Lincoln Square Mall, designed by renowned architect Victor Gruen and developed by Carson Pirie Scott Company, was built in 1964 as an extension to the 1923 Urbana-Lincoln Hotel, with its grand opening commencing at 10:00am on September 17, 1964. Originally designed to be an outdoor pedestrian mall, it changed to a fully enclosed mall in a “pinwheel” style design with four main entry points located at the North, East, South, and West. Its completion was the largest construction project of its kind in the world during that time and spanning over nine square blocks, yet leaving nine buildings surrounding it – a supermarket, a cleaner, a gas station, two office buildings, and three historic buildings including a post office, an apartment building, and a church.
Lincoln Square Mall was anchored by Carson’s department store located near the South entrance, commonly known as the High Court. The High Court, with its full-length skylight and two-story height, was frequently used as a gathering center for banquets and public events. Still today, the High Court serves the same purpose. Not only is Lincoln Square Mall one of the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping malls in Illinois, it was essential to Gruen’s plan that there was abundant parking. This plan still holds true today. Up until December 1978, parking surrounding the mall was metered, but has been free ever since!
Today, Lincoln Square Mall is home to many local businesses, as well as several professional and community-based businesses, including one of its original tenants, Webber & Thies law firm.