The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

April 9, 2008

Totem Lake Mall Research Update – A Map of the Lower Mall from 1973

Filed under: History, Kirkland, Malls — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:50 am


First of all, I’d like to welcome the influx of visitors that has arrived at my original profile of the Totem Lake Mall via Although I am a transplant to this area, and have only been around here for about 13 1/2 years, I have stil seen much of this particular mall’s decline to its current state.  In order to show what it was like in better days, I have undertaken a project to document some of its early history.  So far, much of my information has come from contemporary newspapers from 1973 and 1974 (especially the East Side Journal,) although I have also found out a number of things from comments made to the original post.  Previously, I put together a brief info dump on some of the things that I have been able to determine so far, but since then I have continued to do more research an have been able to fill in some of the blanks, and I think I’ve got a mostly complete picture of what was in the lower mall when it opened.  After the jump, a closer look at what stores were in (and around) the lower mall in 1973, when it opened.

 The May 9th, 1973 issue of the East Side Journal, contains a large advertisement for the mall spread out over two full pages.  The most prominent (and useful) item on this page is a map of the newly opened mall (although the ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the mall didn’t take place until May 31st, a number of shops had already opened by this time,) showing what stores were in the mall at this time, and where each of these is located.  Unfortunately, I have had trouble getting a copy of this map that is clear enough to read everything on it and fit into one photo at the same time, so I have put together an annotated map with a key to the map below.  For those who wish to see the original without annotation, you may find that here, although it is difficult to read.  Note that it was necessary to do some minor editing to remove targeting lines from the microfilm reader screen.  Click on the thumbnail below to open the annotated map in a new window.


1.  Lamonts Dept. Store
2.  Ernst Hardware
3.  Malmo Nursery
4.  Schuck’s Auto (Still open)
5.  National Bank of Commerce (Based on a photo in an ad, it appears that the KeyBank branch there now is in the same building, contrary to a report that it had been demolished)
6.  Pay ‘n Save Drugs (Later became PayLess Drugs, then Rite Aid, now vacant, although there is still a freestanding Rite Aid store near the mall)
7.  Olsen’s Market Place (grocery store)
8.  Shown as vacant here , but a comment on my previous post reports this as later becoming a tavern.
9.  Standard Oil Company of California Service Station (Still open as a Chevron Station)
10. Fashion Fabrics
11. Western Optical Dispensary
12. The Utility Shop (based on info in ads, this store appears to have sold country style home decor knickknacks.)
13. Crown Barber Salon
14. The Scent of the West (Candles)
15. Totem Lake Cleaning and Laundry Center
16. Molly Wasserman (Does anyone know what this store sold?)
17. Warren Jewelers
18. Big Scoop (Ice Cream Parlor)
19. The Shady Lady (a womens clothing store that seems to have had something of an old west theme to it.  For a number of years, there have been leftover decorations from one of these in a mostly vacant store at Factoria Mall.)
20. John Patrick’s Hair Styling Boutique
21. Totem Lake Management Office
22. Farmers Insurance
23. Bellevue Redmond TV
24. Nobles Card and Christian Book Store (Is this related to the Christian bookstore in this space currently?)
25. The Stein Men’s Shop
26. Washington Mutual Savings Bank (Now in a freestanding building in the upper mall parking lot)
27. Boot and Shoe
28. Raphael’s Flowers and Fine Gifts
29. The Maverick Men’s Shop
30. The Elite Edge (a Ski and Bike shop)
31. Coin Shop \ Washington Nuismatic Gallery
32. The Brass Horse (Not sure ywt what this was)
33. Iron Gates of Totem Lake Restaurant (A 1974 coupon is for either a prime rib or steak dinner for two, although I can’t be sure that this was necessarily a steakhouse. The coupon also suggests that there were other locations of this restaurant.  This is also the location that the Radio Shack would later occupy.)
34. Vacant at this time
35. Travel Unlimited
36. Harvey Cole Toy Store
37. Unknown (Was this part of the Ernst/Malmo store?)

If anyone knows of anything that I might have missed, or can place stores that may have existed at a later time into any of these spots, please post comments with more info.

In the East Side Journmal, I have also been able to locate a couple of photos of the mall interior.  Although the quality of these definitely leaves something to be desired, these photos at least show what the longhouse design looked like, and show that in spite of later remodels, a number of original details remain largely untouched. 

(From the East Side Journal, May 16th, 1973)

Coincidentaly, one of the photos I used in my original Totem Lake Mall profile matches the spot in which this was taken almost exactly.  For comparison, here it is:

Sure enough, it looks like when they remodeled the mall in the Eighties, it appears likely that they took all the timbers from the original mall and hid them under a false ceiling, creating a supremely bland and uninviting interior.

The March 20th, 1974 paper provides us with another photo of the interior.  Although I can’t be entirely certain which direction this is facing, I believe that it is from the center court of the mall, facing toward the Ernst store.  I am hoping to be able to get better copies of these pictures, and will update this if I am able to do so.

I have a number of other items I have found about the lower mall from articles and advertisements in the paper (as I have mentioned previously, there was no shortage of coverage when the mall opened,) but I still need to sort through the stuff.  Also note that I have begun researching the upper mall as well (which opened roughly a year after the lower mall,) and I have also been able to find a list of stores there as well as a map showing what the interior of the upper mall looked like when there was actually an enclosed mall there (it was a pretty small place, most of the stores there had to be tiny.)  Although I have yet to find evidence of the Turbo Tubes waterslides that several people have mentioned in the comments, I have found out that when the upper mall opened it had an indoor mini golf course, located in the building that currently houses the Trader Joe’s (which it shared with a tire shop, of all things.)  The main anchor of the upper mall was Sportswest, another Pay ‘n Save subsidiary which in 1988 became the Big 5 sporting Goods store that remains there to this day.  Denny’s Pet World has also been located in the lower mall since it first opened, but they were originally located in a completely different location from where they are today.   Watch for more details on the upper mall coming soon.  Again, feel free to fill in any blanks you might be able to here.


  1. […] Update 4/9/08:  Please see the latest update on my research into the history of this mall here. […]

    Pingback by Retail Wasteland - A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — April 9, 2008 @ 1:52 am

  2. I was chatting with my parents this weekend (who have been in the area for 30+ years) about the opening of the mall. They said shortly after Ernst opened half of the floor caved in due to the store being built on the wetlands. Crazy!

    I love your posts by the way. Empty Commercial Real Estate is one of my favorite subjects!

    Comment by Sarah — April 9, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention. The Wendy’s that is up the road from the mall, by the Fred Meyer used to be Rax (roastbeef sandwiches) which I think are only sprinkled around the Mid-West these days. Not like that has anything about the mall, I just wanted a chance to mention how I miss Rax. Best cookies ever.

    Comment by Sarah — April 9, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

  4. You know, I had never noticed that there was anything unusual about that particular Wendy’s (I used to work in the area and ate there on occasion) until I went to take another look at it again, but once you know what a Rax (the Wikipedia article has photos) is supposed to look like, it’s pretty clear that this place used to be one. I know there used to be a Rax up in Monroe as well that lasted longer than this one, but it’s gone by now also.

    This actually ties in to another project I’ve been working on. Watch for more stuff on this soon.

    Comment by Brian Lutz — April 10, 2008 @ 1:31 pm

  5. Incidentally, Olsen’s Market was eventually purchased by QFC.

    Comment by Mark — April 10, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

  6. Fascinating blog. I grew up around here, and continue to reside in the area. I did not know all the details about the mall until I read your write up. As a kid, I recall the theater being a busy place, but as you found, it now has just a few showing and cater to the Indian community.

    Another mall that you may want to consider investigating is the Aurora Village Shopping Mall (opened in 1962, closed in 1991, demolished in 1992, source:wikipedia). It’s been torn down and a Costco, Home Depot, and a small strip mall now consume the space. At Aurora Village, I believe the closing of Fredrick & Nelsons was the final nail the coffin. There was a video game arcade and a theater there, but not much else that I can remember.

    Comment by mga — April 11, 2008 @ 12:06 am

  7. Aurora Village, over its various incarnations, included another Ernst/Malmo, a Piccadilly (shoe store? women’s clothing? I forget…), Woolworth’s, JC Penney, the aforementioned Fredrick & Nelsons, Payless Drug, Jay Jacobs, a Kinney’s shoe store, and a Lucky’s market.

    Comment by Mark — April 14, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

  8. (BTW, that list is by no means exhaustive…:) )

    Comment by Mark — April 14, 2008 @ 4:16 pm

  9. Down around 16 or 17 in your picture was (maybe not in 1973, but not too long after that) a record store called DJ’s, IIRC. I used to go in there and buy 45 singles of things like the “Theme from S.W.A.T.” Maybe that was what became of Scent of the West, because I don’t remember that. There was also a candy store nearby. I lived in the Kingsgate neighborhood, not far from Totem Lake, in 1973 to 1977.

    There was also an office supply type store down by Ernst in the front of the mall (30/31?). I remember when they built the Upper Mall (what you call the east mall) and I thought it was a bad idea to have to cross the road, and I was just a kid!

    Comment by trr — June 16, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  10. Very informative stuff. Do you plan to visit The Lake Forest Park Center/Square[or whatever]? It was built around the same time as Crossroads and was a very compact 2-level mall that opened with a Rhode’s and more. Third place books took over the entire second level. I look forward to your future posts!

    Comment by Colin H. — July 14, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  11. Could anyone help me locate contact info for the current Totem Lake Mall management? I represent a school who would like to lease a small space there temporarily. It would help the place to have a few more people around before the new construction.


    Comment by Vi — July 15, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

  12. I am now in my early thirties ,but I distinctly remember Big Scoop,making copies with my dad at the office supply store and Ernst Hardware.I vaguely remember Sea First Bank on the outside of the mall. Across the street in the East Mall,after the you walk under the covered walkway, if you turned left there was a post office and the Hallmark store which is responsible for my addiction to all things Hello Kitty.My mom and I used to walk there if we had time before we caught the bus(to the left of the walkway if your back was facing the street).What a great site. I am glad I found it. Thanks for the blast from the past!

    Comment by Susan — September 8, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

  13. I commented earlier on your more recent piece on Totem lake, but I really should have found this article first. I wrote a long comment on what I personally remembered about Totem Lake from the mid 70’s on.

    On your store key above, #8 would be the “Sit n bull” pub. I don’t have a clue of what “Molly Wasserman” was, but apparently by the time my family moved to Kirkland from Montana in ’77, that space was DJ’s sound City. I also was incorrect in my comment on the other blog entry. The women’s clothing store between John Patricks and Big Scoop WAS Shady Lady. It was owned by the same people who owned the Betty’s Apparel store in downtown Kirkland. I had also forgotten about the fabric store and the travel store. There were several stores listed that must have left the mall between ’73 and ’77. I think the “national bank of commerce” eventually turned into either “Peoples” or “Rainier” bank. For some reason I recall a fire destroying the original building. I could just be hallucinating, though. LOL!

    Thank you so much for doing all of this research about the Eastside! I found your blog completely by chance and haven’t stopped reading. This is great!

    Comment by Terri Klemmer — October 9, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

  14. Oh, I also wanted to comment on one of the comments for this blog post. The Wendy’s on 116th and 124th was Rax from about 1980 until the mid 90’s. It was my first “real” job back in the fall of ’84. I remember being on the opening shift on Sundays. I used to bake the cookies… and YES I did make extras so I could have them fresh out of the oven. They WERE the best! I really miss Rax, too!

    Comment by Terri Klemmer — October 9, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

  15. I’m wondering if this Olsen’s is the Snohomish County Olsen’s or the Olsen’s that was on Bellevue Way in Clyde Hill, which became QFC, or just independent? Any Ideas?

    Comment by Colin H. — October 10, 2008 @ 10:21 am

  16. I am a resaerch nut! I just found that Spot #37 on your map was Totem Office Supply (Woodinville Weekly 1980-81)

    Comment by Colin H. — November 17, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

  17. You can’t read the full articles without a heap of money, but here are some headlines from 1990-2007 about the Totem Lake Mall from the Daily Journal of Commerce;

    Comment by Colin H. — November 22, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  18. I opened my first bank account at the WaMu that was inside the mall :-) and in fact I even think I smoked my first cigarette in the construction zone that became the upper mall ! As for the shops that came and went, I do remember spending my precious earnings at DJs (where the staff joked “did you know Paul McCartney was in another band before Wings?”) and the coin shop or candy shop.

    The original fabric store area in later decades was a party supply store.

    Comment by SST — March 18, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  19. Here’s some info I found about the upper mall from a 1974 Kroll (a year after it was buitl) insurance map..
    Where trader Joes’s is was originally a General Tire with a putting green attached on the back.

    On the north end of the upper mall was a theater attached to a mini-mall and the south end was Sportsland. In between was a plaza, not sure if it was enclosed or not.

    The bank was Capitol Savings & Loan.

    Comment by Colin — July 30, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

  20. Great site!
    In the upper mall behind were Guitar Center is now was a little cafe/deli called Pretzelwich.
    They maid sandwiches with larg pretzel cut in half and my sister and I loved this place!

    Comment by Ed Herold — December 12, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  21. Great site, it is fun to see what things looked like then and now. Somewhere between 23 and 28 on your map was a GTE store in the 80’s. I used to go in there as a kid and check out the different phones. That is when you still had to rent your phone from the phone company, you couldn’t just buy a phone like you do now. Also, the Olsen’s grocery store became another grocery store before it became a computer store. I think it was something like Thriftway but not an actual Thriftway.

    Comment by Brandon — February 16, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  22. The Wendy’s opened sometime between 90-92. I remember it opening when I lived at the Totem Lake Apartments, which I moved out of in September of 92. I don’t remember the Rax at all in the time I lived there.

    Comment by Joe — March 13, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

  23. Small updates:

    As of March 22, 2010, Schuck’s (O’Reilly’s) has vacated their store on the Totem Lake Mall property and have moved in to the former Underhill’s Furniture Store spot nearby (a very strange move indeed).

    Eagle Furniture (located near Silver Lake in Everett) is now in the CompUSA spot while another temporary furniture outlet is in the Rite-Aid space.

    The land use action signs have been knocked down…

    Comment by Colin — March 23, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

  24. When I was 5 I was named “Little Miss Totem Lake” / Skippers and am trying to nail down when that Totem Lake Skippers opened. I have been unable to locate anything but the cut out article from the paper my parents saved, with no newspaper information or date…anyone have any ideas where I could look?

    Comment by Kelly Powers — September 10, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    • Can you at least provide a year? If I can get that there’s a good chance it will be somewhere in the East Side Journal (or Journal-American) archives.

      Comment by Brian Lutz — September 10, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

      • That might help now wouldn’t it? Let’s see it would be 1982/1983. The clipping stated that 183 single dollars was donated from the Skippers to the Boys and Girls Club, if that helps at all.

        Comment by Kelly Powers — September 10, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  25. The Kirkland Reporter is running a five part series of articles on the history of Totem Lake Mall. So far only the first two sections have been published. They have had a lot of interesting information and photos.

    In response to the comment about no evidence of the Turbo Tubes water slides, one of the pictures from the Kirkland Reporter does show the Turbo Tubes storefront next to Denny’s Pet World.

    Another great find is this map with a listing of stores for the upper mall. It shows how the area that is now Guitar Center was divided up into an indoor mall. Note that Denny’s Pet World is listed as being in an “L” shaped space that most recently housed a vitamin shop.

    For reference, I have lived in the Totem Lake/Kingsgate area for the past 22+ years. I remember much of the history during this time. Finding out the history prior to then has been interesting.

    Comment by Dave Clement — January 21, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  26. The Iron Gates of Totem Lake was owned by my uncle, there was one other location on Fin Hill called Iron Gates of Inglewood. I wouldn’t call them a steak house. They were more like a dive bar that served food. He sublet it to a lady in the late 70’s who let the place go, it was a total mess by the time she was kicked out and Radio Shack came in.

    Both locations were only open for a short time…. even with the coupon it probably wasn’t much of a “bargain” lol

    Anyhow I know it’s an old post, but I thought it might some info you were interested in for research purposes.

    Comment by scott martin — November 9, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  27. Before the mall was built we called the area Mud Lake. I hunted ducks, quail and pheasant there with my dad.

    Comment by Mike Sanger — March 26, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  28. Hi! I can tell you what the Brass Horse was. If I remember right, it was supposed to be the men’s version of the Brass Plum. Girls/women’s clothes at the Brass Plum (which I think was an offshoot of Nordstom) and the Brass Horse, boys and men’s clothes.

    Comment by Amie Ryan — April 20, 2017 @ 6:26 am

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