In my Living in 1994-1995 series, I've talked a lot about Carolina Circle Mall and my memories. I figured all of you people of Retro Junk would get a kick out of a full article about nothing but Carolina Circle.
The mall officially opened on Wednesday, August 4, 1976 in northeastern Greensboro, North Carolina. 22 stores were open that day including Belk, Ivey's (Now Dillard's), and Montgomery Ward. The above picture was taken Opening Day.
From 1976 to the mid '80s, the main attraction of the mall was an ice rink known as the "Ice Chalet". At the time, the rink was the only ice rink in Greensboro. Many shows were performed at the rink including Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland made a huge impact on the mall in its early years. I believe even the Mad Hatter would drive the rink's zamboni.
Sorrounding the ice rink were several restaurants including Chick-Fil-A, New York Pizza, Electronic America arcade, and Tuesday's (Later Annabelle's).
The Circle 6 Theatres opened in November of '76. Now this was a very popular theater. From 1976 to when the theater closed in 1996, the theatre showed many popular movies including Star Wars, Back to the Future, the Home Alone movies, etc.
On the other side of town, however, there was a mall doing better business than Carolina Circle. Opened in 1975, the mall Four Seasons Town Centre was doing a considerably better job than Carolina Circle. I believe it was because it was on a more developed side of town.
In 1986, the mall was sold to an Australian firm. They promised to renovate the mall and update to keep up with Four Seasons.
In June of 1988, Strouse Greenberg unveiled the new Carolina Circle Mall. As you can see in that 1989 picture, many cosmetic changes were made to the mall. Some changes included a new emblem, brighter lighting, a new lime green/pink/blue color scheme, and new floor tiling. How late '80s/'90s can you get?
The biggest change was the removal of the ice rink. An expensive custom-built carousel was built in its place. Unfortunately, at the time, the mall's ice rink was still the only one in Greensboro. A lot of people were pretty unhappy about this move. For my '90s childhood, this was actually a smart move. I've never known how to ice skate!
Also, a food court was built sorrounding the carousel. Chick-Fil-A, New York Pizza, and the arcade remained (although a couple I believed moved around a litle bit). And several new restaurants were added including a deli and a walk-in cafe called Monk's Cheesesteaks & Cheeseburgers. That mall had some good eating!
In 1989, Ivey's was bought out by Dillard's Department Stores. All Ivey's stores, including Carolina Circle, were converted into Dillard's in 1990.
Also around 1990, I began going to the mall. Even as a baby, I loved the place. It was the first place I ever rode a carnival ride.
The renovation was pretty successful. Some stores that had previously left actually returned for a little while!
Early 1994 saw the removal of the first floor of Belk (due to it being bought by the US Postal Service). The scond floor remained.
Around 1994 & 1995 was when the mall had reached its peak. Several new restaurants opened at the food court at this time including Mr. Wok Chinese Restaurant, Subs & Spuds, and Taco Bell. I think that Taco Bell only lasted for 2 seconds!
In late 1996, signs of closure were in sight. By this time, the carousel was already gone and in early 1997, Belk officially closed for good. The mall would be successful no more.
This early 1999 picture illustrates the late '90s situation. At this time, Belk on the north end was already history and Dillard's in the left center section was in the process of going out of business. Fortunately, Montgomery Ward was still doing well enough to stay open for a few more years. Also in 1999, the mall was put up for sale.
Montgomery Ward officially closed in early 2002. This obviously marked the official end of Carolina Circle Mall. It was a sad day indeed.
For over three years, the mall was left abandoned and rotting. Around 2004, the vandallism started. The two 2005 pictures above are perfect examples of what I'm talking about. Grafitti and vandallism was all over the mall inside and out (literally).
Also in the mid '00s, Wal-Mart announced it was going to build a new store and shopping center at the old mall. This also meant that the mall was going to be demolished.
Demolition began on June 30, 2005. This is going to sound weird, but on the two days I went (Once in July & once in August) to check out the demolition up close, I could still smell that certain aroma that the inside of Montgomery Ward had. It was a very special smell.
The new Wal-Mart offically opened on August 16, 2006. That was almost 30 years after Carolina Circle Mall opened. The Wal-Mart I think is acceptable, but it's just not the same.
Many more shops and restaurants are set to open in 2007 including a Lowe's Home Improvement and an IHOP Restaurant.
As for Four Seasons Town Centre, the mall is still alive and well. However, it's now the most modern, trendy, and '00s mall in the world! Not to mention there were two murders there recently. You never saw that at Carolina Circle. I try to avoid Four Seasons as much as possible.
A lot of my '90s memories come from Carolina Circle Mall. When I was little, I'd ride the carousel with my dad. We'd always sit in that spinning seat. My dad actually got in trouble once for spinning it too hard!
I'd always get a grilled cheese sandwich from the Carolina Deli at the food court. It became Subs & Spuds around 1995, but it was no different. I'd also eat at Piccadilly Cafeteria there occasionally. Piccadilly actually wasn't located at the food court. It was directly across from the Circle 6 Theatres.
My favorite store at the mall was Montgomery Ward. If you've never heard of Montgomery Ward, they were basically like Sears. They had a little bit of everything including tools, lawn equipment, apparel, furniture, and electronics.
Finally, all I can say is that there will never be another Carolina Circle Mall. A mall like that comes around only once in a lifetime. If you have a favorite mall that is still open or closed, hold on to it like I did with Carolina Circle Mall.
If you'd like more Carolina Circle, visit my blog at http://ccmallcity.blogspot.com