured while I was up in that area of town, I’d snap some shots of the dead Lakeview Centre. Would’ve loved to of gotten inside that relic of a mall…..which closed in 2000. Penneys by then was sealed off from the mall.

    1: Wide shot of Penneys storefront at Lakeview

    2: A close up of the entrance canopy and JCPenney sign, which replaced a “Penneys” sign in the mid-late 1980s Check out the detail in the canopy though….that’s what I was aiming for in this shot.

    My Wiki on this mall:

    The ‘Lakeview Plaza’ monkier is sort of ‘unofficial’. From 1968-late 1980s it was known as ‘Mid-Cities Mall’. This was the Lakeshore region’s first fully enclosed shopping center, and was really the center of activity right up through the late 1980s. It had a wider concourse than that of Edgewater Mall, and a large court fronting Penneys, where shows and displays could be held.

  16. Wikipedia is a joke… Matt in WI, you just learned what I learned earlier. I refuse to visit Wikipedia and will NOT link to their site from my mall pages. I’ve had a number of arguments with the jerks at Wiki and wish their site a slow miserable death. Instead, stick to sites like these that focus on positive entertainment. 🙂
    Anyway, to the mall… I love malls like this… small and clearly dying. I’m glad you got the photos you did, I don’t think it’ll be around much longer. I’m glad you immortalized it.

  17. Yes, another vote that Wikipedia sucks massively. I put a lot of research in to a project, along with a lot of other people, only to have someone repeatedly rip it off and post it on Wikipedia without any credit to us. Much of it was literally copied and pasted. A logo that took forever to find and needed to be pieced together was also stolen off the site with no credit to us.

    A number of complaints to Wikipedia were made, and largely blown off. Finally, a link to the site was finally put in and it was noted as a “reference” but to me, that doesn’t really cut it. We know someone was keeping an eye on us, as each time we’d make an update, the Wikipedia would be updated. We have never been given credit for the logo. It got to the point where we copy-protected photos and put all kinds of disclaimers up about us not supporting the Creative Commons LIcense.

    It irritates me to no end that people just think they can steal whatever they want and pass it off as their own. I also found their “no original thought” rule disturbing at best. While I understand they’re not in the business of supporting wild theories that have no basis in reality, it can be effectively argued that all current ideas were once, to some degree, original thought.

    I did some searching to see if he had any recourse, and I found that we were not alone – a lot of people who put a lot of hard work in to things are being stolen from left and right. A google search will find countless examples.

    Effort put forth to sites like this gets much more appreciation from your target audience anyway.

  18. I remember seeing this mall when I lived in a foster home in Manitowoc. Both this mall and Lakeview are about the size of East Town Mall in Green Bay where I currently live. I think they should divide the Prange Way store up the same way they did at East Town Mall on Green Bay’s east side. The Prange Way at Green Bay’s East Town Mall was divided into Kohl’s and Office Max. Maybe they should divide the aformentioned space into a JCPenney/Office Max combo. As for Lakeview, that reminds me of Port Plaza Mall in my downtown which they later renamed Washington Commons. I hope you can cover East Town Mall in Green Bay in the future. And about Wikipedia, sometimes I edit that too. I added some malls in Green Bay, Wisconsin including Bay Park Square in suburban Ashwaubenon which I would hope you would cover in the future because of the short-lived Elder-Beerman store.

  19. Wonder how this little place is doing.

    I’ve got a name change for you guys.

    The mall is now called Lakeshore Mall.

  20. A bit of a late update here.

    I went to the mall back in late October of last year. As I put forth before, the pylon now has the new name. “Lakeshore Mall”. Also, if my memory is not failing me at near 5:30 Am here… a massage parlor has opened up in a former storefront next to the former Brooks Fashions towards the Younkers end of the mall.

    East Town Mall in Green Bay is one that needs an entry. I agree. That mall thrived (1981-1990), died (1990-1996, nearly biting the bullet with Prange Way’s exit), thrived again (Starting in 1998 and going up through 2004), and now seems to be dying….again! A side-entry on its ‘sister’ mall, the Sears-anchored Green Bay Plaza could also be included, as both malls were originally developed by the same local ownership.

    That and Northland Mall in Appleton (a mall that.started as a strip mall in 1967) Both of these malls fit the ‘small mall’ frame, and have quite storied histories. They’re not dying or dead in the technical sense. Then again, thie site seems to keep up with malls which were once near death, only to be revitalized.

    Port Plaza I only got to see once, but that place was quite the mall. Considering all the battles the city and its people fought over to NOT have that place built out back in the mid-late 1970s failed and the place was opened anyways, now that it’s closed and in their hands again. A textbook example of a ‘white elephant’, that’s for sure. What an expense it will be to clear out that area and restore the street grid….yikes! The old Prange’s Department Store building has already been razed though, so it’s a start.

    Those two, the two malls West Bend once had, and also Memorial Mall of Sheboygan. All these are / were in states of decline, and for the two in WB, were converted to strips in the past decades.

    And where’s Wisconsin’s possibly most-famous of dead-malls? Northridge!? That place was grand in its heydays….it and Southridge were the only presence the famed Taubman Group ever had in this state before they went way upscale in the early 1990s with their properties. They sold off all their ‘mid-tier’ malls such as these two, to other mall REITs by the late 1980s.

    I have pics (for East Town, Northland, and saved some Northridge images from an old retailing history group I used to run) and am typing up entries for all these aformentioned malls when time allows. I’ve been too busy, but count on me putting forth more to this blog.

  21. Matt from WI – any way of posting what you had on Wikepedia on here so we can see it? I am really interested in the history of Mid Cities Mall.

  22. Matt,

    Miss your old group. Would like you to start it up again.


  23. I’d do a writeup on Mid-Cities / Lakeview Centre Mall here, but there’s one caveat. I have no interior imagery. The mall has been basically closed to the public since 2000. I have images of the outside.

    In one of the images PrangeWay posted from his own collection, you do see a slice of the former Montgomery Ward, which was one of Mid-Cities’ original anchors. That store lasted from the mall’s opening in 1968 to roundabout 1983-’84. Ward’s pretty much pulled out of smaller cities shortly before ceasing their catalog business in 1985.

    I was a bit ticked when Wiki’s heads decided to wipe away both my writings. I forgot to back up my Mid-Cities one…the one for Lakeshore Mall (Edgelake Plaza / Mall / et-al ) is moot…..we got it right here.

    The other anchor, a JCPenney still exists. It seems my image links became broken for that one. Gotta fix it.

    Chad, about my group. Yeah, I may someday soon revive it. While it wasn’t very active, it was nice to have a spot to plop down all my writings and images. I’ve kind of been needing someplace to archive and host all my own writeups, imagery, memories and the like on my state’s and surrounding region’s retail history without having to commit to a full-scale blog / website. While I am a big mall / retailing history buff, along with keeping up with all the current news (seems we can’t go a day now without hearing another chain cutting back on store count and shuttering locations), I feel as though I’m leaving behind all the various retail and restaurant chains that have come and gone over the years. They deserve mention as well.

  24. Matt,

    Please do, although it wasn’t the busiest site, it was nice having a site for the Malls in WI. Let me know if there is anything I can do to get the ball rolling.


  25. Caught wind of some rumors on the grapevine, via the city’s newspaper’s message boards.

    JC Penney’s is itching to abandon that sinking ship called Lakeview Centre for Lakeshore Mall’s old Prange Way space.

    This mall sure could use that sort of boost. The former Prange Way spot is at least 70,000 Sq Ft…that’s almost double the space they have at their old store (Keep in mind, Penney’s only uses the first floor of their 1968-era building….the seond floor is sealed off). Problem is, Lakeshore Mall is all rented out via lease (this includes the anchors), and I doubt they (JC Penney) want to lease space.

    As seen with most shopping centers, department stores build out their own buildings and own them. That’s partly why you often see dead malls,that are shuttered, but the anchors are still alive and kicking.

    There’s a flipside though to this. Younkers is also rumored to possibly close when their own lease comes up. Penney is probably waiting to see the outcome of that.

    Maybe both are just itching to abandon that side of town completely and head down towards the interstate by all the other retail offerings. (Kohl’s, Lowes, ShopKo, etc )

    Who knows? I’ll keep watch on this one.

  26. I predict that Lakeview Center will be razed in the future. The mall is in sad shape. It reminds me of the pictures that I saw of abandoned buildings in East St. Louis, IL, and Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL. I would like to see a JCPenney, or a Target (or Shopko if they want to relocate to a new store) into store move into the former Prange Way space. If Shopko can take over the Prange Way space, then they can convert it into one of their new prototype stores, like the one store that just opened in Suamico earlier this year. I would REALLY like to see an article on East Town Mall and Green Bay Plaza next.

  27. Heading up to the area this coming Saturday, so I’ll have updates, if any.

    I know this much. Looking at the city’s tax records (which are avaliable for public veiwing, as is the case for all incorporated communities), Lakeview Centre (the ‘dead mall’ with the lone JCPenney still standing) changed hands over the past year. It was previously owned by a housing / condo / apartment complex company. Maybe they were trying to redevelop the land for some lakeshore condos or something, but that’s not the case any longer.

    With the economy on shaky ground right now, it’s doubtful they’ll (Penney’s) want to move at this point….at least for the short term. They probably have dirt cheap rent at their current digs, but that land under that eyesore of a mall building is worth easily a few times over the assessed value.

    As for Lakeshore Mall….who knows WHAT is happening. Considering the economic climate we have right now, probably zilch.

    There was a company here in WIsconsin….in fact I’ll name them, the Livesey Company, based in Madison. In the late 1970s-mid 1980s, they jumped on this ‘small mall’ bandwagon and our state wound up with a slew of these malls. Among them, Washington (West Bend), South Towne (Madison), County Faire (Grafton). Though I doubt they built Edgewater / Lakeshore, because I know Livesey’s style…….narrow hallways, fluorescent lighting, low ceilings, opaque skylights. None of those really fit this mall.

    Part of me wonders if these sorts of ‘convenience-oriented’ centers will ever make a return…..given the right economic climate, a longing for a return to smaller retail establishments (ie: seperate shops)….not having to slug through a 200,000+ Sq Ft box that’s ‘supposedly’ convenient.(I beg to differ in this opinion)? Probably not, as big-box supercenter types of stores have practically replaced malls like this one. Still one can dream…..I know I have, and do.

    Recalling in my mind what Lakeshore / Edgewater Mall had back in its prime in 1979-mid 1980s, half the chains were of local or regional interest. Kindy Optical (Michigan), Id (Wisconsin), Fast Foot (Upper Midwest), Regis (Minnesota…back when they were more of a ‘regional’ salon chain….not the national behemoth they’ve become)……all these were regionally-based chains. There was actually very little national representation (your AE’s, Aeropostales, PacSuns, and Finish Lines of the retail world) in these smaller enclosed malls…nothing beyond the likes of Kinney’s (or Thom Mc An), Brooks Fashion, RadioShack, the then-just-starting-to-expand Deb Shops, and a Hallmark Cards franchise, which was almost always operated by a local / regional name…..ranging from Diane’s, to Kirlin’s, to Lynn’s and many others

    Heh, sorry for rambling.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing an article done on East Town Mall in Green Bay in the future. I do have pics to that one I could contribute.

  28. Good news. I was able, through a little bit of elbow-grease-like searching through Google, to find my old Wiki entries…albeit, archived by Wikipedia-like competition.

    On Lakeview Centre (Mid-Cities Mall):
    (Toast, I don’t know if you still follow the blog, but here you go.)

    On Lakeshore Mall (Edgewater Mall/Plaza):

    I have all the Mid-Cities info I need to actually do a full blown website-page entry on. The only blank left is to find out what Lakeshore Mall’s former tenants (other than those I listed) were, especially what was once in the large spot Sears is located in now. It’s large enough to be a junior anchor like Spurgeons or something, or perhaps even Sears, whom did have catalog stores back then that only sold hard goods. Fond Du Lac had a Sears like this from 1979-1993.

    Hitting the city library tomorrow to sift through phone directories. This mall’s history is just about complete.

  29. Just back from the area, and I can now complete this mall’s history for you guys, along with a mostly complete tenant roster.

    Went in the mall today, spent a good 10 minutes just milling around. No new tenants to report, but I took note of two positive things. For one, the faux trees that dot the mall were actually strung with Halloween-colored lights and cobwebs and the like, so at least their doing a little decorating for the coming string of holidays. Secondly…..music was actually being piped through the sound system, albeit, a local radio station’s signal, rather than a service like ‘Muzak’, ‘Dish Network Business’ or ‘DirecTV Business’.

    Other than that though…….

    Actually for the record, both cross-street malls co-existed at least up through the mid 1980s, this I can say with great confidence. Reason being, both malls had different tenants to each.

    Going through the business directories on file at the library up there, I got this tenant roster. This is all circa 1980-1984. 1980 would have been the first year the mall, then called “Edgewater Plaza”….never called ‘Mall’ in its lifetime until present day, would have been reflected in the listings.

    Searching under ‘700 E Magnolia’ (the mall’s address):

    Prange Way
    Sears (BINGO! They were here from 1979-1993…..took up the large ‘middle’ spot where they reside today….albeit, now with no catalog and no wood paneling like seen in PrangeWay’s 2001 image set)

    Id Boutique (moved from Mid Cities in the early-mid 1980s)
    Deb Shops (Where Sam Goody existed from 1999-2006)
    Brooks Fashions (They had the space you see in the images with those fancy looking display windows.)
    Stevenson’s (Wow, this chain must’ve had more locations than I first thought…Fox River Mall, Port Plaza, Fox Point Plaza, and now Edgewater/Lakeshore Mall is in the list. Unsure of their location though)

    There may have been another shop or two, but probably not, since Prange’s and Prange Way also had apparel in their stores.

    The Jewelry Hut (They had a kiosk also at Forest Mall in my hometown and in Sheboygan’s Memorial Mall as well. Must have been a regional chain like Page’s Jewelers..if I recall they ran the kiosks.)
    Zales Jewelers (Not sure where they were in the mall…probably in the middle somewhere)

    Thom McAn (Kinney stayed at Mid-Cities / Lakeview until the late 1980s, and I’m sure Thom McAn’s spot became Kinney eventually, however, I don’t know which space they took in this mall. They probably left around 1989…..this was when Park Plaza (Oshkosh’s) Thom McAn shuttered. Became Kinney for two years, then closed for good.)

    Sporting Goods (Apparel & Shoes):
    The Fast Foot
    (Though I wonder if The Athlete’s Foot may of also resided at the mall at some point in time)

    Beauty / Health:
    Regis Hairstylists (Came inline in 1980)
    Nutrition World (I’m surpised they got up as far as Manitowoc. They were mostly in Milwaukee’s malls. Then again, GNC already had a spot at Mid-Cities Mall)

    Books / Music / Movies:
    Musicland (AHA! They were here before Sam Goody too, albeit, different spot in the mall, not in the space they took more recently)
    B. Dalton Booksellers (Either in space that became Green Tree Gifts……they maybe used a wood facade in the 1970s-very early 1980s, which would then be a dead giveaway! That or the one spot across from it and next to Sam Goody’s spot. Can’t think of it being anywhere else in the mall…most of the apparel shops were towards Younker’s)

    Kindy Optical (Became Sterling in the ’90s, currently is The Eyecare Place)

    Allstate Insurance (Sears was in the mall too, both were under Sears Roebuck & Co back in the day. A given)

    The Wizard (Still there today, same spot)

    Food / Eateries:
    Big Dipper Ice Cream (Unsure of location)

    There was another eatery in here, but it’s name JUST escaped me.

    I think that about covers 80-90% of the mall proper, give or take a few tenant spaces. That last one on the right (heading towards Prange Way)….still a mystery to me..

    Mid-Cities was still thriving in the 1980s as well actually, but I’ll elaborate on that another day. Wards shut after the 1983 holiday season, just like in my hometown. That was the first nail in Mid-Cities’ coffin, the second being ShopKo and its adjoining plaza being built out…..all of Mid-Cities’ tenants moved down into that mall. KO Osco and Woolworth, seal off JCPenney’s and you know the rest.

    Edgewater / Lakeshore just died because of bankruptcies, and that’s that. Thom McAn, Stevensons, Id, Pranges, PrangeWay, Sears (Catalog)…..all gone to the big mall in the sky. B.Dalton evolved into Barnes & Noble, of course,

    Losing Prange Way to Wal-Mart on the city’s southside all but sealed this mall’s fate.

    Since the town’s mayor wanted all retail to the southside by the Interstate, that just further hurt this mall’s chances. However, I don’t fault this mall’s troubles on him. When a mall loses longtime tenants in a short period like Lakeshore Mall here did, it’s insanely difficult to refill them, especially when today’s big mall names are either only wanting ‘prime’ space in ‘A-class malls’ like Fox River in Appleton, or they’re retrenching location counts due to the present economy.

    WHICH is ironic. Weren’t we going through economic hardship when Edgewater Plaza opened up in the first place? Ya know, 1979-early 1980s…..disaster of an administration under Carter, high gas prices (for that period), ‘recession’, ‘inflation’…..aren’t we going through all that again? Yet these older long-gone chains decided to take a risk and open up branches?

    I’ll never get the innards of big business and economics sometimes.

    I need to put all this up on a website of my own so I stop hogging up the comment box.

    If I had control of this mall, I’d do these things:

    – Remodel….outside AND inside. Make the mall ‘green’….dump the aging fluorescent light boxes and put in LED square lights or at least more energy-saving fluorescent fixtures.
    – Clean up and remove any renmants of former tenants….clean them up and make them presentable to potential new businesses / services
    – Get Penney’s out of its aging Mid-Cities Mall spot and into Prange Way’s spot. if they refuse, get Family Dollar or something similar in there. That spot HAS to be filled…right now it’s just a storage area, and a wasted 70,000 Sq Ft one at that.
    – Get events coming into the common area. For tenants, get draws like an independant music/movies place, apparel, a coffee shop or some other type of food establishment.
    – Repave the parking area. Concrete is coming up off of the ground and everything…..and there’s weeds growing up through it at the Prange Way end of the lot.
    – New lighting, new entryway designs….make it all look nice.

    Ah well, hopefully this information I found helps ring more bells for anyone who lived in the area in the early 1980s and remembers the days this mall was actually a ‘mall’ and not just a hodgepodge of massage and tanning salons, hearing aid dealers and a lone ‘family fun center’ joined together by a lowly Younker’s and Sears Hometown Dealer.

    I shall leave this go for a while now. Enjoy!

  30. Hey All!

    I was just reading this. I am fermiliar with the Lakeveiw Centre. i have a TON of pics of it on Flickr. Heres the link


    just type it on google, go on Urbexing 2008, and you will see Lakeview center as a set. So who owns the place? Jcpeeny. So if I asked the maneger hed say yes? Hmm… Im an urban explorer and am intrested in this mall. Looks awsome. These pics where from about a month ago.

  31. They either need to do a better job sealing up that entire building, or JCPenney (whom does not own the rest of the mall…just their part of it) needs to move. Surely the rest of the building, sans Penney, is a health hazard. Just look at all the mold growth. Yikes! You probably wouldn’t want to get inside anyhow. There’s no skylights in the main mall concourse that goes between the old Wards and Penneys stores, so it would be awfully dark.

    Your Edgewater link didn’t seem to work….it took me to a login screen. Most of the imagery that you see here was my doing, and I now have a tenant list that runs from 1980 (the mall’s first full year) up to 1986. At the time in the sort of economy we were in, chains often just went year-to-year lease-wise, so there was some turnover even back then. Some tenant space hasn’t seen occupancy in some 15 years or more.

  32. Crud. Only works for me. I will find out how to get the link up later. I wonder who owns it??? I would kill to go inside. I have a huge lantern and resporators, btw. I went inside Jcpenny, to. Its sort of retro. SORT of. Just the rugs. That place IS FUN!!! I may just go in sometime. Its TOO easy! Some doors are unlocked. Who knows. I would like to get permission. The mall is preety errie, though. I felt like I was being watched the whole time. Creepy. Did you say theirs a second story to Penny? Sealed off?

  33. Originally when it opened in 1968, Penneys had two floors. The second floor has been sealed off for years.

    Wow, respirator (I take it a breathing mask) and a lantern. I’ll give you that you’re as ready as can be to dive into that mall. When I went up to the doors (the ones in the front of the mall, next to the former Wards), however, they were locked so.I’m not sure where you found unlocked doors.

    Oh, by the way, the space in back was once an A&P supermarket. That chain had a presence in Wisconsin up to the mid/late 1970s, before retrenching. Ditto Kroger, who also bailed on this state many years ago. Just couldn’t compete with the likes of Piggly Wiggly, Kohl’s, Copp’s, Sentry or Roundys (Pick N Save) stores.

  34. I’ve kept this spot bookmarked and check it from time to time to see if you have any updates. Glad I did!

    I can answer some of your questions about Edgewater Plaza and where some of the tenants were located.

    If you start at Prange Way, looking toward Prange’s (now Younkers), on your right would be the Wizard (was a simple arcade back when the mall opened), then a Hallmark shop, then Deb, then Sears. If you round the corner after Sears, I don’t remember what was back on that short hallway. But if you keep going straight toward Prange’s, you had Fast Foot (or Athlete’s Foot; I can’t remember for sure. And this turned into a GTE phone store after the shoe store left), then two clothing stores, then Prange’s. Although I thought shortly after it opened it was Scandia Spa in the area where the two clothing stores were, and it was converted to the two clothing stores after the Spa closed.

    Anyhoo, if you’re in Prange’s and looking toward Prange Way, you had a clothing store (was there a Maurice’s there?), then there’s the one on the corner I don’t remember (clothing?). Next corner was a health store, then “The Snackery”, then the ice cream place, then Kindy Eye place, then Zales, then there was the Corn Dog Factory. The last stretch I am unsure of all of the stores, but there were three, not two. The space that Green Tree previously occupied was originally two spots, the middle one being where B. Dalton was. Not sure what was in the spot right next to Prange Way there.

    I would LOVE to be able to go into the vacant Mid Cities Mall and look around.

    I don’t agree that it’s in the same sad shape as Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL though. That one is much worse! This one seems pretty sealed up and strong – not crumbling and open and vandalized like the Harvey mall. I think Penney’s still being there makes it an unattractive target for vandals, etc.

  35. I know how so get in. Some glass is broken. The doors are chained up. But some glass is broken to the point where you can just walk right in. Now tell me, how is it sealed off? Like is it sealed of to the point the doors are just gone???

  36. When I say ‘sealed’, by that I mean it has been boarded up in some manner. Like down towards where the old Hardee’s was. The doorway there has been boarded up.

    I’m not out to tell you what to do. If you feel prepared enough to get in there and explore, it would make for an interesting look. The mall was closed back in 2000, so at least the ‘wear and tear’ inside may not be AS bad, but I am not sure. The Wards building looked to me to be in the worst shape because it’s not been occupied in some 15-20 years. I forgot what was in there after Wards pulled out in 1983-1984, but it ‘was’ something else for a couple of years afterwards.

    Thanks for the input, Toast. I did put up some names of tenants who were all in Edgewater at one time or another. Just a small correction though. Sears was always where it was. Their space never became anything else. It was first a Sears catalog store from 1979-1993, then sat vacant until 2003-2004, when a Sears Hometown Dealer opened up in its place. It’s as if the chain never let go of their lease on the space.

    Deb became On Cue, which became Sam Goody, and is now vacant. Musicland was also once a tenant in the mall, but for a short 1 1/2 – 2 years, and in a different, much smaller spot in the mall.

    See my posts above. I put forth some guesses as to what may have been where.

  37. Crud, forgive me Toast, I mis-read your comment. You were giving out the order the inline shops were in, and I wound up correcting you on something that didn’t need correcting. Big ‘oops’ there. My bad.

    Thanks again.

  38. Thats cool. I will try to get permission to go in, though. I think the mall has a second story to?

  39. Sorry again to change the subject to the Lakeveiw Mall..

  40. Forgot to mention that for one Halloween, shortly after Osco Drug moved into their new store across the street, there was a Haunted House in the Woolworth space in Mid Cities Mall.

    Also, for a couple of years, one of the areas that is probably in the worst condition now (the attached garage area adjacent to what was Monkey Wards) was home to float building for the Christmas Parade for a few lucky entries.

  41. I had a very long post typed this morning, but it disappeared somehow. Thought I forgot somehow to hit the “submit comment” button, so I tried to remember what I had typed, and re-did it. That one also disappeared, but I did do a “copy/paste” and saved it somewhere else….just in case. Here it is (if it works this time)…

    Brent, when you talk about broken glass where you can walk in, I’m guessing it’s at the rear of the building? I know that the A&P entrance and the entrance adjacent to Penney’s have several huge windows rather than walls. Gonna have to drive around the parking lot again one of these days and take a peek. I like your pics, tho’ with my connection (wireless DSL, the slower speed) it takes about an hour for your page to load. Worth the wait, tho’, and I can do other stuff while it takes its time. I saw you have some Mirro pix up too – cool! I am very “attracted” to abandoned buildings for some reason. Weirdo, I know…. Mid Cities (Lakeshore Mall) does not have a second story.

    My guess is that the areas that have the worst damage are the “sunroom” area of Monkey Wards (the glass-on-three-sides spot where the roof leaked pretty bad when PBI was in there) and the attached garage area.

    Matt, first of all I am very impressed with the time and effort you put into researching these malls! For me, reading this is like being a kid again and going shopping with the folks on Friday night at Mid Cities, and a young teen at Edgewater.

    I do not recall a second floor at Penney’s. Looking at the building from the outside, it appears as though it should have one. But if you go inside and see how high the ceilings are, I don’t see how it would have even been possible to have a second story.

    I totally agree with your assessment of the malls’ demise also. And that it would be a rebirth for Edgewater if Penney’s would move into Prange Way’s old spot. Edgewater, though pretty much a “ghost mall”, is in great shape. A little updating, some new stores, and wow!

    I remember A&P at Mid Cities, which was a Stangel’s Super Valu after A&P left. As far as Montgomery Wards’ spot, it was a regional electronics store for a while (can’t spell it, but it was pronounced “pee AR kees”, and then PBI (formerly known as Pepperkorn Bros.) moved in for just a couple of years. PBI went out of business around 1997-98, and that spot has been shuttered ever since.

    For some reason I just remembered how scary it was to use the bathroom at Mid Cities. It was at the very center of the building, and you had to go through a very long narrow hallway to get to it. Even as an adult, it gave me the heebies. This hallway was also the back door access for the shops located on the west side of the mall.

    More later, if I can remember what else I wanted to say.

  42. yeah. It should be pretty easy to get in. Its in bad shape. Im always atracted to abandoned buildings. Thanx for viewing my Flickr page:) It means alot. Hmm… i wills see what I can do with Lakeview. Lol. I WANT IN!!!!

  43. Oh, you forgot Brent there. He’s helping with the Lakeview Centre (Mid-Cities Mall) end of this blog entry.

    I just find researching the history of these smaller shopping centers to be more fulfilling. Even back as far as the 1970s, lots of the larger enclosed malls pretty much had the same stores and appearances. When the economy dived in the late 1970s and bottomed out in the early 1980s, lots of towns wound up with smaller enclosed malls like Edgewater, and the tenant rosters between them varied depending upon the area of the country you were in.

    The mall may be a ‘ghost mall’ these days, but every time I go in there, I get a sense of what it would have been like in its heyday…..all of its inline space occupied and shoppers from the two cities all converging….shopping, socializing, what have you. The small size I’m sure gave the mall more of a community feel…like a quaint downtown.

  44. The roof of Lakeview looks like it could collapse at any time. Lol

  45. I remember when it was renamed “Lakeview Centre”. It was a contest the mall was having to spur public interest and drum up business. Anyone could submit name ideas. It would have been the very early 90s, I believe, as I was working for the local newspaper at the time. Probably shortly after Wal-Mart opened.

    I peeked through a few windows today. Saw an old newspaper on the floor (same window you got your Naturalizer shot, Brent) that was the “going out of business” ad for The Right Step, a shoe store that was in there last. I forgot about that place, lol! Also looked through the main entry doors adjacent to that, and then the Monkey Wards doors on the lake side.

    Like you said, it felt creepy there, and I was alone, so I took off after that. There was some graffiti on the wall near the Naturalizer spot, and with the glass in the door all busted out by A&P, I wonder if people have been/are hanging out or living in there.

    It’s more in disrepair than it appears from the road when you’re just passing by. Only thing that could fix that property is a wrecking ball, sadly. I was amazed at how bad the concrete was around the blue metal awning thing that graces the main entrance by Wards was. You could see the metal framework, there was so much concrete missing.

    I know folks complain when there’s old, decrepit buildings in their town, but I do enjoy seeing it when I drive by there. Lots of memories. Even had my first smoke there!

  46. Yeah…. its kind of sad to see it in such bad shape. i doubt theirs squatters… But you never know. It is sure as heck a creepy place. You just feel you being watched. So the graffiti was INSIDE? i don’t remember that…. Or the newspaper. Maybe its fresh? i am going to try to make it out their sometime, again. i bet its amazing in their. It is one ugly building… Thats for sure.

  47. Thanks for the link to that video clip, Justin.

    I’ve been following East Town since 2002, and pretty much know how things were since its opening in 1980. Like this mall (Edgewater), East Town started out fully enclosed, with the atypical chains (Deb’s, Thom McAn, Brauns [which still resides there today, albeit as Christopher & Banks] Radio Shack [also still there], and Regis, to name some. What hit the mall hard in the 1990s was the rash of bankruptcies that all but killed off some of these chains, and put one anchor (Prange Way) in the dark, really hurting that end of the mall, which would never recover.

    That end is of course, now an Office Max.

    The rest of the building, up to this remodel forthcoming, still screamed ‘1980’, and really looked dark the first time I walked the length of the mall. The only ‘remodeling’ that was done up to that point was more or less reconfigurations…several of them. One was to bump out the front walls to allow front entries to Fashion Bug and the then-new Toy Works, a second to accomodate a new entryway to Kohls from the mall interior, and a third came with Office Max taking up nearly half of that side of the building…eliminating both the west mall entry point (which also served as Prange Way’s interior mall entry) and the seating court facing it.

    As I have images of the soon-to-be ‘former’ look, I’ll also document the forthcoming remodel when it’s finished.

    I think it’s time I just make an entry to this mall and submit it here.

    I feel East Town will represent an important model for the future of retailing, along with The Mall at Turtle Creek in Arkansas that opened in 2006. They both combine the best elements of the popular ‘big box’ centers / strip malls (convenience, seperate front entries into major shops), with the enclosed mall (comfort / climate control, selection of shops). They’re not overly big or daunting either. East Town at under 400,000 Sq Ft, Turtle Creek at just over 700,000 or so.

    It’s just another example of the traditional enclosed mall having to make changes to its model to survive. It’s that or bust, and this site along with all the others that document failing retail establishments, have plenty enough examples of what happens if you don’t change with the times.

    I completely sympathize with that woman at the end of the clip too. Ashwaubenon has become Green Bay’s “Grand Chute” (the area of Appleton that has the ever-popular Fox River Mall). S Oneida St. is wall-to-wall strip malls, fast food joints and all fronted by Bay Park Square. Add to this, the nearby Oneida tribe’s casino complex off the opposite direction of the massive U.S. 41/172 interchange, and you’re talking one big headache just to do a little shopping or browsing.

    I hate how you have to double-back onto a frontage road to even GET to Bay Park off of 172. It’s that, or you have to merge onto 41 and go south to Oneida, exit, and head north towards the mall. What a joke! East Town is much easier…just jump off the highway at E. Mason and go into the city about a mile.

    Anywho, more to come later with THIS mall should anything happen.

  48. I really hope that the Shopko next door to East Town Mall in Green Bay remodels their store to their most recent protoype, both inside and out. The store is in the same shape (a large rectangular box with double entrances in the middle) as the Billings, Montana and Redding, California locations, which have both been remodeled accordingly. I just hope Shopko stores has that planned for next year to coincide with the mall’s renovation during the summer.

  49. I drove past Lakeviw Centre again last night. Their boardding it up 🙁

  50. Well that stinks! Ah well.

    I had noted in an above comment that the building (well, more the land really….the building is about worthless to bother salvaging) does have new owners. I have no idea what they plan to do with the land yet, and whatever plans they DO have, JCPenney is probably part of the reason nothing is happening. I’ll bet they got a dirt-cheap multi-year lease from the last owners that’ll run for a good 5-10 more years.

    Then again, Penney’s also signed a new 5-year deal to stay at downtown Green Bay……and left a year into it anyhow for new digs near Bay Park Square in Ashwaubenon.

    Stay tuned, I guess.

  51. Ywea. I donj’t think it will come down soon. I think they boarded it up because their was some fresh grafitit. Before it was retardedly easy to get in. It still is :p

  52. I’ll have much to contribute to that blog, Justin. Especially of the malls from this side of the state.

    We’ve had so many chains in retail and food (fast or casual) that have come through, especially during the big boom of retail growth in the 1970s, that have all been forgotten. Yet they still exist in other parts of the country…some more limitedly than others.

    Not to forget the dozen or so shopping centers of various sizes that have all gone belly up the past decade alone.

    Hopefully Caldor and / or PrangeWay will put it on the hotlinks list to the right. The more people from this area who see it, the more contributors there may be, both in content and in commentary.

    Still I don’t want to keep some things from this site. Northridge (Milwaukee) deserves an entry, as does Memorial (Sheboygan).

    An entry on Valley Fair would probably be more appropriate to a Wisconsin-centric retail history blog like yours.

    Of course I could also carry over all this info on Manitowoc over there too, with the additions that have only been put forth in comments here.

    So much to do, so little time.

  53. I would like to contribute much to my own site including ShopKo store #1 on Military Ave. in Green Bay, as well as East Town Mall’s renovation.

  54. this was the layout in about 1993 (from memory)
    Prange way
    Wizard (arcade) Waldenbooks
    Hallmark arts/crafts (local)
    Powerhouse Comics Vacant
    Deb Entrance
    Sears Outlet (oddball stuff) Hair salon (styles)
    Hall to back entrance Regis
    Shoe Store, then Coffee Shop Glasses (kindy optical)
    don’t remember(tanning salon?) Snackery (food/Ice Cream)
    Fittness store.
    Pranges(Younkers now)

    the wizard moved to the other end, optical is still there, sears left and came back. younkers is still there. waldenbooks was gone in about 1994, a shop came in around 2000 called oncue, it sold movies and stuff, but it left in 2006(?) after a name change to sam goody. saddest of all was the going out of business sale, they hired a homeless looking guy to stand out by the main drag with a sandwich board for about 2 weeks.

  55. I took some pictures of the Mid-Cities Mall (and scraped together a little background information) last afternoon. It’s quite the place:

    I moved to Manitowoc, Wisconsin last summer, and the Mid-Cities Mall/Lakeview Centre and Edgewater Mall/Edgelake Plaza/New Lakeshore Mall/Whatever They’re Calling It Now are now almost literally in my backyard. It’s kind of sad what’s become of the malls: I remember from visits to the area the days when Edgewater was still fully occupied and Mid-Cities was still open for business, and they’re both lonely shells today.

    If I had billions of dollars, I’d put the Mid-Cities and Edgewater Malls on wheels, roll them down to the I-43/Calumet/151/Harbortown corridor where all the new shops are sprouting up nowadays, and erect a corridor between the two. I dream…

  56. Nice set there, Andrew. That 1985 adscan you put up tells me that both these malls actually thrived right up until Wards bailed ship from Mid-Cities…probably shortly after that ad was printed….(caught that misspelling too even if you hadn’t of highlighted it).

    It’s been said countless times in the retail world though. Anchors make the mall. Lose those, and it’s over. Two of MId-Cities former tenants (RadioShack, Maurices) are now down in the ShopKo strip mall on the southside. Kinney replaced Thom McAn, Hallmark, and Id Boutique (not listed in the ad because they moved earlier in the 1980s) all made the move across to this mall over time.

    As already stated by me, Edgewater’s roster whithered away due to bankruptcies (Sears (pre-1993 catalog stores), Prange Way, Thom McAn, Brooks, Musicland / Sam Goody..all up in that megamall in the clouds). I think Mid-Cities just died not because of Wards, but a combination of the southside retail area growing, and the building’s overall dated appearance. Name changes do not help, as is being evidenced now with Edgewater / Lakeshore (whatever they’ll call it next).

    I admit, small-town retailing like this interests me just a little more over the big cities. You realize how many national chains (and these little malls they took up space within) tried to make it with locations in these towns, and ultimately bombed and retracted. It was a trend only tried in the 1970s/1980s and will never happen again.

  57. I would like to see an article on the rise and decline of Prange Way, but it is hard to find any information on that chain, since it went bankrupt 15 years ago. It is hard to find pictures of Prange Way outside of a site like this, or the newspaper archives. I’ve been to Prange Way many times when I was younger. I don’t remember much about them, but I do recall them being more like a poor man’s Target. They just couldn’t compete with Wal-Mart, Kmart, the newly emerging Target, or their nearest competitor, ShopKo in 1995, so they filed for bankruptcy, and disappeared.

  58. The trouble with Prange Way is that for most of its existance, it was under the ownership of H.C. Prange Co., so most of the history is with that chain. The Prange conglomerate consisted of the flagship department stores, Prange Way, and also a specialty store division that located numerous women’s specialty stores in shopping centers under the ‘id’ banner.

    Images are the insanely difficult part of such a history capsule of the chain, not so much the written part of it. Unlike most other regionals that have been well documented with images (Hills, Ames, Caldor, ShopKo), Prange Way just wasn’t really documented fairly. Again, probably because it was the smallest part of the larger Prange corporation.

    My parents were first mainly shoppers of Copps and K-mart, with the occasional jaunt down to ShopKo in West Bend, but once Copp’s shut their discount operations entirely, and ShopKo gained a store in my hometown, we replaced Copps’ absence with Prange Way more often. Though really, for as long as I’ve been alive, Prange Way was where we almost always went when in town. Not the nicest looking stores (Heck I’d say between K-mart, ShopKo, Copps and Prange Way, their stores were the most out-dated looking), but the prices were below ShopKo’s and Copps’, a little above K-mart at the time (early / mid 1980s) but as with no different with Walmart, we shopped on price, not on store appearance or overall quality. I know for Back to School items, they were always cheapest comparied to the other chains. Only when Walmart came into Wisconsin, did Prange Way start getting beat up in the price wars.

    The thing I still remember most about the chain is the large red-orange stencil-lettered logotype that adorned the overhead frontage to all their stores’ entryways (both outside and within the malls most of them anchored) from 1979 up until their demise. Plus they were a Wisconsin-only chain….the only one left when others like Kohl’s and ShopKo had long since expanded into more of a national presence.

    If they were still around today, you’d better believe I’d be using them and ShopKo equally as one-stop shopping places. Walmart is a zoo, and not a pleasant experience because of that fact. The only thing WM has going for them, and the reason they killed the small chains like Prange Way, was their wholly-streamlined distribution model.

  59. Thanks for the comments, Matt. I’ve updated my photoset with several additional images of both malls that I took back in 2004.

    One minor point about the 1985 Mid-Cities Mall ad that I found interesting is that Montgomery Ward and Hardee’s are listed as concurrent tenants: I had heard that Wards closed in 1984 and Hardee’s opened in 1986, so that’s an interesting ripple. No doubt we’ll get to the bottom of all of this some day.

    As for Edgewater, they still make an effort at maintaining the place: They even decorated the interior corridor for the holiday season last Christmas; although given how few tenants they have left, it’s anyone’s guess if anybody cares. After thirteen years of being vacant, the east anchor is evolving into a virtual time capsule: No effort at whitewashing or remodeling for potential future tenants has been done, and a giant “PRANGE WAY” sign painted on an interior wall is still visible from the store’s mall interior entrance gate.

  60. You’re welcome. 🙂

    I too, found that ad you dug up an oddity. Wards pulled out of all small markets by 1985, but most of the stores shut the year prior (1984). They had full-line stores not just in Manitowoc, but also Janesville, Fond Du Lac (the area I live in), and Green Bay. Catalog stores included locations in West Bend and Wisconsin Rapids. All were gone by early 1984. Kohls took up the Janesville and Fond Du Lac locations, and Green Bay’s stuck through to the end, eventually being torn down and new mall shops and a Younkers taking its place.

    I sure would like to know what font (specific or close to it) Prange Way used. I know it’s a stencil style typeface, but most styles of that type that I found online, all have rounded-off edges or something. The same font, I must note, was also the kind that our NFL franchise, the Green Bay Packers, used. I think they still do on some apparel, but they no longer paint the stencil lettering on the end zones anymore at Lambeau Field.

  61. Wards had small market stores in PA til the bitter end. I know Meadville had a Wards.

  62. I came across lots of articles in BNET about ShopKo and Prange Way.
    The fact that ShopKo and SuperValu experimented with the “Twin Valu” hypermarket concept came as a surprise to me,

    I posted in the comments back at BlogKo, that ShopKo and SuperValu once experimented with the hypermarket concept in Ohio, under the Twin Valu banner from 1989 to 1996.

    Maybe someday, ShopKo will revive it as a Wisconsin-only hypermarket concept, if they decide to team up with SuperValu again, to compete with the Walmart Supercenters of today, once the ‘great recession’ is over.

    If you want to know more about Twin Valu, check out this page at Wikipedia:

  63. Prange Way was to also try a ‘supercenter’ concept. It was part of a program they were about to roll out shortly before the chain declared Ch. 11 in the autumn of 1995. Same deal as ShopKo’s model and that of Walmart’s supercenters.

    They also were going to roll out small-format stores like the size of some of their Schultz’s acquisitions….roundabout the size of a typical Pamida, for smaller towns that were too small for a Walmart, but could support something bigger than a variety store like Family Dollar.

    The third part of the program was to renovate all their existing stores.

    Of course, we know well what happened, so none of these plans came to fruition.

    Both retailers WERE looking to the future, they just didn’t have the time, nor the funds, to get it off the ground.

  64. I just updated my blog today, with part one of my East Town Mall article. Just click my name for the link.

  65. I finally took some pictures of East Town Mall in Green Bay, WI today, and posted them on Flickr’s Labelscar Page, if anyone here is interested to see them.

  66. Left comments at your blog posting Justin. So far so good.

    What would be neat to see are pics of this mall in its prime (along with Mid-Cities) when it opened in 1979 or throughout the early / mid 1980s when it was fully occupied. It and Mid-cities co-existed quite nicely for a good decade (1979-1989) before the bottoms really began to fall out. Both had their own mix of shops, thus why.

    Ironically, or maybe not so, that’s the year (1989) Walmart opened up on the southwest side of town.

    Manitowoc also at one time, had Kroger (later Sentry, then SuperSaver), Woolworth, a Copps ‘supercenter’ (Discount / supermarket combo) among its retail offerings, along with a few long-gone restaurant chains (Dog & Suds, LUM’S, Mars, and many others.

    ShopKo opened in the early 1980s along with its adjoining strip center. I’m not sure what the Aldi used to be.

    Copps was replaced by K-mart in 1985, and this lasted until 1993, when K-mart did their first big round of closings that year.

  67. woa, i live like 7 miles away from that hell hole. cool 🙂

  68. DEPRESSING! Before: 🙂 Middle: 😐 End: (closed) 🙁

  69. Matt, yes – it would be totally cool to see pics of these malls in their hey-day! I remember when I was about 12-13 or so, I was part of a sleepover party in Edgewater Mall with a large group of Girl Scouts. At that time, the mall was fairly new – I remember my spot was located right outside of the Scandia Spa, which was right next to Prange’s (now Younker’s). Wish I had photos.

    Aldi used to be a Stangel’s SuperValu store. Back in the 70s, the Stangel family owned four SuperValu stores, there were three in Manitowoc and one in Two Rivers. Besides the one where Aldi is now, there was one on S. 10th Street just on the other side of the railroad tracks from where Cedar Crest is (the building was home to another grocery store after, but later was vacant for many years and was razed about 5 years ago), and the A&P that was in Mid Cities Mall later became a Stangel’s SuperValu.

  70. Just for the sake of noting it (and apologies for flaunting the same link yet again), but I came back from the Mid-Cities Mall the other day with a bunch more photos in store (digital, this time); including a number of through-the-glass interior shots:

    I also came across an interesting artifact at Edgewater. Kind of funny that the sign is now virtually half as old as the mall it’s in:

  71. Just a quick update.

    Sears at this mall has closed again, and it looks like for good this time.

  72. Ah, so it is still open? Well good thing I have a local resident to rely on checking that. I saw it come up on Google Maps as ‘place closed’.

    Then again, the Internet isn’t foolproof.

    You’re right though, for how much longer remains to be seen, though I’d have to guess you do have folks who use that store for it to still be around.

  73. quote: “I forgot what was in there after Wards pulled out in 1983-1984, but it ‘was’ something else for a couple of years afterwards.”

    it was PBI, pepperkorn bros, a locally owned discount hardware/general store, as was mentioned, but they moved to the old kmart building before going out of business in 1995. i remember the year because i was experimenting with 8mm movie film at the time and was there the day they closed.

    also, at one point the main concourse of the lakeview centre was a video arcade, with about a dozen games in the middle. that was probably around 1990, shortly before woolworth closed. remember the restaurant? great soup.

    as far as edgewater plaza, the wizard is still there but most of the arcade games dont work. its rough seeing nice condition classics like pac man and galaga just sitting there broken. i go back every month or so to see if they have them fixed, or anything new yet.

  74. This is a great mall that I patronize all the time. Younkers is a wonderful place for all sorts of shopping; I buy clothing & cologne there. The Lakeshore Mall also has a tanning business, I also get my haircut and massage there! Call it a one stop for me, I love it.

  75. I’ve updated my blog, and I decided to change the title to:

    BlogKo: The unofficial ShopKo fans’ blog.

    I’ve also based my blog’s look on that of the “Vision 2000” style used by ShopKo from 1991 to 1999, with reminants of that style being used until 2007. Notice how in my blog’s title, that I’ve included the design patterns used back in the the 1990s, which consisted red, navy blue and gray squares, that were often used on the walls, checkouts, and service desks at the time. I also have planned, a more detailed history of ShopKo in the future.

  76. @Justin Hill (Sponge1987/ShopKoFan), I just added not one, but TWO new articles tom y blog to celebrate the relaunch of my blog. The second blog is basically a revision of one of my first blogs, with more info.

  77. Just curious if this place is still open. I’m pondering a road trip soon to this area.

  78. @Toast,

    Thanks for letting me know.

    I went up yesterday, While there’s obviously nothing new to note with this mall (aside from some renovations to the restrooms….at least I think that’s what’s going on…..had to use the ones at the VERY cramped Younkers…how ‘do’ they fit all that merchandise in a 35-40,000 SqFt selling area??), I went down by their other ‘mall’ of sorts. I feel it’s another piece of the puzzle in why the north side malls basically died.

    It doesn’t have a name, but it’s known as ShopKo Plaza. You don’t see enclosed strip centers too much….and this one was at least 85-90% occupied. There are only two other ShopKo-anchored malls of this ilk I know of, and both have since been either reconfigured into your typical non-enclosed strips or shut, Westgate Mall (closed and being converted) in Racine, and an un-named mall at the south side of LaCrosse (converted to outdoor strip).

    ShopKo and Aldi (this was obviously something else once) are the anchors, and within the enclosed walk that runs between them were the usual tenants of these things…..Dollar Tree, Radio Shack, Cost Cutters, etc. There used to be a Hallmark and Fashion Bug (this must have been original to the mall), but both were replaced….the former by one of those ‘rent to own’ chains….Get It Now, and the latter by Dollar Tree. Maurices moved here from Lakeview Centre, and Hallmark from Edgewater / Lakeshore Mall. One last name I recall in past trips just passing the place, Jo-Ann Fabrics, also shut (this is the lone vacancy I could find)…obviously done in by the larger Hobby Lobby store up the road.

    I’d place the mall around late 1970s at the earliest….the floor tiling and ceiling work looks nearly the same as that of Edgewater’s, and this was around the time ShopKo started to really expand their base in Wisconsin outside of the Fox Cities / Green Bay area and scattered locations elsewhere in the state (West Bend, Beaver Dam, etc).

    While enclosed ‘anything’ doesn’t seem to be the preferred model for shopping centers these days, maybe something of this type would work in some areas. It still has the convenience people crave from big box strips, without the need to freeze your butt off from the cold of winter around here.

  79. I can’t wait until I move to Two Rivers, it is going to be so much fun, I can’t waittt!!! xD
    I will be going to the mall everyday! Not really! 🙂

  80. I LOVE YOUUUU <3
    You know who you areee!!!


  81. @Matt from WI,
    What about the Northland Mall, in Appleton?
    BTW, the ShopKo Express Rx which opened last year in downtown Green Bay on 300 S. Broadway will close on 11-1-2009, due to poor sales, poor location, and poor building design.

  82. @Matt from WI, I’m pretty sure ShopKo and its attached “mall” opened around 1978: I seem to remember that being the earliest edition of the Wisconsin Telephone Company book that gave mention to its existence. Judging by the general appearance and different styles of brick, I think the ShopKo Plaza was probably built as a conventional open-air strip center and enclosed out of reconsideration after the first winter hit!

    I’ve been in the midst of searching out information on the malls on microfilm at the Manitowoc Public Library. I did find a few interesting things; including some (poor quality) pictures from when the Mid-Cities Mall opened and some dates: Penney’s opened with the mall on May 1, 1968, while Wards opened in advance on October 5, 1967. (Some eerie shades of Dixie Square, there: Montgomery Ward opened one calendar year in advance of the rest of the mall there, too!) I would have found more, but I ran out of time and dimes…

  83. As promised, here’s a bit of microfilm I dug up…

    Montgomery Ward, October 5, 1967:

    Mid-Cities Mall “first stage,” April 4, 1968:

    Osco Drug, April 29, 1968:

    Penney’s, May 1, 1968:

    A&P, May 1, 1968:

    Prange’s, March 29, 1979:

    Prange Way, April 5, 1979:

    (Just for the sake of noting it, I found some stuff on the opening of Shopko on the opposite side of town on November 9, 1977 too, but haven’t had it scanned yet.)

  84. @Andrew T.,

    This is in response to a question in one of your images.

    Stevenson’s had locations all over the Upper Midwest. Another mall entry here on Labelscar (I believe for a mall in Albert Lea, MN ….Skyline Mall??) a commenter mentioned it being a Minnesota-based chain that catered mostly to juniors’ apparel (same demo that DEB shops does), and tended to locate in small to medium-sized regional malls and plazas. The last time I saw one was at Fox River Mall in Appleton back in 1990 or so. They all went out around 1992……a year which started a domino-effect in the junor and trend apparel category going belly up, peaking with the 1,500+ location Merry-Go-Round empire falling to ruin in the mid 1990s.

    Their competition in the day would have been the likes of Id, DEB shops, and others.

    I know I mentioned above (but it’s way up in the commentary), these locations I know of:

    The aformentioned Edgewater Plaza here
    Fox River Mall – Appleton WI
    Fox Point Plaza – Neenah WI
    That one small dying mall in Minnesota (featured elsewhere on this blog)

    They had to of had other locations though. I know nothing of malls in Eau Claire (London Square / Oakwood / Highland), Marinette (Pinetree), Superior (Mariner), or LaCrosse (Valley View, the one mall on S. Mormon Coulee Dr anchored by ShopKo) that may have also featured the chain.

    I know for sure they didn’t get to my hometown of Fondy (Fond du Lac), Sheboygan, or down towards West Bend’s two malls, Grafton or Beaver Dam.

    Doubt they got down towards Madison or Milwaukee and points southwards either, but I could be wrong.

    Thanks for finding these Andrew, and you found out another thing for me too with these. This was the first Prange Way store to go with their new ‘upscale’ prototype, and along with that, the new ‘stencil’ logotype they’d use until their fall in 1995-1996.

    I still miss that chain greatly. My hard-earned cash would still be going to them (it’s spent at ShopKo nowadays) if they didn’t fall to Walmart.

  85. @Justin Hill (Sponge1987/ShopKoFan),

    I so badly want to get an entry to Northland Mall on this site, and since it has a ShopKo, perhaps it should be featured at your own blog as well. That one’s had such a longwinding varied history of few ups and many downs that it could take a thick tome to do it justice.

    Northland mall……”kind of” counts. My first trip there in 1992, netted a fairly sizeable enclosed portion though, with room for about 30 or so inline tenants, with a straightline strip flanking the east end of Kohls’ building, holding another 10 or so.

    Today, the remaining 1/3 of the original mall frootprint just serves as a connecting walk between Kohl’s and ShopKo. Kohl’s swallowed up 2/3+ of the enclosed space.

  86. @Matt from WI,

    Thanks for the heads-up on Stevenson’s. It’s kind of neat that the Edgewater Prange Way was the said chain’s first “new prototype” store: Hard to believe the signs are still up. (The paint-over is starting to weather away, revealing grungy gray splotches in the shape of the words “PRANGE WAY” once more…)

    A couple additional “mysteries” about Mid-Cities:

    * As much info about the malls as I’ve dug up, there are still a few details I’m unclear about: When precisely Montgomery Ward closed, for example. Like everyone else I assume it was in late 1983 or early 1984, but I cursorily spot-checked some microfilms from 1982, 1983, and 1984 and didn’t see Wards advertisements in any of them.

    * Regarding the “phantom” second floor of JCPenney that no one I’ve asked has any recollection of existing: The articles surrounding Penney’s grand opening in 1968 don’t specifically say anything about a second floor or show any photos of escalators or elevators that would indicate such, but I have noticed something curious: There are references to Penney’s spanning 90,000 square feet of space, which is larger than the physical footprint of the store.

    (As a side note, could this possibly be the longest-running thread on Labelscar?)

  87. @Andrew T.,

    Penney had to of had a second level, but it was perhaps only accessible towards the back. The way the layout of the store is today (it got a remodel in the 1980s) doesn’t indicate any evidence of a stairwell or escalator / elevator well anywhere.

    The building’s footprint is only 45,000 Sq Ft (90,000 div in 1/2 )

    Interesting about Wards. Maybe they jumped ship sooner than we may have speculated. It was during a time (late 1970s/early 1980s) where the chain’s owners just didn’t seem to know what direction to go with the stores.

    (aside; Sears is in the same dire straits too that Wards was in, even if they have an advantage of better locations and name recognition. They have no focus….same gig that ultimately put Wards into unrecoverable territory.)

    Another Mid-Cities mystery that piques my interest is a possible ‘second level’ (albeit, very small, and probably just for the mall office) towards Ward’s end of the mall. Side wings that run parallel to Penney and Wards had the typical low ceilings, but the center (main) hall and show-court fronting Penneys is about 33ft high, floor-to-ceiling. You can see the raised roofline when looking at the building from Memorial Dr easily.

    H.C. Prange Co didn’t waste time after opening their shiny new Edgewater location. They took the format and signage package to the rest of the chain, completing the chain-wide remodeling program by the mid-1980s.

    If only a time machine could appear and throw us both back to ’68 and ’79 for these two malls respectively.

    Unfortunately this comment thread hardly touches the length of those for Rolling Acres, Randall Park, and Freehold Raceway Malls. Those have this one beat by miles.

  88. Andrew, I found your most recent images at Flickr.

    I’ve been having, odd dreams the last few years since I started visiting Edgewater / Lakeshore Mall. Many of them presented me with a place that was cleaned up and filled with businesses and other types of tenants.

    Could this all really be a sign of things coming? I sure hope so. Don’t bother with the national names, except if they fill in the larger spaces within the mall. Fill it with local business to drive foot traffic and make it as unique as possible. I’m sure the owners know they can’t compete with the south-side Walmart and the like, and you want to keep Younkers and Sears as major ‘anchors’.

    JCPenney, you listening? Snatch up that old Prange Way space.

  89. @Matt from WI,

    It’s my instinct to be pessimistic, but it would be great if the advent of Jovial Coffee was the start of a renaissance for the mall. And, it would be great if JCPenney would get off their duffs and move across the street; even if it meant the loss of the antique “Penneys Package Pick-Up” sign on their existing store. Coincidentally, Manitowoc has a new mayor for the first time in 20 years; so perhaps some new ideas of where commercial development in the city should be might come to light.

    Feel free to let me know if you’re ever in town!

  90. @Andrew T.,

    I know what you mean. It’s hard tn not have some hope for a property that’s been laying in a state of stagnation for 3-4 years, other than a name change.

    Getting updated restrooms and a java joint are a start though.

    I didn’t realize that it was just cheap paper covering the old familiar stencil-lettering for Prange Way’s interior sign. Also weird how it looks like it’s just one of those cheap fluorescent box-type fixtures. Anytime I saw the stores logo affixed to an exterior or interior facade back in the days, it was in red-orange channel letters. Being it was 1979, in a recessionary period, and it was the first new store bearing their new concept and logo, they probably wanted to be on the cheap in case it didn’t pan out. Those fluorescent fixtures were cheaper to install than more expensive (but more attention-grabbing) neon channel lettering that I’m sure the rest of the center’s storefronts featured in its heyday.

    I’m quite sure I’ll be making a trip up to that area once the ground thaws. Not sure what you had planned, but I shall let you know when the time comes closer.

  91. Driving past the malls on Monday afternoon, I saw two guys inside of Mid Cities Mall. Want to say they’re caretakers – they were in the mall entrance to the north of Penney’s ancient parcel pick-up sign. There is some equipment kept in that hallway; you can see it through the windows. This was the evening before a snow storm was due to arrive, so I don’t know if they were checking on equipment (I think they’re required to plow a path around the perimeter in case emergency vehicles need access).

    Had I been alone and not on a schedule (I had my daughter along and we were already late), I would have stopped and inquired about a group tour for anyone interested in seeing the interior / taking pics.

    As it is, I will keep my eyes open as I travel past.

    Don’t know if a note taped to that door would get to the proper people….that would be an avenue to try, too. But I’m thinking a face-to-face approach might work better – so they don’t automatically assume I’m a 12 year old whack-a-doodle.

    Thoughts, gentlemen?

  92. Saw one of the same pickup trucks there again today. Didn’t see anyone thru the glass tho. Should have put a post-it note on the windshield…

  93. Rumor on the local newspaper forum today that Mid Cities will be torn down very soon. JCPenneys portion will remain, though. They’ve already moved the electrical service to the south side of the building (Penney’s). The person who posted it said a long time employee of Penney’s mentioned it.

    If true, it will be a sad day indeed…

    I may have to skulk around there this week. Weather’s supposed to be warmer (high 30s) and sunny..all the better to peer thru the windows.

  94. More news!


    In a nutshell:
    * It’s official that there are plans to demolish most of the Mid-Cities Mall; possibly later this year. A mixed-use development will be planned for the site.
    * Continuing the “nowhere to go but up” trend established by the advent of Jovial Coffee; a deli will open at Edgewater on May 1, and a new facade is planned as well.

    I’ll be a bit sorry when the Mid-Cities Mall is torn down, but I have to say that it has to be done. The structure has been standing abandoned for ten years; it’s an eyesore, and it’s almost too far gone in physical condition for any other fate. And it can’t help the viability and appearance of Edgewater/Lakeshore when there’s a creepy, crumbling building across the street. This will be interesting to follow.

    I took some more pictures of Mid-Cities today, and will get them uploaded eventually…

  95. Mid-Cities is falling apart and is basically deemed unsafe to reopen as it is, just going by all the exterior images and peeks through the glass into the interior.

    Removing that building will not only clear the land for new use, but it’ll also make the old JCPenney look a bit nicer, and give Edgewater much needed visibility from Memorial Dr. / Hwy 42, which is / was / still is a major route heading to Door Co. for people who like taking the ‘scenic route’

    This is all a boon for Edgewate.
    A deli too huh….AND a new facade?

    I’m liking this news. Must get up there soon. With the temps going up (finally!), I may need to get up there soon to take in all the action….I’m shooting for sometime in April.

  96. Not to double-post, but I’ll be visiting the area April 10th (Saturday). I’ll get updates to the board as needed.

    Good things are about to happen in that area. Whatever the owner of that general area has planned, it must be enough to convince new business to come to the area.

    Looking forwards to it.

  97. So does anybody know why the Penneys won’t move across the street, that great of a deal on rent?

  98. Curious if there’s any updates since I was last here in April of this year? Hopefully the new businesses that opened up recently are still hanging on. Takes time and cash (especially, I’m sure, for the razing of the old Mid-Cities/Lakeview Mall across the road) to bring things to fruition.

    In honesty and looking at reality, the owner’s plans for the two malls are bold considering all the retail activity has trended south-west of town towards the Interstate in the last 30 years, and the economy is in stagnation.

  99. Nothing new that I know of. The new deli is still there and doing well, as is the new coffee shop.

    As for the “plans” for the old Mid Cities Mall, I’m skeptical that it will happen any time in the near future. There’s been no activity, except for new boards on newly-broken windows.

    I can’t help but think it was a response from the owner to kwell the complaining about what an eyesore the property is.

  100. That’s good to hear.

    If you look up at the previous posts in this discussion thread, I think it’s been mentioned that Mid-Cities is a grayfield / brownfield mix. Why a brownfield? All due to that blasted Wards Auto Center, not to forget how decayed the entire structure (sans JCPenney) is..both outside and I’m quite sure it’s worse inside. Years of neglect surely have given way to mold and other nasty things.

    If Wards’ Auto Center wasn’t attached to the north end of the building, it would be probably easier to get that eyesore razed in a hurry, but with that ‘brownfield’ designation, therein lies more red tape for the owner (of both Mid-Cities and Edgewater) to wade through.

    It’s a tricky situation….redevelopment always is. So many costs, strict health codes, and politics to deal with and consider. Unless residents want to pay higher taxes in the name of a TIF district to help the property owner out, they’ll have to sit tight a bit more. They’ve done so for 10 years since the mall’s closing.

    Cautiously optimistic here, after reading about what happened with the dead Lincoln Mall in Freeport IL and how that began to bounce back in a big way a year or two after its entry on this blog.

  101. JCPenney’s closed their doors for good at the Mid-Cities/Lakeview Centre mall this past Thursday 1/20/11. Went there a bit after noon to get one last look, and they had already closed. A few hours early, but they ran out of merchandise according to the newspaper.

    Went past last night, and the interior lights were still blazing. Would have been an excellent opportunity for some photos, but I didn’t have a camera and it was zero degrees outside. Here’s hoping they keep the lights on a few more nights and I get an opportunity.

    The retro “parcel pickup” sign is still there too. Link from Andrew Turnbull’s collection:

  102. @Allan,
    When this mall first opened, they had a large store like a Boston Store called Pranges on the end where Younkers is now and at the other end they had Prange-Way, which was more like a Shopko type place.

  103. Does anyone know who owns the Lakeview Center Mall Property?

  104. @Kerr,
    No idea, but the entire property actually encompasses both the Lakeview Centre (Mid-Cities) and Edgewater malls. Magnolia Ave cuts through both.

    Some road maps online still show the roads that used to go through where Edgewater has been sitting since it was opened in 1979.

    Lakeview is completely shut, and I’m not sure of the status of this mall. Last I was there (April 2010), it was still open….Younker’s and Sears are still in there, though they did lose the coffee shop that opened there (Dec’ 09) last November. A couple other folks also recently put up a few images @ Flickr….one showing the recent state of Prange Way’s anchor pad….one interior from 1999, another from this year (they were finally stripping away the dark orange backdrop….the cheap-looking fluorescent box sign is still affixed to the fascia.

    I’m having to sort all my images (Film and digital, of retail going back to 1995), but I’ve also activated my Flickr account in recent months to comment on pics and bring my own online.

  105. I remember when this mall was the happening place with the arcade …

  106. Nice writeup, @Matt from WI, originally located in the east mallway, directly west of PrangeWayStore, WizardsKingdom located where they are now after Manitowoc company moved from personnel offices.

  107. @Matt from WI,
    Shopko plaza had yet another StanglesSuperValue, half space used by Aldi.

  108. @Matt from WI, managed by MequonWisconsin, both owned Steve Ekind, Madison

  109. @Toast,
    You are correct. Sad day for our family when all of these stores closed. We also had one in Kewaunee and Sturgeon Bay.

  110. They started tearing down Mid Cities Mall yesterday. See link for photos and short article:

    Heard several months ago that Edgewater/Edgelake/Lakeview/whatever they call it now… that they are not renewing any leases. There was a Sears store in there that switched over to a full hardware store about a year or two ago, and they are now gone. Deli mentioned in above posts did not last long, nor did the coffee place. I have not been in there since Sears left, so I am unsure of what remains. I know Younkers is still there.

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