WESTERN PLAZA: AMARILLO, TX
Greg Feil's Commentary
Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)
I grew up in a small town north of Amarillo and it was a treat to
go to Western Plaza as a kid in the 1970's. I remember every store there
and where it was located. Back then, the stores were mostly locally
owned and not usually part of a chain like they are today. WP was
built in the 1960's.
The two anchor stores were Sakowitz (Houston based) and Montgomery Ward.
Klein's, Alexander's, The Hollywood, The Hub, and Jr's
carried ladies wear. Toys by Roy, Merle Norman, Thom McAnn, and
Hole In The Mall Restaurant are places I remember. Russell
Stover candy also. Raffkind's for mens wear.
Rival Westgate Mall opened in the 80's and that was the end
of Western Plaza. WP did an extremely expensive
remodel around that time (real parquet wood flooring though, etc) but
it didn't help. As the chain stores came in at Westgate Mall most
of the locally owned stores closed at Western Plaza. Sakowitz then went
out of business altogether. A few of the stores moved to Westgate
but were phased out as more chain stores came in. Raffkind's
moved out to Westgate Mall and I believe is still there.
Sakowitz was gorgeous all year but especially so at the holidays with
white wicker reindeer on all the cosmetics counters and gobs
of mannequins with real glass eyes.
I thought there was nothing more glamorous, especially the
French-Provincial cosmetics cases that were anitqued in olive.
The parking lot was packed at Christmas and the entire mall is
scheduled to be torn down this spring, pending asbestos removal.
Matthew Strong's Commentary
Posted January 8, 2006 (user submitted)
In mid-December of 2005 I was making a cross-county drive from California to Maryland. In Amarillo, TX I got caught in an ice storm and was forced to spend a couple days in Amarillo, TX until the interstate thawed.
During my drive into the town of Amarillo, while keeping my eyes on the road and trying my best not to hit anyone or be hit by sliding cars, I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a Dead Mall just off of Interstate 40. I almost had a wreck after discovering my temporary home for the next couple days had Dead Mall!!
The next day I drove over for a closer look. I have absolutely no history of this mall. I was content driving around the parking lot and taking pictures of the decaying exterior. Then I saw an amazing thing: someone walked out of the mall!! It was still open!
Technically this is not a Dead Mall...yet. It is truly on its last legs. As I walked through I was breathing in the mall's final gasps of life. Imagine your favorite Dead Mall which has been shuttered. Then imagine one day you got the chance to sneak in and look around. That's what it was like.
The mall is an enclosed single-story with some outside-entry stores flanking it. I imagine it was built in the early 1960's. It seems to have had three anchor stores and a movie theater. It is from the era where each store's facade is different and unique.
While I was there, I saw to elderly couples walking laps and a woman escorting a couple young children into the still-open nickel (yes, nickel) Arcade. Every business inside the mall has gone out of business or moved. Still operating within the mall are: Furr's restaurant, 2 community service-type offices, the aforementioned nickel arcade and a rather large nightclub called Graham Central Station (http://www.grahamcentralstation.com/index.html).
The heat seemed to have been been turned off for the open areas of the mall; I was there in the middle of December, and I could nearly see my breath as I walked around.
I wish I knew more about this place, but I was thrilled and thankful I found it. It undoubtedly holds within it much history and I was one of the last people to walk through it. It's demise in inevitable.
photobucket.com/albums/c367/mgstrong/Western%20Plaza%20in%20Amarillo%20TX/ - Photos Of The Mall Taken By Matthew Strong