04/14/12 - posted by Frank Dunnigan
As Stonestown turns 60 this year (Emporium opened in July of 1952 and the rest of the outdoor mall that November), it’s also time to give a nod to nearby Westlake Shopping Center, which turned 55 late last year.

Originally opened as “Town & Country Shopping Center” in 1948, it was little more than a supermarket and few adjacent stores until the mid-1950s, so technically, it pre-dates Stonestown, but not as a full-scale mall. The Westlake Medical Building opened in 1954, followed by a flurry of nearby building activity that culminated in the 1956 openings of JC Penney, W.T. Grant, a Sears appliance-only store (it was always said that Penney’s exercised veto rights over a full-line Sears store), Walgreens, and many others--a total of 65 retail outlets. At the same time, the surrounding area grew to include Westlake Bowl, the iconic Joe’s of Westlake, and the drive-in hamburger place with the ever-changing name (Pip’s, Tip’s, A&W, now Burger King). By 1961, the mall was a Stonestown look-alike, right down to the palm trees, raised planter boxes, and mushroom-shaped light fixtures, as shown here:


Now, after a 20-year decline and a decade-long remodel, Penney’s and most of the original merchants are long gone, replaced by Home Depot, a massive parking structure, and dozens of newer, trendier retailers and food outlets, while the pedestrian mall itself has taken on a “Main Street” feel and is now open to vehicle traffic:


Ah, the changing fortunes of retail…

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