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Landmark and Legend
Memphis, TN
Here we note legends-in-their-own-time and landmarks as they transition into history

Whitehaven Plaza shopping center
 
Whitehaven Plaza Shopping Center
Various original buildings

~1956-2011
 
Whitehaven Plaza: stores and rubble. Photo taken May, 2011.Parts of the once bustling Whitehaven Plaza Shopping Center have disappeared. While operating stores remain at the location, much of the property now sits vacant. To the left is a photo of Piccadilly Cafeteria which continues to operate even as rubble from the demolition of other buildings on the property is piled up near it.

At least four buildings have been demolished at the shopping center over the past decade. The structures that once housed a bowling alley and a movie theater were razed years before the 2011 demolition of the buildings that originally were the locations of  Lowenstein's South, which opened in 1956, and later became Dillard's, and another large vacant store. Dillard's left in 1987 and that building had remained vacant since then.

The demolitions have changed the appearance of the landmark shopping area located at Elvis Presley and Raines Road in Memphis.

Whitehaven Plaza was developed by John B. Goodwin, who also built one of the first suburban shopping centers in the nation when he build Poplar Plaza in east Memphis in 1949. Poplar Plaza suffered a large number of vacancies in early and mid 1990s but it has been revitalized and has been near 100% occupancy for years. Yet Whitehaven Plaza has not enjoyed the same rebirth.

Whitehaven Plaza surely was certainly a landmark for the community when it was a busy commercial development and as its face changes it probably brings thoughts of regret in its slow deterioration by those who knew it in the better days.

Charles Jackson, the owner of a Blades barber shop at the shopping center is not as old as the development, but he's been there long enough to have memories of better days. "I remember going to the theater and how nice it was. The atmosphere. They'd greet you when you walked in. The smell of popcorn." (The Commercial Appeal)

At last check, there are quite a few businesses still operating in the shopping center, as well as some vacant buildings still standing. For now, though, the glory days of Whitehaven Shopping Center appear to be in its past.

Below is a photo of some of the stores still in business as of May, 2011.
Some of the stores still in business. Photo taken May, 2011.

Piccadilly Cafeteria also continues business at Whitehaven Plaza, even as rubble from another demolition is piled nearby. Also notable is part of the large vacant area left after buildings have been razed and portions of the parking lot sit empty. Photo taken May, 2011.
Piccadilly Cafetria continues business at Whitehaven Plaza, even as rubble from another demolition sits nearby. Photo taken May, 2011.

At least for major buildings have been demolished in the decade ending in 2011. (Photo taken May, 2011)
Photo taken May, 2011.