That Mall’s Sick And That Store’s Dead!

April 26, 2007

Tower Mall Info?

Filed under: other malls — Anita @ 10:32 pm

Recently, I was talking to someone who works at my community college, and since he knew I was a huge mall buff, he asked if I had any info on Tower Mall (was Tower Mall in Va. Beach or Norfolk?), and I told him that I didn’t and we have never received a submission on about it.

So, does anybody here have any info? I’ve posted the same notice as a MySpace bulletin as well.


More entries about Tower Mall

1988 Tower Mall Directory 

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  1. Tower Mall was in Portsmouth, I believe on Airline Boulevard, right by I-264 (it’s I-264 that runs to the downtown tunnel, right?) but I’m not sure (I haven’t lived there for years). They tore it down a few years ago, but the water tower that gave it its name is still there (I think). My family shopped there all the time in the 80’s, and I have vivid memories of shopping at an anchor store that I think was called Bradlee’s. There was also a Montgomery Ward that was the last anchor to stick around, from what I’ve heard. I also remember a Chuck E. Cheese’s.

    Tower Mall was killed by Chesapeake Square, which I’ve always thought hurt Newmarket North pretty bad too since those were the two malls that everybody in the Suffolk and Churchland area drove to.

    Comment by adam — April 26, 2007 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

  2. We got to Hampton Roads in 1995 and Tower Mall was 98% dead then. It was off 264 at Victory Blvd in Portsmouth (I think). We furnished our new home at the Montgomery Ward outlet. The outlet had home furnishings, out of season clothing, and funky junk left over from other stores.

    I remember the Bradlee’s section was closed off in early 1996. From what I recall, only Chic-Fil-A, a couple of urban stores, and MW were left the couple of times we went there. The Original Cookie Co operated there into 1996; I remember seeing the dead kiosk.

    In its place is a Lowes, Farm Fresh, AJ Wright, and other strip mall stores. Super KMart was going in at one point but during the round of KMart closures it never made it past cinderblock stage. Farm Fresh occupies part of that building.

    I mostly shop at MacArthur Center in Norfolk since it’s 2 blocks from my office :). But I live within 5 miles of Chesapeake Square. I can see why Adam said Chesapeake Square helped kill both Tower and Newmarket. It’s right off 664 whereas Newmarket was a bear to get to.

    Anita, I think focus could shift to Greenbrier Mall. I don’t see it lasting much longer. Give it 10 years and it’ll become a “Lifestyle” or “Power” center. Even though Dillard’s completely rebuilt their store and Macy’s got a freshly renovated Hecht’s, I don’t think it’s going to last. Access is horrendous and the store selection is crap.

    Comment by KP — April 27, 2007 @ 7:06 am | Reply

  3. Anita, I think focus could shift to Greenbrier Mall. I don’t see it lasting much longer.

    See, we only shopped in Hampton and Newport News growing up (still do).

    I mostly shop at MacArthur Center in Norfolk since it’s 2 blocks from my office

    I’m not a big fan of that place because they don’t have any plus size clothing stores (other than the expensive Nordstrom, and the dowdy Dillards).

    Comment by Anita — April 27, 2007 @ 8:22 am | Reply

  4. MacArthur’s just convenient for me :). I can meet friends for lunch or hit Dillards for shoes. And I like Chesapeake Square for its Target Lite.

    as for Tower Mall, I don’t know if the VA Pilot online archives would have a lot of info. I know there were numerous write-ups…I’m bored at work so let me check!

    Comment by KP — April 27, 2007 @ 8:33 am | Reply

  5. Tower Mall was in Portsmouth — Original anchors of J.M. Fields and Montgomery Wards. When J.M. Fields went bankrupt in the late 70s, evetually, Bradlees moved in. It was one of the last stores of its type in Virginia, lasting until the chain itself decared bankruptcy. Wards turned into a Montgomery Wards Outlet and was open until THAT chain also went bankrupt (my sofa and dining room table came from there). By that time, the entire mall was dead, and wasn’t even open for mall-walkers.

    There was a sign when I last went there, before it was razed, that it was going to become a Power Plant. I only have to assume that it fell through, because the property is now what is known as “Victory Crossing”, with a giant Lowes, Ruby Tuesdays, Dollar Tree, and other shopping.

    It was near the intersection of Victory Blvd and Portsmouth Blvd.

    Of course, you know all that now, but… LOL ;-)

    Comment by SilverBlue — April 27, 2007 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  6. I apparently read that there was a Miller & Rhoads at Tower as well? Like a small location?

    Comment by Anita — April 28, 2007 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  7. I have Bradlees, Hess’s, Miller & Rhoads, and Monkey Wards as anchors on my (self-compiled) list of malls in the US.

    Comment by Bobby — April 30, 2007 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

  8. I got confirmation from Steven Swain that the M&R at Tower was small, and it died before the entire chain did in 1989.

    Ah, I found two articles from the Virginia Tech Scholar site … thing:



    Oh, and for shits and giggles:

    Tower Mall Kicked Ass Mousepads (this the only photo I found of the mall) and shirts.

    Tower Mall MySpace group.

    Brian & I over at are also going to create a feature on the site about Tower once I find time (school’s over Thursday).

    Comment by Anita — April 30, 2007 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

    • I remember Tower Mall vividly. When it was being built my family and I (Age 4) thought we could take a shortcut across the contruction site to get home…Well we got a major surprise the lot was unpaved and muddy as all get out…We were filthy when we got home! Tower Mall was the meeting place during my High School years (I.C. Norcom High School Class of 1987) I remember the huge “L” shaped water tower fountains that were in the open areas inside the mall, J.M. Fields, Montgomery Ward (My Mom worked in appliances), Baskin Robbins, Tobak (Tobacco Store) Rice’s and Nachmans, The Merry-Go-Round (Designer Jeans Store) Fines Men’s Shop, Lionel Play World, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Chick-Fil-A, Orange Juilius. I remember everything! Thise were great times!

      Comment by Marcus Ward — July 6, 2011 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  9. Hey Anita,

    Thanks for making this open call on Tower Mall! I was worried it would be a mall that would fade into the background without any notice. I remember shopping there once or twice as a kid, although I was too young to have much recollection of anything other than my parents telling me to stick close to them because it was (at the time) in an area with a high-crime rate. Shortly after our attention switched to Greenbrier, then to Coliseum/New Market Fair, next Southpark in Colonial Heights, and finally Chesapeake Square.

    I’m a bit curious — there was a mall in the seven-city area that had a Talheimers (spelling?) that had a restaurant with in the store itself. I am almost sure it was amongst the dead malls in the area now (Walnut Hill, New Market, Tower, Coliseum), it may have been in Military Circle Mall. Are there any more Malls in the area that have died that anyone knows of?

    Comment by Zak — May 1, 2007 @ 11:40 am | Reply

    • It was Military Circle mall who had THALHEIMERS dept store the restaurant was call the Sword and Kilt i loved going there as a young child.

      Comment by Legacy — January 2, 2010 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

    • I second that on the Sword & Kilt. I think the Coliseum Mall Thalheimers had a Sword & Kilt also, but the one at Military Circle was the best. I even chose to go there on my birthday, on more than one occasion.

      They made delicious popovers (hollow rolls), soups, sandwiches. Amazing hot fudge cake for dessert.

      Very dark inside with plaid carpet. The restaurant had slatted wood “windows” that opened out into the main store. It was like walking into an old English pub, in the middle of a bright department store.

      Crazy thing is on the 2nd floor a few feet from the restaurant, Thalheimers had a pet store. Health codes must have been more lenient back in the day.

      Comment by Seaton — October 19, 2011 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

      • Yes, coliseiun had a sword and kilt too.

        Comment by Anita — November 24, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  10. I already told Zak this via e-mail but yup, Thalhimers had a restaurant on the second floor I believe called the Kilt & Sword. When Thalhimers closed and Hechts came in, the restaurant was taken out.

    Silver Blue/John could elaborate more on this.

    Comment by Anita — May 1, 2007 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  11. Yeah… most Thalhimer’s had their own restaurant, the Sword and Kilt. In fact, Golden Skillet Fried Chicken restaurants (remember them?) were also a spin off using Thalhimer’s chicken recipe. The area of Macy’s/Hecht’s on the second floor, by the elevator is where the restaurant used to be. From what I understand, the Thal’s in Richmond also had a Sword and Kilt. I miss that place — the food truly WAS that excellent.

    Smith & Welton had “The Painted Lady” tea room, or something to that effect, and it now is a stand alone in Ghent, in Norfolk, near 19th and Granby. It even has the orignal marble sign in the inside.

    Comment by SilverBlue — May 1, 2007 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  12. I forgot to mention — the reason I mention where it was in the Coliseum Macy’s is because the store is supposedly going to receive a new facade, but not be torn down. That, of course, is inconsequential. Let’s hope they FINALLY after 30 years, give that poor retail building a renovation on the inside.

    Comment by SilverBlue — May 1, 2007 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  13. The Thalhimer’s in Military Circle also had a restaurant (Sword & Kilt) from what I can remember, on the second floor.

    As far as other dead malls in the area, I did a post a while back about them at

    Of course, that was July 13, 2003, and now Coliseum Mall has also been added to the list of dead malls (Mercury Plaza has also been torn down, but…like a phoenix, is coming back with Hampton putting Burlington back there as well as Firestone Tires.)

    Sorry for three comments in a row…but that’s what I get for my mind working slower than my fingers type!

    Comment by SilverBlue — May 1, 2007 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  14. SilverBlue,

    Funny you should mention that about Golden Skillet, as one is within walking distance of the college!

    After reading this, I also recall Coliseum Mall seemed to have an anchor store with an escalator that had this huge chandelier hanging down The area was surrounded by glass, but transparent so that you could see people shopping on the other side (as you went down).

    There was also a steakhouse across from the mall which always had unique theming in it (I think there was a full size jail cell that you could eat in)! We also frequented the Red Lobster there, which was in a shopping center that seemed pretty dead for even the late 80s / early 90s. The cinema in that shopping center was either a one show or three show and I specifically recall one time seeing Ninja Turtles 2 playing when it was already out on video and I remember thinking how silly that seemed, yet somehow, I still wanted to go watch it at the cinema (I guess I thought something different was going to happen).

    Anyway, thanks for the answers and the glance back into history!

    I also see this site and is referenced quite a bit on Wikipedia for malls in the area.


    Comment by Zak — May 1, 2007 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

  15. I’ve had the fish at golden skillet (my workstudy teacher bought me lunch one day), tasted like the fried fish my dad’s firehouse does from time to time. I gotta try their chicken now though, since apparently its Thalhimers chicken.

    I’m scared to death of escalators (I fell down the one at Sears at Newmarket in 1999) so I can’t answer that question.

    I believe that Zak is bringing up Steak & Ale. I’ve always wanted to eat in there.

    Red Lobster is in Riverdale and that place is totally dead now. The Hills (that closed in ’97) hasn’t been replaced, and the Super Fresh/Farmer Jack closed in 1998. I don’t know why Office Depot decides to stay.

    I have a photo of that movie theater I took in 2003:

    NEI Cinemas (Hampton, VA closed mid 1990's)

    Ninja Turtles 2 playing when it was already out on video and I remember thinking how silly that seemed, yet somehow, I still wanted to go watch it at the cinema (I guess I thought something different was going to happen).

    I have sooo many commercials for TMNT2 in my old commercial collection!

    Comment by Anita — May 1, 2007 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  16. Yep. That was Thalheimer’s in Coliseum Mall with the glass lined escalators. They had a display case on the back wall, the the two side walls were one way mirrors. You could see people shopping, but all they saw was their own reflection. I haven’t been in Macy’s to see what ever happened there.

    As far as Riverdale, the entire back row where JM Fields/Lionel Play World/Mr. How/Builder’s Square/(and most recently) Hill’s was located, is slated for demolition and they will be moving everything forward toward Mercury Blvd., also opening up the middle so you can see the Cinema City (formerly Regal) theatres. I expect the duoplex to be demo’d, much like the old Bally’s was.

    Steak & Ale still has that jail cell dining room, from what I remember the last time I was there. Freaky, to say the least. Bennegans & Steak & Ale both are staying on the property (they’ve been there as long as I can remember).

    Comment by SilverBlue — May 2, 2007 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  17. I remember Tower Mall very well. My mom used to live in that place on the weekend. I also recall having a seizure there once, as a child, right that Montgomery Wards mall entrance
    The Montgomery Wards in Tower mall featured a restaurant, although I cannot remember the name of it. It did stay in business until the malls death. The Wards itself was in fact an original Wards, until Wards was built in Chesapeake Square; the Tower Mall location was then turned into an Outlet. I recall a portion of the Wards store having blue (why, I don’t know) painted ceiling tiles, and a very, very high rise ceiling near the electronics section.
    I remember Bradlee’s very well. It reminded me much of a Rose’s or Ames department store. There was also a Hess in the mall, though it didn’t seem to last very long. The Chick-Fil-A in the mall was there for a very LONG (actually from the malls inception until its death) time if I recall correctly. It was on corner of the mall just near Bradlee’s; it remained open until the mall closed, if I remember correctly. There was also a Foot Locker as well as a Hofheimers shoe store (which was located on a corner, near the wing leading to the Hess store.
    Keep in mind; I frequented the mall during the early-mid-late 90’s.
    I recall there being a Fines urban apparel store near the Montgomery Wards end of the mall, though I’m not sure what was directly beside it. I remember there being “dips” in the floor with seats and benches, which was probably state of the art during the malls peak period. There was a big Customer Service, Lottery Kiosk dead center of the mall as well.
    This is all I can remember for now. Ironic Anita that you post something about this mall, a few weeks ago, I was just thinking “man, people have forgotten all about Tower Mall”

    Comment by BW — May 2, 2007 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

    • yes it was bradlees chick fila, regis hair salon,,,footlocker,,a barber shop,,,the outfitters,,chuck e cheese,,lionel play world before bradlees came there,,the amc theatre,,then it was morrisons,,athletes attic at the main entrance across from morrisons,,then came baskin and robins,,,orange bowl,,the orange julius,,,payless shoe source, rices and nechmans then came hess’s and nechmans,,miller and rhoads,,pearl vision i beleive,,the beauty outlet store,,,beside montgomery wards, original cookie, k & k TOYS,bermans leather,,,anderson little clothing store,,cant remember anymore off hand,,but i do remember before the remodeling in the late 80’s there were towers in the mall with water flowing and these white oval sectional seats. oh i really miss tower mall

      Comment by Legacy — January 2, 2010 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  18. The Montgomery Wards in Tower mall featured a restaurant, although I cannot remember the name of it.

    Here is a photo of a Wards eatery in the über creepy Regency Mall (now boarded up) in Georgia:

    Comment by Anita — May 2, 2007 @ 9:10 pm | Reply

  19. The only Thalhimers in Richmond that had a Sword & Kilt was Cloverleaf Mall, though I really don’t remember the downtown Thalhimers having a restuarant to compete with the Miller & Rhoads Tea Room, other than the Men’s Soup Bar (which eventually became just the Soup Bar).

    Thalhimers downtown and Westmoreland both had fairly extensive bakery and gourmet food sections, with Westmoreland having a takeout counter for Golden Skillet.

    I worked for Golden Skillet for a while after they’d ditched the Thalhimers deal and became a franchise operation. The store I worked at was a company store and not franchised. Those were the pre-Roy Clark days, when we used the trademark “Tender as Quail, Tasty as Pheasant”.

    And, though I still fry a mean bird, I can’t instruct you on how to cook chicken the Golden Skillet way until you’ve shelled out a few thousand for a pressurized deep fat fryer…

    Comment by Dave McGrann — May 3, 2007 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

  20. [...] Tower Mall Directory, 1988 Filed under: other malls — Anita @ 9:20 pm {The original Tower Mall entry} [...]

    Pingback by Tower Mall Directory, 1988 « That Mall’s Sick And That Store’s Dead! — May 6, 2007 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  21. The Montgomery Wards in Lynnhaven Mall, Virginia Beach, also had a restaurant; it was walled off from the store during a renovation and then converted into Ivan Holden Master Jewelers (which only had an outside entrance that you ad to be buzzed in to). Ivan did repairs for many of the local jewelry stores, as well as custom design and creation.

    When Wards went bankrupt, there was a big story in the Pilot newspaper about how they shafted Ivan for tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid repairs. I remember going in there once to get work done (I used to run his website, and then things took a strange turn and from what I hear, he was denied bond for fraud or something like that) and his work floor was still that restaurant style terracotta tile.

    Ivan then moved down Lynnhaven behind Lynnhaven Computers, and a few years later, back up Lynnhaven, almost directly across from Dillard’s parking lot, next to a day care. He still owes me over $500 for merchandise that was never paid for, so yeah, there’s bad blood there. The lies that I now know that he and his “office manager” told were enough to turn me against doing websites for “Friends”.

    Comment by SilverBlue — May 7, 2007 @ 10:37 am | Reply

  22. Well, it seems like people remember the mall of my youth, Tower Mall! So, I guess that it should be stated for the record a list of the stores that I can remember with reference to actual wings. To correct a couple of errors that I have seen. First, the Bradlees/JM Fields wing was never closed. It was the Hess’s/Rice’s Nachmanns wing that was closed from the rest of the mall. Second, The mall was actually located between Mclean and Victory Blvd. The mall had one entrance sign on Airline, but none of the mall was on Airline. Third, the Miller & Rhoads was indeed not a traditional anchor, yet it did have it’s own mall entrance and it wasn’t very small, stretching the area of an entire wing. Fourth, Most MW eateries didn’t have a name, just a sign above it that said resturant

    Open Ended Wing

    Morrison’s Cafeteria
    The Record Bar
    Mitchell’s Formal Wear
    Radio Shack
    The Orange Bowl (a local eatery) became a Chinese eatery in later years)
    Champions (an Arcade) which was the 2nd arcade the mall housed

    Hess’s/Rice’s Nachmann’s Wing

    Hess’s/Rice’s Nachmann
    Miller & Rhoads
    Fashion Bug
    La Vogue
    Natrilizer Shoes
    Foot Locker

    These were the short wings of the mall, that is probably why one end didn’t have an anchor store.

    JM Fields/Bradlees Wing

    JM Fields (closed after parent co. Food Fair went bankrupt)
    Food Fair (Tower Mall did have a grocery store!)
    Lionel Playworld (Opened very briefly in Food Fair spot c.1984)
    Pearle Vision Center
    Unknown Realtor At the Mall
    Chuck-E-Cheese (Had Huge Ass Human Rat Wheel)
    Tower Pharmacy
    McDonalds (closed early 80’s)
    Fashion’s By David (Opened after McDonald’s closed)
    Anderson-Little (Men’s Clothing Store)
    Foot Locker (2nd Location in the Mall)
    Orange Julius (Was in the center of the walkway)
    Stride Rite (Kids shoe store)

    Montgomery Ward Wing

    Montgomery Ward (Duh) became MW Outlet store near the end
    K&K Toys
    Tower Mall 1&2 Cinema
    Spertner’s Jewelers
    Becky’s (Evenson’s) Hallmark (My mom worked here)
    Everything’s a Dollar
    Sterling Optical
    Living Well Fitness for Ladies
    Games Plus (1st Arcade of Tower Mall)

    Center Court

    D. P. Paul Jewelers
    Zales Jewelers
    Baskin Robbins (YUM, 31 Flavors)
    Zap Communications (If you need a Pager.)

    Well, I know that there are a couple more stores that I can’t remember, and I wish I could, anyway this is what I know and miss!

    Tower Mall R.I.P

    Comment by Murphyhof — May 21, 2007 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  23. Man this has really brought back memories for me. I remember being 12 or 13 and spending my Saturday afternoons at Champions playing video games. There was also a walden’s books there that I would buy comic books from. My great aunt worked at the Bradlee’s and would take me to lunch at Chik-Fil-A. I do think that one of the reasons why that mall didn’t survive is because Chesapeake Square was only a few minutes away and in a much safer area. Fairwood Homes (or Academy Park depending on how old you are) was right across the street from Tower Mall and was one of the worst crime areas in Portsmouth at the time. I remember seeing the first TMNT movie there for a dollar at their tiny theater. Ah, memories.

    Comment by Joey — June 1, 2007 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  24. Oh what memories I have of that mall.I worked their as a teenager at Great Impressions T-shirt shop,it was near Bradlee’s kinda across from Stuart’s clothing and either a maternity store or children’s store I don’t remember which.Other stores I remember are Lerner,Brooks (which later became Brooks Altelier) Foxmoor all in the Hess wing.Also Dutchmaid donuts,does anyone remeber them?There was also a Steak House at one of the side entrances I think but I don’t remeber the name of it.I have such fond memories of that place and would really like to find some pics. but so far have been unsucessful.I spent alot of time in that place as a teen but yes I was fickle, as soon as Ches.Square opened I moved on to greener pastures.So again if anyone knows where to find pics. of T-mall please let me know.Ah to see the ole girl again what bliss.

    Comment by jennifer white — June 18, 2007 @ 12:24 am | Reply

  25. I remember DutchMaid Donuts! The name of the Steak House was York Steakhouse. My dad always got me a hamburger because I guess I was too young to be worthy of a steak. Also folks, don’t forget about the Jordache store. And what was the name of the shop down by the inside mall entrance to Bradlee’s that sold the leisure suits? I think it may have also been a tuxedo rental store.

    Comment by Cap — August 24, 2007 @ 7:10 am | Reply

  26. HA! man o man, memory row. what about that custom t-shirt island where you could get a custom t-shirt, next the glass blowing island. oh yea, you guys forgot to mention (from what i can see), Hickory Farms! I lived in Craddock on Burtis St from about ’76-’82. Went to Alfred J. Mapp Middle School, then off to Craddock High, a stint at the old IC Norcom High, Frederick Military Academy (dead now as well) and finally moved to California but, back to Va Bch to graduate from First Colonial HS.

    Tower Mall was the place all of us kids rode our bikes to when we were not riding in the Salt Flats or bummin around Craddock. The Mall was the place to see and be seen. It was sooo…80’s. I used to like the Sporting Goods/Outdoor section. Back then they had assault rifles, riding lawn mowers, power tools, etc. I never remembered any kind of dining facility being there. I did like the arcade that was across from MW. My parents had charge accounts there and would always bitch about how much they owed wards but hey..the prices were right. Get your Tough Skin jeans here kiddies!

    Many a Saturday was spent at the movie theater, then strolling around. Hitting Orange Julius, gettin a hair cut at the hip salon across the way from orange julius, and of course checkin out the pet shop. The place always reminded me of the mall lay out from Dawn of the Dead for some reason. Anyway, we moved away and like a lot of Portsmouth and what we used to call the Tidewater Area (now Hampton Roads, more PC i guess) kinda went…south?

    I come from an old southern family in the area of Suffolk, Nansemond Indians in fact, real ones not the posers that formed the so called tribe. We are from the Skeeter Town area. Anyway, saw your photos on and had to check out your site. Thanks,

    Troy B.

    Comment by Troy B. — September 15, 2007 @ 1:14 am | Reply

    • Troy,
      I forgot all about the hair salon until you mentioned it! I remember the smell of ‘perms’ outside the store, and as a child I would always pinch my nose. My aunt went to Craddock High school and my grandmother lived and continues to live in Craddock. I now live in the Suffolk area too (close to the Lipton Tea plant), and am a Nansemond Indian as well. The deceased Chief Earl Bass (Running Deer) was my great grandfather.

      What a small world!

      Comment by Ashlie — August 1, 2011 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  27. What has been lost in all these posts that in the 80s Tower Mall had a wealth of anchor stores, Miller and Rhodes and Rices Nachmans were on the back of the mall opposite each other, these were local dept. stores based in Richmond and Newport News respectively. Of course the most prominent anchors were M Wards and JM Fields which later became a Bradlees.

    The other posters are probably correct, with the building of the MOnitor Merrimac Tunnel and I-664 and Chesapeake square as well as the decline of Portsmouth, white flight did in Tower Mall. Like most malls on this list, it was not just one incident or happening that spelled their death knell, but a series of events that their owners failed to see coming…

    Comment by Ray S — October 27, 2007 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  28. I lived in Western Branch from birth in 1975 until moving out-of-state in early 1985 (and back in the area as an adult for a couple of years before leaving again). This really brings back a lot of memories. I remember the Bradlees well and have a fuzzy memory (not sure if it is real) of getting “lost” in the store and being paged over the intercom. I remember the toy store (Kay-Bee?) well and seem to think it was across the hallway from a cigar store that always had a cigar-store Indian out front and a strong smell of pipe tobacco. I think my brother actually worked at the Montgomery Ward’s in the late ’70s. Chik-fil-A and Chuck-E-Cheese–I remember them well. I think there may have been some sort of department store in the late ’70s where Chuck-E-Cheese went in later, but I’m not sure. Does anyone else remember Santa Claus jumping (or being lowered) from a helicopter above the parking lot to start the Christmas season (probably around 1980), or am I just dreaming that?

    Comment by Steve — February 4, 2008 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

    • I may be wrong, but I think the Santa jumping out of the copter was at Mid-City Shopping Center, about a mile or two away. If they did that at Tower Mall, I don’t recall…

      I’m in my mid-40’s, born and raised in Portsmouth, and to this day, I still call that spot “Tower Mall”, even though it’s now a strip mall with another name (Victory Crossing, I think). My friends and I lived at the mall on the weekends. Until I’d read this post, I’d forgotten about JM Fields, Bradless and the donut shop. Remember the killer lines at Chik-fil-A and the water fountain outside of Bradlee’s? Great, great memories…..


      Comment by Pamela — August 6, 2011 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  29. Holy @#$@. I totally forgot about Santa Clause jumping out of the Helicoptor. I went a couple of years in a row back in mid 80’s. I remember he used to jump out and a stream of smoke would follow him down so you could spot him. Wow thanks for the memeory relapse. Other memories are going shopping at Tower Mall to get school clothes and seeing the original American Tale movie at the Movies.

    Comment by Cliff — March 5, 2008 @ 8:45 am | Reply

  30. I can remember most of those stores and some of the pics u guys have are great.. but…. does anyone remember or have a pic of that giant blue fountain structure in center court.. (when it still worked) does that jog any memories!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by rich — April 18, 2008 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  31. I grew up in Porstmouth and remember frequenting Tower Mall. Aaaaahh the fountain never worked! My parents would never take me to Chucky E Cheese. I was very disappointed. Many a temper tantrum was thrown! LOL

    This is a little off topic, but does anyone have any photos of Mid City in Portsmouth. Someone said it has been torn down and replaced with a Walmart. Is this true?! I know it’s not a mall, but I haven’t found any sites! LOL

    Comment by Andre Kline — May 16, 2008 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  32. Mid City now has a Super Wal-Mart that sits where the old Plaza sat (directly in front of Walgreens on Fredrick).. There is Wal-Mart there, with a Rally’s across the street..

    Comment by B — May 20, 2008 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  33. My brother was in a Halloween costume contest there, probably around ’81, ’82. I remember all the kids parading around the center of the mall in front of the judges. I also remember when the new Yugo was being displayed and thinking: what a cheap car, it has plastic bumpers. I also remember Barbara Morgan buying a book at Walden’s (WAVY TV fame). I was star struck; I was about 10 years old. I liked eating at Morrison’s because my parents would let me get a pudding for desert and then getting a coffee candy and mint tooth pick when dad paid the bill. I think it was Smith and Welton that had a Christmas Scene of carolers in the window every year. I remember a Santa Clause there, but I think there was a stink about it because Santa Clause had his own little house in the middle of the parking lot at Mid City at the same time. I think mom still has pictures of us sitting in Santa’s lap. But, Santa managed to get to Coleman’s Nursery too. I saw The Christmas Story, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi in the theater there. We also took a third grade class trip to see a movie there. When the store closed that had its place taken by Bradley’s, they had a heck of a sale. Man, was that store wrecked. I bought 45’s at the record store there, I think I got Culture Club and Michael Jackson records there. My brother bought Alvin and Chipmunks records. We wore those records out. We lived about a mile away in Oregon Acres. I rode my bicycle up there by myself once and another kid tried to steal it. I don’t remember the grocery store; we did our grocery shopping at Giant Open Air at Alexander’s Corner. Dad always stopped at the Virginia National in front of the mall to get a twenty from the “Cash Flow” machine before we went to Morrison’s.
    As for the last post, Mid City’s gone and Wal-Mart’s there now. We didn’t go there much, we were scared to eat at the Chinese place there on the end for some reason. The “Blue Hawaii” had a cool ocean and palm tree scene painted on the side.
    Anyway, thanks for the letting me remember this stuff. These were great years.

    Comment by Paul Hill — May 22, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  34. Memories of Tower Mall at the end of its hayday are kinda vague for me. I do remember going to watch Santa Clause “Parachute” from an Airplane around 1985 or 1986. That was a major event back then. Large crowds of people filled the available parking spaces that were not roped off. Local television celebrities turned out to cover the event and greet shoppers. I also remember the grand opening (or possibly remodeling) of Hess’s in the late 1980’s as well. That was probably the last great event that Tower Mall had to celebrate.
    As a kid, we did not visit Portsmouth and Tower Mall very often due to the “Bad Neighborhood” that surrounded it. Other area malls such as Lynnhaven Mall in neighboring Virginia Beach were much more desirable for more upscale and safe shopping alternitives in the 1985-1995 area. I believe the area and the reputation of Portsmouth in general led to the ultimate demise of Tower Mall. Even though the opening of nearby Chesapeake Square Mall in the early 1990’s did not help the situation, increasing crime and an overall diminishing reputation of the surrounding area would have solely led to the mall’s ultimate demise.
    An interesting fact about Tower Mall that I have not seen posted hear is that one of the original businesses on the mall property still remains. That is the Bank of America Building. The physical mall was demolished and replaced with the typical “big box” stores common in shopping centers today (see Victory Crossing) in early 2000. This original outparcel building survived during the demolition process and is currently still open for business. It’s exterior is reminiscent of the outer shell of the mall.
    Thanks to all who have posted here for inspiring me to reflect on my childhood mall memories.

    Comment by Jeff — August 14, 2008 @ 2:23 am | Reply

  35. I recently became obsessed with Tower Mall and other shopping centers that i grew up with in the Hampton Roads area. I have found any pictures what so ever having to do with Tower Mall are no where to be seen anywhere on the net, not even the original logo! I am a graphic designer and I recreated the logo as best as I could from memory (pretty sure I got it right) and added it to a line of merchandise at if anyone would like to have a look. It uses the logo, has the Victory Blvd address underneith, and 1972-2001 underneith that. If any part of the logo doesnt seem correct, PLEASE let me know as again, I only have memory to go on and its been a LONG time!

    Also i want to start a project to recreate Tower Mall in 3D using 3DS Max. I want to get everything as correct as I can. If anyone has photos or drawings or can even sketch things out so I can have things to go by that might spark some old memories in my head, please let me know!

    Comment by Kelly — August 22, 2008 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

  36. Andre Kline… I have pics of MidCity!!! I have that and Tower Mall and some other run down places around the area. Unfortunatly they are not the best but its all there is anywhere…atleast I cant find jack squat anywhere else on the net! I took them around 2000 and lost the majority of what i had from a hard drive failure but I still had a small handfull on actual film. IM pretty sure I have even more somewhere but still hunting for them :-( ANyway, I posted them all on a Myspace group focused on Tower Mall mainly but MidCity is just as important to them :-) The group is at

    Comment by Kelly — August 22, 2008 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  37. Wow, all of you have amazing memories of Tower Mall. Back in the late 70’s, they used to set up a carnival in the parking lot by the water tower. I was only about 7 years old but remember the double ferris wheel that kinda freaked me out from the height.

    Glad someone mentioned the McDonald’s which was not in a food court, but an actual storefront. That McDonald’s had a lot of interesting stone work inside and out. The restaurant was very “deep” in that you walked all the way to the back to get to the counter.

    There was an Orange Julius in a large kiosk in one of the hallways. I remember shopping at Rices and buying my Boy Scout uniforms at Miller and Rhodes.

    Bradlee’s was a great store when it was open, I bought my first “hi-fi” stereo on layaway from that store. The original (crappy) arcade was located in the back hall of Munky Wards, as previously reported the nicer arcade Champions was inside the main entrance across from Morrison’s. They used to have a truancy officer who would go in there and bust students leaving school early.

    The Morrison’s Cafeteria was actually phenomenal food, we used to drive there just for the blue plate special. Luckily, most of their great staff are now at Picadilly in Chesapeake Square.

    Yes, Montgomery Ward’s had a small restaurant. It was just called “Restaurant” in big bold letters. They had typical Woolworth style food. Chicken, burgers, and unidentified “red drink” in those great jet spray dispensers.

    DutchMaid donuts were to die for.

    The Hoffheimer’s shoe store was in the far right corner after walking in the main entrance, Florsheim Men’s Shoes were connected next door and DutchMaid donuts next to that.

    I spent quite a bit of time there…RIP Tower Mall

    Comment by Seaton — September 12, 2008 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

  38. Yes, you all have some great memories of Tower Mall. I do remember the first time I went to mid-city and saw Santa Clause jumping out of the helicopter, I very much so thought it was the real

    Do you remeber Chuck E. Cheese, they use to hold friday/Saturday night dances for the teens. That was the place to be, oh the good times.

    I attended Mapp Middle School and then Craddock High School from 81-85. What happened to the school? I use to live in Academy Park/Fairwood Homes, what happen to that, its just a dirt zone.

    It’s almost depressing when I visit each year to Portsmouth and its looks as thought the city has not progressed as the rest of the world.

    Comment by T.Williams — September 19, 2008 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

    • I dont remember a Santa at Mid City but I remember that little house in the middle of the lot would get turned into Santas Workshop every year. I do remember getting a green Santa ring from him though from there I think.

      Things just started to really change in the past year in Portsmouth that I have noticed. I liked going there all the time and the surrounding area to look around town and see things not changing, i preferred it. But in the past year, many of the places I remember and relate to seem to finally be getting torn down or changed in some way. Its really depressing now and dont find myself all happy to go to the area anymore. Growing up sux!

      Dutchmaid Donuts sounds so familiar! I havent heard that in years, so that was at tower mall? I seem to remember something about it and parents getting a dozen every once in a while, there and from Dunkin Donuts in Churchland which I hear they remodeled :-(

      That was “The King” and it was a giant lion Elvis impersonator. Every Chuck E Cheese had him too in a room dedicated to just him where you could sit and eat like a small lounge

      Comment by Kelly — June 3, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  39. In addition to the Bradless, Monkey Wards, and Chuck E. Cheese’s mentioned above, there was a smoke shop (which moved once or twice within the mall, an arcade that was in the same hall as the Monkey Wards restaurant entrance, and a Radio Shack. The Radio Shack is a fond memory, since I had gotten there like a month or so after starting out in foster care (July/August 1981), and I remember playing the PONG video game that they had set up in the store for several hours.

    Comment by Alan — October 1, 2008 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  40. Hey,
    Does anyone know where Ivan Holden, Master Jeweler is now?

    Comment by Lorane Leavy — November 2, 2008 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  41. Wow, me and some friends were just taking about Tower Mall last weekend. The memories are so vivid. I remember spinning on the stools at Dutchmaid Donuts. Buying shruikens at the Japanese weapons shop near the front of the mall. Buying all sorts of pimped out gear at Gent’s, Merry Go Round and Fashions. The incredible arcade at the end of the mall and of course, Chuck E. Cheese on Friday nights.

    Comment by Shane — January 13, 2009 @ 9:15 am | Reply

  42. What a site. My memories of the great Tower Mall are so vivid. I rememeber spinning on the stools in Dutchmaid Donuts, buying shruikens from the Japanese products store near the entrance of the Mall, buying assorted pimp gear from Gent’s and Fashions and Chuck E. Cheese on Friday nights!

    Comment by Shane — January 13, 2009 @ 9:21 am | Reply

  43. during the late 70’s chuck E cheese had a giant Elvis in the front dinning area.You put quarters in and it
    danced and sang. I think the song was t.r.o.u.b.l.e. there was only one bathroom in towermall that I can remember,located by wards and the old game room.

    Comment by john gray — January 25, 2009 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  44. Tower mall was the highlight of Portsmouth during the 1970’s and 80’s. It was build I believe in early 70’s. It was located on Victory, where the curent Victory crossing (2009) is located. I purchased lots of clothing there and many pairs of shoes. My favorite clothng stores were: Fines Men’s Wear, Fashions by Me and David, and Gents. I also enjoyed shopping at my favorites The Record Bar and at Hardy Shoes – “John Hardy Shoes” I purchased many pairs of shoes there, nice pointed toe shoes too.

    The Mall was torn down I think around 2000. It kind of lost its following when Chesapeake Square opened around 1990. This mall also caused the loss of business in downtown Suffolk, and resulting in closing of J. C. Penney, Legget, and F. W. Woolworth on North Main St. in Suffolk, VA.

    Comment by C. J. White, Jr. — November 3, 2009 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

  45. Re: Mid-City Shopping Center…ah fond memories of the late 1960’s/early-mid 70’s. Near Xmas, Santa would arrive in the parking lot, and he’d greet children there in a little faux-cottage. I remember there was The Book End, which was sort of a hip/mod version of Spenser Gifts. The Book End carried incense, tangerine and strawberry perfume oils, black light posters, rock music posters, Pop/OP Art trash cans,and…ahem…rolling papers. It was the place to shop if you wore straight-leg corduroy Levis, desert boots, macrame belts and Boone’s Farm or Captain Zig-Zag T-shirts.

    Mid City Shopping center also sported a fabulous Miller & Rhoads (sp?) department store, a J/C Penny’s, The long-dead, but fondly remembered Blue Hawaii eatery, where you could sip drinks and order vaguely polynesian inspired food. A guy called The Hawaiian Cowboy would perform there on weekends, and sing hits like ‘Tiny Bubbles.’ I think there was a Locksmith’s shop, a Mary Perkins gift store, and a discount anchor store that I don’t remember near the Blue Hawaii and the dental practice on the second story. It wasn’t a Grant’s…

    Re: Tower Mall…there was Tobac LTD, a Chess King, Hallmark, Waldenbooks, and a store where I purchased prom dresses made by GunnySack, and blouses by Sweet Baby Jane. There was also in later years, a Sports Authority. And yes, the food at the cafeteria was really good. Good times!

    Comment by Beth — November 6, 2009 @ 6:36 am | Reply

  46. I loved Tower mall when I was a teen. My mom worked at several locations there, The Cookie Works, The Bread Basket (a sandwich shop) P.G. Jewelry, Gemstone Jewelry and Hallmark. My first job was at Things Remembered. There was a store there where you could buy concert tickets… hmmm what was it called? Leather etc.. I think. When I was really little there was a Carmel Corn popcorn place there (a kiosk) and the candy shop that had the best licorice pipes. There was also a grocery store in that mall where chuck e cheese finally went in.. I can’t remember the name of it but there was a large cow picture on the wall. I spent soooo much time at that mall. It was sad for me when it was torn down. My friends and I would hang out there eat at chick-fil-a and the Italian place that went in where the Orange Bowl was, then we would go to the movies even though it was a nasty movie theater where your shoes would stick to the floor. :) Oh and Dutchmaid Donuts was the BEST. They had the best ladies in there that worked there. They watched me grow up. I remember spinning on the stools that didn’t go all the way around then when I became a teenager I would use the pay phone on the wall to call my friends to meet me up there.I bought all of my records from the Record Bar and then CD’s when they came out.

    Comment by Hannah — December 31, 2009 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

    • ha, I totally forgot about those stools! Right when I read that, I was like omg…your right! So many little things like that are always coming back into my head!

      Comment by Kelly — December 31, 2009 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

  47. Was the Kroger over at Little Creek Rd, Norfolk, at one time a J.M. Fields/Food Fair combo?
    What was there most recently?

    Comment by Bob — January 25, 2010 @ 3:09 am | Reply

  48. I remember when they built the Tower Mall right off Victory Blvd in Portsmouth, close to a neighbor hood which was once called Academy Park. I loved shopping there I still remember Country Legends. and the Jingle, The Legends has it all, all the looks you need. Levis at country Legends, Satisfaction Guaranteed. I loved going to the Book End., right next to it was The Record Bar where you could buy records or eight track tapes. I remember Monkey Wards as we called it. :) They made the best Chili in their cafeteria, Miller and Rhodes. Charles, McDonald’s use to be in there as well. Chick-fil-A. They also had a store called Sixteen Plus. La Vogue, Bradlees came along later. Dutch Maid Doughnuts were much better then Duncan’s…. Much later after the mall opened they use to have Santa parachute into the parking lot. I liked the Santa over at Mid-City better. I loved going to Mid-City, then there was also Coleman’s Nursery at Christmas time too. Which shall be missed by all who remember it. Kinda makes me wish it was the 1970’s again.

    Comment by gail — May 11, 2010 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  49. I only went to Tower once or twice, and that was around Christmas 1990. I just remember an arcade being there, and even at the age of 8 I could tell it was rinky-dink even back, compared to the other malls such as Lynnhaven.

    With the shopping center there now, you can’t even tell a mall once existed on that very site.

    Comment by BG — September 2, 2010 @ 3:52 am | Reply

  50. I remember Midcity well. I was Santa in the last Christmas Parade the Jaycees put on. Started downtown Portsmouth passed Harry Hunt Jr. High then through Midcity to the Santa house.
    It was my only parade (hoping for more)
    I also was the Santa at Bradleys in Tower Mall, as well as Coleman’s.

    Comment by Santa Claus — September 14, 2010 @ 5:01 am | Reply

  51. Tina the Talking Tree? Anyone? (I think that was Tower Mall). Tina was a big Christmas tree with someone inside of it. You’d walk it up it, it would talk to you through a speaker, and ask you what you wanted for Christmas. As a little kid, it was quite enough to burn into my permanent memory.

    I was born in 1972, and lived in Suffolk and Chesapeake until I was 10 or so. Tower Mall was a regular destination for us. In fact, when I was little, my mom took a white table cloth and drew roads on it for me to play with my cars on. One of the landmarks she put on there was Tower Mall. Roses department store was another one that’s on there. (My 3 year old uses it all the time now).

    I don’t remember many details from the inside of Tower Mall – aside from Tina. I do remember the water tower :)

    Comment by bill — October 6, 2010 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

    • Tina (I believe) was at Newmarket North mall.

      Comment by Anita — October 11, 2010 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  52. I never knew Tower Mall since by the time I knew enough about it to actually find it (the late 90’s), it was already pretty much dead. But I find its story to be most intriguing. If anyone possibly could, we should try to cobble together a history of Tower Mall from start to finish and note is chronology and hot it affected and was affected by other malls in the region. Then maybe we could post it up on Wikipedia or something. Someone there’s been trying to gather info on Hampton Roads shopping past and present.

    Comment by Charles — October 13, 2010 @ 6:14 am | Reply

  53. What a time trip to find this site! I grew up going to Mid City – and we’d eat at The Circle Restaurant just down the street (I think the Circle was on High Street – haven’t lived there in 30 years!). My high school boyfriend was playing Santa in our high school Christmas play and we took a tape recorder with us when we took his little sister to see Santa (so he could record the ho-ho-ho’s and practice! And further back, I remember visiting Santa there, too!

    I loved the Book End – like the Magic Shop in downtown Norfolk, it made us little freshman and sophomores feel like hip college kids to hang out there.

    I went to Norcom the first two years that it went “magnet school” (I guess that’s what they call it nowadays) – kids would ditch and go to McDonalds (the first McDonalds in Porstmouth, I’m pretty sure) and Mid City. Over at Manor High, they were doing the same thing at Tower Mall.

    I worked at the McDonalds at Tower Mall briefly around ’76, ’77 or ’78…and it was the deepest store ever – seemed like you walked a quarter mile to get to the counter at the back! I worked at several McD’s in HS and in the few years after – that one was the worst, I recall. Oh yeah, and the chicken sliders at Chick Fil-A – I LOVED the chicken sliders! Blue Hawaii was a prom nite dinner location (and The Embers after, if you didn’t head down to the Beach).

    Tower Mall was pretty OK – but when Military Circle opened you’d have thought it was national holiday – it was the hugest mall ever in the area….and what was it 12 movie theaters? Anything more than three was of in the early 70’s. I lived in P-town (we didn’t call it that then) and would take the tunnel bus (10 cents) and the Military Circle bus (35 cents, I think) just to go be an early version of a mall rat. It was the first mall to have scheduled entertainment events, usually local stuff but also “names”…I can’t remember who but it was like the forerunners of Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. I haven’t explored the rest of this site, but I hear it’s long-faded…gone? And what was nearby – like across the street – the old strip mall that Military Circle pretty much killed (we’d still go there once in a while anyhow). I think my eye doctor had his practice there (Donald H. Doctor – his real name, no kidding).

    Is Wards Corner still around? What about Pembroke Mall? That one was a class 2 back in the early 70’s, but it had a great “hippie shop” where, in 8th or 9th grade, I’d spend my allowance on incense, love beads pretend weed (they’d sell these tins of this strawberry and other flavored stuff that was supposed to get you high. Us chickens would buy it and try to convince ourselves that it worked) and music (I remember buying Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere in that store)

    Great fun reminiscing – thanks for the opportunity!

    Comment by Nikki Levin - back then — November 18, 2010 @ 1:56 am | Reply

    • Ward’s Corner is still around, Nikki, but it’s largely dead; a lot of fifth-tier stores and some empty storefronts. I live not far from there but it’s not exactly a shopping destination. Up until 10 years or so ago, there were at least some restaurants and shops worth visiting, but not any longer. I can’t remember the last time I went there for anything. Ironically, though Military Circle seems to be dying (I would predict it will be the next mall in Tidewater to close, because whenever I go, there’s practically nobody there, and it certainly feels less safe to me than any other mall in the area, and that’s saying something), the shopping center across the street that you mention, Janaf, has had something of a comeback; I would not say it’s thriving, exactly, but they’ve renovated it, and the spaces are largely occupied, and the stores there seem to have fair numbers of customers. (The Wal-Mart that was constructed 15-20 years ago at the northwest end–not connected to Janaf, but adjacent to it, and the parking lots are mutually accessible–probably helped in that, though I have to say it’s one of the trashiest Wal-Marts I’ve been in, and that, too, is saying something.) Dr. Doctor is still there in Janaf (or was the last time I checked); one of my friends is/was a patient of his. Pembroke Mall was, I thought, a sure candidate for mall death in the early to mid-1990s (I was teaching then at a school nearby), but it seems to have been saved by the Virginia Beach Town Center development, which is adjacent to it on the other side of Virginia Beach Boulevard.

      Comment by Michael — January 12, 2011 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  54. Does anyone remember The Cow Palace? The first “Love Of My Life” worked there.

    Comment by Kharrissa — January 10, 2011 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  55. The reference to Steak & Ale brought back some memories. I lived in Newport News from the late 60’s until 1992. I haven’t been back since although I’d like to. I remember when Newmarkt North and Colliseum Mall being built. (I also remember the Hampton Road’s Colliseum construction – imagine locating a building in a body of water.) The Steak & Ale was originally know as Jolly Ox as Virginia law did not allow the use of any alcoholic beverage reference in the establishment’s name. We who went there from work called it the Happy Heifer.
    Living in Newport News, and Hampton from mid-1965, I didn’t go to the Southside that much and then to Norfolk or VA Beach; This to say that I may have been to Tower Mall one time and have no useful knowledge of it. I do remember Janaf and Military Circle malls. Does anyone remember Ocean View Amusement Park and the TV movie “The Death of Ocean View Park” made when the roller coaster was being dismantled?

    Comment by Charlie — March 18, 2011 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

    • I remember Ocean View Amusement Park, I went there three years before they made the movie. Have you ever been to Sand Bridge. And I have to ask did you ride the roller coaster in the movie?

      Comment by gail — February 15, 2012 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  56. I was born in 1976 and I spent my childhood in the Cradock section of Portsmouth. My family & I would visit Tower Mall and Mid-City religiously. We moved to Chesapeake in the mid-to-late ’80s, which means I was there when Chesapeake Square opened in October 1989. In fact, the Western Branch High School Band played during the opening ceremonies (I graduated from there in 1994). We moved back to the Cradock neighborhood in the late ’90s. At Tower Mall, Dutch Maid Donuts, Playworld and Chuck E Cheese’s were my favorite places. I would say my other favorite thing about Tower Mall were the old white mult-seats in the main corridors. They resembled eggs or spaceships. When the mall was slightly renovated in the mid ’80s, those seats were replaced with regular benches. I really didn’t have a favorite place in Mid-City, though. However, the store we spent the most time in there was K-Mart. Overall, I have fond memories of those two shopping locations.

    Comment by Michael — May 10, 2011 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

  57. When I was a kid, my family practically lived at Tower Mall. I remember stores such as: Hickory Farms, Bradlee’s, Dutch Maid Donuts, Orange Bowl, Anderson Little, York Steak House, Playworld, Tobak, LTD, Morrison’s Cafeteria, Baskin Robbins, Chick Fil-A, Pearl Vision, Montgomery Ward, Regis Hairstylists, Prince Formal, Record Bar, Instant Replay (later Champions Amusements), D.P. Paul Jewelers, Gents, etc. Now that I’m older, Victory Crossing (where the mall used to be) seems to be a hop, skip and jump from my house, but when I was little, the mall seemed to be so far away. Those were some pretty good times.

    Comment by Michael — May 15, 2011 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  58. I wish the Tower Mall was still open. And Mid City…… I remember Portsmouth Bowl, Shakey’s Pizza. I loved the blizzard we had back in 1980. Does anyone still remember Sambo’s that use to be in Churchland and Manor High School?

    Comment by gail — June 20, 2011 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

    • Shakey’s Pizza! That was 2 blocks from my house! We used to love to go there because you could eat pizza and watch the movies they had playing in there as well. Manor, which I graduated from, was also within walking distance from my house and I walked there every morning. Sambo’s is going way back but remember the little concrete pad in the middle of Mid City parking lot? They would put the “Santa” house up every year on that pad. A Portsmouth Santa! Lol! I miss it too! Isn’t nostalgia great?

      Comment by Tim — August 1, 2011 @ 9:22 am | Reply

      • I remember that little pad well my parents had my picture taken with Santa there at Christmas I still have one of those pictures lol. You have to remember Shoney’s Big Boy? I believe the building is still there but called something else. And that grocery store Big Star?

        Comment by gail — October 3, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

      • Mid-City had, pretty much, everything you needed back in the day. They had a Smith & Welton department store for upscale fashions, K-Mart for blue light specials, an A&N athletic store, Blue Hawaii restaurant. The A&P grocery store fascinated me with its unusual (non powered) roller conveyor track. They would take your groceries and load them into these bins. The baggers would then slide the bins around the track, through saloon doors and out to the curb. When you pulled up with your car, you told them your last name and they loaded the bags in your car.

        I guess fire lanes did away with the whole “loading in front of the grocery store”.

        Comment by Seaton — October 19, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  59. My most vivid memory of Tower Mall (other than the Chuck E. Cheese’s) were the waterfall towers at center court. They were removed after a renovation and I remember being so disappointed that I couldn’t drag my mother to center court and watch the waterfalls anymore. I also seem to remember round plastic seating (planters with seats??). You could still see them in a disused lot from I-64 a few years back.

    Comment by Chris — July 10, 2011 @ 9:30 am | Reply

  60. Anybody remember the Zayre’s dept. store up the road from Tower Mall? I think its a go-cart biz now….

    Comment by Pamela — August 6, 2011 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

    • I remember it, there was a drug store beside it called White Cross and a sewing shop I think the name was Piece Goods Shop. There was also a hair salon, I remember getting my hair done there for the prom. I also had my bangs cut in wings there, the style from the late 1970’s.

      Comment by gail — October 3, 2011 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  61. I remember when the was just zig zag and chic fil a in that mall

    Comment by brandon — August 30, 2011 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  62. Does anyone recall the name of the arts and crafts store that was across from the K&K Toys? It was next to the Waldenbooks store. Have been trying to remember this and can’t remember it. Thanks.

    Comment by Rommie — September 20, 2011 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

    • I could be mistaken but I think it was “Warner’s Arts & Crafts”. I recall some wood planking on the walls in a diagonal pattern (so 70s). I used to frequent the K&K Toys across from it and when I ventured into the Arts & Crafts place, some old man would yell at me to get my parents.

      Comment by Seaton — October 19, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  63. I remember that Zayre store up the street on Airline Blvd. The big letters used to blink in red and green neon. I just seem to remember Zayre having good smells and a great toy dept.

    Speaking of toys, there was a Lionel Playworld at Tower Mall for a short while, I think it was replaced by the Chuck E Cheese.

    I was mistaken earlier about Miller & Rhodes. I bought my Boy Scout items from Rices Nachmans. My mom used to always park at that entrance by the Tower Auditorium (still standing) and we would always enter the mall from Rices for some reason. I guess it was easy in and easy out, and you could usually find decent parking behind the Rices store.

    Chesapeake Square was intentionally built to kill Tower Mall, even though Tower was on life support already and it didn’t take much. Chesapeake Square was almost too bright and too clean compared to Tower. I had to wear sunglasses inside. I went to Chesapeake Square two years ago and it is a shadow of its former self. It now looks like Tower Mall did right before it closed. Oh, sweet irony.

    Hampton Roads has this weird “mall mentality” in that they have to keep building new malls to replace old ones. There have always been way too many shopping malls for the actual population to support.

    When I was a kid the lineup used to read like this:
    Coliseum Mall – Hampton
    Newmarket North- Newport News
    Tower Mall- Portsmouth
    Military Circle- Norfolk
    Pembroke Mall- Virginia Beach

    I watched these malls go up:
    Greenbrier Mall- Chesapeake
    Lynnhaven Mall- Virginia Beach
    Patrick Henry Mall- Newport News
    Chesapeake Square- Chesapeake
    MacArthur Center- Norfolk

    Greenbrier killed Military Circle, Lynnhaven killed Pembroke, Patrick Henry killed both Coliseum and Newmarket North, Chesapeake Square killed Tower, and MacArthur hurt Chesapeake Square and killed Waterside

    Comment by Seaton — September 25, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  64. @Rommie – I want to say Warner’s Arts & Crafts, but I could be mistaken. I think it had wood paneling on the walls in a diagonal pattern. I also seem to remember the old man inside didn’t like kids. I recall being chased out of there more than once.

    Comment by Seaton — October 19, 2011 @ 5:05 am | Reply

  65. MacArthur is the current “in” place to go and shop. Location is great, although the parking and the floor levels can be a bit confusing to a visitor. In Portsmouth, does anyone perhaps know what was located at the former Tower Mall site before Tower Mall was built?… any small businesses there prior to the Tower Mall construction?

    Comment by Brad — October 24, 2011 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

    • As I recall, there was a section of houses that were apart of Academy Park back before Tower Mall was built. My parents house was on the corner of McClean St. and Belmont Ave.(where the Farm Fresh is today) and we moved out to DeKalb 1970. I was 5 years old, but I remember them tearing down the houses to clear the land for the mall. There may have been some businesses along Victory Blvd. where the front entrance to the mall was, as I recall walking down the sidewalk on Belmont Ave. with my Mom to go to the store, which was in the direction of Victory Blvd.

      Comment by Rommie — December 15, 2011 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

  66. There was this place in Tower Mall that made the best Sweet Potato Jacks. Anyone remember the name of that place and if they are still open in a different location.

    Comment by Donnell Bullock — April 30, 2012 @ 10:13 am | Reply

    • Dutchmaid Donuts.

      Comment by Hannah — May 10, 2013 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

  67. Tower mall was in portsmouth on victory’s been torn down for it’ss a farm fresh up and a little shopping ctr.

    Comment by rachel melton — June 17, 2012 @ 11:27 am | Reply

  68. Well I know this post goes back aways but I can’t resist. :) There was also a Walden Books and an Evenson’s Hallmark store in the mall. My mom managed the hallmark store for a while. And when Chik-fil-a first opened they put the sign up backwards so that it said “Chik-a-fil.” The last time I was in Tower Mall you could still see where they’d made the mistake and fixed it. I call it Chik-a-fil to this day.

    Comment by Dixie — August 17, 2012 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

  69. I was born and raised in Portsmouth and every fond memory of my childhood was Tower Mall. Going with my mom to her aerobics classes and if I was good we would stop off at the toy store and get a prize and then to Dutch Maid donuts where my great aunt was the manager. We went to Bradlee’s and Monkey Wards for everything. My first hair cuts were there and my first birthday parties were at Showbiz Pizza which later changed to Chucky Cheese. When I moved to Fairwood Homes in 1996 I would go to chick filet after school and walk the mall. I never understood why they chose to demolish the site. Even though many tenants relocated to other malls the stores that occupy the location now once were there. I do not know why Portsmouth chose to spend more money to build all new buildings than to revamp Tower Mall and offer the tenants there the spaces they have now. I have tried to locate any memorabilia from anything TOwer Mall related.

    Comment by aaron meeks — October 28, 2012 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  70. i think before Tower Mall was built there was a school there called Moffat Place school. i’ve heard my older brothers mention it. When the mall opened ’74 or ’75, i was about ten years old. there was a Merry Go Round, Stitches (i think that was a the name, men’s and women’s jeans and stuff) and a teen clothing store called Clover Patch and they sold these big platform sandals with flowers all. i wanted them so badly, but my high school sister had a pair. Also Jo Ann Fabrics, Regis hair salon, and there was another teen clothing store “Charles Shop” where i got a fake fur jacket. i think that store was there around still in the early 80s. York Steak House and Chuck E Cheese used to sell beer, i went in there one afternoon to get a pizza before going to work, and a guy about 50 years old was sitting at a table looking blotto, with a pitcher of beer on the table. while the electronic rabbit Elvis was singing away.

    Comment by carol — November 6, 2012 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

  71. I grew up in the Churchland area of Portsmouth in the 70’s and 80’s. We shopped at Mid City when I was real little, visiting Santa at his little parking lot “North Pole house” to have our pictures taken…now its a Super Wal-Mart.
    We shopped at Tower Mall from the first day it was built. Tower Mall killed Mid City in a way. But Tower Mall was the place to hang out in the 70’s in Portsmouth. They had a store called Leather Etc. where my cousin worked…kind of a head shop, sold leather goods, pipes, rolling papers (this was the 70’s after all), and all kinds of stoner loving stuff. My Mom and her friends worked out at the Elaine Powers (old school Curves) for women only gym which was on the opposite hall from the movie theater. I remember Foxmoors, Merry Go Round, Thom McCan (Spelling?) shoes, Orange Julius, Chick FilA, Tobac, K&K Toys, Record Bar, Baskin Robbins (with all 31 flavors), Rices Nachmans, Montgomery Ward, the Levi’s store, I think there was a Fine’s mens shop and a formal wear place as well. It was truly a 70’s kind of mall with lots of orange, yellow, and brown decor. It was cool back in the day.

    Comment by Lisa — December 1, 2012 @ 12:04 am | Reply

    • When I was a kid in the late 1970’s, and into the 1980’s, a trip to Tower Mall was a big deal. I lived in Franklin Virginia and I fondly remember going to see Santa at the mall. We did a lot of shopping there. I remember the Bradlees, the rices and neichmans, which became hess’s. Going to chuck e. cheese was a big deal. I remember going there after seeing Sesame Street Live with my cousin and my brother who were much younger than me. I went there many other times as well. I remember the Lion that looked like Elvis and sung his songs. We usually ate in that room. I think there was also a room with some kind of play or something…
      We used to get shoes at the mall. I had a very narrow foot and that was the nearest place to get them. I think it was a striderite place. We used to to Morrison’s on Sunday before the blue law was rescinded. Morrison’s and Baskin robbins were open. I remember the orange bowl and the chick fill-a. I got stuck in a high chair at Morrison’s.
      My dad bought some crates from Bradlees to keep my school papers in.
      I have vivid memories of eating ice cream from baskin robbins. I remember the fountain (water falls). I think in the late 1970’s it worked. I remember the hallmark store and the book store too and the tobacca shop. The pet store and a toy store too. It was the place to be.

      Comment by ellemeesh — April 6, 2013 @ 5:37 am | Reply

  72. you guy have brought back a lot of tower mall memories,I grew up in cavalier manor. so you might say i grew up in tower mall,i dont think anyone mentioned the time Prince came to the mall before a show in norfolk.the fashion shows we use to have in center court,also the new automobile shows.the time jesse jackson came through with a secret service detail.the dances at chuckie cheese.and the super bowl games.i also worked at tower mall as a special police officer,which most people thought we were security guards.thats why a lot of guys ended up downtown with that thinking. keep tower mall alive!!!!!.

    Comment by Maurice Campbell — October 17, 2013 @ 4:31 am | Reply

    • You guys have brought back memories, I used to be in one of the Fashion shows in center court for Bradlees when I started out at 15 working for J.M. Fields and then was laid off and hired back when we switch over to Bradlees. I used to do everything at Bradlees it seem like from inventory, Loved Receiving Room there I could wear jeans we would load and unload the trucks coming in and mainly we were mostly women working back there. Bradlees realized that the women could move the pellets and the men couldn’t ( because we were bottom heavy) almost every day for me ,us ladies would leave Bradlees for lunch and walk next door to the York Steak House. (after reading some of the posts I saw the York Steak House names I have been wondering what the name of the place was that you for posting). and every time I would order a big ham or steak salad. The Bradlees girls would say how can you eat all that and not gain weight? I’m loading and unloading trucks. Loved The York Steak House my ex would come and met me for lunch and we would go there.. The one thing that I really remember about Tower Mall is when I was pregnant with my daughter Glenda. Bradlees and my supervisor gave me a BIG SURPRIZE BABY SHOWER up stairs. I was in shock the room was loaded with everything from diapers to crib to high chairs. It took my dad three truck loads to take things back to the house… I was not married at the time so this move really got to my heart as to what Bradlees did. To this day I have always wanted to get a hold of that manager and thank her I can’t remember her name but she headed the Women’s Department in the late 70’s early 80’s I left after my baby was born She had Bleach blond hair and dated a guy name DANNY.. yelp I remember his name cause they were the talk of the store. All the other stores I can remember That was a fun place for me I can just barely remember being there as a child with my mom as well we lived in the neighborhood on Independence St. Where (now get this,) the house were small but the rent was only $75.00 a month. time changes … And Santa jumped out of the helo!

      Comment by Katherine P. Pardue — July 8, 2014 @ 4:51 pm | Reply

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