Thursday, July 14, 2011

University Mall

I guess Blacksburgers felt like they were "movin' on up" when the University Mall opened up in the Summer of 1974. Before that the primary shopping area was on the south end of town at Gables.

The site had been a bucolic farmer's field with contented cows who did nothing but graze all day long.  An apartment complex then known as Greenfield Plantation on Broce Drive was at the far end of the field near Rt. 460.  About the time that the new mall appeared, this changed to Sturbridge Square.

On the Sturbridge end was the new Kroger grocery store, and a short time later Macados first restaurant was attached to the right of Kroger.  On the opposite end, facing Prices Fork Road, was the Rustler Steak House.

The University Mall itself was anchored on the far left by a giant Woolco department store, and in the first year the following stores became a part of this shopping mecca -

Brown's Hall of Cards                     Printer's Ink
Mousetrap                                        Ritz Camera
John Norman's                                 H & M Shoes
Back Street                                      Collector's Corner
People's Drug                                   Heironimus
People's Federal Savings              First Virginia Bank of the SW
Jack and Jill                                     Grassroots
Sidney's                                           Country Legend
Jewelry Store                                 Terrarium


  1. I love your blog.
    I lived in Blacksburg from '99-'07 for my college years and beyond. In '99 when I was a freshman, I remember they had just put the Math Emporium in at University Mall, in what I believe is the same place you say the Woolco was. (Someone else mentioned that the Rose's later moved there) My math class required that I spend three hours per week there working math problems, hahaha. Too bad it didn't remain a department store ;)
    There was a little two-screen theatre called the Capri Twin across University Boulevard which we occasionally visited when we weren't at the Lyric. I am not sure when it was built but I was sad to see it torn down (I believe mid-2000s). The sign stayed up a little past that but not for long.
    I hadn't realized the former Virginia Tech Museum (now Ceritano's) was once another movie theatre! That was very interesting to read about. I'm not surprised however, I remember doing work there (when it was the museum) for my biology lab and noting how large the inside was.
    I really enjoy perusing this blog and seeing what everything used to look like and what businesses were located where. I still visit friends in the 'burg occasionally and the rate of development and growth is a bit unsettling for me, I must say. The last time I visited Blacksburg in 2010 I was surprised to see how much things had changed since my last visit which was just one year prior. Now that's not to say that change or growth is necessarily a bad thing ...
    Every time I read about Mr. Fooz it sounds like it must have been the most fun place on earth. I am always sorry it wasn't still around when I started school at Tech! I think it was in the same spot that More than Coffee is in now, is that right?
    Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks, Martha. I appreciate you taking the time to tell us about "your" Blacksburg .... yes this little town just keeps on changing. We're soon to have a big roundabout at Prices Fork and Main Streets. I'll eventually write about the Capri Twin I'm sure. It's all office buildings now.

  3. Just discovered this blog and I LOVE it!! How I miss the good ole' days. When Blacksburg was actually Proud to be called "The Indains" and Dead Wood Days was the place to be! Thank you so much for bringing back old memories!!
    ~~ Sandy, Class of '81

  4. dont forget Milan Brothers Tobacco Shop of Roanoke. I worked there for cigars, pipes and tobacco and studied instead of going to the library

  5. University Mall was awesome. There was a Chinese restaurant there with a fountain, reflecting pool and little wooden footbridge you'd cross to enter. So cool. My parents decked me out between John Norman (awesome back then) and Heironimus - that's where I bought my Pet Rock in it's little nest and craft board box. It was MAJOR! Printers Ink - we used to sneak in and check out the nude magazines, reading them in the back by the Clift Notes section. There was an awesome Levi's store there...was that Jack & Jill? they had floor to ceiling wooden shelves stacked high with denim. Pretty great for the town back then.

  6. We lived in Sturbridge Square as the mall was constructed.
    The mall-in-progress was often substituted for Berlin during our war-games.
    Employees of Pappy's Pizza dressed like barbershop quartettes. Pappy's was replaced by Macado's.

  7. My parents managed Sturbridge Square during the mid-70's and my friends and I would walk to the Mall and buy candy at Woolco and just roam around. Going to Pappy's was a big treat back then. It was a great place to grow up.

  8. Thanks for the memories! My daddy took me to pappy's for the pizza every weekend! Loved the ragtime piano player and the vaudeville characters. We thought we were living in The Big time with the mall. Grew up in Blacksburg, it has changed a lot. Thanks! Sandy class of 81 BHS