Saturday, October 18, 2008

Requiem for Randhurst

On September 30, northwest suburban Chicago’s historic Randhurst Mall, a fondly remembered part of my childhood, closed its doors for the last time. Soon the bulldozers will roll, tearing down the famous triangular center core of the mall, leaving only the (still open and operating) anchor stores standing. The mall is scheduled to reopen as Randhurst Village, an open air “lifestyle center”, in Spring 2010.

Although Randhurst’s day in the sun was brief – having opened in 1962, it was completely and permanently overshadowed less than ten years later with the 1971 opening of the gargantuan Woodfield Mall just 9 miles away in nearby Schaumburg, it was very influential early on. Randhurst was groundbreaking in a number of ways that are underappreciated today – in its location strategy, its ownership structure and most of all, its outstanding architectural design.

The idea for Randhurst was originally conceived by Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., a downtown-Chicago based full-line department store with a rich 100-plus year history. With the tremendous growth of the suburbs, Carsons became acutely aware of the growing opportunities there, coupled with the hard fact that a large percentage of these new suburbanites would not be inclined to drive into the Loop to shop. Also in play was the competition factor – there was a definite need to maintain parity with their arch-rival (and State Street neighbor) Marshall Field & Company, who had recently opened their north suburban Old Orchard location and were underway with plans for Oakbrook Center in the western suburbs. Although Carsons had a couple of satellite stores to augment their State Street flagship – the very successful Edens Plaza location, opened in 1956 and another in west suburban Hillside that same year, the vast northwest suburbs, where no major shopping existed, beckoned.

(A decent sized strip mall, Mt. Prospect Plaza, would open in 1961, just down the street from Randhurst at the corner of Rand and Central roads. It contained a Goldblatt’s store, among others, and was also the site of the "Scanda House" restaurant, a fantastic smorgasbord place. Our family celebrated many special occasions there.)

In August 1958, Carsons announced its purchase of an 80-acre plot (an additional 28 acres would be added before construction started) at the intersection of Rand Road and Illinois Route 83 (Elmhurst Road) in the northwest suburb of Mount Prospect, where commissioned studies showed a population of 300,000 within a 25-minute drive and another 100,000 expected by 1965.

By early 1959, two more Chicago retail stalwarts had thrown in their lot on the new project – Wieboldt Stores Inc., and Montgomery Ward & Company. Wieboldt’s, another Chicago department store chain, had been in business for nearly 80 years at the time and had grown to 10 stores, including successful locations in suburban Evanston and River Forest. Of recent note was their very successful Harlem-Irving Plaza store, opened in 1957, which no doubt whetted the company’s appetite for more suburban expansion. Montgomery Ward, founded in Chicago in 1872, had long since become an American institution, but ironically had a negligible store presence in Chicago at the time. In a bizarre move, Montgomery Ward had frozen all store development in the mid-1940’s, and wouldn’t open a new retail unit until 1958! It’s an amazing story that I hope to discuss in more detail here someday. In 1957, Ward bought out The Fair, a small chain of department stores whose flagship was yet another fixture of State Street. In the 50’s, The Fair, which also had an Oak Park location, had added locations at Evergreen Plaza and at Old Orchard. Ward’s Randhurst store would open under The Fair nameplate.

In an unusual business arrangement for the time, the three retailers formed a joint venture, much the way competing railroads used to join together to build a “union station” in a given city. The new entity was named Randhurst Corporation, the name derived from site address at Rand and Elmhurst roads. Harold Spurway, a Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. vice president, was put in charge of the new company. Randhurst Center (later termed Randhurst Mall) would be anchored by Carsons, Wieboldt’s and The Fair, and would house some 80-odd stores and seven restaurants, totaling over 1.2 million square feet. Downtown Chicago shopping was coming to the northwest suburbs!

To design Randhurst, the corporation hired the renowned architectural firm Victor Gruen Associates . The Austrian-born Gruen was based in New York City and had already made an impressive mark in the area of shopping center architecture, having previously designed Detroit’s Northland Mall for the J. L. Hudson Company, which opened in 1954, and the Southdale Shopping Center in the Minneapolis area which opened two years afterward. Gruen had a well-developed sense of the shopping mall as a transformative societal force, eventually writing a couple of books on the subject. Gruen’s ideal was an enclosed space, with optimum traffic patterns between stores.

Because of the three-anchor setup, a triangular plan for the mall became the obvious direction. A 1962 Architectural Forum article, which aptly dubbed Randhurst a “big pinwheel on the prairie”, gives some fascinating insight into Gruen’s design process for the layout – “The intensive use of galleria space evolved directly from the problem of tying together three large stores of about equal size. Gruen at first conceived a simple triangular pattern, but this left too much space in the central court. On the other hand, had the central court area been too greatly reduced, the passages reaching from the core to the large stores would have become too long, narrow and generally unattractive. Also, a straight triangle would not have drawn shoppers so effectively as does the pinwheel”. And so, Randhurst’s design was set – a (very) large pinwheel, with a 160 foot diameter domed galleria in the center.

A multi-level central court featured a sunken “bazaar level” and a mezzanine level in the center of the galleria. The bazaar level featured “Wieboldt’s Hobby Shop”, an annex of sorts to their main store, among others. There was also a second level around the perimeter of the galleria composed of office space, which many years later would be converted to retail space. Sculptures and stylized benches were an integral part of the package, and beneath it all was a basement service level.

An unconventional mall called for an unconventional groundbreaking, which was held in November 1960. Instead of the standard lineup of executives, shovels in hand to turn over a bit of dirt, a 60-year old barn on the property was ceremonially burned down. The $20 million project was underway. On August 16, 1962, Randhurst opened its doors to throngs of excited crowds. In addition to the three anchor stores, there were a number of other notables, including a Jewel Food Store, the outside entrance of which can be seen in photo number three above, and the inside entrance in pictured below. The inside entrance was particularly attractive, with its mosaic tile surround, oval welcome sign and translucent panels featuring the store logo. In 1970, the Jewel store was relocated to a free-standing unit at the edge of the Randhurst property. There was also an S.S. Kresge store, which I remember particularly well.

In short order, the mall would prove to be a smashing success, and many stores were added to the initial lineup in the first couple of years – Baskin, Maurice L. Rothschild and Lane Bryant, to name just a few. A year after the mall opened, in August 1963, Montgomery Ward changed the name of its Randhurst store from The Fair to (of course) Montgomery Ward, capitalizing on the store’s success to promote its main banner. The store’s merchandise offering was expanded by 40 percent and a restaurant was added as well, possibly to counter Carsons' popular Tartan Tray. Within a couple of years the remaining Fair stores would also assume the Wards name. In 1966, the Wieboldt’s store was expanded from 190,000 to 225,000 square feet, making it Randhurst’s largest store. (Wards had 154,000 and Carsons 200,000 square feet).

This was the Randhurst my family discovered when we moved to Mount Prospect in early 1966. It was a magical place to my young eyes – the galleria dimly lit as if to make the storefronts shine even brighter. The Le Petit Café, a particular favorite. The polished cement floors, with seams in the Randhurst triangular logo pattern. The great concave moon-like surface of the dome (composed of sprayed-on concrete) and the funky contour of the support columns. The majestic fountain in front of Montgomery Ward, the color coded lockers inside the main mall entrances (orange, blue and yellow, I believe), the cement benches and the many plants. Most important were the cement animal-shaped sculptures. Whether or not they were meant to be played on, they most certainly were - so much so that they had a patina by the time of my earliest memories in the late 60’s. Truly charming features were the parking lot reminder signs – Apple Lot, Grape Lot, Orange Lot, etc. , with modernist pictures of the corresponding fruit. Randhurst had personality.

Another fixture of my elementary school days was the Randhurst Cinema, a single-screen theatre which opened on a Randhurst outparcel in June 1965, premiering with John Wayne’s “In Harm’s Way”. It was developed and operated by General Cinema Corporation, a Boston area company who was then in the midst of a ferocious expansion drive to build theatres in shopping centers everywhere. Randhurst was the second of many theatres GCC would open in the Chicago area. Interestingly, the first was in Mount Prospect as well (they also owned a drive-in located on Route 66, which they would eventually sell to concentrate on shopping center theatres). Among the earliest movies I saw there were “The Battle of Britain” and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (the Peter O’Toole version). Of course, I saw a ton of Disney flicks there as well, including “Napoleon and Samantha” and “Herbie Rides Again”. I checked the most recent AFI Top 100 list, and unfortunately these two didn’t make it. Oh well, maybe next time around.

We continued to shop regularly at Randhurst until 1971, when two things happened. One, we moved a bit further away (we would return to the Mt. Prospect area less than two years later). Secondly, our hearts were stolen by a new mall – Woodfield – and things would never be the same. The largest mall in the world at the time of its opening, Woodfield had it all – Sears, JCPenney, Marshall Field’s, scads of other stores, and for me – Musicland and the Orange Bowl restaurant. It was all over but the shouting. Unfortunately for Randhurst, too many people felt the same way, although a loyal, local core of shoppers continued to hang in there. After Woodfield opened, Randhurst became a once-in-a-while stop, and by 1976 or so we barely darkened the door, despite the addition of some nice stores, including an Americana store, and the great Kroch’s & Brentano’s, Chicago’s bookstore of repute before the advent of Barnes and Noble.

In mid-1981, Randhurst Corporation sold out to Columbia, Maryland-based developer Rouse Company. Among many other projects, Rouse was involved in the early redevelopment of the near-abandoned Navy Pier to the shopping funland it is today. Although their plans for Randhurst were more modest, they still felt the need to update Randhurst’s appearance, and a number of renovation projects were initiated. The dome’s space-age cement fascia was stripped away to reveal bar joists and corrugated decking. The funky contoured columns were given a (boring) cylindrical refacing, and brass lighting sconces were attached. The mall’s lighting level was cranked up, and the main floor was resurfaced in a white and rose striped terrazzo, admittedly a very nice touch. Eventually, the fountain and sculptures were gone, the Gruen-trademark cement benches replaced with off-the-shelf wooden types. Additional stores were crammed everywhere, including the second level, and a food court was placed atop the center galleria mezzanine. It all served to give Randhurst a more generic appearance, in my opinion.

I’ve been to Randhurst twice in the last quarter century. In 1987, I moved away from the Chicago area to Atlanta to begin my career. One Saturday afternoon shortly before I moved, my Dad took me to Randhurst to buy me a briefcase as a going away present. It seemed like a special moment even at the time, and of course I look back on it with fondness. (My dad is still alive and well.) I remember marveling at how much Randhurst had changed since the remodeling. The second time was just about a year ago. I was on a business trip to Chicago that took me to the northwest suburbs, and I had recently read about the upcoming changes to Randhurst. Besides the obvious changes – Wieboldt’s and Wards were long gone, Carsons was now located in the old Wieboldt’s store, the revolving door of other anchors, etc., I was sad to see the mall looking somewhat emptyish, and the stores that were left didn’t seem to be doing that well. As much as I hate to see history torn down, I certainly see the logic behind the lifestyle center conversion, and I wish the new incarnation of Randhurst all the best. I’m grateful for photographs and memories, though.

There are some excellent Randhurst articles to be found on the following websites, which chronicle Randhurst’s more recent history in much more detail. Labelscar has a great article and photos, which are fun to contrast with those I’ve included here. The Mall Hall of Fame has another great article on Randhurst, part of a series on Victor Gruen’s historic malls (the site also showcases other mall pioneers as well). Stores Forever is a site by John Gallo, who seems to have been at all the right places at the right times, and fortunately for us, he brought his camera along. Check out his two recent posts on Randhurst, including great 1982 views of the anchor store facades, which were largely unchanged from their original appearance at the time.

These photos are all circa 1962, Randhurst’s maiden year. The first photo, showing the classic Randhurst sign is a publicity shot from the sign company. The exteriors and galleria shots (in the sixth photo, check out the whale sculpture and the ladies in Randhurst logo hats in the foreground) are by famed architectural photographer Balthazar Korab and appeared in the November 1962 issue of Architectural Forum, the section and plan views are from the same magazine, and the individual store façade shots below are from Chain Store Age. (Corned Beef Center, where ya been?) Last is a grand opening ad with a listing of the initial lineup of stores.


  1. What a great historical collection of photos. I am sad as I had no idea they were tearing parts of Randhurst down. I have only been there once a couple of years ago. It's so heartbreaking. It was a wonderful Gruen design which only enhanced its geniusness and now it won't be there anymore.

  2. I still don't get wahy Randhurst has fallen on such bad shape.

    I mean you can only blame competition on other mall so much and if you don't have the right stores to keep the people comming, then that's when you have your troubles.

    Gosh even Downtown Mount Prospect looks in better shape.

  3. The Carson's-Wieboldt-Wards combine also was responsible for the dead and gone Lakehurst, as well as Lincoln Mall.

    Offices were not unusual in early malls and were integral fixtures at large early strips such as Wheaton Plaza in the DC area and Shoregate in the Cleveland area.

  4. As always, Dave - fabulous work! My mother just drove in from Chicago and neither of us had any idea that Randhurst was about to be torn to pieces! As Southsiders, though, we admit that when shopping up north, we went to Woodfield when it opened in the 70s. It was just a little bit classier than Randhurst. I guess we won't miss Randhurst too much. By the way, Dave, my mother loved your site as she pored through it this weekend and has a list of at least 30 Chicago-area retailers that are no more that she'd love to read more about. You're putting my family in good-memory mode, and we love it!

  5. Unfortunately for mod malls like Randhurst, when a more bland 1970's or 80's mall opened nearby, the mall was left dated. It just shows how much the typical shopper values new. The public as well as business view multi-million dollar structures as disposable, a true reflection of a society in which conspicuous comsumption has become the norm.

  6. Doubt it has anything to do with something being old or nw. It's probably more along the line of what a certain place has or doesn't have or how big or small one shopping center is.

  7. Actually, I think Ken is right on. The recent lack of coverage of Randhurst being torn down as well as the lack of distinction of a true modern architectural gem worth saving done by a fabulous modern architect (Gruen) is proof that our values are in the wrong place.

  8. Didi - I agree it's sad, but the mall has been in decline for a long time. They've obviously concluded that the lifestyle center route is the only way to turn Randhurst into a "Class A" property again.

    Mike - I was in downtown Mt Prospect a few months back, and they're really upgrading it. the area close to the mall appears to be in some decline, though. Randhurst's biggest problem now, to me at least, is it's a little short on retail star power. I haven't seen a list of tenants for the new version (it's probably not finalized yet), but I'm sure it will be an improvement over the current roster.

    Anonymous - That's right, I should have mentioned that. Lakehurst had an extremely short lifespan compared to most malls. I'm sure you've seen the great tribute site -

    Adrienne - Thanks so much again, and I'm glad your mother likes the site! Woodfield definitely became the place to go after it opened. I remember it from day one, and the place seemed to have an air of excitement that lasted for years (Of course being a kid may have had something to do with it, looking back!). Randhurst then became much more of a "local" mall and no longer drew from as wide an area.

    If you'd like to run your mother's list by me sometime, please do! There are many oldies but goldies I'd like to get around to here eventually.

  9. Ken - Randhurst's fortunes started to fade when it really wasn't all that old. Woodfield was as much a phenomenon as it was a competitor, and with Sears, Field's and Penney's, which were arguably more popular then Randhurst's three anchors (plus many stores that had locations in Randhurst already, and then yet some more), it made things pretty uphill for Randhurst.

    Mike - It does come down to what the mall offers store-wise, with appearance a second consideration. Randhurst was pretty bare when I was last there.

    Didi - The really unfortunate thing is that they stripped away so much of Gruen's original work -his trademark benches and sculptures, the column shapes, the cement surface inside the dome, etc. While the basic structure was still his design (and even that was heavily altered in recent years)it was far from the gem it once was. It sounds corny as heck, but to me it mirrors our cultural decline.

  10. RIP Randhurst. Dave, you're a much bigger man than me to avoid going into a tirade about how such a legendary mall is being turned into a lifestyle center and to wish it well.
    I'm a little younger, so for me Randhurst if full of memories from the early 1990s. I always thought of it as more of an "alternative" mall: Moondogs (the largest and best comic store I had ever seen), a bead store, a brew-your-own store, a used CD store, even The Alley (a legendary Chicago-based piercing/goth art store) for a short time in 1994. Plus a great store for rock and roll t-shirts in the basement. That's why I loved it. My mom loved it (and preferred it to Woodfield) because she didn't have to walk alot to get around. And because of the Kohl's.
    But note: Elmhurst road is NOT route 83! Route 83 is quite a bit to the West and much bigger!
    I LOVE your site! Keep it coming!

  11. Great article!

    Does anyone know the history of why Field's and Carson's didn't open in the same centers for many, many years? I think the first mall they both opened in was Orland Square in the late 1970s. (The only other example I can think of was in Southern California where Bullock's and Robinson's were never in the same center until they both opened at The Oaks in 1978).

  12. Michael - Or maybe they've just worn me down! Moondogs - there's a name I haven't heard in years - I agree it was a great comic store! I had no idea they were ever located in Randhurst. When I was a kid in the late 70's, they were located in downtown Mt Prospect, and later they moved to a larger store on the south side of the railroad tracks. I rode my bike there in the years just before I got my drivers license.

    It makes sense that Randhurst appealed to the "alternative" store owners to fill space after so many national chains pulled out.

    Thanks for the kind words on the site! One more thing about Route 83(which I still like to call "eighty-tree"), it is located west of Elmhurst Rd until you get to I-90, then it crosses over via Oakton and becomes Elmhurst Rd. Unless they've moved it! ;)

    Anonymous - Thank you. I think the biggest reason Field's and Carsons weren't in the same shopping centers is partly because they were pretty fierce competitors, but also because they usually had an ownership stake in the shopping centers they occupied and wanted to call the shots. Today, competitors in many industries are more inclined to work together as a matter of survival.

  13. Oops! No, they certainly didn't move Rt. 83; I grew up in Elmhurst, where York rd. (that's Elmhurst rd. is called in Elmhurst) is quite far from 83.

    It is interesting reading Anonymous's comment: another example of Fields/Carsons cohabitation was Stratford Square mall in Bloomingdale. Interestingly, this mall is located just over 5 miles from Woodfield, but managed to thrive well into the 1990s... I think it has to do with the fact that the surrounding area experienced rapid population growth in the 1980s, but remained (and, with the exception of the Elgin-O'hare expressways, remains)quite far from any major highways.

  14. Dave,

    This is an absolutely fantastic article on RANDHURST!

    The vintage photos, plans and newspaper ad are awesome. Thanks so much for posting this requiem for one of the most rememberable mid-century shopping malls.

    Mall Hall of Fame Curator

  15. Mr. Curator - Thanks, I appreciate it! Randhurst truly was a grand place, and I wanted to portray it as it was before the many changes that have taken place there since the early 80's.

    Thanks so much for the great, detailed work you've done on your site highlighting the work of the mall pioneers!

  16. It looked fantastic, what a shame. Have a look at my blog. I recently posted pictures of the just-opened Westfield London. Very impressive and great architecture.

  17. Scott - It really was - but like many malls, the decor was watered down over the years, to the point of such blandness that a person seeing it for the first time would assume it had never been anything special. I'll check out your post on the Westfield Center, thanks!

  18. Stratford Square also had a Wieboldt's store, making it the only Chicagoland mall with all three of the traditional department stores, Field's, Carson's, and Wieboldt's. The latter has since been replace by JCPenney.

    One note of correction about the Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks; Bullock's didn't set up shop there until 1983, five years after The Oaks was completed. Mission Viejo Mall (now The Shops at Mission Viejo) was the first Southern California mall to have both Bullock's and Robinson's, both built in 1980, nearly a year after the mall's completion along with their May Co. and Wards anchors.

    One more note of historical interest, The Oaks, Northridge Fashion Center, and South Coast Plaza eventually had all four Los Angeles-based department store chains (the Big 4) represented: The Broadway, May Company, Robinson's, and Bullock's.

  19. Randy - Thanks for the additional info/corrections on Stratford Square and on The Oaks!

  20. Fantastic article.

    Is it possible to get the list of opening stores a bit larger, please? It's so low-res...:(

  21. Jonah - Thanks!

    I do have a very large file of the ad. When I tried to post it, I encountered one those (thankfully rare)Blogger glitches. I'll dig it up and try to repost it soon.

  22. I really appreciate your reverance for Randhurst. Granted it is just a mall. However, I'm 48 and grew up just a few blocks away. Randhurst is where I spent my weekly $1 allowance at Kresges on 45s. I got my first "regular boys haircut" at the barber shop in the lower level. I was dragged in to every Ladies restroom by my teenage sisters so they could smoke and gossip...By the way Wieboldts bathroom was the best. Anyway the glory days are long gone, but thanks for remembering that in it's day it was the center of our community and it served us well.

  23. Anonymous - Thanks! Randhurst was special to a lot of us, even if we lived a bit further than a mile away. The Kresge store stands out in my mind more than anything except the main anchors and the coin/stamp kiosk they had in the 70's.

  24. Wow. Great article. What great memories you've brought back for me.

    I used to love going down stairs to PJ's Trick Shop for posters. And Montgomery Wards was our annual Back-to-School store.

    Does anyone remember the bronze (I think) sculptures in the middle of the mall? I remember them looking like abstract seals. Our parents would leave us there to climb on the sculptures while they went shopping. That was in the early 70's. Imagine doing that now.

    Love your blog.

  25. Crazy3dMan - Gosh, your memories sound exactly like mine - PJ's, shopping for clothes at Wards, and yes, being left alone to play on the (yes) bronze sculptures - a great place and time, no doubt!

    And thanks very much!

  26. Oh, what memories!! I worked at Wieboldt's for many years, and then at Spiess and Carson's. Bless you for the reference to Le Petit Cafe. I could not remember the name of that place, it's been driving me crazy for years! And that little restaurant right outside Wieboldt's, where they had a walk-up window to get drinks and ice cream cones? Ate there many times, loved the tuna fish sandwich! Does anyone remember using bottle caps to get into Saturday matinee's at the Randhurst Cinema? I don't recall any of the movies I saw, I just remember being dropped off by my mom with a baggie full of soda bottle caps!

  27. JEM - Thanks, and glad it helped bring back some good memories (and the name of the Le Petit!). I was dropped off at the Randhurst Cinema many times, but don't recall the bottle caps - a great promotion idea, especially in the era when soft drinks came in glass bottles. Thanks again!

  28. We where very early Mall Rats hanging at Randhurst in the early 70's. I had friends who lived directly across the street. We would spend hours trying to avoid Kenny the cop who would try and roust us out the door. One of my first jobs was at the Corned Beef Center as a busboy.

  29. Great post. From the sound of things, my family moved to Mt. Prospect a few months after yours did, and I spent my kindergarten year there (at the now long-gone Sunset Park School). Even though we were there for a short time, Randhurst left an impression on me, and I visited it on a trip to the area in the mid '90s.

    I was up there again in Spring '08, and I wish I'd stopped at Randhurst again, since the news of its demise came out a few months later. (It was around noon on Easter Sunday, and I didn't know what, if anything, would be open at that time. But I'm still kicking myself for not going through one last time.)

    I was happy to see that both downtown and my old neighborhood (S. Emerson St.) both looked very well-kept; you never know what someplace will look like when you've been away for a long time.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  30. J.Eastwood - Sounds like you were a pioneering mall rat, before it became mainstream! My guess is that Kenny the cop's life was much easier in those days. :)

    And it seemed like we always went for the Le Petit Cafe, foodwise. Thanks-

    Kev - You're welcome, and thanks very much! I spent my earlier elementary years in District 59 (John Jay School) near Algonquin and Busse Rds. We left MP in '70 but moved back 2 years later, this time to the District 57 area where I went to Westbrook, a sister school to Sunset Park. I used to have band practice in the early morning one day a week at either Sunset Park or Lions Park, don't remember which.

    I agree that much of Mt. Prospect seems pretty well preserved. Thanks again!

  31. A great article with great photos-- thanks! I lived about three blocks from Randhurst and practically grew up in the mall (I was born in '61). When my kids were younger I took them there during the last heyday of Randhurst, and then it all sort of fell apart. Here's my blog entry with my remembrances:

  32. Joe - Thanks very much, and thanks also for the link to your great site! I look forward to exploring it in more detail soon - you've touched on some things that so many of us who grew up in the MP and AH areas remember fondly - including Randhurst, which was definitely a class act in the day.

  33. Dave, thanks so much for this spectacular walk down memeory lane!! I grew up near "Golf and eighty-tree (lol)" and graduated FVHS in 78. My brother, sister and I played on the bronze scupltures (alone!!!!) and also played hide and seek for what seemed hours as our mother shopped. Our playground was the offices above, the main the upper center level and the lower level. My brother loved PJ's Trick Shop and we loved the restaurant (may be Tartan Tray) that had the best French Toast and syrup that came in rectangular plastic tubs with a peel back lid! The fountain had switchy light colors, which I loved. Lerner's and Stuarts were the low-budge places a gal could get the most "fashion flair" for her buck with a stop at Bakers for some cool platforms. WOW. Had a great time perusing your site, but didn't find (yet) anything on Golf Mill. Summer nights spent looking at the old mill in the pond with all the goldfish (KOI?) and the multi-colored lights reflecting in the murky water. Not to mention the monkey at Lytton's in a cage that really smelled. I've never seen a monkey in a cage in a store since, and oddly enough, I'm fine with that. Passing on your site to my sister who will love it as well. Thanks again.

  34. Chicago78 – Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it and that it helped bring back some good times! And I greatly appreciate you sharing those great memories of your own. Sounds like our experiences were similar, except for the Stuarts, Lerner’s and Bakers part, of course! :) Seems that I vaguely remember the French Toast - I’m wondering if the Le Petit Café was the source (or maybe the French name is influencing me). I absolutely loved PJ’s as well! My mom let my brother and I play on those sculptures unattended all the time – those definitely were the days!

    Our family went to Golf Mill all the time until Woodfield opened up, with its new Sears and Penneys. I loved the little mill and pond (I’m pretty sure the fish were Koi, as you said), and I’ll have to ask my dad about the monkey at Lytton’s there – he used to shop there all the time. I have wonderful memories of Golf Mill that I hope to put on here one of these days!

    I would have been Forest View class of ’81, but we moved from Mount Prospect to the West Suburbs right after my eighth grade graduation (from Dempster, which like FVHS is long gone). In grade school (Westbrook), we lived near Central and Busse.

    Once again, thanks – great to hear from you!

  35. Tremendous rush of memories. Thanks - some great stuff. I grew up just east of Randhurst in the '70s. Looks like Randhurst has gone the way of my elementary school - Feehanville. I remember riding my bike over there with a buddy to get baseball cards at Kresge's. That hard stick of gum would still bring back memories. I think the little shop that served ice cream someone mentioned was Randee's.

  36. Moved to Prospect Heights in 1977, just about a mile from Randhurst, graduated from Wheeling HS in '79. Even in 1977, it seemed such a throwback, especially with Woodfield, Northbrook Court, etc. Everybody wanted to go to Marshall Field's, not the Monkey Ward.

    If we needed something quick, though, Randhurst was great. They even had a movie theatre on the edge of the property that I could bike to during the summer. Fast forward to 2008, I was back in town meeting with lawyers to sort out my parents' estate, was in the neighborhood and stopped in to grab a bite to eat in the Randhurst food court.

    I realized then how little I actually remembered about the place, thanks to Woodfield. It was dark, the stores were mostly empty, the language heard (and spoken at the counters) was mostly Spanish. But it seemed like a museum piece, a lost piece of Americana amidst the glitz around Schaumburg and the redevelopment around Mt Prospect and Arlington Hts.

    RIP Randhurst, hope the new open-air lifestyle center (probably a duplicate of Westfield's and about 10 zillion other similar developments in the USA) will reinvigorate the area.

  37. I just now came upon this article. GREAT post and photos - thanks for the trip down memory lane :) I lived in Arl. Hts./Pros. Hts. within a few miles of Randhurst between 1967-91 and went there with my mom as a kid countless times, and probably played on the sculptures but I don't remember actually doing that (my mom probably wouldn't allow it) ;) It was my main place to shop as a teen and even after graduating college when I actually had money to spend. My favorite restaurant in the food court was "Boardwalk Fries". YUM.

    Does anybody know where exactly the Kresge's was? I remember it was between two of the anchor stores on the main level but don't recall know which ones or which stores were adjacent to it. I assume it changed to a Kmart before it left the mall... ?

    A friend told me his favorite thing in the mall was the "Wall of Fossils" which I don't recall. Does anybody know where that was?

  38. Julie – Thanks very much, I’m glad you like the article and that it brought back some good memories for you. The name “Boardwalk Fries” rings a bell, but I don’t believe we ever ate there. We didn’t stay in the area long enough for me to make the transition from going there with my mom (or dad) to hanging out there a teen, but I’ll bet it was a blast!

    Kregse’s was located a few spaces down from Carson Pirie Scott, in the “triangle leg” between Carsons and Wieboldt’s. I’m pretty sure it didn’t become a Kmart (to my knowledge no Kresge stores were converted in that manner), but also I don’t know who replaced them in the mall.

    Maybe someone can enlighten us on the “Wall of Fossils”. Thanks again for writing!

  39. I also grew up near Randhurst, living on Boxwood Dr and then Lancaster in Mt. Prospect. (near Westbrook Elementary School - Mrs. Butts anyone?) We always knew Randhurst was a special place. Perhaps it was the triangular design, or the largest AC enclosed mall in America when it was built, or the watertower, but when I went back some 30 years later, I was surprised to see it in a rather funky, rundown state (dim lights, empty stores, etc.)

    The fact that I looked it up on the web nearly 40 years after moving out of the area tells you all you need to know. (I live in Cali now.)

    The problem probably stems all the way back to the beginning and the power of Marshall Field's. To have next tier anchor tenants (Carsons, Wards, etc.) as opposed to Fields and Sears, probably meant the thing was doomed from the start. (Because the others would eventually set up shop somewhere nearby.)

    Fascinating that so many people remember this as not just another mall, but an incredible piece of world class retail architecture. This village coming in now looks ok, but no different than hundreds of retail 'villages' across America.

    There will only ever be one Randhurst. The one we knew and loved. This is more than simple nostalgia - this is history.

  40. My family moved to Arlington Heights in 1965. When I was a kid, we made umpteen trips to Randhurst. Loved having lunch as a special treat at Le Petit Cafe or the luncheonette inside S.S. Kresge, climbing all over the bronze penguin sculptures, exploring PJ's Trick Shop with my teenaged uncle, marveling at the unlikely specialty stores (The Candle Nook, anyone?), and getting splashed by water from the fountains at the inside entrance to each of the anchor stores. (The fountain in front of Wieboldt's was the most boring.) And Christmastime! I get chills just thinking about it. Randhurst was an important part of my childhood. I will always remember it with great fondness.

  41. Loved Randhurst....I used to work at the K-Mart in the Mt Prospect plaza in the late 70's, early 80's as a teen....great times, great people. Does anyone remember "Godfathers Pizza" or the small Italian deli (Dicicenzos?)

  42. Loved Randhurst......I used to work at the K-Mart in the Mt Prospect plaza in the late 70's early 80's as a teen. Great times, great people. Does anyone remember "Godfathers Pizza" or the Italian deli?..Dicicenzos?

  43. I wondered if any of you could help me. A group of us that grew up in Mount Prospect are trying to determine the name of a store that was in Randhurst during the mid 80s. This store sold records and other items like one would find at "The Alley" (over at Woodfiled at the time). This store was NOT PJ;s Trick shop. We know this. I even contacted PJ's Trick Shop to see if they had knowledge of this place and PJ's wife remembers the store, but does not remember the name of it. Can any of you help?

    1. We believe we found the answer. The name of the place was Music Recyclery. The answer deserves a thanks from input from Lisa Blaszinski from Randhurst Village. She was able to look up the history of music stores for us.

  44. Jeanie (Palm) LochnerJuly 4, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    I loved Randhurst and went there often in the mid to late 60's! My favorite stores were: Carson's and it's counterpart for Junior girls "ON STAGE," Bakers shoes, Ted's Teepee, Wieboldt's, Charles A. Stevens, and The Bombay Shop. My Mom and I also enjoyed the Corned Beef restaurant and Le Petite Cafe. I grew up in Palatine and went to Fremd H.S. and am now living in Florida. Thank you for this blog---great memories!

  45. Ahh, the memories. My family moved to Mt. Prospect (Lowden Lane) in late 1961 so we were at the Grand Opening in 1962. Worked at two different Randhurst store during High School (S&H Green Stamps in the basement of Wieboldt's) and Seno Formalwear. I can recall that at the Gran Opening, just outside of the Mt. Prospect State Bank they poured a floor in wet cement and the kids attending could leave their handprints in the cement. Shortly after, like maybe a month, it was covered in carpet squares and never saw the light of day. I would always look for my handprints in the cement for years afterword, but that section of flooring was always carpeted.

    I also remember in late '62 going to Randhurst to get our polio vaccine in the sugar cube.