Big Town MallEdit profile
Big Town Mall was a shopping mall located in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas. Constructed in 1959, it was the first enclosed, air-conditioned shopping mall in the Southwest. The last anchor tenant closed in 2001, and the mall was demolished in 2006.History
Big Town Mall, located at 800 Big Town Shopping Ctr., just off of U.S. 80 E. and Loop 12 in Mesquite, Texas, was constructed in 1959 and was the first enclosed, air-conditioned shopping mall in the Southwest. Some of the surrounding facilities included Bowlanes, A&R Course, Horse and Rider, an Exhibition hall, and a half price shoe store. At one time up to three major chain stores such as JC Penney (which J.C. Penney himself opened), Sanger-Harris, and Montgomery Ward were part of the complex. The attached Woolworths was also quite popular due to its sizable inventory and food court.
This once-popular spot in Mesquite housed department stores, retail shops, an early form of arcade, and even a movie theater (which has since been demolished). Even after Town East Mall had long since become the new "hotspot" for local and national retailers, the mall stayed active for several years with privately owned shops targeting urban young. Montgomery Ward, the last remaining anchor store, was closed after going bankrupt in 2001, thus sealing the mall's eventual demise.
The exterior of the mall can be seen in the 1985 film True Stories as the site of the fashion show. The interior of the mall shown is actually NorthPark Center in Dallas.
In September 2005, Big Town Mall was designated a staging point for the victims of Hurricane Katrina coming to Dallas for shelter and relief. From there, they traveled along I-635 to I-35 to settle in Reunion Arena and the Dallas Convention Center where they were housed until able to return to their homes in Louisiana. The mall's parking space was utilized as a first stop for evacuees – where authorities searched for weapons, screened them for medical conditions, gave them a light snack and passed them along to any number of shelters in Dallas, Fort Worth and even Oklahoma.
In early 2006 the decision was made to tear down the mall and neighboring farmer's market. The demolition project started on the week of May 22, 2006, and was completed in September of that year. The Exhibition Hall is still in use with exhibitions such as gun and boat shows each weekend. As of February 2008, the City of Mesquite is working with a developer to build a sports and entertainment complex at the former mall site. The new complex will incorporate the mall's surviving structures.
It was announced in 2009 that the Big Town Bowl Lanes would close, leaving the Exposition Hall the last operating structure on the property.