Around Town

50 years of SouthPark history hanging in one office hallway

Sometimes when you see something every day for years and years and years you don’t notice the little changes until one day you look around and realize everything has changed. That’s how Robbie Brower feels about SouthPark.

“It has definitely changed a lot, but even with that change it still has the same feel from when I first started here,” said Brower, who has been working in the area since the mid-1970s.

This is a Google Maps screenshot showing what SouthPark looks like now(ish).

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This is what it looked like in 1966, with the mall plans outlined.

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How do I know this? Because more than 25 photos of SouthPark’s history hung in the halls of the former office of Dixon Hughes Goodman, a public accounting firm where Brower works.

The firm has worked in the area since the early 70s. The firm had been headquartered in the building on Morrison Boulevard with the gold windows until just last week when it moved to a new office in SouthPark — the new Capitol Towers.

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Brower wanted to put the photos in the hallway because he wanted the staff to get an idea of the history of SouthPark, since many of them came in from different areas. Many of the firm’s clients have also been in the area for a while and enjoy seeing the old photos. Some of the photos came from a SouthPark history book, and others came from aerial shots Bissell donated to the office.

Quick history lesson: The SouthPark area used to be a farm owned by Governor Cameron Morrison. (That’s where the Morrocroft name comes from).

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The mall opened in 1970 with three department store anchors: Sears, Belk and Ivey’s. The area has seen tons of development since, becoming what Brower calls a “little bit like a city within a city.”

“Nobody thinks of SouthPark as particularly historic, but you walk around and look at those photos and this place has changed a lot in the last 40 years,” said Tim Whitmire, who also works in the office.

Brower and Whitmire showed me around recently. Below are some photos I took, noting interesting points along the way.

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That big brown spot in the middle/upper right? That’s where SouthPark mall is now. You can see, in the bottom right, Sharon Corners Shopping Center and Sharon Towers.

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Pre- and post-Specialty Shops SouthPark along Morrison Boulevard. (Also, notice uptown in the background.)

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Brower calls this the “Black Friday picture” because it looks like every parking spot is occupied. Either way, notice (1) The lack of development around the mall and (2) The couple of houses that held out in front of the mall.

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The road coming diagonally downward from left to right in the above photo is Fairview Road. Notice anything? Yeah, it doesn’t cross over Sharon at this point. The road was extended in 1977, according to Brower. Maybe that’s why that road changes names approximately 100 times.

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Sharon United Methodist Church should soon have the land around it redeveloped, but, back in the day, it was a lonely church along Sharon Road.

Photos: Corey Inscoe

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