Then & Now: May 2009 Archives

Then & Now - Sears

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In 1964, after nearly 35 years in downtown Riverside, Sears Roebuck & Co. opened a new, larger "suburban-style" store about 5 miles southwest of its former Main Street store.

Then & Now
Riverside Sears: 1964 - 2008
Flash: View photo overlay

Area overview
MS Virtual Earth

Store overview
MS Virtual Earth

Full parking lot

Located on 19 acres at the northeast corner of Arlington and Streeter avenues, the 93,000 sq. ft., $3 million store was Sears' largest store in Inland Southern California when it opened. As a "Class A" store, it offered the retailers' complete line of merchandise -- both hard and soft goods. It also included a full-service automotive fueling and repair station. And, according to a Press-Enterprise article from November 1963, it included a 76-seat restaurant. (Can anyone confirm whether the restaurant opened, and if so, how long it remained?)

Though the iconic green Sears script logo, the gas station, the restaurant -- if there ever was one -- and the aroma of freshly-popped popcorn so many of us remember as kids are all long gone, the store itself remains much as it did in 1964, with a ground-level sales floor and full basement.

Outside, the exterior sports the classic "California" motif with mid-century facade, flagstone veneer and palm trees sprouting up through the overhangs. This design, seen in several west coast (a) stores built during the 1960s, was a product of Los Angeles-based Charles Luckman (b) & Associates (who also designed the former Broadway (c)/Macy's store at Riverside's Galleria at Tyler). For those interested, Lindgren & Swinnerton was the general contractor for the new store.

Prior to the Arlington Avenue location, Riverside's first Sears store opened in 1929 near the corner of Fifth and Main streets (near today's Marriott Hotel). Nine years later, on June 2, 1938, a newly-relocated Sears opened at 3700 Main Street. The new store, which replaced the 1890 Rubidoux Building, included two floors, a mezzanine and basement. It also provided "drive-up" service to an automotive center (d) in an adjacent building located at the rear (where Mario's restaurant is today). Enclosed skybridges provided access between the two buildings. For several years recently, the former Main Street Sears has housed the popular Mission Galleria antiques.

It's interesting to note the Arlington Avenue Sears is a bit of an anomaly in Southern California in that it is not located at or near a mall, but in fact is a full-size, stand-alone store. Most SoCal Sears, particularly those built post-1960, anchor malls, including nearby stores in San Bernardino, Montclair and Moreno Valley. But with the recent announcement of Gottschalks' bankruptcy and liquidation -- which will create a vacancy at the Riverside Plaza -- will Riverside's Sears make the move to a mall?

Flash: Riverside Sears: 1964 - 2008

More: - Then & Now

"California" motif
East entrance
1960s logo

Ground floor

Sleek facade
Automotive center
Old Main
Street Sears
Old Main
Street Sears

(a) Courtesy of Malls of America
(b) Loyola Marymount University - Charles Luckman Collection
(c) Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak
(d) Courtesy of RPD Remembers

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Then & Now category from May 2009.

Then & Now: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Then & Now: August 2009 is the next archive.

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