Architectural Twins: The A&Ps

Today’s post is about mid-20th-century design, but it’s not about Mid-Century Modern. Instead, it’s about the perhaps less-hipster Mid-Century Colonial style.

I’m sure I’m not the first to notice these cupola-ed Colonial Revival buildings on the edges of many Mississippi towns–several of them in vacant shopping centers–but I was intrigued enough to start taking pictures of them. I found that one was an A&P grocery store, and that gave me the information I needed to identify them all. I’m sure there are more out there, but these are three I’ve stopped for.

former A&P in Forest

former A&P in Forest

Old A&P in Ocean Springs

Old A&P in Ocean Springs

Old A&P in Columbia

Old A&P in Columbia

Groceteria.com has a helpful company history— founded in 1859, the company acquired the A&P name in 1870–and has this to say about the Atlantic and Pacific grocery chain in the 1950s and 1960s:

Through the 1950s, A&P continued to be America’s dominant grocery retailer (and at one point, its largest retailer of any sort), but some disturbing trends were starting to emerge. The company’s conservative policies were not in tune with the retail boom of the 1950s, and A&P’s largely urban (and aging) store base was concentrated in urban areas rather than the growing suburbs. This would be a major issue for the company in the ensuing years.

In addition, both John and George Hartford died in the 1950s, more or less ending the company’s connection to its founding family, and allowing it to go public. The Harford heirs were more concerned with large dividends than with the grocery business, and the resulting lack of investment initiated a period of stagnation from which A&P never fully recovered.

Some new stores were being constructed during this period. To celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary in 1959, the red brick cupola-ed “Centennial” prototype was unveiled. Much like Safeway’s “Marina” prototype the same year, this store design would define the company for years to come. Inexplicably, though, a high proportion of these new stores were still located in older urban areas. While other chains were moving to the suburbs in advance of their customers, A&P seemed to be running five to ten years behind the migratory patterns of its own clientele.

I hope those that are vacant now will soon find a new occupant who appreciates the good proportions, solid construction and functional but historicist design of these buildings.



Categories: Columbia, Forest, Historic Preservation, Ocean Springs

38 replies

  1. Enjoyed seeing these photos and learning about A&P. I never knew what the letters stood for. Long ago when we lived in Brandon I would drive to the Jitney #14 on Fortification St. in Jackson to shop just to enjoy seeing the architectural design of the façade plus enjoy the charm of that neighborhood store. Sad that new grocery stores have no style like A&P and Jitney #14.

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  2. Great story! The buildings remind me of the Colonial Revival style of so many of the New Deal post offices–that little cupola got around. I did not know what A & P stood for either, so that was a nice bit of trivia.

    I knew of A & P, but since I grew up in rural areas of Texas, I don’t recall any in our communities. Safeway was fairly common.

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  3. Long Beach had a A&P (on Jeff Davis Ave.?) of the same style. It was all but destroyed in Hurricane Camille. Here is a link to a photo of the building post Camille.

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  4. Many of the old A&Ps around Jackson had become Sunflower food stores by the time I was a kid in the 70s. I remember seeing that cupola, but I don’t remember which stores or where. I know that there was an A&P in the strip mall across Highway 80 from the Metrocenter and the building that now houses Rainbow in Fondren was originally an A&P.

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    • I remember seeing cool rooftop signs for the Sunflower groceries in Hattiesburg (I thought there was one in Sumrall too, but I can’t remember where it was.) But if those buildings had been A&P stores similar to our examples they had been remodeled enough to where it was not immediately recognizable as the 100th anniversary colonial designed above.

      Its interesting that even thought the company was founded in the mid 19th c. they chose to use a 18th c. motif.

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      • Maywood Mart!?! I think there used to be a cupola on the store there. When I was a child it was a Sunflower; perhaps it had been an A&P before? That strange metal pyramid on the roof could be hiding the remnants …

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    • Possibly that Fondren A&P predates just barely the advent of the Colonial Revival designs. I’ll have to go out to that Hwy 80 mall and see if there’s anything left.

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    • A&P left Jackson in the early 70s but returned to the market in the late 70s with a new design. The stores were companion stores to new Kmarts on I-55 and Highway 80. Cowboy Maloney’s is now in the I-55 location while the Highway 80 location is vacant.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I call that Kentucky Derby design. LOL

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  6. A & P’s store brand was “Ann Page”

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  7. But this thread has reminded me why I thought I’ve seen one recently: http://www.groceteria.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=2702

    It’s this building which was Wicke’s Lumber before it was Gateway: http://www.gatewaymission.org/en/thrift-stores-detail-7

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    • Aaaahhaaa! Good catch! I’ve been out that way many times and admire the sometimes hidden 1950s suburban gems on Highway 80, but never thought twice about Gateway. Love it!

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      • But do you think it really is an A&P? Its cupola is not set at an angle to its base like the others.
        My husband confirmed for me that the store at Maywood Mart used to have the cupola.
        I’m thinking Colonial Mart might have, too; would be a good reason for the name of the center. Also, I think there was one behind Candlestick Park that later became a Sunflower; I don’t think they rebuilt the cupola after the tornado (I may be completely wrong about this, though, as there was a Winn-Dixie at Candlestick Park; I don’t know if there would have been an A&P so close …).

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  8. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company web site http://aptea.com/our-company/our-history has an breakdown of the Great Atlantic and Tea Company’s history, which is interesting (I can’t get this to hyperlink, sorry). For some reason I thought it was a publicly traded company, but it must be private. They have 301 stores, primarily in the Northeast. I have to wonder why they didn’t move into the suburbs and try to compete. But the building are distinctive.

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  9. I remember a small chain in Chicago named “Food Clown”. Never could figure that one out,

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  10. The only A&P in Jackson in the Centennial prototype was the Highland Village location across the street from Maywood Mart. It is the building currently housing Maison Weiss. I remember when they took the weather vane off and left it laying along the edge of the parking lot while the building was remodeled for Maison Weiss and the rest of the original strip Highland Village was redeveloped into the Promenade. The Old Canton Road Plaza store slightly predated the Centennial prototype. The Colonial Mart Sunflower was always a Sunflower as was the Maywood Mart store. The Gateway building on U.S. 80 in Pearl was always a Wickes. There was an A&P, later a Sunflower, in the Roses strip center on the other side of 80 in Pearl.

    Other A&P’s were on McDowell Road, West Capitol Street, and Ellis Avenue but did not feature the colonial design. The modern strip style twin to the U.S. 80 store across from Metrocenter was on the I-55 North Frontage Road; it now houses Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City.

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    • Thank you so much for clearing all that up!

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    • Oh, and I said that wrong before; my husband confirmed for me that there had been a Sunflower in Maywood Mart, not that it had had a cupola. I think I am too young to remember the A&P at Highland Village, but somehow, I seem to do so.

      Do you remember where on McDowell Rd. the A&P was?

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      • I don’t have the exact address at hand, but it was at the Appleridge Shopping Center. By the way, there was also an A&P at Mart 51 on Terry Road. As many large regional shopping centers did at the time, Mart 51 had both an A&P and a Jitney Jungle. The A&P space remained a supermarket long after A&P closed. It was a Big Star and an independent called Mart 51 Supermarket among others.

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    • Thanks for this mini-history of some of Jackson’s early shopping centers! I had no idea there was an older shopping center at the heart of Highland Village. Was it just the rectangular section that now houses the Promenade or was it an L shape on that north side? Was A&P the only store, or was it an actual shopping center?

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      • The rectangular section housing Maison Weiss and the Promenade faced Old Canton Road. In the center space was the A&P flanked on the left by Morgan and Lindsey (a five and ten owned by G.C. Murphy) and on the right by Patterson Rexall Drug, until recently continued as Super D Drugs. For many years, the Rexall store had a busy soda fountain. The center rounded the corner and had a north-facing frontage that housed a barber shop, a smaller shop later the first home of independent bookstore The Bookworm, and the original smaller version of the Olde Tyme Deli. It was greatly expanded when the Promenade was added. The corner space where Julep’s outside entry is located was the original deli space. The Trustmark Bank (orginally named First National Bank occupied its current building as did the longtime Highland Village Chevron. Those were the original tenants, all of which continued for a short time after the modern market village concept was built.

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  11. A&P also stood for Atlantic and Pacific because Ann Paige extended to both coast’s.

    To those unaware the Centennial design official debuted in 1959 though earlier versions

    did exist.

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  12. As of now the Ocean Springs A&P is being remodeled to serve as a church. Sadly it’s lost all traces of A&P-ness and the midcentury gas station in the complex was demolished.

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  13. McComb has a mighty fine looking former A & P.

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