The Richmond Times-Dispatch profiles The Shops at Willow Lawn, which has outlasted every other major center in Richmond and continues to thrive.
A number of malls and shopping centers in the Richmond area have come and gone over the years. Examples such as the Cloverleaf and Azalea Malls, which were once premier shopping destinations in their day, come to mind for many.
But one shopping center has outlasted them all, and it just so happens to be Richmond’s oldest. The Shops at Willow Lawn, which has grown and changed over the years since it was built in 1956, has taken various forms over the decades.
Originally built as an open air center, an indoor corridor with shops and a food court was later added, before being demolished to convert Willow Lawn back into an open air concept again several years ago.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a detailed piece on the history of Willow Lawn today, and it does a great job explaining how it’s remained relevant and viable over the years, plus what’s in store next for the center.
It’s especially interesting seeing the reporter’s commentary from a 1960 photo included in the article (covering the construction of a Thalhimer’s department store–a now-defunct Richmond institution), referencing the shopping center’s plot as being in the Far West End. Back then, save for the cactus sign-adorned Westland Shopping Center a few miles west, this pretty much was the western frontier of suburban Richmond.
Photo: Richmond Times-Dispatch archives (1960)