By Becky Huber
Lakewood Historical Society’s regularly scheduled program on Tues, April 16th at 7 pm at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 10630 Gravelly Lake Dr SW, will give Lakewood area residents an opportunity to share their memories of visiting the two earliest shopping centers in the region- Lakewood Colonial Center and Villa Plaza.
Norton Clapp was the businessman who recognized that the growing community of Lakewood could provide a premier shopping district for the expanding Pierce County population that offered plenty of free parking and avoided downtown Tacoma. The Lakewood Center opened to much ceremony in 1937.
Twenty years later, the Villa Plaza opened. The shopping center, located on the 100 acre site of the former Visitation Villa, had anchor stores such as J. C. Penney’s and Woolworth’s. It took a hit when the Tacoma Mall opened in 1965 on the newly completed Interstate 5. It morphed into the Lakewood Mall in 1989 and became the Lakewood Towne Center in 2002.
The Lakewood History Museum has a new exhibit about the two shopping centers. Visit during regular hours, Wed-Sat, 12 noon to 4 pm. Tours groups welcome. Call 253-682-3480 for more information or visit the Society website at www.lakewoodhistorical.org.