Odd A&P architecture

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TenPoundHammer
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Odd A&P architecture

Post by TenPoundHammer » 02 Jan 2012 18:51

I might have asked this before, but I can't recall.

Our A&P here in Oscoda, MI moved in the mid-1970s to their fourth and final location, which looks like this. It looked exactly the same its entire life — when A&P started closing stores in 1992, it became Big Valu for a few months, then Carter's until 2006. Carter's re-did the inside in a red, green and white motif, but didn't change the outside at all.

This is a very bizarre style of A&P that I've never seen anywhere else. Even another store of similar vintage only an hour away looks nothing like it. (All the other A&Ps nearby were Colonial stores.)

Anyone know when A&P would've used this weird green awning? Or if it was used anywhere else?

rich
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by rich » 02 Jan 2012 19:31

I've seen pics of a variation on this in New Orleans, except the aluminum was red. I think they did this before the post-colonial era. There were some 1990s Super Freshs--pics are are circulating on the net--that had a variation on this--a slanting panel from the roof almost to the ground in glass. They had at least one in the DC area and some around Philly.

TenPoundHammer
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by TenPoundHammer » 03 Jan 2012 01:37

When did they stop building the colonial stores?

Before this store opened, A&P was in the brown store seen on the left side of this picture, where a drugstore later was. I can verify that they were there before 1965, and are still listed there in 1971. They were in the green store by 1976.

rich
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by rich » 03 Jan 2012 19:14

I think they stopped building the centennials around 1970-2. It may have varied by region. The post-centennial era came with the new logo and new management, but there may have been a few centennials that were built late because of developer or zoning issues. They opened very few stores at the end of that era. the last one in the Cleveland area was in Madison and that was in '71 or '72.

It's also difficult to know when they officially started building the centennials, too. They're usually dated to the chain's centennial celebration in 1959, but I've seen an old ad for the one that was near us growing up and it had opened in the fall of '58, and I've heard of older prototypes than that.

TenPoundHammer
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by TenPoundHammer » 03 Jan 2012 21:31

The brown store next to it probably dates to just before the beginning of the Centennial era then. I know my grandmother remembers A&P being downtown in her youth, and she turned 13 in 1950. The downtown store was probably postwar, because I know they had an even smaller store downtown in the 30s (and possibly 20s). Originally, the brown building had Cunningham Drug at the far left, and A&P on the right, with A&P taking up maybe half the size of the green store at best.

One thing I noticed about the centennials is that thedoors were often set inside a "nook", like so. Oscoda, Essexville and Grand Blanc are all 1970s-era stores about the same size and layout as a centennial, complete with the entryway "nooks". Grand Blanc looked very similar to Essexville both inside and out, although I seem to recall it having black trim instead of brown. I remember Oscoda being remodeled not long before it closed, but I'm pretty sure it had the green awning before that.

Was there a singular architectural style after the centennials?

rich
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by rich » 04 Jan 2012 12:32

the "nook" was a fairly typical design feature of most supermarkets in the North from the late 40s into the 70s (and sometimes later). In some cases, the entrance door opened onto a sidewalk at a 90 degree angle to the exit rather than running parallel to the exit, but regardless there was usually an enclosed entry way to minimize the elements entering the store and probably to protect the "magic carpet" devices that opened the doors. The angled arrangement prevented entering people and exiting carts from colliding a bit. A nook usually resulted even if stores were set into a strip mall/shopping plaza. Regardless of orientation, the arrangement provided a vestibule and the vestibule set-ups probably came with the onset of air conditioning. Pre-air/con, it would have been common to leave store doors open in warmer weather. Stores in the South often didn't have the vestibule--look for old pics of Colonials or Winn-Dixies from the 50s and 60s--the doors opened right onto the side walk--no nook, no vestibule. Some Northern chains used it regardless of region, like Kroger. I don't think it was common in Southern California. Vestibules were common at least as far South as DC--a c. 1981 Giant near me just closed and had that set-up.

Later on, stores had different vestibule arrangements (e.g., doors leading to a foyer or a vestibule facing out from the center as in many Kroger greenhouse stores).

rich
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by rich » 04 Jan 2012 12:50

Post-centennial, A&P built a lot of stores like the brown one. They also built in tandem with K-Mart in many places and used architecture similar to the old K-Mart food operations. The first post-centennial was next to a K-Mart in Cleveland. That was during a recessionary era with rapid inflation when chains retrenched from expensive design elements. A lot of large classic chains were in financial trouble around then (Colonial, National Tea, First National). If you compare the the Kroger greenhouses (which debuted a bit later, but while recession and inflation continued) with the superstores, they obviously were a cheaper design, particularly the interiors.

TenPoundHammer
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by TenPoundHammer » 05 Jan 2012 03:06

rich wrote:Post-centennial, A&P built a lot of stores like the brown one.
By which I assume you mean the architecture of the Essexville store? (There was a Kmart at the other end of the mall.)

rich
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by rich » 06 Jan 2012 00:42

The K-Marts, early on, had architecture that complemented the K-Marts....mansard-ish roof in a tan color. The same was true of other chains that partnered with them like Grand Union. Later, the grocery stores were more distinct. The brown one looks like the latter.

One further thought: Mansard roofs were extremely common across chains from the mid-60s into the 80s--although they often slanted less and sometimes had shingle instead of metal panels. I've seen stores in New England, the Midwest and parts of the South like this. Chains as different as Acme (post-A-frame), Grand Union, National (late 60s/very early 70s), and Winn-Dixie used some version of this, along with more local chains like Big Apple in Atlanta and Pick-n-Pay in Cleveland (for their food palace super store format). Fazio's in Cleveland may have pioneered this, although there was pretty quick uptake elsewhere. The brown store is a variation on another common design used by many chains both before, after and during the mansard fad. It was common to cover the usual header above the sidewalk in front of the store in corrugated metal. In the early 60s, this tended to be pastel in color, later it was usually an "earth tone", usually brown. Kroger used this design for some early 60s stores. Besides A&P, I can recall Finast stores in New England using the brown.

TenPoundHammer
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by TenPoundHammer » 06 Jan 2012 22:09

Essexville's store was probably more distinctive because it was at the other end of the mall and not accessible from within the mall itself (it's on the west end of the mall, behind the west anchor, which was Weichmann's). Kmart itself had the ribbed walls I've seen on some 1970s Kmarts, and actually had the typical 1960s-70s Kmart look from inside the mall, something I can't say I've seen on any other mall-based Kmart. (For reference, the long side of the Kmart store faced into the mall.)

I think I've seen other A&P stores where the trim goes up along the big windows like _____/------\_____, which I noticed on the Oscoda store. However, I've still not seen any others incorporate it with a huge green awning. Essexville just had a flat trim, but I think Grand blanc had the "bump up" trim.

robdude
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Re: Odd A&P architecture

Post by robdude » 23 Jan 2012 01:10

TenPoundHammer wrote:I might have asked this before, but I can't recall.

Our A&P here in Oscoda, MI moved in the mid-1970s to their fourth and final location, which looks like this. It looked exactly the same its entire life — when A&P started closing stores in 1992, it became Big Valu for a few months, then Carter's until 2006. Carter's re-did the inside in a red, green and white motif, but didn't change the outside at all.

This is a very bizarre style of A&P that I've never seen anywhere else. Even another store of similar vintage only an hour away looks nothing like it. (All the other A&Ps nearby were Colonial stores.)

Anyone know when A&P would've used this weird green awning? Or if it was used anywhere else?

That A&P design was not odd at all here in SE MI. There were a number of these around. The main photo for the Facebook group "Melvindale and Lincoln Park Food Basics" shows one of these stores, in Lincoln Park, with the awning painted Food Basics green. The awning, pre-Farmer Jack, was typically a pale beigeish color (Center Line was this) or brown (Madison Heights was this). Some were painted green later on when A&P converted most of them to A&P Sav-A-Centers around 85 or 86 (I don't believe Madison Heights was fully converted) and the interiors on these were remodeled pretty much identical to Super Fresh. Not all SACs had green awnings, though. Center Line's was that pale beige and may have stayed that color until Farmer Jack closed, I think with the chain in '07.

There were a couple of variations, however. http://www.flickr.com/photos/42444189@N ... 2354737793 is in New Jersey. I don't remember these in Michigan, though, but who knows.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/42444189@N ... 2354737793 shows a Family Mart that looks similar to Essexville and also a front elevation identical to Oscoda.

There's another variation I'm looking for a photo for...Center Line and Sterling Heights had this front elevation in question. (Sterling Heights opened in '72 and closed as a Farmer Jack I think in '97-'00 sometime.) Center Line is on 10 Mile at Lawrence Avenue. ABC Warehouse remodeled the front beyond recognition. Sterling Heights is at the corner of Dodge Park and 15 Mile, if you want to look at satellite photos. Sterling Heights is now a Salvation Army store and still has the '72 exterior with green awning, which I think was done during the Sav-A-Center days.

Going into the 80s, this one with the full-width color http://www.flickr.com/photos/42444189@N ... 2354737793 was seen in Roseville, Belleville, Midland, and Southfield, possibly slightly different, but with the full color front. Stores were built in Harrison Township and Rochester Hills that looked quite similar but were opened (I'm not positive they actually opened) as Great Scotts. Harrison Township became Kroger when Kroger bought Great Scott(with an ugly remodel in 04-05) and Rochester Hills still has this exterior as a Salvation Army.

http://tch546.tripod.com/smkt/apteaco.html has another Farmer Jack in Sterling Heights originally built as an A&P. The exterior is original A&P with Future Store elements, but not the full-width color strip. That was a gorgeous store inside (though not terribly huge) until it got a remodel in the 90s, mostly that cheap early 90s Farmer Jack interior package with the white walls and the red lettering that I think every FJ got, looked similar to Super Fresh 463's '94 interior but without the food pictures.

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