LENOX SQUARE
Peachtree and Lenox Roads
Atlanta, Georgia

Although often commemorated as Georgia's first shopping mall, LENOX SQUARE was actually the Peach State's second. A virtually forgotten retail hub on the city's south side, known as STEWART-LAKEWOOD CENTER, was dedicated in February 1959...6 months before the first stores opened at LENOX SQUARE.

The LENOX project was first announced in October 1957. A 32 million dollar shopping center would be built on 75 acres, located 8.6 miles northeast of Atlanta's Five Points. The land parcel had once been Joyeuse, the estate of John K. Ottley.

Developed by Edward E. Noble (under the auspices of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation of Oklahoma), LENOX SQUARE was designed by Atlanta's Toombs, Amisano & Wells firm. The open-air complex opened for business August 3, 1959 with fifty-two retailers. There were two Atlanta-based department stores as its anchors; a 3-level (180,000 square foot) Rich's and 2-level (180,000 square foot) Davison-Paxon (a.k.a. Davison's).

The original LENOX SQUARE included several 2-level inline stores; Haverty's Furniture, Muse's, J.P. Allen, Parks-Chambers and an S.S. Kresge 5 & 10. 1-level stores and services included Dipper Dan Ice Cream Shoppe, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, The Cricket Shop, The Hobby Shop, Pet Village, Thompson-Boland-Lee Shoes, Chandler's Shoes and Zachary's For Men. The mall's (31,500 square foot) Colonial supermarket was reputedly the largest grocery store in the South. An outparcel Gulf service station, in the southeast parking area, resembled a spaceship.

Encompassing 800,000 leasable square feet, the shopping center was situated with 3 levels. The Mall Level, coming off the Peachtree Road (upper level) lot, had the main Rich's entrance, an open court area, and landscaped corridor with several statues depicting characters in the Uncle Remus stories. A moving sidewalk was proposed for the Mall Level concourse, but was never installed.

At the southeast end of the Mall Level corridor (in front of Davison's) was an escalator descent onto a second open court, or the Plaza Level, which had tree planters and two fountains. An entrance to Davison's lower level was situated on this court, as were entries to the Colonial supermarket and S.S. Kresge 5 & 10.

The Market Level and a sub-level parking deck were situated beneath the Plaza Level Court and Colonial superrmarket. On June 19, 1963, the Georgia Theatre Company Lenox Square Theatre opened on this floor of the shopping center. The marque of the single-screen venue faced the southern end of East Paces Ferry Road. In 1967, an adjacent indoor golf-driving range was refitted as an additional movie house. Eventually, there were six auditoriums in operation within the mall's cinema complex.

The first of many mall expansions was completed in August 1962, when a fourth level was added to the existing Rich's. It now encompassed 240,000 square feet.

By the early 1970s, LENOX -still an open-air center- was falling behind newer, fully-enclosed shopping venues in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. PHIPPS PLAZA opened in 1969 and was located across Peachtree Road. PERIMETER MALL {5 miles northeast, in Dekalb County} was completed in 1971. CUMBERLAND MALL {6.2 miles northwest, in Cobb County} would be dedicated in 1973.

In response to these new centers, an enclosure of the Mall Level at LENOX was announced in July 1972. An adjacent West Wing was being added, with thirty inline stores and a 3-level (154,000 square foot), Dallas-based Neiman-Marcus. The mall's first parking garage was also being built on the east side of the complex.

Neiman-Marcus opened its doors August 28, 1972. The newly-enclosed LENOX SQUARE held its re-dedication in January 1973. In the mid-1970s, a second parking garage was built on the west side of Davison's.

A second major mall renovation was announced May 1978. The 8 million dollar project, designed by Atlanta's Greenberg Farrow Achitecture, would replace the open-air Plaza Level court. The Colonial supermarket, by then operating as a Big Star, would also be razed. An enclosed 3-level area was built, which incorporated the previously-existing Market Level. Part of the Market Level was reconfigured as a Food Court, with retail stores installed on the two levels above. The new Plaza Court was completed in 1981.

Rich's was expanded again in 1982. A 2-level Men's Department and a Budget Store were added to the Peachtree-facing front of the building. Davison's was also enlarged with a third floor and southeast addition in 1985. This store now encompassed 281,000 square feet. A third parking garage was constructed on the south side of Davison's.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) extended service to LENOX SQUARE in the mid-1980s. Lenox Station, part of an Arts Center-to-Brookhaven North Line extension, opened December 15, 1984. The train terminal was a short walk from the mall's south (Food Court) Entrance.

The Food Court area was reconfigured in 1992. In February 1994, another expansion of the shopping hub was disclosed. The north-south portion of the Mall Level concourse would have a 187,000 square foot Upper Level added, which would house forty inline stores. The addition opened, with an initial thirty-two tenants, on November 9, 1995.

In September 1998, the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group acquired the assets of New York City-based Corporate Property Investors, with Simon becoming the new owner of LENOX SQUARE. The mall's Rich's was expanded, for a third time, in the year 2000. Its Men's Department had a third level added, which increased the size of the building to 433,000 square feet.

Anchor rebrandings at LENOX SQUARE had begun in the 1980s. Davison's became a Davison's-Macy's in February 1985, a full-fledged Macy's on November 17, 1985 and Bloomingdale's on October 16, 2003. The Rich's name remained until February 2, 2003, when stores were rebannered as Rich's-Macy's. On March 6, 2005, the Rich's name was retired, with all stores in the chain rebranded as Macy's.

Yet another renovation of the shopping center came to light in the fall of 2006. It would entail the addition of a 35,000 square foot Upper Level of retail over the existing West Wing. Neiman Marcus would also be enlarged to 205,700 square feet. This "Luxury Wing" project was completed in September 2007.

A subsequent LENOX SQUARE remodeling was announced in September 2012. The existing Food Court was upgraded into the "Lenox Fashion Cafe", which included an outdoor patio. The Peachtree Street mall entrance was also rebuilt with an exterior-entranced Streetscape of casual dining restaurants.

Cheesecake Factory, Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar and True Food Kitchen opened for business in June 2014. An adjacent Crate & Barrel store had been shuttered. A portion of its space was rebuilt into a (23,900 square foot) Nike Store, which served its first customers October 30, 2013.

With its latest renovation, LENOX SQUARE encompassed 1,559,000 leasable square feet and housed over two hundred and fifty stores and services. It held the rank of third-largest shopping mall in Georgia.

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Memories of Stan Malone                      
www.lenoxsquare.com
www.itsmarta.com
www.library.gsu.edu
www.cinematreasures.org
www.cinematour.com
Fulton County, Georgia property tax assessor website