One Last Visit: Sears In Their Final Days at Fort Henry Mall

Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport, TN
Can we all just agree right off the bat that I am just a big weirdo? A big, sentimental, nostalgia obsessed, incredibly handsome weirdo? As more and more Kmart and Sears closings have been announced over the past 12 months I have raced over the Midwest and Southeast trying to document these stores and give them a footnote in a very small chapter of a minute subject of our human existence. None of the stores, save for the Kmart in Corbin is or was more dear to my heart than the Sears at Fort Henry Mall.
Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport, TN
Just after it was announced that this store would be closing i went over and visited and wrote up a blog entry covering the history of the store. That entry, along with photos from the visit can be found by clicking  on this link.

Sears — Fort Henry Mall — Kingsport, Tennessee
Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport TN The Sears at Fort Henry Mall will close for good at the end of the business day on Sunday March 26th. Sears -- Kingsport TN
Sears -- Kingsport TN Sears -- Kingsport TN
Sears -- Kingsport TN
At the time of this visit, with only three days left in business the attached auto center had already been closed for business and the signs removed.
Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport, TN Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport, TN
The Package Pick Up area was busy with people picking up fixtures that they have bought from the store.
Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport, TN If I was a betting man I would bet that this spot could very well become home to the tri cities area’s first Dunham’s Sports store. (although if I had my way it would become home to the areas first At Home store). Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport, TN
Hull, the company that recently purchased Fort Henry Mall appears ready and willing to do what it takes to reinvigorate the mall and have stated changes are coming to the mall as early as this summer. The company (Hull) also seems to have a knack for filling vacated mall anchor stores with Dunham’s or TJ Maxx.
Sears -- Fort Henry Mall -- Kingsport TN

The Strand Theatre — Kingsport, Tennessee

Downtown Kingsport, Tennessee
The Strand Theatre was the first movie theater in Kingsport. Originally located on the corner of Main and Shelby Streets, the theater moved to 140 Broad Street (former home of Goodwin Furniture Company) in 1925. When the Strand first moved to Broad Street it was referred to as Nu Strand Theatre.
The Strand Theatre burned down on December 22, 1945, but was reopened in 1947.
Downtown Kingsport, Tennessee

The Strand Theater officially closed October 23, 1982.

In 1989, the Restoration Church moved into the historic theater building.  A very informational article, including historical pictures of the theatre can be found by clicking HERE

The State Theatre — Kingsport, Tennessee

The State Theater -- Kingsport, Tennessee The State Theatre in Kingsport, Tennessee was designed by architect Erle G. Stilwell and built in 1936. The State Theater -- Kingsport, Tennessee
The theater, located at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets has 700 seats and has both screen and stage capabilities.
The State Theater -- Kingsport, Tennessee By the mid 1950’s, the State Theatre was remodeled to accommodate more modern tastes and the Cinemascope format. The Mediterranean garden wall was removed, the murals painted over and a permanent screen erected. It was operated by the Wilbey-Kincey chain. The State Theater -- Kingsport, Tennessee
The State Theater -- Kingsport, Tennessee By 1976 the city of Kingsport had two indoor shopping mall, including the Terrace Theater that opened with the now demolished Kingsport Mall in 1971. Downtown began drying up as a commercial center as it once was and in 1978 the State Theatre showed its final feature film and closed. The State Theater -- Kingsport, Tennessee
In 2007, the State was purchased by DB3 Development Company, LLC. Prior to that it had been in use as a Christian movie house known as the All American Family Cinema in around 1990 to 1992, a dinner theatre, a nightclub, a gymnasium and had spent the last decade as a cheerleading school.

There were plans to renovate the theater and reopen it but as of this writing, the plans are stalled. In fact as I was taking the photos of this theater a guy from a business next door asked me if I wanted to buy a theater and fast track its remodel.

Long John Silvers — E. Stone Drive, Kingsport, TN (1986-2016)

This Long John Silvers located at 1336 East Stone Drive in Kingsport was built in 1986 and replaced a much smaller store located just up the street that now serves as a car lot.   The original East Stone Drive Long John Silvers was built in 1971.  This location closed in February of this year.
Long John Silver's -- Kingsport, Tennessee

Long John Silver's -- Kingsport, Tennessee

Long John Silver's -- Kingsport, Tennessee

Long John Silver's -- Kingsport, Tennessee

Long John Silver's -- Kingsport, Tennessee

The End of Days for Parkway Plaza

For as long as I can remember I have frequented Kingsport, Tennessee.  The town that I live in is quite small and in order to have any shopping options beyond Walmart, Kmart or Big Lots we always had to travel out of town.  A lot of the time we would end up in Kingsport.  Kingsport is about an hour and fifteen minutes from home.  Also for as long as I can remember I have liked retro looking things.  There is a shopping center on Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport known as Parkway Plaza.  And the best part is…..it has a big, gawky , huge, oversized sign in the parking lot that is straight out of the early 1960s.  I just love that sign.

You can imagine my feelings when a friend of mine who lives in the area sent me a link to a news article discussing plans to demolish and redevelop the land where the center sits.  I know, redevelopment is good, and the center has been empty for years and years with no hope of new tenants….But the sign.  The sign is gorgeous.

To give you a little background information on Parkway Plaza I have done what bit of research I can and I have found some interesting tidbits and even a few pictures from the early days of the center.

The center was constructed in 1961 and opened in 1962 by a guy by the name of by W. B. Greene, Sr. who owned the W.B. Greene store on Center Street in Kingsport. He was also into the banking business.

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The Kingsport News from February 22, 1962 noting the               grand opening of Grant’s at Parkway Plaza.

The center was anchored by Kroger and Grant’s.  The center also included a revco pharmacy and a Dollar General Store which arrived later.  Grant’s remained in operation here until the chain went out of business in 1976.  Kroger would remain in business here until August 23, 1986.  parkwayplaza

This picture was taken almost right after the center opened.  Kroger wore this building well and that sign looks fantastic.

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The mall shops must refer to the cluster of shops in the arcade open air area between some of the larger inline stores.

Grant’s was replaced by a store called Lay’s which was based in Cleveland, Tennessee.  Lays would close in 1985.  After Lays closed the space was replaced by Freds and a store called World of Toys.  Once Kroger closed in 1986 a local grocery chain called Food Country USA opened and would operate here until the mid 1990s.  The last chain store to operate in this center was Dollar General.  It operated here until about 2005.  They built a new store directly across the parking lot.

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The center’s sign still stands as of today, for how much longer I dont know.  The former Kroger is gone, as are the inline stores.

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Only the former Grant’s remains.  But the construction equipment is in the parking lot, ready to get to work I am sure.

ScreenHunter_545 Apr. 23 19.04The former Grant’s.

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Inside the former Grant’s.  As you can tell the demolition has begun and soon this center will be nothing more than a memory.

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That grocery cart sure has saw a lot in its lifetime.

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The arcade area of the open air mall section of Parkway Plaza.
The arcade area of the open air mall section of Parkway Plaza.

Dollar General built a stand alone store across the parking lot several years ago and remains in operation there today.

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So long Parkway Plaza, I will always remember you and your fabulously majestic sign.   You are such a symbol and landmark of Kingsport to so many people.  I so wish that whoever (Walmart???) builds on this site would decide to incorporate this sign into their store design like Kroger did when they built their gas station in Bristol Virginia on the old Krispy Kreme site.  They kept the big Krispy Kreme sign and built their Kroger gas sign to fit it.