LINCOLN MALL: OWENSBORO, KY
Nate Mayfield's Commentary:
Posted March 11, 2005 (user submitted)
Lincoln Mall was built in 1971 at 2818 New Hartford Road in Owensboro Kentucky. The mall was the region's first enclosed shopping center with one main anchor, Woolco. Shops that opened their doors with the mall's grand opening include, Mall Twin Cinema, Arnold's Jewlers, Olan Mills Photography, Star Pizza and many others that have been forgotten over the many years. The mall was only one floor, one hallway and only four stores that had outside entrances. The cinema opened in 1971 along with Lincoln Mall and tickets to see a show were only $1.50, I even still have part of a ticket from a show I went to see many years ago. There was a small, rectangular water fountain at the center of the mall with three spouts of water that sprayed continiously.
The owner and founder of the mall is a man, William G. Barron who owns and runs William G. Barron Enterprises INC. He was a local resident from Owensboro, Kentucky that knew that the city needed it's first mall to give the retail economy a giant boost. So, he built Lincoln Mall. When the mall was built, several other stores built in the same region, the south side of the city such as Wyndall's FoodLand, the BriarPatch restaurant, Skillman Auto, WilliamsBurg Square Plaza and many other great shopping opportunities waiting to happen.
Lincoln Mall had a very strong run. All store spaces were full, no vacant storefronts, mall walkers were making their rounds for exercise daily, children along with their parents were shopping and the whole mall was a true success and THE place to be.
Once 1979 rolled around, a new 4 anchor mall, with 90 some odd stores was being constructed on the opposite side of town. The mall would be named Towne Square Mall. It opened with anchors such as JC Penney, Bacons (NOW FAMOUS BARR), Sears, and another shoe store of some type. The new mall was built with a gigantic clock in the center sourrounded by a in ground water fountain with skylights to let the sunshine gleam off of the water and onto the wood vaulted ceinling above. This mall was a true success but, opened the exact day Owensboro saw it's hardest hit snow storm in record history. Traffic was backed up from all ends of town to experience the new mall.
Lincoln Mall started to see a decline that year. Many clothing botique shops closed up or moved to Towne Square Mall across to the other side of the city. Around 1982, Woolco closed it's stores nationwide including the one at Lincoln Mall. This caused many more merchants and shops to leave the mall.
Over the next few years, shopper traffic dropped off dirastically at the Lincoln Mall and it increased at Towne Square. So, this cause many small antique, thrift, and consignment stores to move into Lincoln Mall and the big national retailers to move to Towne Square Mall.
Nothing really changed throughout Lincoln Mall until 1994. The Woolco store was razed and Owensboro Christian Church built their sanctuary connecting onto Lincoln Mall. This caused a few stores to move back but, not much more really happened.
Now, the mall sits empty. Only 2 stores remain open in Lincoln Mall and one insurance office. The Mall Twin Cinema closed in 1997, the Goodwill store moved out in 2001, Olan Mills closed in 2000, and Arnold's Jewler closed down in August of 2003.
December 2003, the water fountain was shut off, the side entrance to the mall was closed, and only a consignment shop inside the mall and Dan's Barber shop remains. However, Dan's Barber Shop doesn't even have a mall entrance.
The mall still stands just like it was but a lot quieter and creepy. The front doors are unlocked every single day, the restrooms are still available, coke and vending machines still operate and music is still played over the mall's mallwide speakers. There are no sections of the mall that are not accessible. So, I recommend a visit if you're in town. You can explore every part of the mall with no problem. It is still maintained very well and is very clean. The janitors are always waxing the floors but, that's easy to do when you don't have that many people in there each day. So, stop by and give Lincoln Mall a little attention. It's really a time capsule of Owensboro Kentucky's retail history.
Updat June 6, 2005
An update on Lincoln Mall in Owensboro, Kentucky. Construction has begun to make way for a new retail anchor at the west end of the mall. Down by the former Mall Twin Cinema, a temporary wall was put up and areas around the west end have been blocked off. They have taken the doors and glass out of this end of the mall. Bulldozers, and other construction equipment are all around the mall's vicinity to help with the addition to the building. All businesses inside of the mall are still open for business during this time.