The Story of Phillips Highway Plaza

April 10, 2013 28 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The story of Jacksonville's first enclosed shopping mall begins with Austrian-born architect Victor David Gruen. An advocate of prioritizing pedestrians over cars, Gruen is best known today for his pioneering design of shopping malls in the United States. Gruen, who described suburbia as being 'souless" and "in search of a heart," saw his mall concept as a method to create better versions of the American downtown in outlying areas.

Building D

Building D was originally Montgomery Ward's first department store in Jacksonville. It was the mall's only two-level structure.  After Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) vacated the Ed Ball Building in downtown, a portion of those jobs were relocated to this structure.

Building E

Building E's largest retail space was Food Fair, when the mall opened in late 1960.  Food Fair eventually became Pantry Pride. Today, it's the Stenotype Institute.

First American Title occupies several former specialty shops, including Zales Jewelry.  This parking lot was originally a service court located behind the mall.

Building F

Building F was originally anchored to the south by F.W. Woolworth.  When the mall was converted to Market Square, the vacant F.W. Woolworth was occupied by Oshman's Sporting Goods. Prior to Woolworth agreeing to open in the Phillips Highway Mall, this was one of two anchor spaces that were marketed to Saks Fifth Avenue and Richard's Department Stores.  Specialty shops located inside the mall, within this structure, included Toy Town and the Red Baron Sandwich Shop.

During the 1980s, buildings for McDonald's and Taco Bell were added in the parking lot, just outside the F.W. Woolworth/Oshman's store.

Building G

Building G was originally the Plaza Theater, a twin screen movie cinema. Today, it's the Edge Rock Gym.

Article by Ennis Davis. Contact Ennis at


Daniels, Earl. Metro Square replacing aging center. Florida Times-Union. 18 March 1995

Going, Norm. Tomorrow's the day for the Market Square. Florida Times-Union.  21 November 1985

Scanlan, Dan. Old hotel goes down 'Anything is an improvement' on building. Florida Times-Union. 23 June 2001

Directory of Jacksonville Shopping Centers 1969 and 1974 - Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce. Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Department.

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