Monday, June 11, 2012

Florida History: Fort Lauderdale's Sunrise Center: "one of the most magnificent in the world"

By Jane Feehan

Fort Lauderdale gained national attention when Sunshine Shopping Center (try saying that three times - fast) opened in January, 1954. It was developed by Antioch College, who was bequeathed the property by Hugh Taylor Birch. Within a year, restaurateur and area businessman Charlie Creighton*began negotiations to buy the center.

By 1957 the $14 million development was Creighton’s and renamed Sunrise Center, drawing upscale retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue. The center soon became known as “Florida’s Fifth Avenue.”

According to the Miami News (Feb. 23, 1957), Creighton had bigger plans for the development  He announced the upcoming construction of the largest movie theater in Florida with 2,865 seats and a hotel overlooking the nearby Intracoastal. He also built a restaurant, Creighton’s, adjacent to the shopping center.

Jordan Marsh jumped into Fort Lauderdale in 1957 with plans for a $7 million, three-story department store at Sunrise Center.  Allied Stores had opened a Jordan Marsh in Miami the previous year. According to the Miami News, store executives had wanted to open in Fort Lauderdale first. “This is the place to be,” said Richard. V. Dagget, president and managing director of Jordan Marsh.

Two other stores announced their debut at the Sunrise Center that February, DePinna’s and Bramson’s. Saks Fifth Avenue expanded into larger quarters shortly after. Architectural firm Gamble, Pownall, and Gilroy designed the additional buildings and expansion to two stories, all air conditioned.  “… all tie together into one of the most magnificent shopping centers in the world,” said architect Clinton Gamble.

Creighton’s is gone, there is no longer a movie theater but the Sunrise Center evolved into today’s beautiful Galleria Mall.  *For more on Charlie Creighton and his civic contributions, see:
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

 For more on Antioch College and Hugh Taylor Birch, see:

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s, Antioch College, Hugh Taylor Birch, Sunrise Shopping Center, Galleria Mall, film researcher

1 comment:

Greg Schmidt said...

Thanks Jane. Been going there since it opened but didn't know that history.