Jeré Strizek's Town and Country Village in Sacramento

I'm writing this post in light of recent discussions about the current fate of Town and Country Village, developed in 1946 and reportedly one of the first shopping centers of its kind in California. Per its website, "Town & Country Village combines pleasant outdoor shopping, covered walkways, smaller crowds and 'easy-in, easy-out' access with great food, unique gifts and the best salons in town..."

Many of you may have read this week the Sacramento Bee that the owners of the Village are planning a major overhaul. Ironically, though the Village's website boasts it being an alternative to malls, existing tenants are concerned that the Village "is slated for a major renovation that... will include razing much of the 65-year-old complex... and the new plan is to bring in more chain stores."

Read more here:

Per Dixie Reid of the Bee in her article dated May 21, 1989:
Just after World War II, developer Jeré Strizek was building nice houses out in the 'country,' but nobody was buying them. He learned that it was because the nearest stores were miles away, in 'town.'

So, the accommodating developer built Sacramento's first suburban shopping center. He bought 11 acres (at $280 an acre) that had been an Arabian horse farm and opened Town and Country Village in 1946 with 65 shops.

The ranch-style center at Fulton and Marconi is now spread over 22 acres. The 'authentic' look of the place was enhanced by discarded railroad timbers used in construction -- mostly to keep costs down. A couple of wagon wheels, brought in from Oregon, were planted under the main sign. And cast- iron lampposts that were used on the streets of Sacramento at the turn of the century began lighting the center in the mid-'70s.

Town and Country Village's finest moment was probably in 1959 when, for some reason, the governor of Hawaii 'annexed' the shopping center as part of his state's 'Aloha' celebration.

Town and Country Village, which first opened in September 1946, was designed by architectural designer John W. Davis and originally housed a beauty shop, ice cream bar, appliance stores, a five-and-ten cent store, rustic garden center, doctors' offices, hardware store, bottle shop, various grocers, pharmacy, clothing stores, jewelry store, furniture store, post office, bank, photography studio, various restaurants and bars, shoe repair shop, and a movie theater. Original Village store owners included the Maleville Brothers -- who may sound somewhat familiar as they later opened the renowned Coral Reef restaurant and tiki bar down the street.

The theater, the New Village Theatre, was designed by Gastono "Gale" Santocono and had Heywood-Wakefield seats.

Of note, Town and Country Village (and its surrounding homes designed by John W. Davis) were so highly regarded that they were featured at length in the October 1951 issue Architectural Forum. Per the article:
Jeré Strizek of Sacramento used to pay builders $100 a house to put up homes around his new shopping center. Now he builds most of them himself for his own account -- 381 houses plus 63 apartments this year. But he still thinks the home builder should count on his shopping center for his real profit.... From Jeré Strizeks's point of view the results are fine: his shopping center is outstandingly profitable and he will soon start another.

After Strizek's success with Town & Country Village in Sacramento, he went on to build similar developments in other cities. Other projects included a Town & Country Village in Los Angeles (as evidenced in the above coin) and  Camelback Town & Country Village Shopping Center (1956) in Phoenix, Arizona, which "has survived with its original character intact" according to the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and Ryden Architects in their fantastic book "Midentury Marvels: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix 1945-1975." If anyone has additional evidence of other developments by Jeré Strizek, please feel free to add this information in the comments section below.

Other major trade publications such as American Builder, Architectural Record, Progressive Architecture, Architectural Forum, Interiors, and Engineering News-Record -- to name a few -- also reported on Strizek's successful developments. In addition to the the housing subdivisions in Arden-Arcade near Town and Country Village, Jeré Strizek developed other projects and subdivisions, including Bohemian Village (designed by architect Herbert Goodpastor), North Haven, the Highlands, and North Highlands. For more on Strizek's developments and projects here in Sacramento and beyond, see my Flickr set, which includes other images from vintage postcards and findings from my microfilm research.