Friday, May 6, 2016

UH Foley's Archives: Almeda-Genoa and Almeda Mall

The University of Houston Special Collections people were such a pleasure to work with! 

And their scads of boxes of Foley's documents, ephemera, and photographs were a treasure trove of discoveries. 

Herewith, what I found on my first pass through their holdings regarding Foley's Almeda Genoa, generally in as much chronology as I can piece together across so many boxes from the first mentions in 1961 through 1976. I've also added the few photos purchased from UT and HPL (watermarked) that fit into this chronology as well as a couple of newspaper clippings.


(awaiting a high resolution photograph of this one currently)

What you see above was an early aerial of one land option Foley's was considering for its fourth satellite store. 
The South Belt/Beltway would be at the very bottom of this photo.
There is no Fuqua at all, only the strip off of I-45 where the Breezeway held court. 
The clover leaf at the top center was Almeda Genoa.
The Gulway Drive-In Theater is visible far right, down the Shaver side of the road.
The Sand pits are at left on the Almeda Genoa side.
Hobby Airport runways are visible, top left
Only the very first Beverly Hills homes were built. There is no Sagemont or Kirkmont at all.


But this space wasn't their first choice. There are quite a lot of memos discussing the first choice, at FM 528. Del Webb's Clear Lake development, though, wasn't forthcoming with information and that appeared to finally cool their interest.

They also looked at Airport Blvd. but the costs ended up prohibitive.

Some of the meetings apparently had plenty of naysayers, unable to wrap their heads around how any store that far out on the prairie was economically viable.


Aerial of the area in 1964, with the first streets of Sagemont visible at the bottom. 
Fuqua does not yet exist, but the turn-arounds have been set into place on the Gulf Freeway there.
Beverly Hills has expanded. Sand Pits and Gulfway still visible.

Closer-in with the Almeda Genoa property outlined in red.


taken standing atop the cloverleaf overpass at the time, looking southward to the land where Almeda Mall would take shape. The billboard at the left announces the coming Foleys.

looking north

stamped on the back of the above photograph

Taped to some paper in one of the files were two blurry photographs of the start of construction in November 1965:

The Rouse company put out this brochure with artistic mock-ups of Almeda and Northwest construction

They already had a list of prospective tenants for the mall, still 3 years away:

The Ground Breaking for the store was November 23, 1965, with all the nearby communities' mayors included in the guest list



As early as 1965 businesses were vying for retail space in the coming 1968 mall plans:

I could not resist a copy of the Community and Research Development memo about 90° parking spaces, particularly for the "woman driver" who needs all the flexibility she can get:


From the Port-Foley-O newsletter, photos of Almeda-Genoa's construction progress:

August 1966:

The map outlining where the building would be located made it seem so large, there couldn't be room enough for a mall to follow:


all by itself . . . for now.

September 28 at the Preview Party, by invitation only

punch and cookies upstairs in Piece Goods

and from inside the Terrace, smoke break!


October 3 was the Grand Opening to the public with 

Strangely, the same month Foley's Almeda-Genoa opened, some behind the scenes memos were questioning what to name the Mall itself in the coming year. Penney's had entered into an agreement that allowed them some input on the name and they wanted Almeda and Northwest to be named Kingswood and Queenswood, like a matched pair.

Two weeks later, Bill Shiffick seemed to put an end to the name game:


Work is already underway to prep the site for the Mall and fill it with tenants.

And a few days later, the Postal Center was opened to some fanfare.

1968: Almeda Mall opens

a list of the original tenants of Almeda Mall, 1968

This photo I was able to match up with a piece run in the Houston Chronicle on New Years Day, 1969

also from 1969

Some additional photos from the last of the sixties and early seventies Port-Foley-O newsletter:

In 1974, Foley's was expanding again, with plans announced in the last newsletter of 1973

and not finished until March of 1975

I stopped going through the newsletters this trip at end the of 1976 because I was running out of time, and because in 1977 they moved to a different format, with a lot of fold-out pages that would have been a lot more time consuming to pour over. Next time!

the 1976 Almeda Mall tenants

But, since we stopped at 1976, I have to include the 1976 Christmas photos of the mall to close out!


  1. Awesome! Thanks for posting these!

  2. Awesome! Thanks for posting these!

  3. this is where I grew up , and this is the way I miss seeing it all