Monday, April 26, 2010

Manor East Mall

Picture Credit from "Bryanite" of The HAIF

One of my favorite local dead malls was profiled last year on Mall Hall of Fame with the help of the HAIF and my old Internet handle, Jonah Norason (it really wasn't my name...which is why I became Pseudo3D!)

But MHoF is hard to navigate (and even harder with a new Blogger setting) so I copied it here. It's kind of notable because it had the first mall-connected Wal-Mart.

From this point on, it's the words of Mall Hall of Fame (it's at the bottom of the page here as well).


The original two stores -Montgomery Ward and Kroger- that were later worked into MANOR EAST MALL.

Photo from

The first phase of what would eventually become MANOR EAST MALL. In 1966, a freestanding Montgomery Ward and Kroger supermarket open at the intersection of East Villa Maria Road and South Texas Avenue, in the southeastern environs of Bryan. A drive-in theater had been on the site previously.

1972 and the shopping options in smalltown Bryan grow exponentially. The previously-existing Ward's and Kroger are joined by 159,900 square feet of air-conditioned mall. Counting Kroger, the complex encompasses 235,400 leasable square feet.

In 1981, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart abandoned the "Discount City" moniker that it had used since its inception in 1962. The new "Brown-era" logo, seen above, was the design aesthetic used for "Wally World's" first shopping mall-connected store, at Bryan's Texas' MANOR EAST MALL.

1981, and the first shopping mall-connected Wal-Mart opens, as a third anchor at MANOR EAST MALL. The 83,900 square foot store was in operation for thirteen years. In 1994, it was replaced by a new SuperCenter, built 1.3 miles away.

Two views of today's TEJAS CENTER, a redress of MANOR EAST MALL. A demalling carried out between 2003 and 2006 demolished nearly half of the mid-century center and replaced it with a power-format complex.

Photos from / Arkitex Design Studio

A contemporary site plan of TEJAS CENTER. Structures highlighted in blue are sections of the 1972 and 1981 mall that were substantially remodeled and reoriented with exterior entries.

Drawing from (Stalworth Real Estate Services)


East Villa Maria Road and South Texas Avenue
Bryan, Texas

Finding an answer to the question "where was the first shopping mall Wal-Mart?" proved quite elusive. An email querie sent to the corporate website resulted in a less-than-helpful, standard form, "check our website" (which had no such information) response. Readers of the MALL HALL OF FAME submitted several likely candidates. The most plausible, it seems, was a "Brown era" store, which was added to Bryan, Texas's MANOR EAST MALL. The shopping complex started out with two freestanding stores; a 1-level (57,500 square foot) Montgomery Ward and 1-level (18,000 square foot) Kroger supermarket. These were situated on a 34 acre plot, 1.9 miles southeast of downtown Bryan. Developed by Bryan, Texas' John Culpepper, they opened in 1966. In 1971-1972, a single-level, fully-enclosed shopping mall was added northeast of the existing Ward's. It was anchored by a 1-level (59,200 square foot) J.C. Penney and included Karmelkorn, The Fair, Orange Julius, Beall's, Britt's and an Eckerd Drug. Including Ward's and Penney's, MANOR EAST MALL encompassed 217,400 leasable square feet. With its completion, Bryan became the smallest city in the Lonestar State with its own fully-enclosed shopping center. The complex was expanded with a third anchor store in 1980-1981. Wal-Mart built a 1-level (83,900 square foot) location onto the southeast side of the existing mall, with the Manor East 3 triplex sandwiched between. MANOR EAST MALL now housed 308,100 leasable square feet and fifty-eight stores and services. Retail rivalry came along in February 1982. POST OAK MALL, located 2.8 miles southeast, in the adjoining community of College Station, encompassed 800,000 leasable square feet and eighty retailers. An expansion of POST OAK MALL -completed in 1985- snatched J.C. Penney from MANOR EAST. The vacant store in the older mall was retenanted by Food 4 Less and then a 50 Percent Off store before being sectioned into Bealls, Jo-Ann Fabrics and a Life Church. Wal-Mart relocated to a SuperCenter-format store (located 1.3 miles northeast) in the fall of 1994. Its abandoned space sat vacant for several years. Meanwhile, MANOR EAST declined into a less-than-prestigious property. Adding insult to injury, Montgomery Ward was shuttered in 1997. Jack Culpepper, son of the mall's original builder, began to envisage a redevelopment of his retail center in 1999. The three phase project got underway in April 2003 and included demolition of 150,000 square feet...comprising the vacant Ward's and two south store blocks of the old interior mall. The remaining structures were demalled, with stores reoriented with exterior entrances. Modern, creme-colored facades were added. A newly-built (93,000 square foot) H-E-B opened, as a primary anchor, December 12, 2004. Encompassing 360,000 leasable square feet and thirty-five stores and services, the complex, renamed TEJAS CENTER, was completed in August 2006. Tenants included JoAnn Fabrics, Bealls, Family Dollar, The Theatre Company (a live-perfomance venue in the old triplex space), Hastings and Gold's Gym.

Sources: Posts by Jonah Norason
Houston Architecture Information Forum / Posts by "RJC0618", "Iron Tiger" and "Scotch"
Bryan, Texas property tax assessor website


I was also IronTiger and initiated a discussion on the Mall on the HAIF. With that said, here's some more details:

• Eckerd stayed around for years, and finally closed up shop around 1998 when it moved to a free-standing location on
• There was a Family Dollar in the Mall in its final days, though I'm not sure if it was actually connected to the interior.
• In my first and last visit in summer 2000, we had just bought a cat and we were looking for pet supplies. Inside was a gloomy place with blue walls and I think some periphery (celestory?) windows. It reminded me a lot of the pool houses in the local pool. You had to turn right and go down a hallway to get to the last store, Animal World.
• In reality, this "forced right" was very likely caused by the fact that the east (to Wal-Mart) and the west (to the other stores) were sealed off.
• The senior John Culpepper lived to see the rise and fall of his creation: he passed away in December 2008.
• The mall was said to be the first "tilt-up construction" mall made. Apparently that's when they pour the concrete and hoist the wall up.
• Gold's Gym was actually in the strip mall portion of the mall (Hastings and others came in-line in the early 1990s)
• I think the description of the JCPenney divide is wrong. I think it was at first Food 4 Less THEN 50 Off Store and Jo-Ann Fabrics, THEN the current three-way split.
• The live theater complex came in-line in September 1997. Wards closed a few months later.
• The Wal-Mart left a nice labelscar for many years afterwards, even up to 2002.
• A five-and-dime called Kress (no, not Kresge) was also in the mall.
• A snow cone stand called Shivers later moved into the parking lot. It moved out around 2003 and spent about five years as a semi-successful store in College Station before biting the dust.
• The predecessor of the H-E-B was an H-E-B Pantry that was located elsewhere on Texas Avenue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember going to see Star Wars at the Manor East 3 back in the late 1970's, also Caddy Shack and other films. Where KKYS was located at, was the House of Jeans and also some down from there was Music Land and across was a piano and organ store. But later around the corner was Keyboard Center, the authorized Baldwin piano and organ store. I love the architecture of Manor East Mall and I have great memories as a child eating ice cream in the center near JC Penny's and not too far was Orange Julious.