Wednesday, May 08, 2013

In This Months Business Monthly

When my family moved into the Bryant Woods neighborhood in Columbia in the summer of 1968 there were model homes on our cul de sac making it a regular stop for the Columbia tour buses. There was 7-11 store nearby with a snack bar but the real action was up at the Wilde Lake Village Center where, in addition to a grocery store, there was a butcher, a bookstore, a cheese shop, a pharmacy with a soda fountain, a women’s clothing store and a record store. The village center was the social and commercial hub of the community. One of the highlights of the holiday season was when the village center would host an open house. As Columbia residents visited the different stores, each merchant provided some type of holiday fare. The punch that Columbia Bank and Trust ladled out was particularly popular.

For some residents of Columbia, this was the embodiment of the Jim Rouse vision.

Only it wasn't.

In the late sixties, Columbia was still a small town with a population of less than 10,000. A forlorn silo stood where The Mall is today.

It didn't last long. The true Rouse vision was to build a city ten times that size. By the beginning of the seventies residents of the new city began to get new places to gather. Oakland Mills village center came online in 1969 and Harper's Choice got their own village center in 1971. Wilde Lake was no longer something unique, it was simply one of three.

The biggest change for Wilde Lake though came in 1972 when that lonely silo was replaced with a regional mall. The bookstore and clothing store moved out of Wilde Lake and into The Mall. The slow decline of the centers fortunes had begun. By the mid seventies memories of those early year holiday open house nights had already begun to fade.

You can read this months column here.
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