09 June 2024

Shadybrook Mall, Columbia, TN

 A dead mall


In the nineties, the small city of Columbia, Tennessee was absolutely booming.  Located in between Nashville and Huntsville just off of I-65, the community of Spring Hill just to the north was awarded one of the first large scale automobile manufacturing plants in the south, the Saturn plant.

Goody’s.  (Source for both)

My uncle was employed there as an engineer upon its opening, so we made the short trek from Huntsville quite a few times to their cozy little subdivision just to the northern outskirts of the rapidly expanding town.  On one of my early visits to their abode, I got to visit for the first time a retail destination with which I would become very familiar, Shadybrook Mall.

Shadybrook Mall Mallmanac ca. 2002.  View the full PDF here.

I was rather impressed with Shadybrook upon my first visit.  Most small town enclosed shopping malls are of the garden variety dumbbell layout, a straight line main corridor with a single anchor at each end.  But Shadybrook was a full cross shape in the tradition of places like Hickory Hollow Mall, albeit as though someone had put it in the dryer.


1- The mall entrance next to Sears.  (Source)  2- JCPenney exterior.  (Source)  3- The former JCPenney comes down.  (Source)  4- Demolition work at Columbia Mall.  (Source)

The interior was very neutral, also in the tradition of small town enclosed centers.  There was a Sears and JCPenney anchoring each end of the main corridor while Goody’s home was at the far end of the cross concourse.  In the middle was a small center court boasting a diminutive water feature.

Shadybrook Mall Mallmanac ca. 2010.  View the full PDF here.

I really loved visiting the tiny complex on James Campbell Boulevard and would even stop by occasionally on trips from Huntsville to Nashville even after my uncle had departed for greener and less cult-y pastures in South Carolina.  It was small, simple and inviting.


1- The Peebles mall entrance.  2- The Sears entryway to the mall.  3- Christmas time at Shadybrook Mall.  4- Columbia Mall in its later, more vacant days.  (Source for all)

Shadybrook Mall opened its doors in 1981 as a nearly 300,000 square foot enclosed retail facility hosting three anchors.  The arrival of the Saturn plant brought more national names to the mall, but after a while it was feeling the effects of CoolSprings Galleria’s presence in nearby Franklin with more pain coming from the eventual discontinuation of the Saturn line.




Shadybrook Mall proposal ca. 2023.  View the full PDF here.

By the late 2010s, nearly all tenants had departed besides JCPenney, several military recruitment offices, a few stores and an outpatient center.  Shadybrook Mall, which had been redubbed the bland moniker Columbia Mall a few years previously, was dead.


Columbia Mall was demalled in the early 2020s while the Maury Regional Medical Center moved their oncology department into some of the existing square footage. And while Columbia, being in the shadow of booming Nashville, is experiencing accelerated growth of their own, it’s unfortunate that Shadybrook Mall won’t be a part of it.


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