Friday, May 17, 2013

Palms Center Montgomery Ward

The Palms Center Montgomery Ward was actually across Southpark (now Martin Luther King Blvd.) from the Palms Center shopping center. This store opened in 1959, closed in early 1986, and later became the King's Best Market which uses the entire two levels of the former Wards for shops and a few eateries. The market is open 7 days a week to walk and shop inside of a mostly preserved Montgomery Wards building. The Shaver and Spencer Rd. flea market that is also located in a former Montgomery Ward is another example of a good reuse of these buildings. As you can see from the photos below, the labelscar from the Wards sign is still on the building many years after the signs were taken off. Look at my images below and click on the below link to see what the store looked like in 1961. There are currently two former Montgomery Ward locations in the Houston area that are still abandoned at Greenspoint Mall and San Jacinto Mall. The Greenspoint Mall store was used as a Worksource location for a while, but now it is closed again and the remaining mall corridor to the former entrance has been blocked off (by small line dividers). The San Jacinto store has been vacant for over 10 years and the whole mall corridor to that store has been walled off. To find out more about Montgomery Wards click the above title to read about Wards in the 1960's. Click here to check out this image on the Pleasant Family Shopping Blog from the same exact side of the store from around the time the store opened. Here are a few views from around the store. As you can tell the labelscars are still visible from these two sides of the store. A few views from inside the store. Most of the walls of the store have been covered up by booths from the market. It looks like the original Wards colors are still present in the staircases on the sides of the store. The middle of the store has stairs instead of an escalator. Did this store originally have an escalator? The elevator sign, I cannot tell if it was original or new to the store. Coming soon, a visit across the street at the former Palms Center Shopping Center.

6 comments:

  1. Good stuff. I'm glad that this store has been chronicled. As far as I can remember, this was the only Montgomery Ward in Houston that closed before the chain went out of business. I suppose that you can say that the old Montgomery Ward at Northline Mall, Memorial City Mall, and Baybrook Mall are currently occupied, but all the Wards at those sites have been demolished and built over. Obviously the whole Northline Mall was torn down and a power center was built on top of it. The Memorial City Mall Wards was torn down and replaced with a Target. I believe the Baybrook Mall Wards briefly housed Foley's during an anchor store swap-around/influx at that mall in the early 2000s. It was then demolished and a JC Penney was built over it.

    The Willowbrook Mall Wards is now a Macy's (formerly Foley's) Mens and Furniture store. The Sharpstown Mall/PlazAmericas Wards is now a Burlington Coat Factory. I think the other Wards were discussed in your post. Hopefully I'm not forgetting any other ones.

    It is quite well possible that the Palms Center Montgomery Ward is the former Houston Wards that best retained it's history as a Wards even though it closed well before the other Houston area Wards. The stacked M and W logo that used to be on the Palms Center Wards (you can see it in the Pleasant Family Shopping photo) could be seen on the doorhandles of many (if not all) other Wards stores in the area up until the chain closed, but I don't know if any of those doorhandles still exist today. Perhaps they do still exist at the San Jacinto and Greenspoint Mall locations.

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    1. The Greenspoint Mall store still has the M W handles intact and this store is probably the most preserved that is not boarded up. I think the San Jacinto Mall also has a door with the M W handles still intact but all of the other entrances are boarded up. The Baybrook store was indeed a Foley's for a couple of years before Foley's renovated the old Dillard's Men's store and opened up there. There is one former Montgomery Ward building in Lake Charles at the Prien Lake Mall that was a Wards until 2001, then Foley's, then Macy's, and now is partially filled with a Kirklands and Kohl's. Who knows what it will be next lol?

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  2. There's major news today about the former Palm Center Montgomery Ward. The Houston Chronicle has a story today (it's not a free article, but you should be able to access it through the library database I'm guessing) about how there are plans to put an apartment complex where the former Montgomery Ward stands now. The article mentions that the King's Best Market flea market has closed already and that the building is scheduled to be demolished this month.

    Once again, it's a good thing that you got photos of this place before it was demolished. It seems like we've been losing a lot of flea markets lately to new non-retail redevelopments. I guess that's to be somewhat expected given the Houston real estate market right now. I'm sure that there are other under utilized retail buildings around town that will become new flea markets eventually.

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    1. I heard that the market closed sometime late last year or early this year so I was not surprised to hear this news. That area is on the upswing and the building was probably in poor shape and required a large investment to fix it up. I will try to pass by soon before they get too far into the demolition and hopefully get a few photos of the place.

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  3. I visited that Palm Center MW a few times with my parents in the early 80s (My dad bought a bada$$ portable stereo with a tape deck and 2" B&W TV on it, in late 83 there, man I loved that thing) Yes it did have escalators in the center of the store, visible as soon as you walked through the door. I hated when they closed it but that area was getting scummy.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, it is strange that they took the escalators out and replaced them with stairs.

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