Whether homegrown or a transplant, we all have our own memory of what Uptown Shopping Center once was and have witnessed tremendous growth since its establishment over sixty years ago. Like an old Louisiana oak, it has nourished our city’s economy in providing a united roof for local retailers, bearing witness to the collective histories that have occurred within those walls as they come and go. In exchange, it has become among the most successful, liveliest suburban shopping centers in Shreveport.
In the late nineteenth century, Samson Weiner took root in Shreveport with his two sons, Earl Loeb Weiner and Samuel Gross Weiner. A Mississippi widower, Sam remarried and had two more sons, William Benjamin Weiner and Jacque Loeb Weiner. He owned a chain of grocery stores under the name of Weiner Loeb Grocery Company.
By the ‘30s, the Pierremont neighborhood was coming alive courtesy of Shreveport’s most innovative architects. Among them were brothers William and Samuel Weiner, who studied and were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, known for his unique urban planning. Naturally, the brothers’ unique designs would begin to transition from the residential market into the commercial market.
In 1954, the Weiner Loeb Grocery Company was sold to Ed Wile, nephew of Weiner, and renamed Big Chain Grocery and Cafeteria. In the late spring of 1955, Wile and Lewis Levy, owner of Levy’s Department Store, partnered with the architect brothers to develop the plans on the group’s most modern project to date. Located on Line Avenue and bordering the most sought after neighborhood, a new shopping center would take shape.
TIME TO PLANT
Uptown Shopping Center was anchored by the Big Chain Grocery and Cafeteria and by Levy’s Department Store. Between the walls of these substantial businesses, the small retail spaces stemmed. Original tenants included Uptown Barber Shop, Southern Gift and Fashion, King Hardware and more. The Pierremont area, along with the South Highlands and Cedar Grove neighborhoods who took the trolley up and down Line Avenue to Uptown, sustained the local businesses by fulfilling all of their shopping needs in one convenient stop.
In 1964, Selber’s became the anchor of Pierremont Mall, built across Line Avenue from Uptown Shopping Center. With nine stores located throughout Shreveport and its neighboring cities, Selber’s had met its growth potential and was flourishing. Following the demand for nearby shopping centers, several more blossomed over the years.
Although the concept continued to thrive and multiply, many stores did not survive to become department stores as owners moved away or rather changed occupation. In the ‘80s, the Big Chain Grocery and Cafeteria became Safeway, Inc. and Levy’s Department Store became Rubenstein’s Department Store. Every leaf in between turned over several times throughout the years.
THE NEW NATIVE
Today, Uptown Shopping Center and its neighboring retailers have extended its branches far beyond the corners of Pierremont Road and Line Avenue. Local businesses are sprinkled along Line Avenue and sowed within the neighborhood blocks, hydrating our city’s legacy. It seems this living legend will continue to enthrall us for years to come.