Throwback Thursday – Bowling Green Mall

This week we’re at the corner of Campbell Lane and the 31-w Bypass at what was once the first Bowling Green shopping mall. Open in 1967, it was the third shopping mall to open in Kentucky and had 32 stores. 

The Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises developed the 30 acres for Bowling Green Mall in the mid 1960s. A groundbreaking was held during the fall of 1965. Its 250 thousand square feet was the first modern shopping center in southern Kentucky. The official grand opening was in November 1967.

The mall was a four million dollar construction project and home to some of the most famous chain store names of mid-century America, including Castner Knotts, Woolco, Zales Jewelers, Behr’s Ladies Wear, Adam’s Shoes, SupeRx Drugs, and an A & P Supermarket. 

The Bowling Green Mall was even home to a movie theatre that opened a year later in 1968. The Martin Theatre became the dual-screen Martin Twin in 1975. 

The Bowling Green Mall prospered for 12 years until the construction of the much larger Greenwood Mall started in the late 1970s. With Greenwood Mall opening in 1979, many of the department stores in Bowling Green mall relocated to the more modern location. Castner Knotts left in 1980 and Woolco closed three years later. 

From the mid 1980s to 2001, several smaller businesses used the space. The Martin theatre officially closed its doors in 2000. The mall building was sold to Western Kentucky University and turned into the Center for Research & Development. Now it’s the Small Business Accelerator and houses many up and coming developing businesses under the university’s direction.