Report It Wrap: Shopping on Wabash Avenue (before the mall)

Downtown Terre Haute in the 1940's (Photo Credit: Vigo County Historical Society)
Downtown Terre Haute in the 1940's (Photo Credit: Vigo County Historical Society)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – If you are still needing to finish up shopping, this is a perfect story for you.

When we think of Christmas…a lot of things come to mind.

Christmas trees, candy canes, and Christmas movies…just to name a few.

The other big thing? Shopping.

When we think of shopping, at least in Terre Haute, we think of heading to the south side of town or doing some shopping online.

But it wasn’t always that way.

We spoke with Marylee Hagan with the Vigo County Historical Society.

“There were a lot of different stores on Wabash Avenue that everyone crowded into during the holidays. There was the Meis Store, J Wolfe, Sears had a store on Wabash Avenue at the time…the Heer’s Department Store.”

We want you to picture Wabash Avenue like this…

“The streets were so crowded with cars and the sidewalks were so crowded with people you could hardly make your way through downtown,” Marylee said.

Shopping downtown wasn’t just a quick trip to the mall like it is for most of us today…it was an event, people made a day out of it.

“Terre Haute…downtown has always been my place to shop, even as a child. My parents came over from Illinois and spent the day shopping. We’d have lunch at the Goody Shop…and usually had dinner at the Terre Haute House before we went back home,” Marylee told us.

We also reached out to you on Facebook to hear some of your stories.

So, what happened?

“In the 60’s when the mall had opened…people were moving away from the downtown area,” Marylee said.

But, that’s not the end of our story. If you haven’t noticed, the downtown area is coming back to life in a big way.

“You know the mall took away from the downtown for many years, but I see a real renaissance happening downtown. There are a lot of boutique shops, specialty store, places to eat,” she said.

Speaking of downtown events, First Friday and Miracle on 7th Street is coming up! Learn all about it right here.

All of those really cool photos came to us from the Vigo County Historical Society. In the spirit of the downtown renaissance, they are working on getting their new History Center complete downtown…and need your help.

Find out how you can do your part to keep local history alive right here.