Maplewood History: A Look at Downtown Shortly Before the Demolitions Began

The photographs of Maplewood’s business district that I have been running for the last four or five blogs have generated a lot of interest and a few requests. This post is what amounts to a file dump. Due to the difficulty most readers would have searching my old posts, I am posting some images that I have used before and some that I haven’t. To be honest, I’m not absolutely sure which is which.

And I found the text below in the same file with the photographs. I wrote it at some time in the past but I don’t think I ever used it.  A cursory search turned up nothing. So I’m taking the easy way out and just reposting everything.  I hope you enjoy:

A Look at Downtown Shortly Before the Demolitions Began

In the 1960s and 70s, Maplewood and many older inner-ring suburbs were declining.  Sprawl and increased reliance by the populace on car travel had lured away most of the customers who once supported their retail districts.

In a move to return the Maplewood retail district to profitability several plans were floated that would make one wince today.  The first plan led by the president of Citizens Bank, James Holton, was called “A Return to the Maple Leaf” and would have torn down nearly everything between Manchester and Lohmeyer and from Oakview Terrace to Big Bend.  After “The Wedge” and a few homes were razed, outraged citizens launched a referendum and managed to halt the project.

Then another group of citizens started a petition drive to allow a vote on the project and “A Return to the Maple Leaf” was on again.  A short time later following the withdrawal of an important anchor it collapsed for the second and final time.

A few months after this, Mr. Holton and supporters had another slightly smaller plan.  This one which involved bringing a K-Mart store to downtown Maplewood would see completion.

I believe the accompanying photos were most likely taken by a concerned citizen shortly before the demolitions began.

In this image, the Kennedy-Brownie Music store is in the building on the SW corner of Marshall and Manchester.  These first three buildings were later demolished.  Citizens Park is now at this location.

The Marshall side of the same building with the Kennedy-Brownie Music store. Note how Marshall is not in exact alignment with Oakview Terrace on the north side of Manchester.

The same building again only now a different business is in the Kennedy Music store space.

What a shame to demolish the Swink block.

PN Hirsch later occupied the same location that Golde’s had occupied prior to their devastating fire in 1966.

They got Eddie’s Pizza too. Damn.

Everything was demolished down to and including the Bank of Maplewood building.

A slightly different angle on those first three buildings lost on the south side of the 7300 block of Manchester.

This was a cool building right between Manchester and Southwest.

From the middle of the 7200 block looking west.

The wonderful Stertzing building with no trees to block the view. Home now to, not one but, two great restaurants, Acero and The Benevolent King.  To the right, in the Art Deco storefront, can be seen a long time favorite eatery of many folks including myself, The Chopsticks House.

The Chopsticks House from another angle along with the neighboring buildings in the 7200 block of Manchester. I am pleased to report all of these buildings survive today.

Not many changes here.

At Hazel and Sutton this turreted building is a personal favorite. Harper’s Pharmacy was once located in this building. It was not , as some folks mistakenly believe, the first city hall.  The two-story frame building on the left was in very bad condition and was removed for that reason.

Harper Photo (formerly Harper Pharmacy). I used to drop off my film and then pick up the prints or slides later at their drive up window.

I don’t like to crop historic photographs unless I think it is necessary for whatever project I’m working on. If I were to crop the prior image it would be like this. Still some of the information is lost.  Notice the tree on the left. One can see that the image stops there.  When I can I like to leave those sorts of clues for the future viewers that there was nothing past that which was cropped off.  Make sense?

The object of our disaffection. This is the only image that I have of the K Mart complex. The reason being that it was so unattractive that I never thought to take a picture of it. I have a dim memory of some sort of piece of public art (sculpture, maybe?) located right where the Maplewood Municipal Parking sign is. Does anyone else remember that? Maybe I’m hallucinating?


Thanks to everyone who turned out for my talk at the library on the 19th.  That is something I always enjoy doing.

My finished book, Maplewood History – Volume Two, is now facing another delay.  The Printing Source which had already reprinted  Volume One and furnished me with the proof pages to Volume Two has gone out of business.  I am looking for someone in the area who prints short runs of books.  Know of anyone?

As always, I appreciate everyone who contributes comments, emails, suggestions, tips or what-have-you.  The amount of very old artifacts and information that have come to light during this now 17 year old investigation is truly amazing.

Even though you can’t tell it today, summer is almost over.  Cool weather will be here before we know it.  I know there are many fans of cool weather.  I kind of understand that.

Doug Houser    9/29/2019



20 thoughts on “Maplewood History: A Look at Downtown Shortly Before the Demolitions Began

  1. Doug, thanks so much for putting all these photos in one place for easy access. Great idea! They help me take a stroll down memory lane (pun intended).

  2. Do you have any photos of the houses on Sutton that were demolished to build Kmart? Would love to see a photo of my grandparents’ house.

  3. Any pictures from Manchester and Big Bend going east to Sutton? Katz drug store, Woolworths, Newberrys, the bank at Manchester and Sutton, etc…

  4. Hey Luke, I’m familiar with Reedy Press but thank you for mentioning them. What I’m looking for now is a local printer.

  5. My family went to a dentist who was officed above Harper’s Pharmacy. Those weren’t my fondest memories of an otherwise terrific childhood growing up in 1960s Maplewood.

    • I’m with you, Mary Jo. I remember the dentist office of my childhood as something kin to a torture chamber. Was it really as bad as we think it was? Thanks for your remembrance.

  6. Doug H.: If you’re hallucinating (as you wrote), so am I! Yes, there was a piece of public art (actually, pieces of an installation of columns) at the Manchester-Sutton corner of the Municipal Garage/K-Mart site. It was right next to my store, Drum Headquarters, which was located at that corner (at the west end of the strip of stores under the K-Mart lot) from 1984-93. My best guess is that the piece was installed around 1987 and removed prior to the demolition that led to Shop ‘n Save. I believe the work was done by local artist, Carol Fleming.

    • That’s cool, Rob. It’s nice to know that I’m not hallucinating. I think I’ll send the artist an email. Possibly find out what happened to her piece. I appreciate your weighing in on this.

  7. Doug that picture of the K Mart parking garage caught my eye. We had a station wagon that had the fake wood paneling on it. I cannot imagine why we would have parked at that spot and walked to the store but it sure looks like our old car. I know we were on that roof deck quite a bit. We used to watch the cars go by from up there.

    • Mark, Let’s just say it is your station wagon with the fake wood on the side in the photo. Whatever happened to fake wood on the sides of cars anyway?

      • I showed the picture to my wife and she reminded me that we used to park our car there with a big sign on it when we had a garage sale at our house. It was a place to put a sign out and whenever we did that we would often hear people say that they had seen our sign in the KMart parting lot. So I am saying it is my car, fake wood siding and all!

        • Fantastic, Mark! I guess one never can tell when the “fake wood” from our pasts will return to remind us of who we once were.

    • I always remembered how much you could feel the upper parking deck shake and vibrate when you were standing on it and a car passed nearby. That and it always smelled like popcorn inside the Kmart.

      • Right on, Todd. Since you have reminded me I can clearly recall these sensations that you have described. Thanks.

  8. Hey Doug, bummer about your book publisher. I have a purchased a few local interest books published by Reedy Press. Perhaps they could be an option?

    • Hey Luke, I’m familiar with Reedy Press but thank you for mentioning them. What I’m looking for now is a local printer.