Sunday, March 21, 2010

EDMONDSON VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER

"Edmondson Village at Christmastime" oil on board

Edmondson Village Shopping Center in west Baltimore, MD was our destination when the ride downtown to Howard and Lexington was not necessary. It was a grand complex built in the architectural style of Williamsburg. In fact my grandfather’s company, Sorensen Construction Corporation, laid most of the bricks for the entire plaza which opened in 1947.

The shopping center at night.
It had a tone of fun and amusement but there was also an air of elegance to the stores and so we had to dress up to shop there. Not quite wearing our crinolines, but no shorts or pants were permitted. We always parked in the rear of Hochschild’s because it was shady in the summertime and rarely congested like the front lots were. The escalator ride to the second floor toy department was a joyful ascent. They had the Tiny Tears doll that I coveted in 1957 and I would often visit her and dream of being her nurse. The Tommy Tucker Five and Dime was another favorite spot for children. They had all kinds of toys and novelties that were affordable for just about everyone. I wonder how many paddle-ball sets they sold in one year? Near Tommy Tucker there was a snazzy French restaurant called Mischanton’s where my school classmates would meet for Saturday lunch when we were old enough to dine without our parents. It had the hustle - bustle atmosphere of a Parisian Brasserie.
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Mischanton's Restaurant in Edmondson Village
Mishanton's kitchen seen from the outside window


At the other end of the stretch, in front of Hess Shoe Store, were the mechanical horses one could ride for five cents. If you yanked back on the reins, the horse would go faster. Of course just about everyone remembers Hess Monkey Town. I have written about it here before and so will include a link to that.click on the painting of "Hess Monkey Town" to read more

And of course the gorgeous movie theatre was where we saw so many first run Disney films among others. There were many merchants displaying their wares and clothing. Some of them included Gammerman’s, Whalen’s, Food Fair, Reamer’s and many more that I need help remembering.
Edmondson Village at Christmas (source unknown)
Christmastime at Edmondson Village was almost indescribably special. Every year on Thanksgiving night they would throw the switch to power lights strung across the rooftops and over the trees that grew near the brick wall by the busy Edmondson Avenue. Santa, as I recall, was driving his reindeer on the roof of Hochschild’s. What a splendid sight for everyone to see. It brought gawkers from everywhere in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The shopping center changed with the times. There was unbridled blockbusting which undermined the area beginning in the 1950’s. W. Edward Orser has written an excellent account of the history of the area his book “Blockbusting in Baltimore: The Edmondson Village Story."

7 comments:

  1. Thanks Char for such a great, comprehensive stroll back through Edmondson Village. I have only vague memories of it, because we moved from Howard County to Owings Mills when I was about 7 I think. My strongest memory of Edmundson Village, and one of the (few) prominent memories from my childhood, was of going to the special Christmas section Hoschild's had for kids to take their meager spending money and buy something special for their parents, without a parent standing near pretending not to notice the purchase. I don't remember what I would buy for my mother, but I do remember my poor father getting the ubiquitous "Old Spice" aftershave on more than one Christmas. That and perhaps more than one interesting looking tie......(Mrs. Lanocula again, not the good dr. I don't know why my computer wants me to be him...)

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  2. Being a nostalgia buff from the 50's this hits me right in my sweet spot. Wonderful Charlene. Thanks for posting.

    --buddy

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  4. This is one of my favorite childhood memories. My mother took me every year to watch to ceremonial Christmas lighting. The scenes across the rooftops of the stores were majical to me. One year the local celebrity to turn on the lights was Jack Wells, WJZ weatherman. I would give anything to see that again, I wish I could show my now grown children.

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    1. Sorry, make that to watch THE ceremonial Christmas lighting.

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  5. I lived on Edgewood Street when Edmondson Village opened and we went there quite often before moving to Catonsville. I remember how I almost cried when Tommy Tucker 5 and dime had a big fire that gutted the store. I had gotten so many treasures there...yo-yos, plastic army guys, kites and model airplanes.

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    1. I remember that fire. It was sometime in 1963 if I recall the year correctly. I'm thinking it reopened in 1964 because I was riding a school bus out to Rock Glen Junior High from Woodington Rd. at the time, and the bus passed through Edmondson Village. I remember seeing the store being refurbished with new front windows and doors in preparation for reopening. When the fire occured, I couldn't help thinking of all the poor pet birds they had for sale dying from smoke suffocation.

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