Exploring the Legacy of the Iconic Woodmar Mall in Hammond, Indiana

Woodmar Mall: From Retail Haven to Abandoned Relic

Woodmar Mall was a famous indoor shopping center located in Hammond, Indiana. The mall was situated on Indianapolis Boulevard between 165th and 167th streets.

This iconic mall opened in 1954 and was anchored by the prestigious Carson Pirie Scott and Co. department store.

For over five decades, Woodmar Mall was the go-to shopping hub for the Hammond community, attracting visitors from neighboring towns and cities.

The mall boasted many stores and restaurants, providing shoppers with a variety of options to choose from. Its design and architecture were impressive, with a spacious interior and a striking glass facade.

The mall’s common areas were well-maintained, featuring comfortable seating, fountains, and ornate decorations.

Despite its initial success, Woodmar Mall declined in the early 2000s. The rise of e-commerce and the emergence of big-box stores outside the mall led to decreased foot traffic and sales. As a result, many of the mall’s tenants began to close down, leaving several vacant spaces.

The mall’s owners attempted to revitalize the shopping center by adding new stores and renovating the common areas, but their efforts proved futile.

Woodmar Mall
Woodmar Mall

By the mid-2000s, Woodmar Mall had become a ghost town. Its once vibrant corridors were now empty, and the few remaining stores struggled to stay afloat. In 2006, the mall was finally closed and demolished, marking the end of an era.

However, Carson’s store, which had been part of the mall since its inception, remained open until 2018, when it was closed and demolished in 2019.

Today, the site of Woodmar Mall is occupied by the Hammond Sportsplex & Community Center, which offers residents a variety of recreational activities.

While the demise of Woodmar Mall was undoubtedly sad, its legacy lives on as a reminder of the changing landscape of retail and the need for adaptation in the face of technological advancements.

Woodmar Mall History

The Origins and Evolution of Woodmar Mall

Woodmar Mall, situated in the Woodmar neighborhood of Hammond, Indiana, was the brainchild of Chicago-based developers Landau & Heyman. In 1953, they purchased a 20-acre lot and commissioned renowned architect Victor Gruen to design the shopping center. Gruen’s design featured a distinctive “v” shape with a Carson Pirie Scott and Co. store in the center.

Construction of the mall commenced at $3 million and was completed in early 1954. The mall initially housed eight stores, including J.J. Newberry and National Supermarkets. On May 19 of the same year, 14 additional stores opened their doors, further bolstering the mall’s offerings.

The Carson’s store opened on November 1, 1954, and was a significant addition to the mall. It marked the first time the Chicago-based merchant had established a store in Indiana. In 1964, Carson’s store underwent an expansion, increasing in size from 65,000 sq. ft. to 115,000 sq. ft. with the addition of a third floor. This expansion helped solidify the store’s status as a major anchor tenant for the mall.

Carson's store
Carson’s store

Woodmar Mall: The Story of the “Court of Lions” and “Court of Turtles”

Following the departure of J.J. Newberry from Woodmar Mall, the mall’s management team saw an opportunity to maximize the space and generate additional revenue. They subdivided the former Newberry’s space into a 15-store “mini-mall” called the “Court of Lions.”

The mini-mall opened in September 1975 and proved to be a massive success, generating three times the rent that Newberry’s had provided. The combined business volume between the Court of Lions stores was “between three and four times that of the variety store.”

Inspired by the Court of the Lions in Granada, Spain, the Court of Lions quickly became a favorite among shoppers. The mini mall’s unique architecture and design made it stand out, making its stores popular with visitors.

For the next three years, the Court of Lions saw its revenues increase by 50%, cementing its status as a significant addition to the mall.

In 1977, the mall’s management team replicated the success of the Court of Lions with the opening of the “Court of Turtles.” This mini-mall was located in the space initially occupied by National Supermarkets and featured 11 stores.

Although it was not as successful as the Court of Lions, it added value to the mall and provided additional shopping options for visitors.

In the early 1980s, there were plans to add two new anchor stores to the mall. However, these plans were ultimately canceled due to a recession and high-interest rates. Instead, the mall underwent a renovation in 1987, completed in 1990.

Hammond Sportsplex
Hammond Sportsplex

The Decline and Transformation of Woodmar Mall

In the early 2000s, the mall faced tough competition from neighboring malls, such as River Oaks Center in Calumet City, Illinois, and Southlake Mall in Hobart, Indiana.

This competition drew business away from Woodmar, and by 2004, the mall was struggling, with fewer than a dozen stores remaining open.

In 2006, the decision was made to demolish the mall, except for Carson’s store, which had been a fixture since its opening in 1954. The Carson’s store remained open until 2018, when it closed as part of its parent company’s liquidation.

The Hammond Redevelopment Commission announced plans in 2016 to build a $12 million sports complex on the site of the former mall. The Hammond Sportsplex & Community Center opened in September 2018 and now occupies where Woodmar Mall once stood.

In 2019, the demolition of the former Carson’s store began, marking the end of an era for the mall that had been an essential part of the community for over five decades.

Today, the Hammond Sportsplex & Community Center stands as a symbol of the transformation of the Woodmar neighborhood, offering a new gathering place for the community and a range of sporting opportunities for visitors.

Avatar of Spencer Walsh

I'm Spencer Walsh, a professional traveler who loves to help people discover new places and learn about different cultures. I've traveled worldwide, from Europe to Asia and Africa to South America. My favorite thing about traveling is getting lost because it allows me to discover unexpected gems—finding a hidden museum or stumbling upon a beautiful park in the middle of the city.

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