Before SPID and the expansion of shopping to the southside, downtown Corpus Christi was where area residents could find anything from furniture and hats to cameras and the fine wares of multiple department stores. The local JCPenney’s was one of the longest-lasting of the department stores downtown. The location pictured is now a parking lot across from BUS at N. Chaparral and Starr Streets.
Throughout history, the local JCPenney always went where the shoppers were. Initially, its home was this brick building built by Hugh Sutherland in the early 1920s. Penney moved into the leased building in December 1925, in time for the holiday shopping season. The windows provided display space for elaborate settings of merchandise to draw in the many shoppers. Downtown stores were often open six days a week and as late as 9 p.m., with brightly lit signs to draw in shoppers.
After its success in this two-story building, JCPenney moved down the street to Chaparral and William streets (now Lomax), where it operated from 1949 to 1978. That building is standing today, and TAMU-CC owns it. The pictured location became Levine’s and was demolished in 1987.
As shoppers moved south, so did JCPenney. It operated an anchor location at the new Parkdale Shopping Center at Staples Road and Gollihar Street in 1957, then it moved into Padre Staples Mall upon its opening in 1970. While not the same local draw as Lichtenstein’s and others, Penney’s has been a constant in Corpus Christi shopping for nearly a century.