History: Navarro Mall – Corsicana’s First Shopping Center

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

On Sept. 25, 1968, Corsicana was introduced to a new type of shopping experience: A 151,680 square foot indoor retail center known as Navarro Mall.

Developed by Ridgeway Development Corp. of Longview, the former shopping center was located at 800 N. Main Street, and featured three anchor stores: Woolworth, Bealls, and A&P Grocery, which opened on Oct. 1 during the mall’s grand opening week. The mall was promoted as “Corsicana’s all weather shopping center.”

Store opening ad for Bealls, September 1968 – Courtesy photo

While Navarro Mall featured several chain retailers, the majority of its stores were local businesses. Ye Olde Shoppe and Jim Stephenson’s Navarro Mall Pharmacy joined the mall line-up by early November of that year. Other popular stores included Austin Shoe Stores, Bernal’s, The Clothes Horse, Juanita’s Tea Room, LaDot’s Beauty Shop, and Strebeck’s Book Store. Toyland was a popular destination for those looking for hobby crafts or the latest in stuffed toys, Atari games, and action figures.

While the mall provided Corsicana an all-new retail experience, its construction was never completed, as Ridgeway declared bankruptcy before the mall was completed. During the early 1980s the mall went through as many changes as it did owners. By 1982, the mall reorganized under Chapter 11, though for customers, their busy shopping experiences remained unaffected.

By 1983, the mall was purchased by a new owner, and underwent an extensive two million-dollar renovation, including a skylight, and a center court fountain. The mall was to be rebranded the “Post Oak Mall” to coincide with the creek that runs adjacent to the retail center.

The Navarro Mall skylight, installed in 1983, still stands today. Photo by Guy Chapman

The renovation came at a crucial time as College Park Mall was scheduled to open in the fall of 1984. Navarro Mall’s renovations were set to be completed by early 1985. Despite its attempt at rebranding, Post Oak Mall quickly changed back to the original Navarro Mall name.

Woolworth also moved its store to the other side of the mall, relocating to the Jewel T grocery store. Brookshire’s, which opened its location in 1986, took over the original Woolworth retail space.

Store closing ad for Woolworth, January 1990. – Courtesy photo

Likely due to heavy competition from Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and for a brief time, Gibson’s, Corsicana’s Woolworth store eventually closed its doors in January of 1990. Woolworth as a company ceased operations in July of 1997.

By the late 1990s, Navarro Mall eventually renamed itself to Navarro Center, shifting its focus from shopping to business services. Jewel T/Texas T closed its doors and became the offices for Midway Home Entertainment in 1998.

Today, the retail center holds only a handful of health and business services. Its interior decor has never been updated from its early 1980s design, having become a curious interactive time capsule of the era. The current Brookshire’s remains the last open store from its original retail age.

Despite its relatively short operational history, the mall’s unique specialty retail, as well as the local people who ran those stores, made the mall the place to be during the 1970s and 1980s.

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Categories: History