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-----Meadowdale Shopping Center
Carpentersville, IL

View from the north in the late 1950s.
The water tower was painted in a colorful Mondrian block style.

In the beginning
Leonard W. Besinger was the creator of both the Meadowdale Subdivision and Meadowdale Shopping Center. After the subdivision got underway in 1953, he turned his attention to creating a business and retail sector. Work began on the new Meadowdale Shopping Center in 1955.

Besinger's vision was quite different from the final product. The original plans called for Meadowdale to host 100 different businesses and stores, which would be divided into three indoor theme areas. These "arcades" would be connected by traditional outdoor shopping areas, with a wide overhang for all-weather shopping.

The three arcades were:
1) Kiddie's World - play yard, kiddie rides, nursery school, dancing school, children's medical center, 40 specialty shops
2) Bazaar - 24 different businesses, snack shop, paint store, barber, beauty salon
3) Countryside Shops - restaurant and lounge, 20 specialty shops

The first stores to express interest in renting space were Piggly Wiggly, Woolworth's, Stineway Drugs, National Tea, W.T. Grants, Thom McAn Shoes and Richman Brothers Clothes.

During initial construction, the arcade idea was shelved in favor of a traditional strip mall design.

Meadowdale Shopping Center opened in May 1957 with 12 stores.

The Wintergarden 1958-1963
The arcade idea wasn't totally abandoned, however. At the south end of the building, a small portion of the shopping center was dedicated to the Wintergarden: an enclosed mall with four restaurants and a handful of shops surrounding an ice skating rink. It opened in November 1958 with a "Parisian-type fashion show on ice."

Michael Kirby's Ice Skating School conducted lessons at the rink. Restaurants located in the Wintergarden included the St. Moritz Lounge, the Wintergarden Restaurant and the Alpine Room, which had waitresses in authentic Bavarian costume. The Meadowdale offices were also located there.

1955: aerial photo of the Meadowdale Subdivision,
with the future shopping center superimposed onto it.
You can see the three arcades, which were never built.

Artist's rendition of the Wintergarden

Some of the restaurants and lounges in the Wintergarden.
The ice skating rink can be seen in
the background of the bottom photo

Meadowdale floor plan, 1957-1980s

Growth was rapid during Meadowdale's early years. By October 1957, the shopping center had 14 stores. By May 1958, there were 26 stores, parking for 4,000 cars and a go-kart track north of the building. In 1959, there were 45 stores and parking for 7,000 cars. Every store was air-conditioned.

The largest retail unit was located at the south end of the building. The first store to occupy this space was the Block & Kuhl Department Store in 1958, followed by Carson Pirie Scott in 1960.

Of all the stores at Meadowdale, Wieboldt's probably conjures up more fond memories than all of the others combined. This upscale department store was part of a small chain founded in Chicago in 1883. The Meadowdale location opened in November 1959.

The grand opening ceremonies included free balloons for the kids, music by the Dundee Community High School Band, a chance to meet local dignitaries, an opportunity to register for free prizes, and free imported French perfume for the first 1,000 ladies. As an added bonus, famous organist Adele Scott played music inside the store throughout the day!

At the rear of the Wieboldt's store was an S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center. This state-of-the-art showroom featured a display area where 2,000 catalog items were showcased. This was surrounded by a customer lounge, service counters and a perimeter stockroom. Nine clerks were on hand to assist customers in redeeming their S&H Savers Books for nationally advertised merchandise.

Meadowdale in the 1950s & early 1960s

In the main building:
Maling Shoes
Block & Kuhl
Carson Pirie Scott
Piggly Wiggly
Currency Exchange
W.T. Grants
R & S Shoe Store
Chicago Furniture Mart
Western Hardware & Supply
Armanetti Liquors
Thom McAn Shoes
Charles Bakery
Sherwin Williams

In the mall:
Snik-Snak Shop
Terrace Dining Room
St. Moritz Lounge
Alpine Room
Wintergarden Photo Studio
Alan's Millinery
Blaine's Bootery
Wintergarden Books
Ulrich's House Of Cards
Jacobs Jewelers
Meadowdale Music Studio
Lorraine & Anne Shop
Three Sisters
Mary Lester Fabrics
Arcade Gift Shop
Camera Center On The Corner
Candy Corn Shop
Wintergarden Restaurant
Discount King
Wintergarden Delicatessen

In November 1963, a fire completely gutted the Wintergarden mall and surrounding stores. The mall was rebuilt, but without the ice rink, Wintergarden Restaurant or St. Moritz Lounge. Many people have fond memories of skating at the Wintergarden as children. It was sorely missed.

Many activities took place at Meadowdale during its heyday in the 1960s. Antique car shows, circuses, carnivals, band concerts and holiday parades were just some of them.

In the 1960s and 1970s, one of Meadowdale's most popular Christmas traditions was Men's Night: a Friday in December when the mall stores remained open an additional two hours to give bewildered male shoppers some extra help in choosing gifts for the ladies in their lives.

The two-screen Meadowdale Movie Theater was built in 1967. In 1974, it was expanded to four screens, and in 1978 it was expanded to five screens.

In the early 1960s, a 24-lane bowling alley was also built behind the shopping center. It was first known as Meadowdale Lanes, and later as Spencer's Meadowdale Bowling Lanes.

Between 1968 and the mid 1970s, there was also a carnival-sized "jet slide" located behind the building.

Carson Pirie Scott was replaced by Clarks in 1964, and by Cooks Discount Department Store in the early 1970s.

The hard times that would befall Meadowdale in the 1980s actually began in the 1970s, with the opening of Woodfield Mall in 1971 and Crystal Point Mall in 1976. Woodfield was the world's largest shopping mall at the time, and it pulled many suburban shoppers away from Meadowdale. For those of us who lived north of Carpentersville, Crystal Point Mall was more convenient, although much smaller.

Circa 1964, showing Clarks, Maling Shoes, Singer, Rorry's, Three Sisters
and the mall entrance. Although the original Wintergarden sign remained out front for
many years after the fire, the mall gradually dropped the Wintergarden name.

Circa 1961, Carson Pirie Scott and the Wintergarden entrance

These views are from a Sleepy Hollow promotional film, which you
can see by clicking here. At 3:43 into the film,
they take a long drive past Meadowdale!

Meadowdale in the late 1960s

In the main building:
Maling Shoes
Ace Hardware
Mr. Jerry's
Sun Self-Serv Drugs
Charles Bakery
W.T. Grants
Tones Music
Famous Wig & Beauty Salon
Richman Brothers Clothes
Paul's Sausage Shop
Armanetti Liquors
Schiff Shoes
Chicago Furniture Mart
United States Post Office
Aloha Nani
Stineway Drugs

In the mall:
Mary Lester Fabrics
Discount Boutique
Wintergarden Cards & Gifts
Craton's Juvenile Shoes
Lenny's Menswear
Scanda House Smorgasbord
Harvest House Restaurant & Lounge
Craven's Candies
Andrea Jewelry
Three Sisters
Cover Girl

Meadowdale Movie Theater
Jet Slide
Meadowdale Lanes

Men's Night, 1968
Christmas shopping in the mall for men only

The Easter Bunny arrives by fire engine
Clarks, 1968

Sidewalk sale, 1968
Cover Girl, Singer, Mary Lester Fabrics, Rorry's
and the old Wintergarden sign on top.
"Shop in comfort!"

Sidewalk sale, 1968

Meadowdale in the mid 1970s

In the main building:
Sherwin Williams Paint
Armanetti Liquors
A&P Food Store
Charles Bakery
Kinney Shoes
Mister His Store For Men
Stineway Drugs
Thom McAn Shoes
Eagle Discount Foods
House of Chi Restaurant
Dr. Risch & Dr. Lossman, Optometrists
Currency Exchange
Compton's Cleaners
Econo Wash Self Serve Laundry
Current Electronics
Jack's Shoe Repair
General Finance Corp.
Chicago Furniture Mart
United States Post Office
Ace Hardware
Aloha Nani
Record City
Papa John's Pizza

In the mall:
Bonanza Restaurant
JuRon Cards & Gifts
Century Electronics
Hoppy's Barber Shop
American Girl Beauty Salon
Lenny's Menswear
JDS Hobby & Ceramic Center
Lill's Boutique
Graffiti Contemporary Gifts
Three Sisters
Superstars Sports Center
Andrea Jewelry
Mary Lester Fabrics
Skipper's Music Unlimited
Fayva Shoes
Telegraph Federal Savings & Loan

Cinemas I II III & IV
Spencer's Meadowdale Bowling Lanes
Tom Thumb Day Care

Hard times hit Meadowdale in the 1980s. Indoor shopping malls were the latest trend, and the new malls that were being built in the Chicago suburbs provided stiff competition for outdoor strip malls.

Woodfield Mall (1971), Crystal Point Mall (1976) and Spring Hill Mall (1980) all took shoppers away from Meadowdale.

By 1982, Meadowdale was 25 percent vacant. In 1982 and 1983, the shopping center was dealt a severe blow when both Cooks and Wieboldt's left. Around 1990, the north portion of the building was torn down, and today the shopping center is half the size it was during its heyday in the 1960s.

In the 1980s, a teen dance club was located in the rear of the former Cooks store. Some of the stores located at Meadowdale in recent years include Big Lots, Dollar General, Ace Hardware and a Senior Services Resale Shop. The Post Office is still located at the north end of the building. The mall is also still there, although it is mostly empty. In 2008, a beauty salon, an alcohol counseling center and Head Start offices were located there.

The movie theater continued to do quite well. Seven screens were added in the 1990s, for a total of 12. The theater is now called Cinema 12.

The following photos were taken in September 2008....

the mall....

the water tower....

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