In December 1968, the city of Waukegan was granted approval
to annex a large parcel at Route 120 (Belvidere Road) and
Route 43 (Waukegan Road), near the Tri-State Tollway.
Purchased from the Thomas E. Wilson Edellyn Farms holdings
for approximately $2 million, this 200-acre site became the first
major regional shopping center in Lake County, Illinois – a
sprawling, mixed-use complex known simply as “Lakehurst.”
Promoted as a “town within a town,” Lakehurst was home to a
1.1 million square-foot enclosed shopping mall and numerous
freestanding commercial, office, residential, and recreational
Lakehurst’s conception was the result of five years of research
and evaluation. With booming population growth estimates and
ever-expanding industry pinpointing Lake County as one of the
fastest developing regions in the midwest, the Lakehurst site was planned to serve the needs of a 200 square-mile primary
trade area, with secondary markets stretching west to McHenry County and south to Cook County.
The Lakehurst development was a collaborative effort of Carson Pirie Scott & Co. and Wieboldt Stores, Inc. in conjunction
with Chicago-based real estate firm Arthur Rubloff & Co., who served as leasing and management agent. Architecture and
overall development were handled by Sidney H. Morris and Associates of Chicago and Gruen Associates of Los Angeles.
Construction began in September 1969, and Lakehurst’s grand opening was celebrated two years later, in August 1971.
As the first major regional shopping center in Lake County, Lakehurst surpassed existing shopping locales in both size and
offerings. Comprising more square footage than both downtown Waukegan and the Belvidere Mall combined, the Lakehurst
site was anchored by the massive Lakehurst Mall – a 1.1 million square-foot enclosed building with two levels. In its initial
phase, the mall housed three major department stores and 100 additional retail shops. The initial phase also included a
100,000 square-foot convenience center, an auto service center, and parking for over 6,000 vehicles. New traffic signals
appeared at the Route 120 intersection, and Route 43 was widened to accommodate additional traffic.
Lakehurst Mall held a large center court and four wings – one for each of the three department stores, with the extra wing
expected to support a fourth department store by the mid-1970s. This plan, however, would never come to fruition and the
extra wing remained without an anchor for the duration of the mall’s lifespan, leaving a large grassy area on the mall’s south
Each of the four wings were color-coded in themes of blue, yellow, red, or green. At the end of each wing, individual mall
entrances boldly displayed their designated colors on decorative panels featuring the Lakehurst seagull logo and silhouette
images of a man, woman, and child. Later years would see these colored panels removed and the entrances refigured to a
softer, subdued styling. (Interestingly, the “blue” entrance on the south side of the mall would remain untouched.)
The parking areas corresponded in color to their accompanying wings, with matching letter signs placed strategically
throughout the lots to help direct shoppers back to their vehicles. Mercury vapor lights illuminated the landscaped grounds,
blooming with thousands of flowers, plants, and vines interspersed among trees and shrubs.
The mall’s interior shimmered with the stylings of early 1970s trends, with heavy use of vivid colors and contemporary
adornments. Railings were painted bright red, wall coverings were treated in Mylar, and two see-through escalators fed
shoppers in and out of the center court, where seating areas and a large circular fountain provided a haven for rest and
reprieve from a long day of shopping.
The centerpiece of Lakehurst Mall was the large silver mobile structure which hung from the ceiling of center court. Specially
designed for $20,000 by Joseph McDonald of New York, the shining sculpture epitomized the mall’s flashy 70s era decor.
(Ironically, the mobile would survive the earthy interior remodeling of 1979, keeping its glittery post from the ceiling until the
mall was demolished in 2004.)
Anchoring the mall at three of its four wings were the major department stores. Carson Pirie Scott & Co., one of the three
original owners in the Lakehurst venture, featured a 226,000 square-foot, three-level department store with entrances on the
mall’s north, west, and south sides. The longest habitant of Lakehurst Mall, Carson’s remained open for business when the
mall shuttered in 2001, finally closing only days before the mall’s demolition began in January 2004.
The design of the Lakehurst Carson’s was considered a radical departure from that of its 28 predecessors. Its striped
exterior featured alternating ribbons of cream and salmon, highlighted with red accents and scripted logos. The hallmark of
Carson’s interior was its contemporary central lighting fixture, where concentric circles of exposed bulbs shone from high
above the escalators.
Wieboldt Stores, Inc., also an original owner, added a second anchor to the mall with its 187,000 square-foot, two-level
store – the 13th in the Chicago metropolitan area. Wieboldt's exterior was comprised of a series of white arches framing a
light brown quartzite facade. The store's distinguishing exterior characteristic was the curving canopies set above each of
the three Wieboldt’s entrances. Smaller canopies appeared on the north and west sides of the building, while taller canopies
were featured on the east side. The Wieboldt’s gazebo, adjacent to the north side of the building, complimented the design
of the entryway canopies.
J.C. Penney Co., the third anchor, opened shortly after the mall's grand opening in 1971. Penney's offered a 240,466 square-
foot store that was nine times larger than the old Penney's in downtown Waukegan, as well as a freestanding automotive
Copyright © 2005-2011. Nicole Yugovich is a
freelance writer and Lake County native who is
currently based in Peoria, Illinois.