Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s Aurora History - The Beginning to the Finale

Sears, Roebuck & Co.~Aurora, Il  ~ 1928-2020

Sears, Roebuck & Co. 
Broadway & Downer
The ending of an era. 

Sears, Roebuck & Co. was first founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1892. The operation began as a mail ordering catalog company and began opening retail locations in 1925.

The first Sears, Roebuck & Co. department store came to Aurora in 1928. The original location was at 69-75 S. River Street up until 1935-1936 where it moved to the corner of Broadway and Downer (currently a parking lot).

Sears Golden Jubilee
Beacon News
June 28, 1936

The Sears, Roebuck & Co. was at the Broadway and Downer location up until the 1960s when Northgate Shopping Mall opened. Northgate was originally the "Aurora Driving Park" where there was a large field for many events, including a visit from the Wright Brothers and their "Flying Machine" back in 1910. When Northgate opened with so many shops, this was the beginning of the retail decline in Downtown Aurora.

Sears, Roebuck & Co.
Merchants Bank in background

Sears, Roebuck & Co. 

In 1975, a $1 billion building project that focused on 6 square miles on the eastern edge of town that included a new concept, Fox Valley Mall, that encompassed 1.2 million square feet. Sears then moved to this location as one of the four anchor stores (along with JCPenneys, Marshall Fields (now Macy's), Lord & Taylor (which became Carson Pirie Scott in January of 1996).

Sears Northgate Lake Street location

 In place of the Northgate location, Bergner Weise/Bergner's took over.  In 1989 Bergner Weise/Bergner's bought Carson Pirie Scott.  Carson Pirie Scott was originally Block & Kuhl which moved from its original location on the corner of Galena and Stolp (now Stolp Island Social/Aurora Arts Center) to Fox Valley Mall and their second location where Sears Northgate used to be.

After years of declining sales, Sears' parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15, 2018 and chose to close its many stores including our Fox Valley Mall location. On December 26, 2020, demolition was started at the Fox Valley location.

Centennial Real Estate Company, owners of the Fox Valley Mall, began demolition of the former Sears store. The plan is to construct Midrise Multiple Family dwellings at the Sears site. This will be a new beginning for the mall which opened in 1975. The retail portion will go from the current 1 million square feet to approximately 500,000 square feet, basically transforming the mall into more walkable, mixed used development. 

Beginning of the end 2020
Sears Fox Valley demolition
Mural by Gregg Valley 2019



  1. I am looking for the photographer who sells color photos of the Northgate sign.

    1. Reply to