Thursday, November 29, 2018

Former Publix #117, Seminole Mall, Seminole, FL. (1965-2009) (demolished)


Publix #117 (1965-2009) (demolished)
Seminole Center / Seminole Mall
11175 78th Ave N. (Park Blvd.)
Seminole, FL 33772

     Publix store #117 opened with the Wing facade, along with the rest of Seminole Center, on November 4, 1965.  Originally an open-air center featuring Publix, Eckerd, and Super 5 & 10 Stores as anchors, Seminole Center completed a major expansion in 1970, adding Woolco, Bellas Hess, JByrons, and a 2-screen AMC movie theater, becoming Seminole Mall, Pinellas County's second mall.

Seminole Center on opening day, November 4, 1965.
Photo courtesy: Pinellas County Historical Society, Facebook
#117 shortly after opening in 1965.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

   #117 was expanded and remodeled to the 1970s version 2 facade, concluding with a grand expansion/remodeling sale in April 1978.  At this time, a tile mural was introduced by Pati Mills, and the entry/exit area was reconfigured into a single, but wide, electric-eye sliding door. 

#117 in 1983.
Photo courtesy: Pinellas County Historical Society, Facebook

    With the loss of Ames in 1990 and TJ Maxx in 1991 (these were in the former Woolco space) as well as a national recession, Seminole Mall began floundering.  In an effort to attract customers as well as new tenants, the mall embarked on its first complete interior and exterior remodel in early 1991.  #117 expanded into a former Ace Hardware space, increasing the store's footprint to 47,000 square feet.  #117 became a split-vestibule type store, but with the new entrances facing the street instead of the plaza walkway.  The overhaul effort attracted Kmart to move from a nearby center to the mall, taking the former Woolco/Zayre/Ames/TJ Maxx space, in the summer of 1992.  This would be the last significant remodeling work done at #117, as well as the rest of the mall.

#117 in December 2009, shortly before closing.
Because this store never had a pharmacy, the phrase "Super Market" is displayed on the facade.
Photo courtesy: Andy Callahan, Flickr

     After purchasing 49 Albertsons stores in 2008, and with Seminole Mall beginning to show signs of decline due to the Great Recession, Publix closed #117 on December 16, 2009.  The next day, Publix #1320 opened in the 59,000 square foot, former Albertsons #4320 space across 113th Street.  Albertsons #4320 had opened in 1977, so Publix had moved into a 12-year younger building and gained a liquor store and pharmacy, which #117 did not have.

#117 then remained vacant until Seminole Mall was demolished in 2015.

117's facade, from the 1991 remodel.

117's tile mural, by Pati Mills.
The left half was designed as a tribute to Jesse Johnson, a nursery operator upon whose land Seminole Mall was built, and local citrus farming.
The "Father of Seminole", Johnson was the city's first mayor (honorary only) when Seminole incorporated in 1970.

Close-up of Pati Mills' signature.
Photo courtesy: Waymarking

     Although the tile mural was destroyed with the demolition of #117 in 2015, the Seminole Historical Society created a high-resolution photo of the left half of the mural. This photo is now on display at their museum.

     To conclude this post, here's a video published in March 2015 of Seminole Mall's final days:




Thanks for reading, and until next time,
duckman66

5 comments:

  1. Always a shame to hear the tile mural was demolished rather than preserved (although I imagine the effort needed to preserve it would be costly and may delay demolition or whatever other project is taking place at/to/on the property). But it's great to see that that high-resolution copy of it is proudly displayed at the museum!

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    1. From what I understand, the removal and preservation process can be painstaking and costly. The murals were completed in Ms. Mills' studio, and each tile numbered on the back for "install by number" by contractors. Most of the early 1970s murals had the cornucopia theme and didn't differ by much, so preserving every one wasn't critical.
      I would say this is a suitable, more cost- and labor-effective alternative for cities preserving their history.
      Store #11, Grove Park, Lakeland, FL., was demolished in August of this year, but preservationists were able to retrieve and restore the tile mural there. Cost thus far is under $10,000. Story - here.

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    2. That's great to hear about Store #11 - thanks for sharing that article!

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    3. Yes, I'm very happy to hear that #11's mural was saved! I have some pictures of my own of that store and its murals. That was a very interesting store, and I'm glad I got to see it before it was torn down.

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  2. How very sad to hear that Seminole Mall was demolished in 2015. My Mom & I spent many a day at Seminole Mall & had a great time. This was back in 1983 to 1992 when Mom had to leave Largo & come North due to my Dad passing away. Many great memories!

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